DRAGONS GET IT DONE/Warren Central mauls Bullitt Central 13-0, snapping miserable 61-game losing streak


SHEPHERDSVILLE, Kentucky — They swarmed to the football and cashed in on an opportunity midway through the second quarter.

They fought, tooth and nail, on the perimeter, and sometimes, frankly, in a pretty shaky pocket, trying to protect Warren Central High School quarterback Kayumba Jean Aime.

It was, frankly, anything but pretty.

But the Dragons showed a lot of guts, they showed plenty of perserverance, and they finally found the winning formula on Opening Night of high school football in the Commonwealth.

Warren Central 13, Bullitt Central 0.

Long live The Streak.

No, thanks. The Streak is dead. Dead as Dillinger.

The Dragons used a tenacious defense, and the versatile talents of skill players such as Kayumba Jean Aime, his twin brother Kangakole Jean Aime, and football/basketball star Omari Glover to win a football game for the first time since October 15, 2015.

The Dragons brought the curtain down on a miserable 61-game losing streak, and they were a step ahead of Bullitt Central at nearly every turn. They gang tackled. They brought the heat on the quarterback. They seldom lost contain, near the sidelines.

Warren Central’s defense limited Bullitt Central to 155 yards total offense. They didn’t always capitalize on the Cougars’ turnovers, and yes, they had three of those themselves.

Most important, they had grit. Grit to set the pace. Grit to get it done.

The Dragons have finally done it.

And they’re a long way from being satisfied.

Second-year head coach Mark Nelson will see to that.

“They’ve got this (the losing streak) off their back,” Nelson said when it was over. “Now they can go back to school, and look forward to being a high school football player. This was something we really wanted for our seniors.”

Seniors such as the Jean Aime brothers, and senior lineman Guillermo Gonazlez. Senior receiver/cornerback Deangelo Patterson. And defensive back/running back Demetrius Barnett, who joins forces with the likes of Omari Glover for the Dragons’ top-flight boys’ basketball team, the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen runner-up last season.

The numbers are still a little thin at Warren Central, but Nelson understands the program had to be built from the ground floor. The veteran coach put in the hours at the field house on the Warren Central campus on Morgantown Road. His assistants were right there with him.

There was plenty of emotion after the game’s final play, because it was just one game, and the Dragons will travel to play Trigg County on August 26 in Cadiz. That’s a lot of time in school bus.

Don’t get the idea, though, that Warren Central defensive tackle Guillermo Gonzalez will complain. He’s one of the guys who has been pushing himself, on the practice field, in the weight room, and most important, away from football, in the classroom.

Gonzalez had tears in his eyes as he started walking off the field with four or five WCHS teammates.

“This bus ride,” he said, “is gonna be amazing …”

Mark Nelson reported a little after midnight CDT this morning that the bus was a little rowdy, say, until they got to Elizabethtown. But by then the adrenaline was starting to wear down. Now the Dragons had reason to look ahead, and not behind, at a losing streak that has lingered through four head coaches and plenty of athletes.

“It was a pretty happy bus, but things quieted down after 10, 15 minutes,” Nelson said. “They were wore-out …”

The game essentially boiled down to the improvisation skills of two quarterbacks, Warren Central’s Kayumba “A.J.” Jean Aime and his counterpart from Bullitt Central, Isaiah Tobin. Tobin fielded plenty of low snaps, in the “Pistol” formation. Jean Aime had to recover a couple of his own fumbles. There were two or three bad exchanges with his center, WCHS senior Zakary McGrew.

The Dragons outplayed Bullitt Central for pretty much the entire game, but it wasn’t a done deal until Warren Central’s A.J. Jean Aime scored on a 2-yard quarterback sneak in the final three minutes of the game.

By then, the narrative of Warren Central’s defense had been established. The Dragons could taste victory and they were ready to savor it with one another under the stadium lights.

“We really put in the work,” A.J. Jean Aime said in a measured tone. “We really wanted it, maybe more than they did. And we’re out for more.”

That’s one thing Mark Nelson wanted to get across to his team, as the crowd made its way to the parking lots.

“We knew we just had to keep pushing, keep fighting,” senior WCHS receiver/safety Omari Glover said. “We knew it right off the bat. We just wanted to get something going, early, and get in the end zone …

“We wanted to let them know we were ready to play.”

That was drilled into the Dragons’ heads before they even completed their two-hour bus ride from Bowling Green to Metro Louisville. Attitude is everything. Don’t dwell on mistakes. Live to fight another down. Lombardi stuff …

Sometimes, it’s a pretty good starting point.

Bullitt Central fumbled the opening kickoff and the Dragons couldn’t turn it into points. Warren Central’s defense produced a couple more scoring opportunities and the Dragons turned the ball over on downs. They call these games “defensive struggles,” but oftentimes, they’re just struggles, period.

Not that it matters to Warren Central.

“Omari Glover’s right. The pressure wasn’t on our guys,” Mark Nelson said. “From the outside, maybe … But I feel a special bond with these kids. In the locker room. I feel for these kids. I see them in practice, every day. See how hard they work.

“I knew, when the time came, and they could win a game, that it will change the whole atmosphere.”

In fact, Nelson believes the victory might encourage some late additions to the football team. The Dragons were the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen runner-up last season, under veteran coach William Unseld, and they had a logistical disadvantage in the championship game, playing on maybe two, 2.5 hours of rest before the title tilt at Lexington’s Rupp Arena.

George Rogers Clark High School won that game, 43-42. But the Dragons were the toast of the town when they got back to Bowling Green. For good reason.

“I’m probably going to have some kids come to my office on Monday morning,” Nelson said with a smile. “Kids who might want to play for this football team.”

Numbers always has been a big part of the problem at Warren Central. Its demographics do not lend themselves to football prowess. The Dragons have more international students than most of their opponents, and in some cases, A LOT MORE international students.

Football’s a game of attrition. Only the strong survive. On Friday night, the Dragons’ mental toughness was probably the difference.

The Bullitt Central student section was taunting some of the Warren Central players during warm-ups. The teenagers were dressed in beach casual attire, like opening night would be a Day At The Beach, or something, and there was enough quiet for the Dragons’ players to hear all the smack talk.

Zakary McGrew, the Dragons’ center, said it was no big deal.

“We all fight. We all fight, FOR EACH OTHER,” McGrew said. “We might not have done that so well, in the past. We’ve had to ‘change the mindset.’

“It all starts with being ready to go to work.”

Get a load of this.

Warren Central stats man extraordinare, Dustin Gentilly, reports that this game was the first time the Dragons have allowed less than 200 yards total offense since the first two weeks of the 2018 season, in a 20-14 loss to Monroe County in Tompkinsville, Kentucky.

In fact, it’s the best total defense performance for Warren Central since the Dragons surrendered just 96 yards total offense in a 15-9 loss to Hopkinsville in first-round play of the KHSAA Class 4A playoffs on November 6, 2015.

The good news, for the Dragons, their coaches and their fans, is that now they can change the narrative.

Bullitt County coach Marvin Clark kept his team in the locker room for a good 20 minutes during halftime on Friday night. Mark Nelson and his squad stayed on the field, meeting as a team and with individual position groups, on an unusually comfortable August night in Metro Louisville.

Still, there were plenty of players who had to be treated for cramps. Both sides. There were penalties. Oh man, were there penalties. In the first half, the Dragons had three big plays wiped out by penalties, one a holding infraction when the flag came clearly AFTER Omari Glover caught A.J. Jean Aime’s sidearm pass on the left sideline.

If it weren’t for bad breaks, it seems, the Dragons wouldn’t have gotten any breaks at all.

They kept fighting.

“Let’s finish ’em off!! Let’s do it,” they yelled as they returned to the sideline for the second half.

It took a while, and a few more twists and turns, for that to finally happen.

Ultimately, though, it did.

Warren Central’s A.J. Jean Aime completed 12 of 21 passes for 179 yards, and, perhaps most important, WITHOUT an interception. He also led the Dragons with 84 yards rushing, while scoring their two touchdowns. Omari Glover, the defensive catalyst for the Warren Central boys basketball team, led the Dragons with five catches for 102 yards.

Warren Central had not won a football game since October 16, 2015. That’s when a strong defensive effort carried the Dragons to a 23-12 victory over Warren East.

Then, in 2016, while going 0-10, the Dragons were outscored 499-56.


They scored in double digits just twice.


Then came seasons of 0-11, 0-11, 0-10 and 0-7, in the COVID-19 abbreviated 2020 season. Last year, Mark Nelson’s first on the WCHS campus, the Dragons were competitive in a handful of games and took Marshall County to the limit, before dropping a 27-26 decision to the Marshals in Benton, Kentucky.

That was a long, long bus ride back to Bowling Green.

Time to turn the page at Warren Central.

The Streak is dead. Over. Finis.

“We’re ready to go get some more,” WCHS quarterback A.J. Aime Jean said with a smile. “Definitely.”