Coming off their first win of the season, the LaRue County Hawks face Class 1-A, No. 4-ranked Campbellsville at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“They are electric on both sides of the ball,” Hawks coach Josh Jaggers. “Their defense is highly underrated. Their defensive coordinator, Robbie Gribbins and I played college ball together and are very good friends to this day. He’s also a former Marine who just so happens to be an unbelievable defensive football mind. They align soundly from multiple looks and get after you.
“These are the type of games you can’t wait to play. We have some guys who are learning what it is to compete, so we are looking forward to the challenge.”
LaRue County is coming off a 28-point second half in a 28-7 victory at Casey County.
“Offensively, we went back to who we are,” Jaggers said. “At halftime we told the boys we were going back to the bone (wishbone), get downhill, come off the ball and see if we can’t do what we do. We rounded up the guys on offense and reviewed four of our base plays (three runs and one pass) for the first time in a long while and went to work.
“We were also able to get some turnovers ourselves. We had two turnovers in the first quarter — one on an onside kick and then we fumbled on our own 5, which led to their lone score. Going back to the Taylor County (a 34-13 loss) game and into the first quarter of Casey, we had six turnovers to their none. You can’t beat anybody with that kind of turnover ratio.
“We picked off three passes in the second half that were just really good plays on our part by Mark Goode, then Kellen (Bowen) made a really nice grab on their sidelines and Preston (Self) kind of sealed the deal on their last drive with his.”
Goode read a screen pass, tipped it to himself and ran it in 10 yards for the score.
“They really played well,” Jaggers said of his defense. “Nine or 10 of those guys never came off the field and it’s dang tough to rush the QB all night up front, then also start on offense — just like it is for our linebackers and secondary, guys defending the pass all night then turning around and being our running backs, receivers and even QB.
“Those guys played with some guts and are only getting better and have done it against some very tough teams out of the gates.”
The Hawks ran the ball 58 times for 244 yards and two scores last week. Jeremiah Belton led the way with 129 yards on 29 carries.
They have 587 yards on 141 attempts this season. Belton has 188 yards on 52 carries and senior Matthew Lewis 167 yards and a score on 24 attempts.
“We are who we are,” Jaggers said. “These guys over the years have kind of brainwashed themselves with the power and misdirection run game out of the bone. It’s what they feel comfortable with and it fits them. It’s not bullet proof by any means. We had several games last year where we struggled to put points up and we will have nights like that this year also with the very tough schedule we have left to play.
“But it’s just what they feel comfortable with and love, to be quite honest. Being down 7-0 at the half then to get some stops on D to go along with scoring 28 unanswered with a very, very minimal playbook that second half speaks for itself, I think, in regards to the guys and who they are.”
Senior Tucker Shelton leads the defense with 14 tackles. He is followed by Kellen Bowen (12) and Conner Lambert (11).
The Eagles (2-1) are coming off a 29-20 loss at Class 3-A, No. 7 Taylor County.
They are led by senior standout Malachi Corley, who leads them in rushing (21-280-6) and receiving yards (11-239-3).
“They are loaded across the board with speed and as far as Malachi? I have no idea how you stop him,” Jaggers said. “He and (Joe) Becherer at E’town are both like these create-a-player you can do on video games where they check all of the boxes or how Bo Jackson was on Tecmo Bowl. He’s unreal and the thing is, people know he’s getting the ball and they still aren’t able to slow him down.
“We have our hands full, but we just have to get physical with them I think. They have skill galore, but are also a very well-coached team on both sides of the ball and play physical. We can’t let them get in space and have free lanes to get off the ball. We have to play physical, sound football in the box and outside we have to get our hands on them somehow and slow their receivers down. If you play off in zone much, then hn and Hash are just going to torch you.”
That would be quarterback Arren Hash, who is 36-for-58 for 664 yards, seven scores and two picks.
“He’s been threading it in tight spaces where his guys can catch it or nobody can,” Jaggers said. “I actually went to see them play Casey County and the windows he was fitting balls into when they’d have a defender right on them was very impressive.
“Obviously they are a legit Class A state title contender and if they stay healthy, I have no doubt whatsoever they’ll be playing at Kroger Field for it all. They’ve won back-to-back region titles and this year they will do that and more in my opinion.”