What to look for in Class 2-A football this season.
• Favorite: DeSales has just seven starters back (four offense/three defense) from last year’s championship team but still was voted the favorite in the preseason poll of coaches. The Colts will face tough challenges from Christian Academy and Bardstown in their district.
• Not far behind: Newport Central Catholic has reached the championship game five of the past seven years and has a solid running back in junior Jacob Smith, who totaled nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards last season.
• Sleeper: With 21 seniors on its roster, Middlesboro should be strong after finishing 9-3 last season. The Yellow Jackets have a new coach in Zach Massengill, who played on the school’s state championship team in 1998.
• Top college prospect: Caldwell County quarterback Elijah Sindelar (6-5, 210) has committed to Purdue after passing for 3,374 yards and 44 touchdowns. He’s a top contender for Kentucky’s Mr. Football honor.
• Biggest shoes to fill: DeSales’ Bryant Pirtle, who has committed to Western Kentucky, made a name for himself last year with 22.5 sacks. He faces a bigger challenge this year as he moves to running back, where Dylan Byrd tallied 2,026 yards and 36 touchdowns last year.
• The next big thing: Owensboro Catholic junior quarterback Ray Zuberer (6-1, 170) appears to have the tools to keep the Aces’ offense moving. He replaces Houston Hartz, who passed for 3,664 yards and 43 touchdowns last year.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
• Murray has reached the state semifinals two of the past three years and now has a new coach in Keith Hodge, who joined the program from Dresden (Tenn.). He replaces Steven Duncan, who took the job at Logan County.
• Glasgow has just one starter back on offense from last y ear’s 10-2 team, but he’s a good one. Senior running back Marquez Trigg rushed for 1,669 yards and 26 touchdowns last year and has committed to Western Kentucky.
• Prestonsburg quarterback Jarredd Jarrell enters his senior season with solid career numbers – 5,279 passing yards and 49 touchdowns. With the help of junior running back Dalton Frasure, Jarrell could lead the Blackcats on a deep playoff run this year.
THREE MUST-SEE GAMES
• Christian Academy vs. DeSales (at Iroquois), Oct. 17: This has become one of the best rivalries in Louisville.
• Caldwell County at Murray, Oct. 17: Don’t be surprised if these teams meet again in the regional final.
• Somerset at Middlesboro, Oct. 24: Briar Jumpers won both meetings last year, including a 19-13 overtime victory in the second round of the playoffs.