Sometimes the best offense is a little trickery and an opportunistic defense.
On a night when North Hardin finished with a little more than 200 yards of total offense, the unbeaten and second-ranked Trojans still found a way to overwhelm Barren County, 42-6, Friday night in an opening game of the Class 6-A playoffs.
“We can score in a lot of ways and it showed tonight,” said senior Jalen Sharps, who passed for a touchdown, caught a TD pass and caught a 63-yard pass off a fake punt.
With senior running back La’Vell Wright, North Hardin’s leading rusher and scorer sidelined by a right foot injury, the Trojans found multiple ways to get in the end zone to improve to 8-0.
Wright was on crutches and his foot was in a walking boot.
“He probably could have played, but we wanted to take precautions,” North head coach Brent Thompson said of Wright. “We’re just trying to keep him out and trying to keep it from swelling out on him.”
Thompson said Wright, a University of Kentucky commit, suffered the injury Oct. 30 against Central Hardin during a 151-yard rushing effort.
The Trojans scored in a variety of ways by rushing for a touchdown, passing for three scores, and scoring twice on defense — a 98-yard interception return and a fumble recovery in the Barren County end zone.
North also used some trickery as punter Alex White tossed a pass to Sharps in the right flat and he went 63 yards before being stopped at the Barren County 4.
“We knew they were going to blitz off the edge and it was one of those kind of things where I’m acting like I’m blocking because they were coming hard off the edge every time,” Sharps said.
He caught the pass and was wide open.
After a scoring run by Kye Boyd, Wright’s backup, was called back by a holding penalty after the fake punt, junior quarterback Manie Wimberly fired a 16-yard scoring strike to Sharps.
The score started a scoring surge by the Trojans in the fourth quarter as they scored three times in less than eight minutes to roll to the win.
“La’Vell is a big part of the offense, but Kye stepped up and did a good job and we did some other things to get the win,” said Wimberly, who completed 12-of-21 passes for 103 yards and pair of TD passes.
North had just nine rushing attempts for the game with Boyd getting 27 yards on five carries.
The Trojans put the game away after the Wimberly to Sharps score gave North a 28-6 lead.
Senior Devonte Lemafa returned an interception 98 yards for a score as he picked off Barren County junior quarterback Jameson Buie and then dodged numerous tacklers, finally breaking free near midfield and coasted into the end zone.
“That was just like playing backyard football right there,” Wimberly said.
Ahead 35-6 with 5:33 left in the game, North closed the scoring when Buie was stripped of the ball in the end zone and senior Jordan Moore pounced on the loose ball for a score.
“We got off to a good start and then we looked a little rusty and struggled a little bit,” Thompson said. “It took us a bit to get it going.”
North grabbed a 7-0 lead with 8:44 to go in the first period when Sharps took a pitch from Wimberly and then tossed a 13-yard scoring pass to senior Michael Lunz for his first catch of the year.
Micah Parmes then picked off Buie and returned the interception 35 yards to the Barren County 7 where Wimberly went around the left end for a score.
After Barren County (2-6) closed to within 14-6 late in the first period, Wimberly hit senior Marcus Harris on a crossing pattern and over the middle and then he did the rest, scoring from 38 yards out.