Football

Game of the Week | Can Waggener end Central's district reign?

The last time the Central High School football team lost a game to a district opponent, Kentucky had just four classes for the sport and Ty Scroggins was coaching against the Yellowjackets.

Ten years later, Waggener is hoping to end Central’s reign.

The Wildcats (3-1) and Yellowjackets (0-4) will open their Class 3-A, District Three schedules against each other Friday, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Central.

With five state championships since 2007, Central has established itself as a Class 3-A power and rarely has even been challenged by a district opponent, winning 34 straight district games since the start of the 2007 season.

But a revitalized Waggener program has stated its goal is a state title this year and knows that road likely must go through Central at some point.

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“You can’t ignore the fact that we’re playing Central,” Wildcats coach Jordan Johnson said. “Our kids know this is focus week. If we want to say we’re the best, we have to beat the best. Central’s been the best.

“This is the group that wants to end that streak. Somebody has to do it, so it might as well be us.”

Central’s last district loss came in October of 2006, when a Scroggins-coached Doss squad beat the Yellowjackets 32-21. Five months later Scroggins left Doss to replace Steve Serotte as Central’s coach.

The Yellowjackets have ruled Class 3-A, District Three ever since, though the list of district opponents over the years (Moore, Elizabethtown, Shawnee, LaRue County, Henry County, Waggener, Bardstown and Thomas Nelson) isn’t exactly a who’s who of state powers.

Still, Scroggins said the district dominance is a source of pride for the program.

“We’ve talked about it all week,” Scroggins said. “We told them, ‘Don’t be that first team to lose a district game to somebody. Y’all don’t want to be that group.’

“(Waggener) is the new kid on the block trying to knock the old dogs off. It’s going to be emotional, and everybody is going to be jacked up for it. We just have to weather the storm.”

The teams have produced contrasting results so far this season.

Waggener has yet to play a close game, rolling past Iroquois (41-6), Shawnee (76-0) and Atherton (38-0) and falling to Knox Central (46-7). Central is 0-4 for the first time since 1993 but has lost to teams (Manual, Corbin, Christian Academy and St. Xavier) with a combined record of 16-2.

“I told our guys that if we played the same schedule they played, we’d probably be 0-4, too,” Johnson said. “This is not a typical 0-4 team that we’re playing. We’re going to battle them just like they’re the Central of old.”

Offensively the Wildcats are led by senior quarterback Larry Harper (642 passing yards, 14 touchdowns) and his brother, junior receiver Manny Harper (12 catches, 178 yards, five touchdowns). End Tahj Rice and cornerback Jairus Brents are among the top junior recruits in the state and anchor the defense.

Central lost 27 seniors off last year’s 10-3 squad and still is trying to find consistency on the offensive and defensive lines, Scroggins said.

Senior running back Corey Johnson has rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns this season. Scroggins said senior quarterback James Simpson will return after missing the St. X game with a knee injury.

“We’ve had pretty tough starts before, but this group is so young … and we only have four starters that played on the varsity level last year,” Scroggins said. “We just have to get back in a situation where we believe in each other and everybody is on the same page.”

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.

GAME OF THE WEEK

* Who: Waggener (3-1) at Central (0-4).

* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

* Jason’s pick: Central 28-21.

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