It’s been four years since the Fern Creek High School football team won a first-round playoff game, and first-year coach Josh Abell is ready to see that streak end.
He particularly has pushed the team’s 14 seniors, who will get their final chance for a playoff victory Friday.
“Our motto has been, ‘One team, one dream, one legacy,'” Abell said. “For our seniors, we don’t want them just to hang their hats on one playoff game. We want to potentially get a couple and go from there.”
Fern Creek (6-3) will host Seneca (5-5) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a first-round Class 6-A playoff game. The winner will face the Eastern-Butler winner in the second round next week.
Fern Creek’s last playoff victory came in 2010, when the Tigers beat Marshall County 25-6 before falling to Henderson County in the second round. The Tigers have been shut out in three straight playoff games since then, losing to Bryan Station 50-0 in 2011, Henderson County 38-0 in 2012 and St. Xavier 26-0 last year.
The Tigers already own a victory over Seneca this season, winning 30-20 on Sept. 12 as sophomore Kyree Hawkins rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
“We’re trying not to hang on that too long because we’re trying to beat the cliché that it’s hard to beat a team twice in the same season,” Abell said. “They’re a much different team now, and so are we.”
The Tigers feature six running back who have totaled at least 100 yards this season. Senior Cameron Petty is the top rusher with 558 yards and five touchdowns. Hawkins (320 yards, four TDs) and junior Delquan Wimberly (295 yards, one TD) are the other top backs.
Fern Creek got a boost last week from freshman Devon Blincoe, who carried 10 times for 60 yards and a touchdown in a 40-6 rout of Waggener.
“We’ve been waiting for him to come around,” Abell said. “He’s going to be a heck of a player.”
Seneca enters with a two-game losing streak, having fallen to Butler 28-7 on Oct. 24 and Scott County 47-0 last week.
The RedHawks are led by the 1-2 punch of running back Travon Harris (791 yards, nine touchdowns) and quarterback Tylan Harbin (609 yards, two TDs). Harbin also has passed for 831 yards and eight TDs. Mikal Ballard, who has committed to Austin Peay, is the top receiver with 15 catches for 399 yards and four TDs.
Abell said his biggest concerns are Seneca’s athleticism and the potential for rain during the contest.
“We haven’t shown any consistency in how we’ve played in bad weather conditions,” Abell said. “In some games when it’s wet or cold, we’ve played our butts off. In others, we haven’t been so good.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
GAME OF THE WEEK
• Who: Seneca (5-5) at Fern Creek (6-3).
• When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
• Jason’s pick: Fern Creek 27-21.