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By Russ Green-Sports Editor
Hardin-Central Coach Kirk Thacker is not quite sure what to expect as his Bulldogs line up Friday night against visiting Lincoln in the first District 4 game. Thacker has been busy this week looking at tape of Cardinals, but he won’t have much to look at.
The 6-3 Bulldogs will host Lincoln at Lee Meador Field Friday night and it will be just the Cardinals’ third 8-man game of the season. This is Lincoln’s first year of 8-man competition, but it is expected the Cardinals will be heading back to 11-man games after this two-year cycle in completed.
Lincoln, located in Benton County, is 1-1 against 8-man teams, having beaten Union Star 66-64 and losing to Chilhowee, 45-28. The Cardinals have also split their four games in 11-man competition. Lincoln has beaten Wentworth 42-18 and the Cole Camp junior varsity 30-0. The two losses have been to the Rich Hill JV 20-14 and Appleton City 56-24.
Thacker said his early information indicates the Cardinals are a very young team.
“They’ve done different things in their 8-man games,” he said. “One game they went with a single back against Chilhowee and then they went two-back set against Union Star. I have heard they will spread the ball, or run double tight. I don’t think they have an identity. I think they try things to see if it works and then go with that.”
Thacker said this week’s preparation will focus on what his team does best.
Lately that has been a solid running game and an improving defense – especially against the pass. After struggling against passing teams earlier in the season that helped lead to a three-game losing skid, the Bulldogs have clamped down on aerial assaults with an improved pass rush and better play in the secondary.