The Hardin-Central Bulldogs don’t have a lot of time to get things turned around. After dropping their first district contest 60-6 last week to Miami, the Bulldogs host Chilhowee Friday night with any post-season hopes firmly placed in their own hands.
“If we want in the playoffs, we’ve got to win the next two,” Bulldog Coach Kirk Thacker said.
Although Chilhowee enters the 7 p.m. kickoff at Lee Meador Field with a 2-5 record, Thacker adds it is a very deceiving 2-5 team. In their two victories, the Indians have managed to put 60 points on the board and are nowhere near the team the Bulldogs thumped 72-0 last season.
The Indians have been helped by co-oping with Leeton, which boosted the roster to over 30. One of the new additions to Chilhowee is the Indians leading ground gainer in Matt Thompson who has piled up 1,120 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. Thacker said Thompson is the type of runner that has given his team problems all season.
“He’s a fast little kid,” Thacker said. “He’s along the lines of the Sisk kid from South Holt, the kid from Union Star, and the quarterback, Powell, the other night gave us problems. They are all little, fast, stop-on-a-dime, change direction kids and he’s in the same mold, so we are going to have a problem trying to corral him so that will be the main thing.”
Derreck Stoneking is the main receiving threat with just 8 receptions – 7 for touchdowns – and 189 yards. Thompson has also caught 13 passes out of the backfield for 178 yards and a score. Last year’s leading rusher, Merced Cisneros spends more time on the line this season, but moves into the backfield when the Indians go to a power game.
Thacker adds most of his team’s defensive struggles have been in the execution.
“We know what the other teams are going to do,” he said. “We’ve had them scouted perfectly. We just haven’t executed on defense at all. They have done exactly what we thought they were going to do and we just didn’t get up there and stop it.”
Thacker, who thought his offense would have Joe McMichen back under center, had those hopes dashed early in the game last week when he re-injured his knee on a defensive play and is now lost for the season.
In hopes of getting his offense untracked, Thacker has made a few changes – especially up front.
“We’re going to shake some stuff up this week,” he said. “We’ve got to get our line blocked, so we’re going to move Mark Carpenter down from tight end to a tackle. We’d like to throw the ball to him, and we still might pop him out there a couple of times, but if we don’t have time to throw him the ball, there is no use having him out there.”
Thacker adds that the lack of running game has been one of the reasons his Dawgs have slipped to 3-5 this season, including four losses in the last five games. Last week, Hardin-Central was held to minus-1 yard rushing, and just 136 yards the week before.
“Our lack of running game is getting into obvious passing situations,” Thacker said. “The defense is taking advantage of that by pinning ears back and disregarding the run.”
While most other teams like to throw the ball to set up the running game, he wants his Dawgs to establish the run to set up the pass.
Thacker said he is also cutting down the playbook to simplify the offense in hopes that it will help his team execute better.