Jason Frakes' top football picks for Friday night

Ballard at St. Xavier

Will Wolford debuts as St. X coach.

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

* Senior Rex Wallace takes over at quarterback for Ballard and has plenty of weapons, including running back Bennie Berry and wide receivers Will Bush and De Doss. Eight starters are back on defense, led by big linemen Sean Hammonds, Sam White and Joe Harris.

* St. X’s running game should be strong with seniors Charles Walker, Treyveon Percell and Austin Davis. B.J. Nagle is the quarterback after transferring from Memphis Briarcrest Christian. He’s the son of former Louisville QB Browning Nagle.

* “This will be a different nervousness because I’m not playing,” Wolford said. “It’s like your wife giving birth. You’re hoping for the best, but you can’t really do anything.”

The pick: St. Xavier 34-21.

Central at Manual

Yellowjackets begin quest for fourth straight Class 3-A state title.

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

* Sydney Tedford guided Central to four playoff victories last year after an injury to Tae’Shawn Gibbs and now is the No. 1 quarterback. Tailback Stevon Beason and fullback Darren Powell anchor the rushing attack. The defense returns nine starters.

* Manual was 4-7 last year, its first losing season since 2009. With that in mind, coach Oliver Lucas has scrapped his two-quarterback system, with senior Mason Motley taking over the position and junior Michael Nero moving to running back.

* “The biggest thing about Manual is their offensive and defensive lines,” Central coach Ty Scroggins said. “All those big boys in front of Nero are kind of scary. They come off the ball hard and low.”

The pick: Central 24-14.

Holy Cross vs. DeSales

South End rivals battle for the Hibernian Cup, a 3-foot-tall trophy.

* Kickoff/site: 7:30 p.m. at Fairdale.

* Holy Cross was 3-9 last year, its first losing season since 1999. Senior C.J. Jacoby (6-3, 327), one of just six seniors on the roster, provides size on both lines. Sophomore Alec Greenwell takes over at quarterback.

* The Colts reached the Class 2-A state semifinals last year and have an explosive running back in senior Dylan Byrd, the team’s top rusher (1,791 yards, 24 TDs) and receiver (23 catches, 589 yards, seven TDs). Senior quarterback Nathan Roush passed for 1,319 yards and 15 TDs.

* “I actually think it’s good for the kids,” DeSales coach Harold Davis said of moving this game to the opener. “When it’s been the third game, it’s been kind of hard to keep them focused on the first two.”

The pick: DeSales 38-13.

Simon Kenton at Collins

Class 4-A Titans face first of three 6-A opponents on schedule.

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

* Simon Kenton finished 9-4 last year, falling to Scott County 47-9 in the Class 6-A quarterfinals. The Pioneers return 15 of 22 starters, including senior quarterback Brenan Kuntz (2,098 yards, 19 TDs in 2012). Top receiver Grant Wassom (50 catches, 800 yards, seven TDs) also is back.

* Collins has 17 of 22 starters back from the team that lost to Highlands in the Class 4-A championship game. Quarterback Lawson Page, running back/receiver DeAndre Farris and receiver Nathan Sames — all seniors — lead the offense. Senior linebacker Masai Whyte (182 tackles last year) anchors the defense.

The pick: Simon Kenton 27-21.

Jeffersontown at Eastern

Teams last met in 2010, with Eagles winning 35-13.

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

* Jeffersontown lost to John Hardin in the 5-A quarterfinals for the second straight year and returns 13 of 22 starters. The main one is senior running back/safety Richard Deloney, who rushed for 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. Senior quarterback Kendrick Gardner also is a threat running and passing.

* Eastern reached the 6-A state semifinals last year but returns just six of 22 starters. Senior Jacob Biller, who played several positions as a junior, will be the starting quarterback. His top target figures to be senior receiver Luke Moses (31 catches, 648 yards, five TDs).

The pick: Eastern 23-20.

John Hardin at Seneca

Two of state’s top defensive linemen will be featured: John Hardin’s Matt Elam and Seneca’s Lloyd Tubman.

* Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

* John Hardin has reached the 5-A state semifinals each of the past five years and was the state runner-up in 2009. The Bulldogs return just two starters on offense and also have a new head coach in Chad Lewis, the program’s former defensive coordinator. Elam (6-5, 360) has not committed to a college.

* With 18 of 22 starters back, second-year Seneca head coach LaVell Boyd is expecting a big turnaround from last year’s 3-8 record. Junior quarterback Mark White sat out last season after transferring from Western, where he played for Boyd as a freshman. Tubman, a 6-5, 235-pound defensive end, has committed to Vanderbilt.

The pick: John Hardin 37-27.

Friday night’s other games

(Home team in CAPS)

BUTLER 24, Fern Creek 13

CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 20, Lexington Christian 16

Pleasure Ridge Park 30, DOSS 20

Oldham County 37, IROQUOIS 13

Kentucky Country Day 27, SHAWNEE 7


SOUTHERN 20, Moore 13

FRANKLIN COUNTY 34, North Bullitt 13

Shelby County 38, HENRY COUNTY 14

Spencer County 20, THOMAS NELSON 7

KNOX CENTRAL 41, Atherton 13

Bullitt East 23, Frankfort 14 (at Lincoln County)

Evansville (Ind.) Central 27, NORTH OLDHAM 20

South Oldham 37, EAST JESSAMINE 7

Jason Frakes’ 2012 season record: 220-61.

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