Week 5 was less than ideal for Central Hardin football. Not only did the Bruins suffer their first loss of the season at the hands of Henderson County, they also lost numerous players to injury across multiple positions. These latest injuries only further depleted a roster that was already banged up going into last week’s game against the Colonels.
As a result, Central Hardin is heading into tonight’s game against Fern Creek with several key players sidelined.
“Half our team we put on the field this Friday will be JV players. We are without eight, potentially nine starters right now. I’ve never in 32 years of coaching ever been faced with the amount of injuries and people out that I have right now,” Central Hardin coach Tim Mattingly said. “I can go through the list of just starter after starter that we have lost. Two to three weeks previously, we lost (running back/defensive back Trey Williams and lineman Brock Burton) and then we lost just one after another on Friday in our game versus Henderson County.”
Other players lost include senior starting center A.J. Orton, who is out for the season following surgery on his ankle this week.
“That’s our second senior now that’s out for his senior year. My heart goes out for those guys, especially a senior when you don’t get the opportunity to finish your career,” Mattingly said. “Other than that, (Wednesday’s) practice I felt we had good vibes. I felt like our players are responding and doing everything we asked them to do. It’s gonna take an unbelievable effort by all of our team to just come in and try to do the best we can Friday.”
The Tigers are 3-2 record and boast a strong rushing attack that has compiled 1,127 yards. Xzavyen Stoner leads Fern Creek with 438 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on 58 attempts.
On defense, the Tigers head into tonight’s game with 286 total tackles, including 43 for a loss and 30 sacks.
“It’s definitely a big, up-hill battle, because you’re trying to prepare young men. There’s a reason you play JV to get that experience and get that learning curve down,” Mattingly said. “Fern Creek runs the ball extremely well; they do play really good defense. It’s not gonna be anything easy. It’s gonna be tough on everybody.”
Fern Creek’s defense also has three fumble recoveries and four interceptions on the season.
Last week, the Bruins finished the game with five turnovers, a number Mattingly knows will have to decrease if they expect to come out with a win.
“When you turn the ball over five times and five turnovers resulted in four touchdowns, that shows right there that we’re a team that can’t turn the football over,” he said. “We have been pretty fortunate all year to have a low number of turnovers. We were only averaging one a game and then you go to five in one game. They were key turnovers.
“We realize we have to have great ball security. If you take away turnovers, we played really good defense for most of that game,” he added. “We just gave them too much of an advantage with field position with our turnovers, so that’s something we’ve gotta correct.”
Central Hardin and Fern Creek will get things started at 7:30 p.m.