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PREP FOOTBALL: Manual ends North Hardin's season (11/16)

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By Greg Crews

 

By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com LOUISVILLE North Hardin’s plan coming into Friday night’s game was to stop the run and force Louisville DuPont Manual to throw the ball. The plan worked — sort of. The usually run-heavy Crimsons had no problem adapting to North Hardin’s defense, throwing for more than 200 yards in the first half and they cruised to a 47-13 win over the Trojans at Manual Memorial Stadium in the first round of the Class 6-A state playoffs. “They’re a good football team. They weren’t 8-2, playing the schedule they played, for no reason,” first-year North Hardin coach Crad Jaggers said of the Crimsons (9-2), who advance to play Bowling Green Greenwood in the second round. “They’re primarily a running team, but we knew coming in they could pass the ball.” North Hardin finished the season with a 4-7 record, a slight bump up from last year’s 3-8 mark, but only its third losing season in 10 years. “We were hoping for way bigger things this season,” said North Hardin wide receiver Cy’Shawn Jones, 1-of-23 graduating seniors. “Things didn’t turn out too well.” “The talent’s there, the coaches are here, I don’t know why we couldn’t put it together,” junior wide receiver Nigel Phelps said. “It just didn’t turn out how it should have. We gave it our all. It just didn’t turn out the way we wanted.” Things didn’t go how the Trojans would have liked on Friday, either. The Trojans made two turnovers in Manual territory, fumbled away a punt return inside their own 20-yard line and fumbled a snap on fourth-and-goal from inside a yard. “It’s tough. It hurts you mentally, when that kind of stuff happens,” North Hardin senior lineman Marcus Arnold said, “but you have to try to pull it back together. We just couldn’t do that.” After a scoreless first quarter, Manual scored 19 straight points in the second as senior running back D.J. Hawk ran in a 1-yard touchdown before senior quarterback Joey Harness found senior wide receiver Derek Woodmore on scoring strikes of 71 and 7 yards. Woodmore finished with 151 yards on seven catches, while Harness completed 11-of-13 for 228 yards. North Hardin got on the board before halftime with a gadget play. Senior running back Austin Berry took the handoff and pitched it to Jones on a reverse. Jones pulled up in the backfield and heaved a pass deep down the right sideline to senior wide receiver LaRod King, who made the catch and broke two tackles as he turned it into a 75-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 19-7. “I knew that play was going to be money,” said Jones, who used to play quarterback as a freshman. “All week in practice I couldn’t get it, but I knew I would get it out here. It was just like old times, with me throwing to LaRod for touchdowns.” Following a 6-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion run by Hawk to extend the lead to 27-7 in the third quarter, North Hardin scored its final touchdown as sophomore quarterback Vincent Davis hit Phelps from 16 yards out as Phelps slid to the ground in the middle of the end zone. The point-after was blocked. “To tell the truth, I fell and I didn’t even know he was going to throw to me,” Phelps said. “But when it came I caught it. I did what I do.” The Crimsons’ next two scores came on runs of 47 and 44 yards. With less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, Manual punched in one more touchdown on a 5-yard run. “(North Hardin’s) linebackers were overflowing and we couldn’t run tosses and our run game was really limited early,” Manual coach Joe Nichols said. “Woodmore did a good job of getting open, then other guys started getting open and we really did a good job passing the ball in the first half. I think that’s what opened up the running game in the second half. They had to worry about us throwing the ball.” Senior running back James Clay was the game’s leading rusher, taking 10 carries for 108 yards. Senior running back Donavan Washington had 72 yards on two carries. Berry led the Trojans’ ground attack with 78 yards on 14 carries, while Davis completed 14-of-23 passes for 172 yards. King made five catches for 128 yards in his first game starting at wide receiver this season. “Vincent played well, but he’s still got to keep working hard,” said Jaggers, who feels that statement applies to the entire team as it looks to make up for the loss of a big senior class. “This is going to be a big offseason for a lot of our young players. We’re going to have to have a huge offseason in the weight room. We got some guys back that can step up and play, but this was a very special group of seniors and I think they left a great mark on this program.” Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754