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PREP FOOTBALL: Panthers prepare to play surging Bruins (09/03)

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By Nathaniel Bryan

 

By NATHANIEL BRYAN nbryan@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN — With his team rebuilding and Central Hardin rolling, Elizabethtown High School football coach Brad Todd isn’t sure Friday night’s the best time to take his Class 3-A Panthers (1-1) on the road against the 6-A Bruins (2-0). If Central Hardin beats Todd’s team for the third time in five years, the Bruins would be 3-0 for the first time in a decade. “This is one of the best Central teams I’ve seen in a decade,” Todd said. “They’re much more athletic than last year. The have good speed, good size and good numbers.” Central Hardin, ranked 16th in its class in this week’s Associated Press statewide poll, enters the annual rivalry game averaging 440.5 yards and 35.5 points per game after last week’s 27-24 come-from-behind win against visiting Louisville DeSales (1-1) in the first game of the First Citizens Bank/Kentucky National Guard Bowl at Bruin Field. “They’re doing a really good job of running The System (spread passing offense), and that offense takes a little while to learn,” Todd said. “Mike (Lawson, Central Hardin’s second-year coach) has done a good job of changing the attitude over there.” The Bruins’ new attitude is one of winning while passing. Behind the Bruins’ flourishing offense is senior quarterback Dylan Beger, who’s completed 39-of-49 passes for 735 yards with a 2-to-1 (8-to-4) touchdown-to-interception ratio. “He’s doing a pretty good job with it with what I’ve seen of him on film,” said Elizabethtown sophomore quarterback Kyle Todd. “He runs (the offense) it well, plus he’s fast, so he’s still a threat to run the ball.” Central Hardin runs the same offensive scheme as the Panthers, who average 310.5 yards and 28 points per game, but that might not be as helpful as it seems, said Elizabethtown senior Titus Sublett. “I don’t think it’s that good for us, as they can recognize a formation or a passing play of ours because they also run it. We have to run our routes like we’re taught,” said Sublett, who ran for one touchdown and one conversion last week as the Panthers rallied by 4-A rival Spencer County, 42-39 in the second game of the First Citizens Bank/Kentucky National Guard Bowl. Kyle Todd, who was selected as the Penn Station East Coast Subs Player of the Game after throwing for 278 yards, three touchdowns and one conversion, said the Panthers could still surprise the Bruins if they run their plays correctly. “Yes they know the basic scheme, but our calls are still different from theirs. Plus, we still have some of our own unique plays,” Kyle Todd said. Elizabethtown took an early lead against Louisville Male, which is ranked third in 6-A, but couldn’t keep it in a 66-14 loss to the visiting Bulldogs in the opening week of the season. Then the Panthers blew four leads against Spencer County before finally taking the lead for good in the final 5 minutes. Meanwhile, Central Hardin fought back from a five-point deficit in Week 1 and a 17-point hole last week. “We always come out strong, but we lack depth,” Sublett said. “If we take the lead, we have to fight until the end and stay strong and not let them come back like they did against other teams.” Central Hardin’s defense, which is coordinated by former Panther head coach Paul Gray, has been great at second-half adjustments as the Bruins have allowed just one second-half touchdown in two games. Kyle Todd said figuring out ways to move the ball on the Bruins, who are allowing 257 yards and 18 points per game, starts with Central Hardin’s linebackers. The Bruins’ defense is also coming up with 2.5 turnovers per game. “They blitz a lot. You have to figure out who’s blitzing, who’s not and who’s dropping back into coverage,” Kyle Todd said. “Their linebackers are always moving. You have to watch them the whole time.” Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. The game will be carried live on HCEC-TV (Brandenburg Telecom Channel 1) as well as WKMO 107.3 FM. Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758