High School Football | Class-by-class previews

High School Football | Class-by-class previews

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High School Football | Class-by-class previews

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CLASS 6-A

CLASS 6-A

* Favorite: Trinity has won nine state titles in the past 11 seasons and is the unanimous choice to win its third straight this season. The Shamrocks have a 25-game winning streak but face another tough schedule with six out-of-state opponents.

* Not far behind: St. Xavier had an atypical 8-5 season last year, but Mike Glaser is expecting big things in his 31st and final season as head coach. St. X lost twice to rival Trinity last year by a combined score of 83-12. Can the Tigers close that gap this year?

* Sleeper: A young Ballard team struggled to a 5-7 record last year but gained valuable experience. With quarterback Tyler Owen, wide receiver Cam Lewis and lineman Joey Bloomfield, the Bruins could make a long postseason run this year.

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Trinity is loaded with them, but senior wide receiver James Quick (6 feet 2, 185 pounds) could be the best of the group. Quick, who averaged a whopping 17.5 yards per reception last year, lists Louisville, Ohio State, Oregon, Kentucky and Cincinnati as his top five college choices.

* Biggest shoes to fill: With the graduations of Brandon Berkley, Alonzo Brock and Kiante Northington, junior running back Joe Brown takes over as the top playmaker at Butler. Coach Scott Carmony said Brown has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

* The next big things: Junior Reggie Bonnafon and sophomore Donald Brooks — both of whom can play running back and receiver –could have breakout years at Trinity. Bonnafon, also the backup quarterback, already has scholarship offers from Louisville and Illinois.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Because there are only 31 teams in Class 6-A, one team will get a first-round bye in the playoffs. That will be the champion of District Three, where Butler and Pleasure Ridge Park are the favorites.

* Meade County has six Wilsons on the roster, and they’re all cousins. Junior Zeb and freshman Nate are brothers, as are junior Luke and freshman Mac. Jake, a senior quarterback, and John are the other family members on the roster.

* Bryan Station has another new head coach in Frank Parks Jr., who was the Defenders’ defensive coordinator the past two years. Since Oliver Lucas left for Manual after the 2009 season, Parks is the third different coach for Bryan Station, joining Kenny Turner (2010) and Craig Yeast (2011).

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* Scott County at Highlands, Aug. 24: Scott County, last year’s 6-A runner-up to Trinity, gets a tough early test against the Bluebirds, the defending 4-A champions.

* Trinity vs. St. Xavier, Sept. 28 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium: Last regular-season meeting between the rivals with Mike Glaser on the St. X sideline.

* Butler at Pleasure Ridge Park, Oct. 12: Another great rivalry in Louisville. This one likely will decide the district title.

CLASS 5-A

CLASS 5-A

* Favorite: Bowling Green lost 31 seniors and returns just four starters from last year’s championship squad. But with three of the state’s top juniors — quarterback Devin Hayes, wide receiver Nacarius Fant and linebacker Lincoln Quick — the Purples should be in the mix again.

* Not far behind: John Hardin has lost in the state semifinals the past two years and must replace nine starters on offense. Senior Domonick Brown, who has committed to Eastern Kentucky, is one of the state’s top linebackers.

* Sleeper: Franklin County was 11-0 before an 84-48 loss –yes, 84-48 — to Conner in the second round of the playoffs last year. The Flyers have a solid passing tandem in quarterback Logan Woodside (Toledo commit) and receiver Ryan Timmons.

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Apollo’s Hunter Bivin (6-7, 290) is one of the state’s most imposing offensive linemen and already has committed to Notre Dame.

* Biggest shoes to fill: Junior Kendrick Gardner has the tough task of taking over at quarterback at Jeffersontown, where DeMichael Jackson scored 33 touchdowns and passed for another 14 last year.

* The next big thing: Madison Southern sophomore Damien Harris rushed for 742 yards and 11 touchdowns as a freshman and already has eight scholarship offers, including from Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Illinois.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Conner has one of the state’s top junior quarterbacks in Drew Barker, who rushed for 1,371 yards and 22 touchdowns and passed for 1,009 yards and four TDs last year. He has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Purdue, South Carolina and Western Kentucky.

* Shelby County should improve on last year’s 2-9 record with eight starters back on offense and nine on defense. Senior Zach Shipley, the son of head coach Todd Shipley, was a second-team All-State pick at defensive back last year and also plays quarterback.

* Christian County was whipped by Warren Central 49-0 in the second round of last year’s playoffs but should be in the mix again behind senior quarterback Ryan Knight and senior running backs Korey Mosley and Juan Jones.

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* St. Xavier at Bowling Green, Aug. 31: The Purples won at St. X last year and will find out just how good they are in this rematch.

* Anderson County at Franklin County, Oct. 12: The Bearcats reached the state final last year but will have to get past the Flyers to win the district in 2012.

* North Hardin at John Hardin, Oct. 12: Trojans hope they’ve closed the gap on the rival Bulldogs and get their chance in this district clash.

CLASS 4-A

CLASS 4-A

* Favorite: Highlands, with a 73-2 record over the past five seasons, will try to become the first Kentucky school to win six straight state titles. Donovan McCoy moves from wide receiver to quarterback for the Bluebirds.

* Not far behind: Lexington Catholic fell to Highlands 42-21 in last year’s state semifinals and should be in the hunt again behind senior quarterback Kyle Bolin.

* Sleeper: Lone Oak averaged 40.4 points per game last year and returns junior quarterback Cole Ousley, who passed for 3,517 yards and 53 touchdowns as a sophomore. It’s the last year for the school, which will consolidate into McCracken County in 2013.

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Lexington Catholic quarterback Bolin (6-3, 195) passed for 3,088 yards and 29 touchdowns last year and has committed to the University of Louisville.

* Biggest shoes to fill: Josh Dillon is the top returning running back at Johnson Central, where J.J. Jude graduated after becoming the state’s all-time leading rusher with 8,633 yards.

* The next big thing: Valley quarterback Robert Jones gained the attention of college scouts over the summer and should have a big junior season for the Vikings.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Covington Catholic may have the top senior in Northern Kentucky in Blake Bir, who passed for 2,429 yards and 28 touchdowns last year.

* Franklin-Simpson was the state runner-up last year but lost 18 starters and has a new coach in former Western and Bullitt East coach Doug Preston. He replaces Tim Schlosser, who stepped away to become the school’s principal.

* Clay County suffered through a dismal 1-10 season last year but has a new coach in Evan Napier and a defensive tackle in Jacob Hyde (6-3, 315), who has committed to the University of Kentucky.

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* Covington Catholic at Highlands, Sept. 21: The Bluebirds won both meetings last season, 42-37 in the regular season and 49-14 in the regional final.

* Boyle County at Lexington Catholic, Sept. 28: These district rivals played two classics last year, with the Knights winning 20-13 in the regular season and 10-7 in the regional final.

* Collins at North Oldham, Oct. 5: This one likely will decide the champion in District Three.

CLASS 3-A

CLASS 3-A

* Favorite: Central has won two straight state titles and four in the past five years. The Yellowjackets lost star running back Anthony Wales to graduation but have plenty of talent.

* Not far behind: Belfry has lost to Central in three of the past five state finals, including a heartbreaking 15-14 defeat last year. Senior tight end/defensive end Tony Messer leads the Pirates.

* Sleeper: Breathitt County has several key players back from last year’s team that was 12-1 and lost to Belfry in the regional final. Senior quarterback Richard Trent is back after accounting for 46 touchdowns in 2011 (25 passing, 21 rushing).

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Bourbon County running back Kentayvus Hopkins (6-1, 185) turned heads after rushing for 2,957 yards and 38 touchdowns last year. He averaged 11.7 yards per carry.

* Biggest shoes to fill: Deris Cox looks to be the top candidate to replace Anthony Wales as Central’s top running back. Wales finished his career with 8,213 rushing yards, ranking third in state history.

* The next big thing: Running back/linebacker Trevante Coleman led Paducah Tilghman in tackles as a sophomore last season with 101. Coleman (5-11, 220) also is a solid runner as the Blue Tornado’s starting fullback.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Monroe County, which finished 6-6 last year, could make a jump with nine starters back on offense and eight on defense. Senior quarterback Chad Wilson had 10 touchdown runs and 10 TD passes last year.

* Edmonson County was 11-1 last year and has two speedy running backs in seniors Jacob Tobias and Ethan Hinson. Tobias rushed for 1,265 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. Hinson is a transfer from Grayson County.

* Senior Alex Bolin rushed for 1,704 yards and 19 touchdowns last year and already is Casey County’s all-time leading rusher with 3,604 yards.

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* Manual at Central, Friday: The Yellowjackets always face a tough schedule and get things going with a bang on opening night.

* Bell County at Lexington Catholic, Friday: Bell County hopes to be in the hunt for the 3-A title and gets a tough opener against 4-A power LexCath.

* Paducah Tilghman at Mayfield, Aug. 31: Always worth circling this one on the calendar in Western Kentucky.

CLASS 2-A

CLASS 2-A

* Favorite: The coaches’ preseason voting was tight, but Newport Central Catholic earned the No. 1 nod. The Thoroughbreds return 15 starters from last year’s team that fell to eventual state champion Covington Holy Cross 24-21 in the regional final.

* Not far behind: Covington Holy Cross has the talent to capture its second straight title, with do-it-all junior running back Jalen Beal leading the way. He scored 24 touchdowns last season.

* Sleeper: Longtime coach Sam Harp always has Danville in the hunt, and the Admirals have 18 starters back from last year’s 8-4 team. Senior offensive linemen Michael Jones (6-4, 270) and J.K. Howard (6-4, 305) lead the way.

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Owensboro Catholic defensive tackle Logan Cart (6-4, 305) had 56 tackles last season and already has committed to Arkansas State.

* Biggest shoes to fill: Harold Davis is the new coach at DeSales, where Mark Sander was fired after posting a 76-47 record in 10 seasons, making him the school’s all-time winningest coach. Davis is a 1982 DeSales graduate.

* The next big thing: With several stars gone from last year’s state runner-up team, junior running back Quentel Bradley figures to carry the load for Glasgow this year.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Murray landed a big-time player during the off-season when first-team All-State defensive end LaBront Scott transferred from Mayfield. Scott (6-2, 230) had 99 tackles and 16 sacks last year and has committed to Western Kentucky.

* Prestonsburg has one of the top offensive linemen in the class in senior Derek Newsome (6-3, 295). He is a Governor’s Scholar and has drawn interest from several NAIA schools, according to coach John DeRossett.

* Christian Academy is the coaches’ pick to win District Four but must replace quarterback Andrew Risher (24 touchdown passes in 2011) and running back Ivan Talley (1,803 yards, 16 TDs).

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* Somerset at Danville, Oct. 5: Briar Jumpers are 4-0 against the Admirals over the past three seasons, including two victories last year.

* Bardstown at Christian Academy, Oct. 5: This could be the Centurions’ toughest roadblock to a district championship.

* Newport Central Catholic at Covington Holy Cross, Oct. 18: Could be a preview of a regional final in November.

CLASS A

CLASS A

* Favorite: Mayfield appeared destined for a second straight 15-0, state championship season but was shocked by Hazard 24-6 in the state final. The Cardinals have the talent to make it back to Bowling Green this year.

* Not far behind: Hazard has several weapons back from last year’s title team, led by senior quarterback Evan Whitaker and senior wide receivers Austin Johnson and Jordan Olinger.

* Sleeper: Fairview was 12-0 before falling to Pikeville in a regional final last year and has eight starters back on offense, including senior running back Chris Brewer (1,570 yards last year).

HONOR ROLL

* Top college prospect: Senior Jonathan Jackson (6-0, 215) does it all for Mayfield. He rushed for 1,672 yards and 21 touchdowns last year and also led the team in tackles (156) and interceptions (five).

* Biggest shoes to fill: Austin Allison and Finn Brutsman will try to fill the void at Nicholas County, where Caleb Pope graduated after rushing for 2,338 yards and scored 32 touchdowns last year.

* The next big thing: Williamsburg sophomore wide receiver Skyler Griffith started his career with a bang, hauling in 71 catches for 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns as a freshman.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

* Russellville junior quarterback Barrett Croslin is the grandson of former Panthers head coach Ken Barrett, who won state titles in 1980, 1983 and 1990. Croslin passed for 1,180 yards and rushed for 512 last year. He also played in the 2009 Little League World Series for Logan County/Russellville.

* Beechwood has lost to Mayfield in the state semifinals the past three years and should be in contention again this year behind senior fullback/linebacker Max Nussbaum (6-1, 190). He rushed for 1,053 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

* Kentucky Country Day quarterback Robert Scholtz enters his senior season with career numbers of 5,838 passing yards and 62 touchdowns. He’s getting looks from Harvard, Cornell and William & Mary, among others.

THREE MUST-SEE GAMES

* Mayfield at Murray, Sept. 7: Cardinals face old teammate LaBront Scott, who transferred to Murray during the off-season.

* Breathitt County at Hazard, Sept. 21: Breathitt County handed Hazard one of its two losses last season.

* Beechwood at Newport Central Catholic, Oct. 26: Big test for both teams on the final day of the regular season.

Previews by Jason Frakes, The C-J

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