Here’s a preview of Kentucky’s Class A football season, including The Courier-Journal’s preseason poll of coaches.
Rank, team (FPV) 2015 record
1. Pikeville (8) 13-2
2. Beechwood (2) 13-2
3. Russellville 11-3
4. Paintsville 13-1
5. Hazard 10-3
6. Raceland 7-5
7. Holy Cross 7-6
8. Kentucky Country Day 6-6
9. Campbellsville 8-4
10. Nicholas County 6-5
Others receiving votes: Paris, Frankfort, Bethlehem, Williamsburg, Harlan, Fairview, Pineville, Crittenden County, Lynn Camp.
* Favorite: Pikeville averaged 51.6 points per game during its five playoff contests and defeated Beechwood 42-28 in last year’s state final for its first championship since 1989. The Panthers lost 2,000-yard back Daric Pugh to graduation, but junior quarterback Wyatt Battaile returns to lead the offense.
* Not far behind: Beechwood lost loads of talent off last year’s runner-up squad but always seems to reload and should be in the title hunt once again. Look for senior running back Aiden Justice to have a big season.
* Sleeper: If Beechwood fails to put it together, Russellville looks to have the talent to emerge from the west and reach the state final. Senior M.J. Jones returns after rushing for 1,228 yards and 19 touchdowns and recording 79 tackles (55 solo) last season.
* Top college prospect: Paintsville lost Mr. Football Kash Daniel to the University of Kentucky but has another solid prospect in senior running back Kent Phelps. The 6-foot, 190-pound speedster rushed for 1,579 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and has scholarship offers from Morehead State and Wofford.
* Three must-see games: Paintsville at Pikeville, Sept. 2; Holy Cross at Kentucky Country Day, Oct. 7; Beechwood at Newport Central Catholic, Oct. 28.