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Central Hardin, Elizabethtown and John Hardin all are off this week. Meade County had its bye earlier this season, LaRue County and Fort Knox was off last week and North Hardin will be off the final week of the regular season.
Some coaches like bye weeks and some don’t, depending on how their team is playing. For Central Hardin and John Hardin, it came at a good time.
Although Central Hardin is off to a 6-0 start for the third time in the last five years, this has given the Bruins time to fine-tune some things before a tough stretch. After the week off, they play Collins and back-to-back district games against Muhlenberg County and Meade County.
“We’ve tried to get better and get healthy,” Central Hardin coach Mark Perry said. “We’ve spent the time doing a lot of fundamental work. During the grind of the season, maybe you only spend 15 minutes of practice on individual drills. This gives you time for some extended drill time.”
John Hardin coach Chad Lewis said he has approached it in a similar fashion. The Bulldogs have struggled offensively compared to previous years, so they’ve worked to correct some areas.
“We’ve went back to fundamentals in the Wing-T,” Lewis said. “We’ve worked on our halfbacks blocking. We’ve given tests to our linemen on their rules. You might think that’s silly six games into the season, but we’ve missed some blocks. We’re trying to take care of the small details and clean up those mistakes.”
This is also a chance to give the players some much-needed time off. The season takes a toll on the players – physically and mentally – so this is a chance to give them a break.
Perry gave the Bruins off Monday and they won’t practice today. Lewis brought the players in Monday for a film session and a light workout before regular practices Tuesday and Wednesday, but gave them Thursday and today off.
“It’s a long season,” Lewis said. “Almost all sports have become year-round sports. We start lifting in January, we have spring practice and we work all summer besides the dead period. We’ve been playing until Thanksgiving almost every year, so they don’t get much of a break. I’m a believer in trying to let the kids be kids. It’s also a chance for them to rest their bodies.”
Both coaches said neither team has any significant injuries, but this is a time to heal the bumps and bruises which come from football. Perry said he always notices a difference in players following a bye week.
“We’ve always had good success following a bye,” Perry said. “It’s not a time to relax, but it’s nice to go at our pace and work on the things we need to. You see the kids with fresher legs. They seem to have a bounce back in their step.”
Several freshmen are getting a rare opportunity to make an impact on Friday nights. Usually, freshmen are playing Mondays with the junior varsity team and Thursdays with the freshman team.
But North Hardin’s Isaiah Bankhead and John Hardin’s Korie Cleveland and Robert Shorter are getting their feet wet with their varsity teams this season.
Bankhead has seen time at quarterback this year behind senior starter Andrew Rugerio. He has rushed for 16 yards on six carries and has completed 6-of-14 passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.
It’s no wonder Coach Brent Thompson has given Bankhead time this year since he’s the future. Bankhead has the ability to be a dual-threat at the position and could be a special player. Look for Bankhead to continue to get a series here or there.
Lewis decided to give Cleveland and Shorter a chance last week at Louisville Iroquois. Cleveland rushed for 108 yards and a score on four attempts, while Shorter gained 27 yards on three attempts. Shorter could have had more if it weren’t for two penalties.
Cleveland and Shorter have the potential to be exceptional backs. Lewis said Cleveland is reminiscent of former John Hardin halfback Landon Savoy, while Shorter is similar to Alan Dean, another former halfback. Savoy and Dean both are former Area Offensive Players of the Year, so those are lofty comparisons.
Chuck Jones is the sports editor for The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at 270-505-1759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.