Unlike last season when John Hardin had a veteran team with several proven players on both sides of the ball, the third season for Doug Preston in leading the Bulldogs will be much different.
That is why team chemistry will be critical to the development of the Bulldogs, Preston said.
“We will have almost all first-time starters on the field so developing a chemistry and understanding what we are doing in our schemes is critical, but understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses is just as important with a team of inexperienced players in my opinion, ‘ said Preston, who led the Bulldogs to a 7-6 record last season. John Hardin fell in the district final at Spencer County, 7-5.
With a new group of players who will take on different roles this season as starters, Preston said there will be growing pains that come with the transition.
“We must develop consistency in execution on both sides of the ball,” he said. “That will take some time but that is the nature of football in general. It is a very developmental sport. I am confident our kids will do this and improve as we move forward into the second half of the season.”
Gone from last year is the starting quarterback, top seven ball carriers, top three receivers and seven of the Bulldogs’ top eight tacklers. The departures provide plenty of opportunities for playing time.
“What I like about this team is their willingness to be coached as well as being willing to help each other out,” he said. “I have many kids doing what we are asking of them and doing more on their own time, which is always a strong indicator of a positive outlook.”
One player the Bulldogs do have returning is senior defensive lineman Solomon Bennett, who led the team in tackles last season with 126 and had a team-high 32 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.
“There will be growing pains and some tough times early simply due to being this inexperienced, but I do like the upside of this group,” Preston said. “They will be very good as the season goes on, and I see a very bright future with the kids coming through our program right now. It will take some time and season.”
Preston said the schedule will prepare the Bulldogs for district play and possible playoff action. John Hardin, a Class 4-A school, plays three Class 6-A teams (North Hardin, Central Hardin and Meade County) as well as three tough 3-A programs in Elizabethtown, Bardstown and Glasgow.
“Live-game situations are what develops experience,” he said. “… What I like about the schedule is that it will get us ready for the district and the playoffs. We will have been through several battles.”
The Bulldogs open the season Aug. 19 against host Glasgow in the Scottie Bowl.