Wildcats remain perfect in District Four

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After 33-20 win over Spencer, the Henry County Wildcats play Gallatin this Friday night and Moore on Nov. 6 in first round of state playoffs

By Tommie Kendall

Outside of a mark in the win-loss column, there wasn’t much at stake for the Henry County football team in Friday night’s game at Spencer County. The Wildcats had already secured the regular-season District Four championship and were already guaranteed to be at home in at least the first round of the Class 3-A State Playoffs.

But the Wildcats moved the football for 30 first downs, finished with 253 passing yards and had 445 total offense en route to a 33-20 victory over the host Bearcats. It was just the effort coach Chris Engstrand was looking for.

“This could have been an easy game for us to drop but that did not happen,” said Engstrand, whose team scored the first two touchdowns and was ahead 27-6 early in the fourth quarter. “I thought we were really able to be successful in all three phases of the game: special teams played well, offense was able to move the chains against a good Spencer team and our defense was able to get to the football. We did all of those things really well.”

Engstrand said the 30 first downs were the most since he started coaching the Wildcats in 2006. The Cats continued to move the ball all night.

Quarterback Luke Magness was 25-of-40 passing for 253 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The junior also kept the ball 20 times for 101 yards and two rushing touchdowns. At the receiving end, Erick Butler had seven catches for a team-high 117 yards and one touchdown, Trevor Raisor caught eight passes for 61 yards, Pete Baldwin caught four passes for 40 yards and one touchdown, Lance Timberlake caught four passes for 22 yards and Ryan Mitchell caught two passes for 13 yards. Baldwin added 73 yards rushing off 11 carries. The 445 total yards were the second most for Henry in a single game this season behind their 490 yards in a 50-13 win over Owen County on Sept. 11.

Meanwhile, Spencer moved the football for 244 yards with 140 in the air and 104 on the ground. Quarterback Morgan Brown was 10-of-23 passing for 140 yards. Erico Smith led the ground game with 14 carries for 80 yards.

The one area Engstrand was not happy with was how his players reacted after scoring their first touchdown at the 8:42 mark in the opening quarter. The Wildcats eventually got rolling again, scoring once in the second quarter, once in the third and twice in the fourth.

“After we scored, we kind of relaxed a little,” Engstrand said. “That seems to be our theme this season. If we get that killer instinct and continue to pour it on, then we’ll be a tough team to stop.”

Henry’s first-quarter touchdown came less than four minutes into the game when Butler ran the ball into the end zone on a 4-yard carry. Dylan Doll kicked the extra point. Early in the second quarter, Magness kept the ball on a 2-yard carry and Doll kicked the field goal again to put the Wildcats in front 14-0.

Spencer County scored its first touchdown with two minutes left until the half to leave Henry in front 14-6 at the break.

The lone touchdown during the third quarter from either school came at the 8:02 mark when Magness hooked up with Baldwin on a 17-yard pass play.

During the final quarter, both teams scored twice each. Magness threw a pass to Butler on a 42-yard touchdown play and Magness scored on a 1-yard run. Spencer’s final touchdown came with just 1:02 on the clock, which closed the gap to 13 points, 33-20.

Darien Ingram, Henry’s junior starting lineman who has started since his freshman season, had to miss the game with the flu, which moved junior Jesse Bowlin into his spot. Engstrand said Bowlin, Butler and Mitchell all had outstanding games.

“I thought Bowlin did a good job filling in for Ingram on the line. It’s going to help us depth wise,” Engstrand said. “I also thought Butler had an excellent ballgame. And Mitchell did a good job at blocking from the receiver position. Sometimes that’s overlooked and is not the glorified part of playing receiver but it’s very important. Overall, though, kudos to all our kids and the effort they put together in this victory.”

With the win, the Wildcats improved to 7-2 overall and ended district play at a perfect 3-0.

They will host Gallatin County this Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in their regular-season finale. The Cats will then host Moore High School in the first round of the state playoffs on Nov. 6.

Moore, located in Louisville, entered this week 2-7 overall, plays Letcher County Central this Friday and is the fourth team in Henry’s cross-district, District Three.

E-mail us about this story at sports@hclocal.com.