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By NATHANIEL BRYAN
HODGENVILLE — Rodney Armes, LaRue County High School’s veteran football coach, is afraid to open his mouth nowadays, because another one of his Hawks might get hurt if he does.
When the homestanding Hawks (3-5 overall, 0-2 in the four-team Class 4-A, District 4) entertain the 17th-ranked Bullitt East Chargers (3-4, 2-0) at 7:30 tonight, LaRue County will be without four players – freshman quarterback-defensive back Jordan Brewer (foot), junior lineman Tyler Davenport (knee), tight end-defensive end Christian Mullins (back) and sophomore lineman-defensive end Austin Shirley (shoulder) – because of injuries. Armes said a fifth player, senior lineman Eric Patterson, is only at 80 percent because of a strained MCL.
“This list is going to get longer if I keep talking to you,” Armes said prior to Thursday afternoon’s practice. “We’ve never had this many season-ending injuries before. We’re banged up. And we have a lot of little bumps and bruises that we have to play through.”
Tonight’s game means nothing as far as postseason seeding. The Hawks, who have yet to win a game in their two years in this district since being realigned, will be the fourth seed for the playoffs, while Bullitt East locked up the top seed with a 13-10 home win against Marion County on Sept. 26.
So in what could be the final home game for the Hawks’ seniors, Armes hopes they’re out to prove they’re getting better.
“I think we’re to the point that we have to tell them we’re playing to get better and improve for the playoffs. We’re in the improvement mode right now,” Armes said. “We know we’re fourth place in the district, so what we’re talking to them about right now is to get better and try to improve.”
LaRue County’s offense has been a bright spot this season, as the Hawks average 33.9 points and 382.6 yards per game.
But those gaudy numbers mattered little last week in a 49-27 home loss to former district rival Elizabethtown. LaRue County put up 515 yards of offense against the Panthers, but gave up nearly 500 yards.
Of the 35 4-A teams, only one, Madison Southern (332), has given up more points than the Hawks (311) have this season.
“It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating really, not being able to stop anybody,” Armes said. “It comes down to playing your technique and playing your position.”
Stopping Bullitt East, which has beaten the Hawks nine consecutive times since 1992, looks to be a difficult task. The Chargers dropped three of their first four games under new coach Doug Preston, but have rebounded to win two of their last three contests. Their lone loss was to Louisville Fairdale, whose three losses have all come to teams with winning records.
“They’re a good football team,” Armes said. “They’re big up front and they run hard. They don’t do a lot of different things, but they do what they do and they do it well.”
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 505-1758