Register Staff Report
What a difference a year makes.
At this time last season the Madison Southern football team was sitting at 1-5 overall and 0-2 in district play.
Through six games the Eagles had scored a respectable 128 points (21.3 per game) but had allowed 224 (37.3), including giving up 60 points to Bourbon County and 54 points to Lincoln County.
In their five losses Southern had allowed 210 points (42 per game).
This year, the Eagles’ offense has been explosive and their defense has been extremely solid.
As a result, the Eagles are riding a three-game winning streak and sit at 4-2 overall and are tied for first place in district with Pulaski County with 2-0 records.
Last year at this point the Eagles were just trying to find a way to win a game.
This year Southern is in a battle for the district crown and can take sole possession of the top spot when they play host to Pulaski County tonight in Berea.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
“Our kids have done everything that we’ve asked them to do since I’ve been here,” Southern coach Jon Clark said. “The work ethic of our kids has been outstanding. Any coach anywhere will tell you that if you don’t have to coach effort, you can get a lot done. We don’t have to coach effort. It’s always at 100 percent if not more. That’s allowed us to really progress.”
Southern has doubled its point total from this point last year, having scored 254 points (42.3 per game) so far.
During the three-game winning streak the Eagles have put 159 points (53 per game) on the board.
While the offense is scoring at will, the defense has only allowed 74 points (14.8) the past five games and is giving up 20.3 per game this season.
Offensively, the big weapon has been sophomore running back Damien Harris, who surpassed 1,000 rushing yards last week during a 47-19 victory against Lincoln County and has scored 25 touchdowns (23 rushing, two receiving) this season.
Harris had five touchdowns against Lincoln County and has 17 in the past three games.
Even though he’s played in just five games, Harris has 1,140 yards on 74 carries and is averaging 228 yards a game.
“Damien gets a lot of attention, but that opens up a lot of other things in our offense,” Clark said. “Adam Simpson is playing as well as any high school quarterback in the state of Kentucky right now. He’s doing some great things in our offense.”
Simpson has completed 29-of-55 pass attempts for four touchdowns and 469 yards with just one interception. He also has 202 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Pulaski County has also had a turnaround season.
The Maroons went 3-8 last season, but finished 2-2 in district to earn a spot in the Class 5A playoffs where they lost 20-0 to Harlan County.
This season Pulaski County is 4-2 and has won three straight, beating North Laurel (28-21), Lincoln County (35-17) and Rockcastle County (30-2).
Tyler Goins leads the Maroons, having rushed 117 times for 663 yards and nine touchdowns.
Quarterback Riley Hall is 99-for-154 for 841 yards and five touchdowns.
Like Southern, Pulaski County has turned things around on both sides of the ball.
Last year the Maroons scored 31 points per game, but allowed 36.
This season Pulaski County is only scoring 25.8 points per game, but is limiting opponents to 24 per game and has only allowed 13.3 points per game during the three-game winning streak.
“They are a good football team,” Clark said of Pulaski County. “There’s a reason they are in the position they are in. But, we playing better every week. We are playing the best football we’ve played all year. I really like the way we are progressing.”
Against Pulaski County last year, the Eagles allowed a season high 63 points, falling 63-41.