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The last time the Hardin-Central Bulldogs and West Nodaway Rockets met, both teams combined for over 1,100 yards of offense in an 88-68 shootout win for the home team at Burlington Junction.
Bulldog Head Coach Kirk Thacker doesn’t expect that type of offensive explosion this season as both teams enter the Hardin-Central Homecoming clash at Lee Meador Field with several new players.
The Rockets are still searching for their first victory of the season under a new head coach, with only the center and fullback returning from last year’s 7-4 team.
“They are kind of in the same boat we are, but they lost more than we did,” Thacker said. “They’re struggling a lot. They kind of mirror us in that they have some size, but they’re kind of slow. So it just might work out that we will have another heck of a ballgame.”
Landon Wood has taken over the quarterback duties for the Rockets. In last Friday’s 46-20 loss to DeKalb, Wood hit just 8 of his 21 attempts for 166 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Perkins handles most of the running chores with 229 yards on 48 attempts with 4 touchdowns. Perkins ran for 67 yards last week, while Matt Saville added 56 more on 17 carries.
West Nodaway fell behind last week 22-0, before battling DeKalb on even terms the rest of the way.
“I think that, right now, they are still searching for an identity, but so are we,” Thacker said. “They’ve run into some pretty tough teams. I think the only surprising loss for them was against North Nodaway, so we’re preparing for a pretty tough game.”
Thacker is hoping his team has put last week’s 72-8 loss at South Holt behind them. Things went sour from the opening kick as Kylyn Sisk ran 63 yards for the first of his 5 touchdowns to drop the Dawgs to 4-4 for the season. Adding to the struggles was the loss of leading rusher Chris Wilson to a neck injury in the first quarter. The Bulldogs also struggled on both sides of the football along the line. Thacker said his team did not block well on offense, while his team missed several tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
“I guess it was a learning experience we had to go through,” he said.
Thacker added that Wilson, who ran the ball 46 times in last year’s meeting with the Rockets, will more than likely be ready to go by Friday’s 7 p.m. opening kick. With Wilson out of the lineup, a bulk of the carries last week went to Jake Harris, who responded with 59 yards on 22 carries.
Not only are the Bulldogs looking to get back over the .500 mark, but they would also like to cap the week’s festivities with a victory.
“Nobody wants to lose on Homecoming,” Thacker said. “So we’re going to do our best and try and come out with a win.”