LaRue County faces its toughest challenge of the young season tonight in its home opener. After a 21-13 win over Campbellsville in week one and a blowout 48-15 victory over Nelson County in week 2, the Hawks host Bardstown.

The Tigers come into tonight’s matchup off a 46-27 week one win over Washington County and a 49-7 routing of Spencer County last week.

“We’re excited, we’re really excited. Bardstown, they’re one of the household names in this state and they always have been,” LaRue County head coach Josh Jaggers said. “What a great team to open up our new stadium against. Having a statewide power like they are come in here and see what we can do against them, we are excited.”

Last week against Spencer County, Bardstown put up 204 passing yards and 145 rushing yards. The Hawks had 131 passing yards and 385 rushing yards against Nelson County. LaRue County’s rushing prowess, mainly on the back of Jeremiah Belton’s 298 yards, puts the Hawks’ offensive production ahead of the Tigers after similar blowout victories.

There’s no denying Bardstown’s offense presents a new challenge for LaRue County. Still, Jaggers believes keeping the Hawks’ offense on the field as much as possible could be their best bet for a win.

“That’s the million-dollar question, slowing those guys down. They’ve got as much speed as anybody, no matter what class,” Jaggers said. “Our best defense could potentially be our offense, just because of keeping them off the field, slowing things down.”

When the LaRue County offense is on the field, Belton is expected to continue to play an important part of the Hawks’ running game. In addition to his 298 yards against Nelson County, he also had four of the teams’ six rushing touchdowns.

Belton also had 169 yards and two rushing touchdowns during week one against Campbellsville.

“I think he could have a great game like he’s had, but also it’s no secret that Bardstown, they’ll probably be keying on him. A lot of our offense runs through him and rightfully so,” Jaggers said of Belton. “He also knows that people are gonna be keying on him and we have to open up some things for some other people.”

In order to spread the ball around and take the pressure off Belton, Jaggers will look to quarterback Conner Baker, who’s thrown for 102 yards and one touchdown the last two weeks. Fellow quarterbacks Bryce Neagle and freshman Cutter Boley could also take some snaps.

There is also wideout Preston Self who has 115 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks, as well as receiver Kellen Bowen.

LaRue County kicks off against Bardstown at 7:30 p.m.

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

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