After months of preparation, the Central Hardin football team finally will get to play against someone other than itself tonight when it hosts Daviess County at 8 p.m. to kick off the 2019 season.
The Bruins, who went 3-8 a season ago, open their campaign against a Daviess County team that went 6-5 last year. The visiting Panthers are led by sophomore quarterback Mason Boswell and an experienced offensive and defensive line.
“I talked to several coaches throughout the summer and they told me, ‘They’re young. They’re this and they’re that.’ They’re not that young,” Central Hardin coach Tim Mattingly said of Daviess County. “They do start some sophomores. Their quarterback (Mason Boswell) is a sophomore and some of their DBs are sophomores. You can tell he’s going to be a really good quarterback. He’s got a natural throwing ability and he’s very athletic.
“But their offensive line and their defensive line and their linebackers are all juniors and seniors. I think they’re a good football team. I think their offensive line is good.”
Today’s meeting marks the first between the two sides since Central Hardin won 27-20 in the 2017 Class 6A state playoffs.
“We’re gonna have to play. We have to come out ready to play,” Mattingly said. “We can’t live off what happened last week in a scrimmage. Don’t ever get too high or too low from a scrimmage because a scrimmage is a scrimmage.”
ELIZABETHTOWN VS. ALLEN COUNTY-SCOTTSVILLE AT GLASGOW, 5 P.M. FRIDAY: The Panthers kick off their season early today in a bowl game atmosphere against Class 4A program Allen County-Scottsville.
Elizabethtown, led into Week 1 by a handful of experienced returners, including senior running back Joe Becherer and junior quarterback Clay Games, meet a Patriots team that is coming off a 6-5 season.
It’ll be the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
“We have never played this team before, and all we know about them is what we could gather from a scrimmage tape,” Elizabethtown coach Mark Brown said. “That’s OK because many teams start the season this way. From the video we can see that they have good size and a very good QB. He is a dual-threat in that he can throw the ball and may be their best runner. They look to be very solid defensively and fundamentally sound.
“We are looking forward to it because it’s always exciting to kick the season off. Playing in a bowl game makes it a little more exciting. The important thing for us is to keep our mistakes to a minimum and eliminate turnovers. The team that does that usually does well in that initial game.”
LARUE COUNTY AT GLASGOW, 8 P.M. FRIDAY: The Hawks meet the host team Glasgow in the nightcap of the annual Scottie Bowl.
LaRue County, which went 8-6 a season ago and advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals, return junior quarterback Connor Baker and senior tight end — and Western Kentucky University commit — Mark Goode, among others.
The Scotties went 11-2 last year and are led by senior running back Nick Mitchell, senior quarterback Tanner Abernathy and a talented defensive unit.
“They present all kinds of problems,” LaRue County coach Josh Jaggers said. “They’re very experienced, especially in the skill spots. Their quarterback and running back are as good as any we will see all year long. They really present a problem on offense because they like to spread you out. They can throw it and run it. With the running back being as big as he is (6-foot, 225 pounds) you can’t just play with five in the box. You’ve got to play with six or even seven, and then when you do that they like going to the air.
“Defensively up front they’re as big and athletic as any we will see all year. Chase Jones (6-2, 270), who is a top-50 player in Kentucky, anchors them upfront. They’re based out of a 50 defense and kick the front and do some different things to force your hand on offense.
“Abernathy and his receivers are really good. When he’s scrambling you can tell that they practice the scramble drills a great deal. Their receivers, when the pocket breaks down, they don’t quit. They find open windows and he’s really good at getting them the ball when things break. He’s as good on the run and creating as he is when he sitting in the pocket. As far as the running back goes, he is so big and powerful. He really kind of reminds me of somebody like Anthony (Adkins) with his size. He runs extremely hard downhill and he’s going to make you tackle him all four quarters. And speaking from experience, we know what it’s like to have somebody like that in our back field and it’s not an easy thing for a defense to stop for four quarters.”
FORT KNOX AT PARIS, 7:30 P.M. FRIDAY: The Eagles travel nearly two hours away for their season opener.
Fort Knox, coming off a 4-7 season, worked on changing the culture of the program and setting expectations throughout the offseason and heads into Week 1 behind second-year coach Wes Arnold.
Paris went 5-6 last year and is led by senior running back Jamaun Clark, who rushed for 643 yards and five touchdowns in 2018.
“Paris is a great team and tough opponent to open our season with,” Arnold said. “They have won several district titles in a row and are very well-coached. They have several dangerous athletes that we cannot allow to get loose. They also have a big line that really gets after it. For many of our guys this will be their first-ever varsity football game and we cannot afford to get caught up in the moment or we will get down quickly. We have to manage the clock and use our depth to wear them down. If we can stay close early, I like our chances.”
NORTH HARDIN VS. LOUISVILLE WAGGENER AT FAIRDALE, 5:30 P.M. SATURDAY: The Trojans hit the road Saturday to Louisville to face Class 4A program Waggener in the King of the Bluegrass Bowl at Fairdale.
Coming off a 9-3 campaign, North Hardin is led by a standout defensive unit, which includes four-star senior defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine, who made 86 tackles to go along with four sacks and three fumble recoveries a season ago.
Waggener went 8-4 in 2018 and graduated its top quarterback and running backs, including 16 total seniors. Senior wide receiver Trevon Davis (187 yards, one touchdown) is one of the Wildcats’ top returners.
“They’re very athletic,” North Hardin coach Brent Thompson said. “They throw the ball around. They’ve got a quarterback who is capable of running it and capable of throwing it. Defensively, they’ve got some skill kids and a couple guys up front who are pretty big and pretty good sized.
“If we block and tackle, I feel like good things can happen. They’re a formidable opponent. I think they’re adjusting a little bit to the new coach (Tye Lawson) that came in during the spring – trying to get things set up. We just want to go over and take care of ourselves, take care of the football and hopefully come out with a win.”
JOHN HARDIN AT DANVILLE, 8 P.M. SATURDAY: The Bulldogs kick off their season Saturday night on the road at Danville in the Bob Allen Pigskin Classic.
John Hardin, which went 8-4 in 2018, is led into Week 1 by a handful of returners, including junior running back Dominik Hodges, senior offensive lineman Elijah Webb and senior linebacker Darian Camery.
Danville went 5-7 last year after going a perfect 15-0 in 2017 with a Class 2A state championship. The Admirals graduated nearly every main piece of their offense.
“Danville is extremely well-coached and fundamentally sound,” John Hardin coach Chris Engstrand said. “They are athletic and big and can give us problems. They have big-play potential on every snap.”