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By NATHANIEL BRYAN
HODGENVILLE — While munching on some Bugles prior to Thursday afternoon’s practice, veteran LaRue County High School football coach Rodney Armes pondered the task at hand for his Hawks (3-2) tonight against the host Central Hardin Bruins (1-3).
Central Hardin has been a bit of an enigma.
The Bruins have an offense averaging 356.3 yards per game and a powerhouse back in junior Jeremy Barr, who has eight touchdowns and nearly 600 combined rushing and receiving yards, but they’re averaging just 18.8 points per game.
Not that he’s wishing it to happen, but Armes knows his team, unless it continues to improve its woeful defense, could help the Bruins find what they’ve been looking for: The end zone.
“They moved the ball pretty well against Meade and Nelson, but they just didn’t score. They had turnovers and other things that hurt them. And if they figure that out, it won’t be good for the Hawks,” Armes said. “We (himself and second-year Central Hardin coach Mike Lawson) have been e-mailing each other back and forth and he told me about that (the Bruins’ scoring troubles) and I responded, ‘Well, we’ve been known to help point the opposition toward the end zone.’”
Armes’ response was made tongue in cheek, but with a defense which allows an average of 33.6 points and 314 yards per game, the Hawks’ best defense tonight might be their high-scoring offense.
LaRue County is second in the area only to unbeaten John Hardin in rushing yards and points per game.
“A key to us is to keep their offense off the field. We can’t have a lot of three downs and out. We have to be able to sustain drives,” Armes said. “Our defense is not very good, so that is a big key for us.”
After a slow start last week in a 35-28 road loss to Class 4-A, District 4 rival North Bullitt, the Hawks did a better job of steering their opponents clear of the end zone. All but 13 of North Bullitt’s points came in the first 7 minutes of the game as the Eagles built a 22-0 lead.
“I think we improved a little bit against North Bullitt and they’re a high-powered offense,” Armes said. “We game planned pretty well and other than three big plays, I think our defense made some improvements.”
Central Hardin was off in Week 5, meaning the Bruins haven’t played since a 12-6 home loss Sept. 19 to previously winless Meade County in the Bruins’ second straight Class 6-A, District 2 defeat.
Armes feels the Bruins haven’t been focusing solely on his Hawks since succumbing to Meade County.
“It gave them a chance to sit back and reflect. I don’t think they took all that time to prepare for us,” he said. “I don’t think they sat back and said, ‘All right, let’s get ready for LaRue.’”
In addition to a loss in the standings, the Hawks suffered a personnel loss against North Bullitt as 6-foot-5, 285-pound junior right defensive tackle Tyler Davenport tore his right ACL and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.
“It’s a big loss. He was a pretty consistent tackle for us who had shown improvement. He was a big body who was hard to block,” Armes said. “We’re going to have to plug some people in and hope they can do well.”
Central Hardin won last year’s game in Hodgenville, 30-28, but it took the Bruins four field goals – including one in the final minute – from John Wallace to subdue the Hawks.
Armes is hoping for another competitive game come the 7:30 kickoff.
“We’ll try to show up and compete,” he said. “They’re a school three times our size and they probably have about three times as many football players, but we’ll come over and give it our best shot.”
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached