PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: North opens playoffs against Barren

North Hardin wideout Camron Smith looks to shove off a Barren County defender during the two teams’ regular-season meeting Oct. 16. The two Trojan squads meet again tonight in the 6A playoffs.

Through its first seven games this season, North Hardin football is yet to leave the field with a loss. Now the team can no longer afford to have its first.

After a three-week hiatus, the 7-0 Trojans are preparing to open the Class 6A playoffs at home tonight in a rematch against district foe Barren County.

The two Trojan squads previously played Oct. 16 in a game that North Hardin won 38-6. Despite the previous result, a regular-season victory doesn’t mean North Hardin coach Brent Thompson isn’t taking the visiting Trojans any less seriously.

“Obviously you play a team for the second time, you’ve gotta be just conscious of what happened the first time and make sure that our kids are coming in ready to go,” Thompson said. “Obviously we’ve had a couple weeks off, so we definitely want to make sure of that.”

North Hardin played its last regular-season game Oct. 30, picking up a 23-0 district win over visiting Central Hardin. The Trojans had been scheduled to host South Warren on Nov. 6 for their regular-season finale, but this game was canceled. This coupled with the pushback of the start of the playoffs by a week means it’s been a while since North Hardin has had to prep for a game.

Conversely, Barren County was able to play Nov. 6, falling at home 42-20 against Wayne County for its final regular season game. The loss dropped the team to a 2-5 record ahead of the playoffs.

While the visiting Trojans have had less time in between games, Thompson has been impressed with the effort his Trojans have shown to stay prepared over this stretch.

“They’ve done a really, really, good job. We’ve done some things and we’ve tried to keep it a little lighter at practice. We’ve tried to make sure we give them a lot more mental reps and that kind of thing,” Thompson said. “We’re just trying to make sure that we get better at being a North Hardin football player and that kind of thing and not really worrying about so much of the other team and that kind of stuff.”

North Hardin’s usual suspects on offense had impressive nights during the regular-season meeting between these two teams.

Quarterback Manie Wimberly was 18-28 with 170 yards and two touchdowns. Wimberly’s touchdowns were caught by Jalen Sharps and Camron Smith. La’Vell Wright led the team’s rushing and receiving numbers, with 10 carries for 139 rushing yards and five receptions for 76 receiving yards, respectively. Wright also picked up the team’s lone rushing touchdown of the night.

Defensively, the host Trojans had 58 total tackles, seven tackles for loss and four sacks. Michael Lunz led the team in tackling with nine total, including seven solo. Xavier Williams recorded three of the four sacks.

In order to duplicate this kind of result, Thompson wants his squad to start strong and not let up through all four quarters.

“We want to come out like we do most games. We want to come out and try to make sure we’re into the game early, not try to give them too much life,” Thompson said. “Defensively, we feel like we have to limit some of the touches for (Barren County wide receiver Jamarcus Miley) and also try to make sure we do a better job on containing the quarterback.”

North Hardin and Barren County will square off starting at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Ray Story Stadium.

Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1754 or mtyson@thenewsenterprise.com.

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