By Russ Green-Sports Editor
With a little bit of health and a few changes, the Hardin-Central Bulldogs got the offense clicking on all cylinders last week by rolling up 80 points in a win over Chilhowee.
Friday, the Dawgs return to Lee Meador Field for the first time in two weeks as they host long-time rival Norborne. Friday night’s meeting could be the first of two between these two schools in as many weeks.
Hardin-Central sits in third place in the District 8 point standings, with the Pirates at No. 6. Very little change is expected in the points despite the outcomes of this week’s games, so the Pirates could return to Hardin to begin district play in week No. 10.
The Bulldogs grounded out almost 500 rushing yards in last week’s victory at Chilhowee. The tailback tandem of Hank Bowers, who rushed for 183 yards on 18 carries, and Terry Barron, who added 90 more yards on 15 carries, sparked the Hardin-Central running game. Bulldog Coach Kirk Thacker also moved Evan Griggs to fullback, where he played as a freshman.
Although he only carried twice for five yards, Thacker said his junior played a key role in the revival of the running attack.
“He’s bigger than Terry was at fullback, so I think we’re getting a little better blocking at the point of attack with him,” Thacker said. “So with a fresh back coming in about every play, that has made a big difference.”
Thacker also said freshman Rhyler Estenbaum has come along well in replacing the injured Sean Utley at quarterback.
Defensively, the Bulldogs still gave up a few yards in the air last Friday, but Thacker was pleased with how they played.
“Hank did a good job of shutting down their best receiver, but a lot of their routes were sideline routes and timing patterns,” he said. “We didn’t get burned on anything deep like we have the last couple of weeks. We’ll make them nickel and dime us to death rather then get the home run every time.”