Dual threat

Kalib Perry (8) stars at both quarterback and free safety for Great Crossing, which plays its first road game of the season Friday night at Harrison County.

After two weeks of christening the new Birds’ Nest Stadium, Great Crossing High School football will get its first regular season experience of riding the bus to drop in on a neighbor.

Harrison County (1-1) hosts that crossroads game against GC (0-2) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

While it would be an exaggeration to say the road and the schedule are getting “easier” for the Warhawks, this shapes up as the most manageable game to date.

Here’s our weekly look at five trends to watch:

Fear factor diminishing. A few elements make this a less daunting task than the first two contests against North Bullitt and Scott County.

For starters, Harrison County is a Class 4A foe instead of 5A. The Thorobreds celebrated a winning season last year, but it was their first one above the .500 mark since 2009.

Also, the Warhawks know they have faced Harrison County at the middle school level and have fared well. While the varsity clash is still a case of GC freshmen and sophomores going up against HC juniors and seniors, staying with the local rival from Cynthiana feels like a more attainable task.

All we need is just a little patience. With every repetition, every Friday night and every early-week subvarsity game, the project of building a program from scratch in less than a year comes closer to fruition.

The GC freshman team is 2-0, and it’s easy to forget that many of the same names making key plays on that team are seeing most of the snaps on Friday nights.

Zackarrey Kelley, in particular, has been the leading receiver for the varsty. As Kelley continues to emerge as a complement to senior wideout Bryce Hearn, sophomore quarterback Kalib Perry only grows more comfortable.

Another clash of styles. Harrison County is coming off a win over Mason County in which it attempted two passes and completed one all night.

The Warhawks will have to be wary of ‘Breds QB Tyler Hudgins, but they also know that can mostly afford to dig in and try to stop back Tayshaun Custard and Devin Lewis,

Custard rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s victory.

GC, meanwhile, has made no secret of its desire to throw the ball. Perry is 13-for-30 through two games. The Warhawks need to complete quick throws, move the chains, give him some confidence and keep time of possession closer than it has been the first two weeks.

Run away from No. 34. When Great Crossing has the ball, it’s essential for the Warhawks to keep track of Larry Ritchie at all times.

Ritchie is not only Harrison County’s leading tackler, but six of his stops are for negative yardage, including three quarterback sacks. Steering clear of him and staying ahead of the chains is essential to the Warhawks’ hopes to make a game of it.

Start building confidence. Great Crossing is entering what appears to be the most manageable portion of its schedule, with Woodford County, East Jessamine and Paul Laurence Dunbar to follow Harrison County. There’s also a winnable district game against Grant County in Week 9. 

Win or lose Friday night, what the Warhawks are able to accomplish positively against the Thorobreds could be a major building block toward picking off one or two of those.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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