PREP FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Central hosts Meade

Central Hardin’s Gavin George intercepts a pass in front of Meade County’s Mitchell Dozier Oct. 18 during the Bruins 43-7 win. Looking on is Central Hardin’s Noah Wilson.

Tim Mattingly is thankful his team does not have to come off a bus tonight.

“We didn’t get off the bus Friday night,” he said of Central Hardin’s 43-7 loss at South Oldham last week. “Bottom line is out kids didn’t come off the bus ready to play and they ran into a good football team that was ready to play and got hit in the mouth.

“We hung our heads. You do that against a good team on the road, bad things are gonna happen to you and that’s what happened.”

The Bruins welcome Meade County at 7:30 tonight in the first round of the KHSAA Class 6-A playoffs.

This is not the same Green Wave team Central Hardin steamrolled three weeks ago, 43-7.

“I’ll tell them, but are they gonna believe me,” Mattingly said. “We’ll preach that to them all week.”

Meade County has gotten healthier in the past two weeks and senior Myran Page has four games under his belt at fullback.

“He’s gotten better every game at fullback,” Mattingly said. “He’s figured it out. He looks like a fullback now. There first couple of games you could tell he wasn’t sure what was going on. He’s figured it out. He knows how to hit it and where to hit it.”

Page ran the ball 21 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns in Meade County’s 42-12 win over Barren County two weeks ago.

He ran the ball and also opened holes as Austin Oppel returned after being out 3½ games.

“We have gotten a few injuries healed back up,” veteran Green Wave coach Larry Mofield said. “Austin’s a competitor. If you were playing checkers he’s going to want to beat you. He’s a great kid. He’s an outstanding football player. Having him back gave our team a lift. Before we got Austin back, our backfield of Mason Burnett, Myran Page and Waylon Allen were playing pretty well. You put Austin back in the mix, not only do you have an outstanding player back, but you created some depth, too. We kind of went back to our roots a little bit. Initially in the beginning of the year we had a scheme that maybe did not suit our personnel as a whole the best.”

Oppel was injured in the first half Oct. 4 at North Hardin. He has run for 873 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.

“I think this week we’ll see a bigger dose of him because they’ve got him back and he has another week under his belt,” Mattingly said.

Page was moved from the offensive line to fullback four weeks ago against Elizabethtown.

“Initially, we told Myran that he may not touch the ball for a while,” Mofield said. “It’s not because he wasn’t capable, it’s because we have so many moving parts, we didn’t have time ... we got in a bind where I looked around ... and Myran is a really good offensive lineman, I miss him up front. We were able to insert a guy or two in there.

“Plus, as the weather’s gotten better, you’re guys are able to play a little longer without getting gassed like the beginning of the year. I can’t say enough about him as a kid, first and foremost. He’s a fine young man that really is an honor to coach. I think he would play anywhere. He wanted to keep his No. 50, but I told him, ‘Occasionally I may send you out on a route, so you have to have an eligible number.’ He took pride in playing up front and he takes pride in playing fullback. I do think he has improved.

“He’s very coachable. He’s a sharp young man, so he’s picked up on things pretty quick. Any time you run the Wing-T, when you have to honor the fullback, you’d like to think it makes you tougher to defend. He runs hard. There’s been times where we haven’t done a good job of making him a hole and he’s kind of made some holes on his own.”

Central Hardin (8-2) enters tonight’s game having lost two in a row. Meade County (4-6) has won two in a row. It beat DeSales, 14-10 last week.

“It just shows you that Meade County had some fight in them and they’re not ready to give up. That doesn’t surprise me,” Mattingly said. “We’ll see what our kids are made of. Do you want to win a playoff game or not? I’ve coached teams that were ready to turn their stuff in and I’ve coached teams that want to fight and keep playing as long as possible.

“We’ll find out which team shows up Friday night for us.”

Meade County’s defense has been really good most of the season, but Mofield believes that side of the ball has been on the field to much too often.

“We finally started being able to move it offensively against Barren some,” the coach said. “We’ve played a lot of good defenses this year. They’ve been playing hard all year long, don’t get me wrong. Honestly, not to take anything away from anybody we’ve played all year, we have self-inflicted a lot of our own wounds throughout the year. E’town’s got an outstanding football team, but we turned it over left and right. We had punts for negative-two yards and a yard. We put the ball on the 30-yard line and essentially said, ‘See if you can score E’town’ and they did.

“We’ve done a lot of foolish stuff throughout the year. That’s one of the biggest things we’ve done the last two weeks, not necessarily an adjustment scheme. In the Barren game we probably had 200 yards in penalties, but I’m not sure they were all penalties. Friday night was probably the least penalized game by both teams that we played all year. I thought the officials let both teams play. It was a clean game. It was a hard-fought game. DeSales may win the 3-A state championship. Coach (Harold) Davis does a great job with DeSales. That was a good win for our program. DeSales would be a top 10 team in 6-A, potentially a top 5 team with their talent.”

The Green Wave had a hard time defending Central Hardin senior receiver Gavin George in the last meeting.

He has seven receptions for 286 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s one of the best receivers I’ve seen,” Mofield said. “As far as kids I’ve coached against in 30 years, the last time I saw a performance like that was probably DeVante Parker (in 2010). I don’t know where Gavin will go play college football, but he has a lot of ability. I think the thing that’s impressive about him is that he’s also a very good defensive back. They’ve got three or four big studs who make plays for them and they all play defense. I don’t know if you stop a kid like that, but you’ve got to try to contain him as much as you can.”

Bruins quarterback Chase Elmore is 91-for-137 for 2,016 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.

George has 42 receptions for 1,068 yards and nine scores. Deonco Wilkerson has 24 catches for 580 yards and three scores and Shaun Hay 13 for 198 yards and a touchdown.

Wilkerson leads the running game with 78 carries for 811 yards and 10 touchdowns. He is followed by Tre’Jean Sanders (61-607-8) and Kyler Lee (89-521-14).

Central Hardin is averaging 216.6 yards per game on the ground. Meade County’s run defense held the Bruins to 88 yards three weeks ago.

The Green Wave ran the ball 51 times for 403 yards and six touchdowns in beating Barren County.

“Meade County is doing what Meade County has always wanted to do — run the football and eat up clock,” Mattingly said.

Mike Mathison can be reached at 270-505-1758 or mmathison@thenewsenterprise.com.

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