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Four games into the football season, the Hardin-Central Bulldogs have alternated wins and losses including last week’s 62-6 thumping at home at the hands of South Holt.
However, it should be noted that the Bulldogs’ record at this point last season was also 2-2 as they advanced to the 8-man state title game.
Still, coach Kirk Thacker knows his team has some work left to do, especially this week as they face almost a mirror image of last week’s opponent in West Nodaway. After dropping their first two games, the Rockets have won their last two by convincing margins – 52-0 over North Nodaway and last week’s 66-44 decision over DeKalb. The Bulldogs travel to Burlington Junction knowing they will have to slow down a team that, like South Holt, tries to spread out the defense and use its speed. Thacker felt his team was a little intimidated by the Knights speed.
“Everything bad I thought that would happen, did happen,” he said. “We just didn’t have the personnel to cover that many who are that fast and are that good of athletes. We could pound the ball with them, but we just can’t catch anybody, but we didn’t get the power game going either.”
Thacker was not pleased with his team’s blocking and this week’s practice has focused on correcting that.
Connor Nicholas provided the spark for last week’s win over DeKalb. Nicholas scored 6 touchdowns for the Rockets – 3 rushing and 3 passing as he rushed for 268 yards on 28 carries, while catching 6 passes for 71 more yards.
“We’re going to keep an eye on him, and their quarterback likes to chuck it just as much as Scooter Anderson – I don’t think he’s as good as him though – but they like to spread the ball, too,” Thacker said. “They’re not as athletic as South Holt according to some of the other coaches I’ve talked to, but they are still pretty athletic.”
Triggering the offense is quarterback Cody Moore who completed 14 of 24 passes for 175 yards and 4 passes last week.
The Hardin-Central ground game, which was held to 214 yards, also had to work through first half injuries to Daniel Carpenter, Chris Herring and Randy Estenbaum. The Bulldogs will face the 3-3 defense of West Nodaway, instead of the usual 4- and 5-man fronts that they have seen through the first four games of the season.
“There’s a lot of lanes to run through which should play in our hands,” Thacker said. “We’re hoping that’s what happens. If we can get to the second level and past their three down linemen, we ought to have some success.”
Success for Hardin-Central would give the Dawgs a 3-2 record – one better through five games last season.