By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Even with about a dozen starters out of the line-up because of various injuries, the Indians hung tough with Lexington Catholic last week at home.
They couldn’t pull off an upset, falling 54-28, still their were plenty of positives to take for the loss.
“We saw some progress, we’ve just got to keep getting better every day,” Madison Central coach Bert Browne said.
The Indians (1-4) will look to build on those positives when they hit the road today looking to snap a four-game losing streak.
Central is set to take on Paul Laurence Dunbar (3-2) at 7:30 p.m. in Lexington.
The Indians are set to get two players back this week.
Sophomore wide receiver Cody Kidd missed the first five games of the season, but should play today. Senior linebacker Keonta Goggins has been slowed by a knee injury, but also should be able to play against Dunbar.
The Indians will once again take the field with only one healthy quarterback.
Sophomore Kameron Presnell sustained a concussion in the loss two weeks ago at Scott County. Zach Hardin, a freshman, started last Friday against Lexington Catholic.
Hardin completed 11-of-30 pass attempts for 187 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
“None of those interceptions were his fault,” Browne said of Hardin. “I thought he played a pretty good game. He’s smooth. He doesn’t let things bother him. He moves well in the pocket.”
Hardin has played in every game this season and has completed 31-of-71 passes for 496 yards, with five touchdowns and five interceptions.
If Hardin were to go down with an injury, the Indians would likely have to use a Wildcat formation with running back Johan Williams running the offense.
Johan Williams, a sophomore, has emerged as a potent offensive weapon in the past few weeks. He has rushed for more than 100 yards twice this season, including a season-high 133 yards last week.
The sophomore has 390 yards on 64 carries this season with three touchdowns.
“Johan is seeing the holes so well,” Browne said. “His vision at this point is the best of the running backs. Great running backs have great vision and right now, Johan has pretty good vision.”
John Williams, also a sophomore, has become Central’s biggest weapon in the passing game.
He had a season-best seven catches for a career-best 124 yards and a touchdown against Catholic.
So far this season, John Williams has caught a touchdown pass in every game and has 19 catches for 483 yards.
“John has made some big plays, but he’s dropped the football too,” Browne said. “We’ve been on him about that. He has made some big plays, but he’s got to make the ordinary play too.”
Dunbar has struggled in recent years, but the program has shown dramatic improvement this year under new coach Paul Rains.
The Bulldogs went just 8-47 the past five season and didn’t win a playoff game.
This season, they’ve not allowed more than 22 points in any game and both of their losses have been by very narrow margins — 22-21 to Tates Creek and 21-19 to Madison Southern.
“They’ve lost a total of two games by three points,” Browne said. “So, they could be undefeated.”
Quarterback Emory Thompson has led the way for the resurgent Bulldogs.
The senior has 13 touchdowns on the season, eight rushing and five passing. In a win earlier this season against Woodford County, Thompson ran for 177 yards and five touchdowns.
“We’ve got to stop him,” Browne said of Thompson. “He’s the guy you have to stop. If you stop him you probably win.”
Last week, Dunbar earned a hard-fought 21-16 road win over Lafayette. The Bulldogs had lost five-straight to the Generals.
Dunbar had three interceptions, including one by Thompson, and piled up 310 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs showed a bit of different offensive look against the Generals.
Instead of relying mostly on read-option looks with Thompson, Dunbar lined up in a more tradition rushing offense.
Senior A.J. Williams got 15 carries for 122 yards and touchdown. Thompson also had a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown.
“We are going to try to stop the run and see what happens from there,” Browne said. “Make them beat us with the lesser of two evils.”
Central has won three straight games against Dunbar (44-20 in 2012; 47-23 in 2011 and 57-6 in 2008). The Bulldogs last defeated the Indians in 2007 in Lexington.