North Hardin comes off back-to-back close games and heads to Tates Creek for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday.
“It means a lot,” junior linebacker Michael Lunz said of last week’s 10-6 home victory over No. 7 Louisville Ballard. “We came into this season with high expectations, a high-level of confidence, a low-level of cockiness, knowing that week-in and week-out we’ve got to come in and execute. We know what has to be done.
“It was good to get the win. We came out and played, maybe didn’t win as big as we wanted to, but there was no doubt we got things done.”
The Trojans’ defense has allowed 445 yards through their 3-0 start, almost 50-50 between pass and run.
“It was a dogfight,” said Lunz, who is second on the team with 21 tackles, three for loss and two sacks. “But in the end, we did what we had to do. Those are the best games. Those are the games you want to have on Friday night.”
The defense has forced nine turnovers, six interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
“That’s the goal every week, we don’t want anything on the opposite side of the scoreboard,” Lunz said of pitching a shutout.
“We watch our film, we come out and practice and run through what we have to do. Our communication becomes better, we learn our tendencies at each positions.
We like to keep everything positive. Once you start pointing them fingers, that’s when things start to go down south. We always keep a good vibe about each other, knowing everybody’s gonna make mistakes because things happen. We have to stay on top of our game at the same time.”
Senior Darren Green leads the defense with 25 tackles, nine for loss and 4½ sacks. Senior Jerrell Campbell has 20 tackles, four for loss and 2½ sacks and senior Octavious Oxendine 17 tackles, five for loss and five sacks.
“We feel like we’re pretty good,” Coach Brent Thompson said of his defense. “We know we have to continue to get better. Obviously we find stuff each week that we need to get better at. The best part is these kids come in here on Sunday and they’re not satisfied with where we’re at, offensively or defensively. They want to make sure that we continue to get better each week, clicking and hopefully by the end of the year we’re all on the same page.
“I was very impressed. We came out with a win, which is obviously what we want. We had to battle through some adversity late in the game, where they blocked a field goal, ran down and got a touchdown. We had to continue to battle to get stops at the end of the game. We struggled a little on offense, so our kids faced a little of that. The kids continued to rise and at the end we came out with a W.”
Adversity is something teams face every week.
“It’s very important. It kind of correlates what happens in life,” Thompson said. “Everything’s not gonna be sunshine and rainbows. You have to face it. Something I always talk to these kids about is the response. Adversity is gonna hit us, what are we gonna do to respond? Do we fold our tents, or are we gonna continue to battle and stick together?”
North Hardin, ranked No. 3 in the Kentucky Associated Press poll, has 1,121 yards of offense, 735 of it through the air. Logan Coleman is 43-for-69 for 713 yards, six scores and four picks. Manie Wimberly is 3-for-9 for 22 yards.
“Both of them played last week — one led us to a touchdown and the other one led us to a field goal,” Thompson said. “We feel like it’s an open competition each week and we’ll see how it goes.
“We know that we have to rely on our defense a little more early on. We feel like the times they got down there, they did well. There were probably two other chances that we felt like we could have had some points — one was blocked and the other one we had a penalty that called a touchdown back. We continue to grind it out. We know on offense, until we get everything set and clicking, it’s gonna take us a little bit to score more points. We want 35-or-more. That hasn’t happened, but I feel like we keep coming out here and finding the little things to get better at.”
Josh Moore has 14 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns. Ramaj Adams has 14 receptions for 143 yards. They are followed by Camron Smith (4-114-1), Marcus Harris (8-79-2) and Lavell Wright (5-74-0).
Wright has carried the ball 73 times for 421 yards and five touchdowns. The other 15 attempts have netted minus-35 yards.
Tates Creek is 1-2, coming off a 34-28 loss at George Rogers Clark and looking forward to their home opener.
The Commodores are led by quarterback Luke Duby. The 6-foot-1½, 197-pounder is 54-for-89 for 974 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He has completed passes to 11 receivers. Miles Thomas, who has five Division I offers, has 12 catches for 402 yards and five scores.
“I think they’re definitely better than 1-2,” Thompson said.