HALL OF FAME
The Big Game: Bardstown at County
September 19, 2013By Amy Flanagan of Bardstown High School
The Big Game: Bardstown at County
“They’re in our same county (and) we know each other,” Bardstown senior Chandlers Benz said. “Great friends, and it’s a big game.”
It’s the old classic rivalry, Bardstown v. Nelson County, and fans come out of the woodwork for it. For both teams, it’s the best-attended regular season game, and barring a deep trip in the playoffs, it’s the biggest crowd the Tigers and Cardinals will play in front of all year.
“Every week’s a big game,” Nelson County coach Jamie Egli said, “but this game’s bigger than the rest of them. There’s just a sense of urgency. They know everybody and their mother is going to be there Friday night.”
Egli will be coaching in his fifth installment of the rivalry, winning in 2009 and 2010, but dropping the past two in the series. His counterpart, Tiger coach David Clark, will coach his seventh game in the series. The Tigers won in 2007, his first season, but fell to the Cardinals in 2008. For both coaches, they’re looking to get on the plus side of the ledger against their rival.
“It’s an exciting night for the whole community,” said Clark, who feels like his squad won’t get too caught up in the bigness of the event. “It’s what high school sports is all about. We look forward to these games.”
The players are certainly champing at the bit to get at each other, just like they did when they first faced off in pee-wee league.
“You get a little more personal knowing the guy on the other side of the ball by name,” Nelson County senior Tommy Land said. “There may be a little smack-talking, but nothing but a little friendly competition.”
Both teams come into the game off wins. The Tigers (2-0) weathered a mistake-filled game against Marion County last week to score a 45-31 decision. The Cardinals (2-1) rolled to a 53-7 win at Thomas Nelson.
Interestingly enough, both teams come in ranked in their respective class in the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings, with the Tigers at No. 4 in 2A and the Cardinals opening at No. 10 in 4A. If computer rankings are to be trusted, the Tigers are about a 10-point favorite, but rivalry games have a tendency to render rankings meaningless.
“It’s nice, and it’s neat and all that,” Egli said. “But that’s a deal in the computer and on paper. It doesn’t mean much on Fridays.”
Both teams come in with high-octane offenses led by dual run-pass threat quarterbacks in Tiger junior Keanu Young and Cardinal senior Jonathan Breeding.
Young accounted for four scores last week against Marion County — two on the ground and two by air — despite dealing with a hip pointer.
“We can’t give him free plays” by making mistakes, Egli said.
Breeding tossed four touchdown passes against the Generals and ran for another.
Clark said limiting mistakes and keeping Breeding under wraps is key.
“That’s going to be the focus — try to minimize their opportunities as much as possible (and) try not to give them extra possessions,” he said. “(Breeding’s) the trigger-man. He does very well. Not only does he throw the ball well but he runs the ball well.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at Nelson County.
For Land, it’s a chance to even the score after losses the past two seasons to the Tigers. Nelson County beat Bardstown during Land’s freshman season.
“You get a chance to go out with a win against our biggest rival,” he said. “That would be an awesome experience.”
Bethlehem at Ludlow
The Eagles are rolling so far, outscoring opponents 88-6 and averaging 374 yards per game despite having the number of their offensive plays limited to just 38 a contest because of second-half running clocks against Thomas Nelson and Berea.
“We’ve got to continue what we’re doing and get better at it,” Bethlehem coach Ron Koontz said of his offense.
Koontz feels as though his team will face a much more stern test tonight when his team makes the long trip to the northernmost part of the state to take on Ludlow (0-3).
“They’re going to be the best team we’ve played,” he said.
The Panthers come into the game off a 34-26 loss at Paris. It was the first week back for their versatile quarterback, Mitchell Cody, whose presence in the lineup led to a doubling of Ludlow’s offensive output over their 18-14 loss at Bracken County in the second week of the season. Cody threw for 257 yards against Paris, and is a capable running threat as well.
“When he’s playing, it makes a big difference,” Koontz said. “Defensively, we’ve got to get him contained.”
The Eagles (2-0) are ranked No. 8 in Class 1A in this week’s Litkenhous Ratings. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
Christian Academy-Louisville at Thomas Nelson
The Generals’ quest for their first-ever varsity win figures to be a difficult one this week against the Centurions, who are 3-0 and ranked No. 3 in Class 2A in the Litkenhous Ratings.
It’s the first-ever district game for the Generals, who got the misfortune of drawing into the toughest district in Class 2A, with DeSales at No. 1 and Bardstown at No. 4.
The Centurions’ offense is averaging 31 points a game and is led by quarterback Nathan Christmas, running back Nick Payne (314 rushing yards) and receiver Chad Lewellyn (17 catches for 232 yards and three touchdowns).
Generals coach Greg Brohm was not available for comment. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.