SEMI-PRO FOOTBALL: Unbeaten and nationally ranked Wolverines hope to extend best start in team history
By NATHANIEL BRYAN
CECILIA — With many more games still to play in the blazing summer heat, Kendrick Johnson hopes cooler heads prevail.
The Hardin County Wolverines’ president and co-founding quarterback has a reason to think that way after his team was flagged for a franchise-record 160 penalty yards in last week’s 50-8 win over the Derby City (Louisville) Thunder.
With such high expectations his fourth-year semi-pro team has this season, Johnson knows they can’t overcome too many games like their last one.
“If we play every play with the expectation of a flag being called, we’ll be all right,” Johnson said Wednesday night. “Hopefully it will be much better this week and we’ll be a lot more focused.”
For his team’s national title hopes, the Wolverines better be.
The unbeaten Wolverines (5-0 overall, 3-0 in the 17-team, four-state Ohio Valley Football League) sit atop Minor League Football News’ Class 2-A Midwest Region rankings for the second straight week. Last week, MLFN announced that its top two teams overall will earn berths in the 2-A national championship game on Jan. 14, 2007, at Harris Field in Homestead, Fla.
“From here on out, all of our games our big games,” Johnson said. “The roadmap or blueprint, whatever you want to call it, has been laid out. We can control our own destiny to the national championship, so they’re all big games.”
Which is exactly what Saturday night is.
The Ohio (Columbus) Storm roll into Central Hardin High School’s Bruin Field undefeated as well. The sixth-year Storm (2-0, 2-0) are coming off a 24-18 win last week against the visiting West Virginia Crash. The Storm n which, like the Wolverines, are off to their best start in franchise history n took the lead for good with less than two minutes left in the game and secured the win with a fumble recovery with 27 seconds left.
The Storm hope to end the Wolverines’ domination against Ohio teams. Hardin County is unbeaten (10-0) all-time against teams from the Buckeye State.
The Storm haven’t won a road game since 2003, which coincidence or not, was the same year the Wolverines last lost at home.
“They’re coming down here with something to prove just like we have something to prove. This is our house and we want to protect it,” Johnson said.
Despite their penalty problems n they gave the Thunder a pair of fresh downs on third or fourth down n the Wolverines’ defense held Derby City to less than 200 yards on 63 plays. The Wolverines’ defense has held seven of last nine opponents to two touchdowns or less, including 4-of-5 this season.
Johnson said former Elizabethtown and Western Kentucky University player Tyran Robertson, one of the team’s top backfield threats the past two seasons, could return to action this week. In his absence, 10 players combined for 176 yards on the ground. Marvin Swope did a bulk of the work, running for 69 yards and three touchdowns on 16 attempts.
“I wanted to focus on the passing game last week because I knew they were going to try to throw a lot of defensive backs at us,” Johnson said. “Our passing game will open up the run for us and once we get that going, we’ll really be something.”
Kickoff is set for 7. Admission is $5 for 13 and older, $2 for children 6-12 and free for children 5 and younger. The first 25 kids 2-6 years of age will receive a free Wolverine T-shirt in honor of former Elizabethtown star Chris Williams’ selection last week as Player of the Game.
Nathaniel Bryan can be reached at 769-1200, Ext. 291
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