If you thought last year’s loss to Manual was a tough one to forget for Fern Creek High School football coach Josh Abell, you’d be correct.
For one, Abell is a 2004 Manual grad who’d like nothing more than to stick it to his alma mater. And the 28-18 defeat ended up costing the Tigers an undefeated regular season.
But most of all, Abell was unhappy his team missed an opportunity to make a statement against one of the top dogs of football in Louisville.
“There’s always going to be a sour taste losing to them because of my history there and the bitterness between the kids back and forth and the friendly banter,” Abell said. “But it was upsetting to me and hard to get over because we did give that one away.
“I’m not taking away anything from those guys because they have a hell of a football team. But we gave up a big punt return in the third quarter and just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Abell and his Tigers will get another shot at Manual on Friday, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. at Manual Stadium. Both teams are 1-0 and ranked among the top 10 in the respective classes by The Associated Press, with the Tigers No. 6 in Class 5-A and the Crimsons No. 7 in 6-A.
Manual has defeated Fern Creek six straight years, with the Tigers’ last victory in the series coming in 2009 by a 31-28 score.
“There’s talk about (Manual) being low on numbers, but the 11 they put out there will be as good as any 11 we’ll probably see all year long,” Abell said. “It’s a challenge, but we have big expectations and high hopes for this game.”
Fern Creek rolled past Seneca 33-0 last week in its season opener, though Abell said there “was probably more that I didn’t like than I did like in that game.” He said he did like his team’s play in the second half after a first half filled with penalties.
Another bright spot was senior running back Kyree Hawkins, who rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and also posted seven tackles from his linebacker spot. Abell expects junior Devon Blincoe, who missed the Seneca game for disciplinary reasons, to share carries with Hawkins against Manual.
“Kyree had to carry the load for two people last week,” Abell said.
Manual posted a 21-20 victory over Central last week, taking advantage of a missed PAT kick by the Yellowjackets that could have tied the score with 4:57 remaining.
First-year Crimsons coach Scott Carmony said his team was lucky to win.
“We played really well in spurts and really bad in spurts,” Carmony said. “The good news is that all the bad things we did are fixable.”
Junior Marcis Floyd led the rushing attack with 79 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Senior Jaelin Carter had 124 yards and a touchdown on five receptions and continued to show why he’s ranked among the state’s best receivers.
“You get 5-10 or 6-foot receivers, and they’re a dime a dozen,” Carmony said. “Jaelin is blessed being 6-2 and 200 pounds, and he’s really, really fast. When he figures out the whole game and everything we’re trying to accomplish, he’s going to be really good.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
GAME OF THE WEEK
* Who: Fern Creek (1-0) at Manual (1-0).
* When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
* Jason’s pick: Manual 23-21.