Hawks hoping for another long postseason run

The similarities for the LaRue County football team as the Class 3-A playoffs begin are eerily similar.

Again, the Hawks take a 5-5 record into postseason play.

Again, the Hawks are searching for their first complete football game of the season.

Again, playing on the road early will be a key factor in the Hawks’ postseason.

“Last year we played our first full game the first round of the playoffs — that’s been our challenge to this group,” Coach Josh Jaggers said. “All isn’t lost. We are 5-5. Same spot as last year. The first round is when that group played a full 48 — everybody is 0-0 right now — so what better time than now to put it all together again?”

LaRue County, which is coming off a 34-28 setback at Russell County to close the regular season, faces a big task tonight when the Hawks visit 11th-ranked Bardstown. The Tigers are 8-2 and already own a 42-0 win over LaRue County on Sept. 27.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

“We’ve played really well on the road this year at times against some really good people this year, we just have to come out Friday night and do it for 48 minutes,” Jaggers said.

Last year in winning the region title, the Hawks opened with a home win and then won road games at Caldwell County and Elizabethtown.

Jaggers said in the first meeting with Bardstown, the game was scoreless midway through the second quarter when the Tigers took control of the game.

Bardstown features a balanced offensive attack and an opportunistic defense that has intercepted 20 passes and returned five for touchdowns.

“They are absolute ball sharks in the secondary,” Jaggers said.

The Tigers are second in Class 3-A in points per game at 42.1 and points allowed per game at 11.4.

“They are a tough matchup,” Jaggers said. “Having played them along with others in Top 10 polls all year long like E’town, Glasgow and Taylor County, then having seen other top teams in 3-A just on film, they have as much, if not more, overall team speed than anybody in our class.

“We feel like though that if we execute, there are some things we can cause them problems with. It’s going to be a huge challenge and one I know our bunch will be up for.”

Limiting offensive possessions for the Tigers’ quick-strike offense will play a key role in the 7:30 p.m. matchup in Bardstown. Jaggers said the Hawks must “play keep away.”

“Control the tempo and score, that’s been our keys to success the last couple years against people with more team speed than us, and it will be the same Friday,” he said. “We need to finish drives or put together some big plays ourselves and win the turnover battle by a couple. If we do that, then we definitely have a shot.”

LaRue County had four turnovers in the first meeting — three fumbles and an interception. Bardstown fumbled once.

Junior running back Jeremiah Belton leads the Hawks’ ground game with 804 yards on 155 carries and eight touchdowns. He’s coming off a 125-yard effort in the loss to Russell County.

Junior quarterback Connor Baker has thrown for 364 yards and four scores — all to junior Preston Self.

Jaggers said his offense must be able to lineup and “go right at them.”

“Going east and west against these guys doesn’t turn out to well,” he said. “... If there is a way to have success against them, you’ve got to go try and go right at them and be content with three and four-yard gains. You can’t get impatient against these guys.”

Jaggers said junior Tyrell Coulter, a running back and linebacker, likely is out again this week. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in an Oct. 18 loss at Elizabethtown.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com

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