2005 Class 1A Kentucky High School Football Preview

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    2005 Class 1A Kentucky High School Football Preview

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    1. Beechwood Tigers (14-1)

    While most observers in Class A were focused on Danville and Newport Central Catholic in 2004, Mike Yeagle’s Beechwood Tigers took a workmanlike approach and brought home the school’s ninth state title and first in five years.

    Chances are favorable that Yeagle could add a ninth trophy to his personal hardware case with the return of three top skill players on offense and most of the defensive front.

    Senior quarterback Patrick Muth (6-0, 170) threw for 1,505 yards by completing 57-percent of his passes last year, connecting for 11 touchdowns.
    While Beechwood graduated most of Muth’s targets through the air, the Tigers return a pair starters in the backfield.

    Eric Sawyer (5-10, 180, Sr.) and Mike Moreton (5-10, 180, Jr.) will be expected to fill the void of Dustin Menetrey, who graduated after rushing for 2,197 yards and 39 touchdowns.

    The Tigers were hoping for the services of Chris Curley, who has missed the end of the past two seasons with injury. However, Curley has opted not to play football in his senior season, instead choosing to concentrate on baseball.

    Among those expected to challenge for starting positions in the wide receiver corps are the speedy Pete Kayiatos (6-0, 165, Jr.) and big tight end Evan Reilly (6-2, 210, Sr.), who may also play tackle.

    Finding people to block for the skill positions will be Yeagle’s number one task after seeing every starter on the offensive line graduate.

    Josh Carl (6-0, 240, Sr.) and Zak Janning (6-1, 230, Jr.) have worked in the weight room in the offseason, as has junior Matt Deye (5-11, 230).

    Large lines have been a staple at Beechwood in past years, but the Tiger coaches feel the 2005 version will be smaller but much quicker than recent teams.

    Their quickness will benefit Yeagle’s multiple set offense that will still feature sets with three backs and two tight ends.

    On the defensive side, Beechwood returns five starters from a squad that allowed a meager 11.7 points a game last year.

    Reilly, a defensive end, and Carl, a tackle, return to anchor Beechwood’s 5-3 defense. Nose tackle Jordan McFaull (5-6, 170, Jr.), end Ben Johnson (6-2, 180, Sr.), and Janning round out the front five.

    Moreton and John Kenning (5-11, 230, Sr.) return at linebackers and could be joined by Hamilton Brooks (6-0, 190, Jr.), who coaches have said has gotten bigger and stronger in the offseason.

    Despite losing two of the three starters in the secondary, the Tigers may actually be deeper at the position in 2005.

    Sawyer returns at one corner where he picked off four passes last year, while Kayaiatos started several games at safety at the end of the season. Ross Finan (5-10, 170, Jr.) will also see plenty of time in the secondary.

    While Beechwood is poised to win consecutive state titles for the first time since 1996-97, many people are pointing to the Tiger junior class, which will have as many as seven starters on the field.

    That’s a good thing to have in Class A football, which could provide more parity in future years.

    2. Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (11-2)

    There are two visible humps on the Newport Central Catholic horizons in 2005 – Beechwood and Joe Jaggers.

    Since appearing the 2001 Class A title game, the Thoroughbreds have seen their season end at the hands of Beechwood each of the past three years.

    Last year, NCC lost to the Tigers twice by a total of six points, including a 14-9 loss in the region title game.

    Meanwhile, head coach Bob Schneider enters his 40th season of coaching needing just four wins to pass Jaggers as the winningest coach in Kentucky High School history. He is also just 11 wins away from becoming the first coach to reach 300 wins.

    Getting past both of those obstacles will be tough for Schneider, who lost 19 seniors to graduation.

    The ‘Breds do return quarterback Sam Diehl, who is coming off a junior season that saw him throw for 1,705 yards and 23 touchdowns.

    Diehl, who already holds several NCC passing records, displayed good accuracy last year, completing 53-percent of his passes and throwing just nine interceptions in 13 games.

    NCC did lose their top receiver, Nick Dew, to graduation but returns 6-foot-1 senior Josh Canafax.

    Also gone is Ben Kelly, who rushed for over 1,500 yards and 29 scores last year.

    Mike Vicars (6-0, 170, Jr.) and fullback Nic Wrobleski (5-10, 180, Sr.) both return to the backfield to try and supplant the loss of Kelly.

    The Thoroughbreds do return three linemen from last year’s 11-2 team, led by 6-foot-4, 245-pound senior tackle Justin Smith.

    Chaz Siemer (6-0, 200, Sr.) and Zack Kiernan (6-6, 240, Jr.) started at times last year but missed several games due to injury.

    Schneider’s defense allowed just 175 yards per game last year but must replace Kelly, a four-year starter at linebacker. Expected to pick up some of the slack will be outside linebacker Jordan Grainger, a 6-foot, 175-pound senior.

    Safety Kevin Bueter (5-10, 150, Sr.) returns to the secondary for the ‘Breds, who allowed just 54 passing yards a game in 2004.

    Schneider has some big holes to fill in the backfield and on the line, but the veteran ‘Breds coach always seems to reload with replacements that step in and don’t miss a beat.

    While many across the state will be focusing on Schneider’s pursuit of Jaggers and the all-time victory mark, the Thoroughbreds will be focusing on unseating state champion Beechwood and claiming their first state title since 1984.

    3. Mayfield Cardinals (8-5)

    By mayfieldsportsfan

    Mayfield returns eight starters on offense last year and added another starter during the offseason.

    Junior Adam Shelton will be back as the starting QB. Shelton is a duel threat with the pass and the run. Shelton (6-2, 230) threw for 1467 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 469 net yards and scored 11 touchdowns.

    Mayfield’s running attack will lead the way with seniors Blake Rust and Tristian Dumas in the backfield.

    Rust, a 5-11, 165-pound senior, rushed for 910 yards and 13 touchdowns last year. He also caught 32 passes for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns.

    Dumas, a 6-1, 165-pound senior, had 656 yards rushing (8 TD) and with 8 touchdowns, and caught 22 passes for 576 yards and 6 touchdowns.

    The fullback spot was thought to be wide open until early June.

    Josh Hatchell, a 6-2, 230-pound senior, was a two-way starter at Caldwell County last year, rushing for 733 yards in nine games and anchoring their defense at the linebacker spot.

    When his father, Anthony Hatchell resigned as Caldwell head coach and took the principal’s job at Mayfield, a good team got even better.

    Junior Travis Brown and sophomore Brent Simkins could also see time at fullback.

    Two of Mayfield’s biggest losses came on the offensive line, with Quintin Taylor and Adrian Lawson graduating.

    The Cardinals will have an experienced line returning in 2005.

    Junior Landon Heath (6’2 250) will move from the center position to left tackle. Senior Anthony Reynolds (6’0 265) who missed last year because of a knee injury will be at center or guard. Senior Spenser Pruiett (6’1 215), who graded out as the top lineman last year, will play right guard. Senior Max Brand (6’0 240) will play center of guard. As of right now Senior Tracy Newport (5’9 240) will be at right tackle.

    Mayfield will have to also replace tight end Anthony Moss. He was backed up last year by sophomore to be Jarred McCuiston (6’1 165), so he has the nod on the starting spot.

    Senior Fred Brown (5’10 165) is a speedster with great hands who is coming back from injury after getting hurt in the first game of last year.

    Mayfield has nine returning on defense losing two defensive lineman, but gains Hatchell.

    The defensive backfield looks to be real strong for Mayfield this year with Rust at one safety and Dumas at cornerback. Fred Brown will be the corner on the opposite side.

    Shelton didn’t start at safety last year but ended up playing the position most of the year.

    The defensive line will have senior John Hobbs (6’1 230), Pruiett, Heath and Newport if they run the 3-4.

    Sophomore Brent Simkins (5’9 180) who led the team in tackles last year will be at one linebacker spot.

    Senior Chad Saxton (5’9 205) will play at linebacker with Travis Brown at the other spot. Hatchell figures to be in the mix somewhere in the middle of the Cardinal defense.

    Sophomore Tommy McNutt will be the place kicker, and Arron Williams will do the punting duties.

    Mayfield will have a bunch of players going both ways, but that seems to be the case every year.

    For Mayfield to be able to contend for a title this year they will have to avoid the injury bug that bit them last year.

    The Cardinals were 8-6 last year but still advanced to the state semifinals for the fifth straight year, tying Danville for the longest active streak in Class A.

    Unlike past years, the 2005 Cardinal schedule also features an all-Kentucky opponent list with Class 3A Union County and Class 4A Daviess County added to the schedule.

    4. Danville Admirals (10-5)

    The Danville Admirals have so many strengths, more than enough to maintain their status as one of the best teams in Class A.

    But if they are going to be the very best, they’re going to have to be even stronger. And Sam Harp knows it.

    Despite all good things the Admirals have going for them, Harp knows they have to improve in their area of greatest weakness to reclaim their place at the head of the class.

    They were manhandled by Beechwood in the Class A championship, and since then they’ve been doing their best to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

    “We’ve had to work awfully hard in the weight program in the off-season, because it was obvious we got pushed around by Beechwood in the state championship,” Harp said. “I think we’ve gotten stronger up front, but we’re still nowhere near where I think we need to be.”

    There are also big shoes to fill at running back now that all-star Kelvin Turner has moved on.

    But Danville will still have talent at that position, and the Admirals will probably return to a running back-by-committee approach.

    The bulk of the carries will go to two juniors:
    -- Darren Ross, the top returning rusher with 388 yards last season and the player Harp called the strongest on the team pound for pound.

    -- B.J. Strode, who has improved his strength and had an outstanding track season this spring, winning three second-place medals and one for third place at the state meet.

    “I feel good about the guys we have there,” Harp said.

    They’ll get the ball from another player Harp feels pretty good about, junior quarterback Jeffrey Guest, who gave the Admirals just what Harp was looking for when he took over the quarterback position for the final 10 games of 2004.

    Guest threw for 658 yards with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and his 4.5 speed makes him a real running threat as well. But Harp said what will help Guest most is the experience of nearly a year at the position.

    “I think that’s going to help him a great deal going into this season,” Harp said. “He’s going to be more of a threat throwing the ball, and he’ll certainly be a threat running the ball. I like the idea of him having the ball in his hand every time we take a snap.”

    But Guest can’t get too comfortable at quarterback. He can expect a challenge from junior Rich Witten, who is best known as the Danville baseball team’s top pitcher but also displayed an impressive arm last year in his first football season.

    The top returning receiver is senior tight end Darius Baughman, who had a team-high 20 catches for 321 yards last year, when he and quarterback-turned-receiver Ronnie Hawkins split more than half of the Ads’ completions.

    Guest will also throw to junior Daylen Morris, whom Harp called the team’s best route-runner, and senior Justin Doolin, who transferred from Harrodsburg.

    Senior Jameson Gay is expected to move up to become the Admirals’ primary kicker.

    Two of Danville’s three defensive units look to be extremely strong.

    Baughman, Ross and Strode give the Admirals three of the best linebackers in their region, Guest and Morris give them two proven cornerbacks -- though Harp said he’d prefer that Guest play only on offense -- and Witten will be used at safety.

    Then there is the matter of those lines.

    Danville was young at many positions last year, and Harp said the Ads will still be young up front.

    Center Ben Bright and tackle Deangleo Durham, both seniors, will be the leaders on the line. They started only on offense for most of last season but will probably be needed on defense as well. The only other returning starter on the interior lines is junior Gerald Hughes, who started at defensive end.

    “We’ve got to find some guys to fill the other spots,” Harp said.

    Meanwhile, the Admirals continue to be driven by their loss to Beechwood, Danville’s worst defeat in a state title game.

    “It motivates you pretty well,” Harp said. “We realized just getting there is not enough.”

    5. Pikeville Panthers (11-3)

    Pikeville football has a long and rich tradition that spans many decades.

    However, their current drought of 13 seasons without a trip to the state title game is among the longest in school history.

    The Panthers fell one game short last year, losing to Beechwood 40-7 in the state semifinals and notching an 11-3 record.

    But changes are abound for Pikeville after former Oldham County Mike Jackson took over the head coaching reins from Chris McNamee, who took the top spot at Pike County Central.

    Jackson was 62-34 in eight seasons at Oldham County and inherits a Panther squad that returns seven starters on both sides of the football.

    “There are a lot of good, solid programs in the state that will always have a winning record and got to the playoffs, but there are only a handful of schools that have all the ingredients to winning it all,” Jackson said, hoping his recipe is the one that ends Pikeville’s title drought.

    Jackson is wanting to see a more balanced offensive attack, with senior quarterback Chase Huffman running the show.

    Huffman (6-2, 175, Sr.) threw for 962 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

    Matt Sexton (6-0, 190, Sr.) will be one Huffman’s favorite passing targets.
    The Panthers also return Weston Robinson (5-10, 175) in the backfield after a junior season that saw him rush for 1,236 yards and 15 touchdowns.

    “We need an offense that can run or throw, depending on the strengths of the kids,” Jackson said. “The offense will look like a Wing-T in its base concepts, but we won’t be one-dimensional with it.”

    Defensively, the Panthers only gave up 16 points a game and return several key members who could take the figure even lower in 2005.

    Huffman and Robinson will anchor the secondary, while Will Lockhart (6-0, 190, Sr.) will get time at the linebacker spot.

    “We want the defense to be grounded in preparation for our opponents’ tendencies and want the players to be programmed to react without thinking and knowing where they should go,” Jackson said.

    Junior Casey Rowe (5-9, 265) will anchor a line that should include Ryan Maynard (6-2,220, Sr.), Ryan Shurtleff (6-0, 205, Jr.), Jordan Tibbs (6-3, 265, Jr.), Johnny Charles (6-2, 235, Sr.), Tyler Carter (6-1, 220, Sr.), and Brad Bryant (5-10, 235, Jr.).

    Jackson won’t have any early patsies on the schedule to get his feet wet.
    The Panthers open with Newport Central Catholic in the Pike County Bowl and travel to Corbin in week two.

    Prestonsburg will visit Pikeville in week three, and defending 2A state champion Belfry hosts the Panthers Sept. 23 at their new athletic complex.

    Jackson knows in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

    “We want to continue the tradition of success here. If they are used to winning, they will want to keep winning,” he said. “This is a community that openly cares about winning at the top level. This is a community that causes the kids to want to grow up and play football one day.”

    If the Panther players buy into Jackson’s philosophies, a trip to Louisville may come sooner than some expect.

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    6. Holy Cross (Louisville) Cougars (11-2)

    Holy Cross head coach Dave Weston had to be murmuring “Holy cow” to himself when the 2004 season started.

    Just a few weeks before practice started, Weston took over when Ray Riedinger stepped down in the wake of the football program being placed on probation by the KHSAA for alleged recruiting violations.

    The Cougars didn’t let the distractions affect them too much, posting an 11-2 record and falling short to Danville in the waning seconds of the region championship for the second consecutive year.

    “Of course the coaches and players are disappointed about coming one game short of a region championship for four straight years, but we are very proud of having one of the best regular season records for the past four years at 37-3, and an excellent overall record at 54-7,” Weston said. “What I'm most proud about is how our players and coaches overcame tremendous emotional adversity and discovered the difference in ‘talking the talk’ and ‘walking the walk’.”

    Holy Cross returns five starters on both sides of the football, but must plug some big holes on offense.

    Senior Brian Bowling will get the ball often in 2005.

    As a defensive starter last year, Bowling gained 400 yards in just 32 carries.
    Junior running backs Zach Johnson, Wes McDermott, and Andy Rodman also return.

    Junior Aaron Knopp and senior Corbyn Martin will battle for the starting quarterback job, with the winner to try and replace the graduated Aaron Troutman, who threw for 1,386 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.

    Weston says filling voids on the offensive line will be one of his biggest challenges this year.

    Juniors Matt Nail and Drew Lauder are two returning linemen that started on occasion last year at guard and tight end, respectively.

    Averaging 225 pounds across, Weston says the Cougar offensive line will not be as big as years past but will be faster and just as intense.

    The defensive will be anchored by senior and three-year starter Wes McDermott, a Third-Team All-State linebacker last year.

    The 6-foot, 235-pound junior has led the team in tackles the past two years and tied the single season state fumble recovery record.

    McDermott will be joined at the linebacker position by returning starter Aaron Knopp.

    Both starting ends return. They are Brian Bowling and junior Adam Dedrick.
    In the secondary, senior returning starter Eric Floyd will play safety.

    After a summer of controversy last year, Weston is looking forward to a preseason of just X’s and O’s.

    “Our kids have really hit the weights this year and can't wait for the season to begin to battle for starting positions, “ he said, adding that no starting position has been nailed down just yet.

    Weston feels his 2005 Cougar squad can win their fourth district title in five years.

    “I don't believe the district will be dominated by any single team this year. It appears that Bardstown is one of the teams losing the fewest, and I believe there's going to be some exciting district football games this year.”

    7. Lexington Christian Eagles (8-3)

    In just their fifth season of football, the folks at LCA are gunning for a district championship.

    The Eagles appeared poised to advance past the second round of the playoffs last year before they were brought back to earth by eventual state champion Beechwood 62-14.

    LCA’s high-flying offense saw them rank third in the state in scoring (51.6 ppg.) with a balanced attack of rushing (242 ypg.) and passing (201 ypg.).

    The Eagles return nine starters on both sides of the football, but will be without one of their top players until October.

    Jordan Kite, a six-foot, 200-pound senior, tore his anterior cruciate ligament at the U.S. Army East-West game tryout in Akron, Ohio.

    Kite was the state champion powerlifter in the 205-pound class in the spring and was the team’s leading tackler from his linebacking position last year in addition to rushing for 680 yards.

    “Jordan is one of the hardest working players I have coached. He is a good athlete, a tough kid, and could play several different positions at next level,” head coach Paul Rains said.

    With Kite out of action for possibly the first half of the season, the rushing load will likely fall on the shoulders of halfback Tyrell Hayden, who led the Eagles with 811 yards on just 82 carries last year.

    Hayden, a 5-foot-8, 187 pound senior, was also the team’s second-leading tackler from his linebacking position.

    Kaelen Mitchell (6-1, 170, Sr.) will also get some carries and can catch the football.

    Southpaw quarterback Garrie Krueger (6-1, 220, Sr.) threw for 1,995 yards and 25 touchdowns last year while completing over 50-percent of his passes.

    “Garrie is a strong player, and a good athlete with a great arm. What makes him tough is his strength (285 lb. Bench press) and aggressiveness,” Rains said.

    Krueger also helped pitch the LCA baseball team to the state baseball title in June and was named tournament MVP.

    One of his main targets is expected to be Andre Henderson, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior that caught 29 passes for 696 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Dan Jacus is another receiver with good hands who hauled in 20 passes for 552 yards last year.

    “They are one of the most, if not the most, talented set of skill players I have coached,” Rains said.

    The skill people should get blocking help from Alex Riddle, a 6-foot-2, 275 pound senior tackle.

    Rains will be the first one to tell you that the Eagles’ schedule in 2004 did not adequately prepare them for the playoffs and the task of facing a team the caliber of Beechwood.

    Of LCA’s seven regular season wins, only one (Paris) came against a team with a winning record.

    “We have boosted our schedule toughness, and it may be one of tougher ones in Class A. If we can stay healthy, it will harden us this year,” Rains said.

    The Eagles will open with 3A contender Lexington Catholic in the St. Joseph Healthcare Bluegrass Bowl Aug. 20.

    In the following weeks, LCA will play three 2A schools – DeSales (8-4), Christian Academy (7-5), and Corbin (10-4) – all of whom had winning records last year.

    In addition, the Eagles will scrimmage Breathitt County and South Oldham in the preseason.

    “We must take our competitiveness, toughness, and game discipline to the next level. Having played Beechwood in the playoffs gives us a benchmark of where we need to go. I think we can get there with the right senior leadership and good health,” Rains said.

    With his bunch of seniors and a beefed up schedule, it’s clear that LCA will be gunning for the big boys of the region – Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic this year.

    8. Lynn Camp Wildcats (7-5)

    The Lynn Camp Wildcats saw their reign as Class A Region 4 champions come to end with a three point loss in the second round of the 2004 playoffs to the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets.

    Coach David Mitchell's Wildcats return 17 starters with the hopes of recapturing a regional championship.

    On offense the Wildcats return nine starters, including three-year starting quarterback senior Nick Scalf.

    The Wildcats also return a pair of 1000 yard rushers in seniors Jimmy Chaffin and Josh Reynolds.

    Chaffin, a senior, had over 2,000 all-purpose yards and scored 20 touchdowns while averaging over 10 yards a carry.

    Chaffin is getting college looks from Louisville, Eastern Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio University, Mitchell said.

    Reynolds averaged close to 10 yards a carry and scored 15 touchdowns.
    Also seeing a lot of time in the Wildcat backfield will be Joe Roskropf.

    As a freshmen Roskropf rushed for over 500 yards, including a 172 yard rushing effort in a win against Knott County last season.

    Replacing Tyler Spaulding at fullback with be seniors JC Keith and Rodney Smith.

    Keith returns to the Wildcats after a year away from football, while Smith will playing his first year at Lynn Camp after transferring from South Laurel.

    When Keith is not playing fullback, he will see a lot of time at the tight end position. At 6-foot-2 and 260 pounds, Keith will be a big target for Scalf.

    Also seeing time at tight end will be sophomore Kyle Scalf.

    Senior speedster Nick Mills will be the starter at split end.

    One of the big strengths for the Wildcats in 2005 will be the offensive line.
    Lynn Camp returns all their starters and backups from last year, including two-time all-state performer, senior center Anthony Walters.

    Senior Rick May and junior Brian Slusher will be the guards, while juniors James Neece and Bret Barrett will play the tackles.

    Juniors Justin Gorsuch, Jonathan Forman, and sophomore Michael Hall will also see playing time.

    On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats return eight starters.

    The defensive line will be lead by nose guard Anthony Walters. During Lynn Camp's run in 2003, Walters had 12 sacks. Last season saw Walters move around on defense. He started several games at linebacker, and his sack numbers were down, while his tackle numbers were up.

    The defensive tackles will be Brian Slusher and Michael Hall. Both will be starting for a second season. Slusher was a all-district performer last season.

    Also seeing a lot of time in the trenches, will be Jonathan Forman, James Neece, Bret Barrett, and Dustin Decker.

    Lynn Camp will start a pair of brothers at defensive ends, Nick and Kyle Scalf, with Cameron Simpson, JC Keith, and possibly Scott Bray seeing time at the end spots.

    Always the key for Lynn Camp's defense will be the play at the linebacker positions.

    LC will start Scott Bray, Rodney Smith, with JC Keith, Justin Gorsuch, Anthony Walters, and William Stewart also playing linebacker at some point during the season.

    The defensive backfield could be one of the strengths for LC this season.
    Josh Reynolds, who led the team in tackles, will be the free safety, and Jimmy Chaffin will be the strong safety.

    Joe Roscropf, and Nick Mills will be the corners.

    Chaffin will pull double duties as the team’s punter and field goal kicker.

    Lynn Camp's schedule is toughest in recent years, as the Wildcats begin the season against two possible top ten teams in 2A – Leslie County and former district rival Middlesboro.

    Lynn Camp’s first home game will be against an improved Perry County Central.

    The non district schedule closes out with rival Whitley County, who the Wildcats haven't beaten since 1989.

    Class A Region District 7 always seems to be one of the more exciting districts in the state and this season should be no exception.

    Somerset returns most of their team, and Harlan returns one of the top players in the state in Teddy Thompson, and defending champion Williamsburg lost a lot, but are always dangerous with their high power offense.

    Cumberland, Evarts, and Pineville can never be overlooked.

    The key district games for Lynn Camp will be trips to both Harlan and Somerset.

    With many of the seniors seeing considerable time on Lynn Camp’s 2003 Region Championship team, Mitchell feels the 2005 Wildcats could be better than that squad.

    “We can be better than that team if we stay healthy and keep a good attitude,” he said.

    9. Bardstown Tigers (8-4)

    Bardstown’s first losing season in five years was followed up with an 8-4 season last year and a second round playoff loss to Danville.

    Joey Downs enters his 16th season on the Tiger sidelines with seven starters and a senior-laden team returning on both sides of the football.

    Running back Kwasi Obeng, the Class A state 400-meter champion, is recovering from an off-season knee injury, which didn’t seem to bother him any at the state track meet in June.

    Obeng didn’t play in Bardstown’s 20-6 playoff loss to Danville.

    Brandon Calhoun won the quarterbacking job last year and returns to the mix with added strength, size, and speed, Downs said.

    With the experience Bardstown has returning, Downs thinks this may be the year the Tigers can surpass Danville.

    “We felt like we where right on Danville’s heels last year and hope to contend for the region title this fall,” Downs said.

    10. Frankfort Panthers (7-4)

    You have to have the athletes in order to challenge Danville for the District IV title, and Frankfort may be in a position to match the Admirals on the field in 2005.

    Craig Foley’s Panthers return seven starters on each side of the football from last year’s 7-4 team that lost to the aforementioned Admirals by a touchdown and lost a one-point affair to Christian Academy of Louisville in the first round of the playoffs.

    Frankfort will be able to match the speed of Danville and Harrodsburg in the backfield with the return of Alonzo Tillman and Antoine Robinson.

    Tillman, a 5-foot-10, 175 pound senior, rushed for 1,144 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. He also proved his prowess on defense by intercepting six passes in the secondary.

    Robinson, a junior, led the team with 1,304 yards and added nine touchdowns.
    Foley is toying with the idea of moving last year’s quarterback, senior Paul Auberry, to wide receiver and putting sophomore speedster E.J. Fields at quarterback.

    Mico Wells and Jordan Morgan will also be expected to contribute on offense.

    The key to the Panthers’ success will be their line play and who will block for the speed demons.

    Foley has helped revive a program that had 11 straight losing seasons from 1991-2001.

    If the Panthers make the postseason for a third straight year as expected, it will mark the first time the program has accomplished the feat since 1988-90.

    However, Frankfort has not advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 1990.

    To do that, Foley will have to cultivate some linemen quick.

    “This team can be very good once our interior line gets settled. Right now, I think we are a top 10 team,” he said.

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    Previews of other Class A teams

    Allen Central

    Allen Central’s 4-6 record in 2004 was their best in six seasons.

    With their entire backfield and most of their line returning in 2005, the Rebels are shooting for their first winning season in 15 years and their first trip to the playoffs since 2000.

    Junior halfback David Slone rushed for 900 yards last year and will be joined in the backfield by junior fullback Corey Click.

    “David has put on a lot of muscle and is expected to do big things for us this year,” head coach Jeremy Hall said.

    Sophomore Wesley Craiger or freshman Josh Prater will get the nod at replacing Ryan Hammonds at quarterback.

    The Rebels return one of the most experienced lines in the district, led by four seniors – Thomas Crum at center, Gordon Lafferty at tackle, Jordan Bentley at tackle, and Brad Tackett at guard. Most of them have been starting since their freshmen year, Hall said.

    With several teams in the district rebuilding in addition to the loss of Fleming Neon to consolidation, the Rebels will find themselves fighting for a playoff spot.

    “We have the experience and the people to fill positions. If we come together as a team, we will be in pretty good shape,” Hall said.

    Ballard Memorial

    Britten McDowell’s first season as Ballard Memorial head coach didn’t go exactly as planned, however the Bombers did win a district game and made the playoffs.

    The district win over Fulton County was their only win in 11 games.

    In year two, McDowell must find some offense after averaging less than eight points a game.

    Running back Jacob Renfrow won the starting job early in the season and is one of McDowell’s returning starters in 2005.

    Ballard Memorial has toned down their schedule also, replacing two out-of-state teams with Muhlenberg North and Graves County.

    Bath County

    Reed Fields takes over a football program that has won four games in five years and hasn’t had a winning season since 1997.

    A program that appeared in ten playoff games from 1990-98, Bath County has fallen victim to a numbers game in recent years and hasn’t been to the postseason in seven years.

    Bellevue

    Bellevue is turning to a successful coach to try and rekindle the program enjoyed in the 1970s and late 1990s.

    Dave Eckstein, who led successful programs at Ryle and most recently Carroll County, replaces Paul Grey as the top Tiger.

    His first priority will be to build numbers in the program, which has featured a roster size in the twenties the past few seasons.

    “We are focusing on getting more young men playing football at Bellevue,” Eckstein said. “It’s difficult to have sustained success with numbers that low.
    Bellevue is a very small school, with only about 125 high school age boys in the whole school, but we are hopeful the numbers of young men playing football will improve dramatically in the next few years.”

    After two seasons of Bellevue winging the football over the field, Eckstein is wanting a more balanced offensive attack that will emphasize both the run and the pass.

    Senior quarterback Josh Schmitz (5-8, 150, Sr.) will direct the offense for Eckstein, who also gets a solid defensive player from his quarterback as well.

    Schmitz has led the Tigers in tackles each of the past two seasons from his defensive back position.

    “Josh is a very bright young man and a fine leader. He will be really important to the offense both running and passing,” Eckstein said.

    Junior running back Adam Tague (5-6, 170, Jr.) averaged nearly eight yards a carry last year and should pick up the bulk of the rushing load this year.

    Senior wide receiver Chris Kilgore (5-11, 160, Sr.) caught 32 passes in eight games last year and should be the favorite target of Schmitz.

    At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Eckstein likes what he sees in lineman Mike Riley.
    “He is working very hard in the weight room and with the quickness program,” the coach said.

    Another lineman expected to play on both sides of the football is Lincoln Adams (6-0, 160, Sr.), who has led the Tigers in sacks the past two seasons. Adams will again be a defensive leader but he may move into the backfield on offense.

    Linebacker Justin Ross (5-11, 155, Jr.) should benefit from Eckstein’s plan to implement a 4-4 defense.

    “We need to focus on stopping the run and playing with a lot of emotion,” Eckstein said. “Ross is a top tackler and could be explosive on both sides of the ball.”

    Bellevue won state titles in 1951, 1977 and 1979 and was in the Class A state title game five of six years from 1976-81.

    But times have changed and the district is now dominated by Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic.

    The Tigers are just 10-9 in the playoffs since appearing in the 1990 title game and have missed the playoffs the past three years – a streak that Tiger fans are unaccustomed to.

    They are hoping that Eckstein can work his same magic that made Ryle and Carroll County respectable again.

    Berea

    Berea put together back-to-back winning seasons in 1999 and 2000 but have won just eight games the past four years, including three consecutive 1-9 campaigns.

    The first priority for new coach Warren Mills will be to find some offense. The Pirates scored in single-digits seven times and were shut out four times.

    Mills played at Bell County and was an assistant at East Ridge for two seasons before taking the Berea job.

    Bethlehem

    After three straight sinning season, Bethlehem fell to 3-7 last year but has 12 starters returning in 2005 – six on each side of the football.

    The Eagles will have to replace quarterback Dylan Monin, who threw for over 550 yards last year.

    Junior Billy Jackson (6-0, 190), who rushed for eight touchdowns last year and scored five other TDs, returns as Bethlehem’s main offensive weapon.

    Jackson is coming off a track season that saw him finish in the top three in the 110 and 300-meter hurdle events at the Class A State Track Meet.

    Head coach Stephen Robert Hart says Jackson will get some help from speedy Richard Kay, whom he calls the team’s “lightning in a bottle.”

    Jackson also stars as linebacker for the Eagles, recovering a pair of fumbles last year.

    Blake Stanley also returns on the defensive side of the football after intercepting two passes last year.

    Hart is hopeful that the Eagle defense can improve after giving up nearly 200 yards a game on the ground.

    Despite the off year, Hart said the playoffs remain a goal for his club in 2005.

    “Making the playoffs has to be one of your goals every year. People want to be associated with a winner. One way to be viewed as a winner is to be a playoff caliber team year-in and year-out,”

    Bracken County

    Rodney Ollier is hoping the third time is a charm, as in the third season of Polar Bear football.

    Ollier, a 1991 Newport High graduate and former Wildcats football and baseball player, started mainly five sophomores and two freshmen during last year’s 1-9 campaign that saw them beat Bath County for their only win.

    As the players begin to not only learn Ollier’s system, but also the basic fundamentals of playing football, the Polar Bears should continue to improve.

    Helping ferry that improvement along is the expected return of nine starters on offense and seven on defense.

    Among those coming back are sophomore Justin Scott (5-7, 155), who will move to quarterback for Ollier, and senior guard and linebacker Brandon Combess (5-8, 2-5).

    Playing in the most top-heavy district in Class A, Ollier knows the Polar Bears are still a ways away from thinking playoffs and have modest goals for their still infant football program.

    “We are going to take baby steps forward and set a solid base for our younger players. Our goal for 2005 is to be competitive and win at least four games. Being in arguably the toughest district in the state, it is easy to get caught up in wins and losses. We have to put our situation into perspective and get better one game at a time. The goal for the program is to grow in both numbers and knowledge of the game,” Ollier said.

    Bracken County has extended their football program to the middle school level to help build for the future.

    “Hopefully, we can gain the fundamental base at that level to have prosperous team,” Ollier added, putting the whole program-building job into perspective.

    “We already have a successful program because our kids are playing football. Some kids are not as fortunate to ever have that opportunity.”

    Campbellsville

    Herb Wiseman calls the third district the toughest in Class A.

    Luckily for him, he has several key starters returning from last year’s 7-4 team that lost to Danville 30-12 in the first round of the playoffs.

    In all, Campbellsville returns six starters on offense and five on defense and many of those are underclassmen.

    Nick Holmes, a 6-5, 225-pound senior, threw for 1,472 yards last year after moving into the starter’s role vacated by the graduation of Ian Hoskins.

    One of his main targets will be 6-2, 220-pound senior tight end Bubba Lawless, the Eagles’ leading receiver in 2004.

    Holmes will also have some speedy receivers to throw to, although lack of game experience is their one drawback.

    Tim Smith (6-2,175), Dion McClain (5-10, 150) are the wideouts and Isaiah Perkins (5-11, 205) and senior Jordan Vaughn (6-1, 180) at the tight end spot all run in the 4.5-4.7 range in the 40-yard dash.

    In the backfield, Anthony Anderson (5-11,220) and Shumari Bridgewater (6-2, 210) are a couple of burners that will take over the tailback rotation, while Jared Vaughn (6-0, 225) will start his fourth year at fullback.

    Campbellsville’s offensive line averages 250 pounds across and will be anchored by returning starters Montrell Durham (6-1, 245), Justin Cox (6-6, 255), and Stephen Tucker (6-0, 260).

    New additions to the line include Jonathan Franklin (6-4, 255), Andrew Cabral (5-10, 240), and Chris Cook (6-2, 200).

    Campbellsville will have to get better on defense, especially against the pass where they gave up almost 130 yards through the air.

    “Our district from top to bottom is the toughest in Class A football, but I feel like we’ll be right in the race for the district title, Wiseman said.

    Carroll County

    With the football program headed in the right direction after the departure of head coach David Eckstein to Bellevue, Carroll County has turned to a familiar face to keep the Panther momentum going.

    Eckstein’s assistant and former Panther head coach Doug Barry is returning to the Carroll County sidelines as head coach – a position he held from 1986-98, posting a 47-87 record. He has served as quarterback’s coach for the past two seasons.

    In taking over a program that has posted three straight winning records for the first time since 1983-85, Barry is expected to keep things status quo.

    The Panthers are expected to return eight seniors and several talented athletes in the junior and sophomore class.

    Senior Corey Stark (6-4, 205) leads the Panther offense after throwing for 1,309 yards and 18 touchdowns in his first season at the position.

    Stark’s favorite receiver last year was Justin Blankenship (5-10, 165, Jr.), who caught 31 passes for 450 yards and ten touchdowns.

    While the Panthers must replace two starting running backs that combined for 1,400 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, whoever wins the job will look to run behind returning linemen Luke Unker (6-1, 200, Sr.), Julius Jones (5-11, 220, Jr.), and Theo Rowlett (6-0, 220, Sr.).

    Caverna

    There is no city in Kentucky named Caverna, and there hadn’t been a winning football season at Caverna High School in over 15 years.

    One of those changed last year when the Colonels enjoyed a 6-5 season.

    However, head coach Dwayne Hatcher left after the season, and assistant coach Nick Stephens, a retired Kentucky state trooper, takes over a young team with some experience in some key areas.

    Junior quarterback Bartley Weaver (6-2, 190) threw for 1,175 yards and 11 touchdowns last year while completing 50-percent of his passes.

    Several players return for Stephens on defense, including 5-foot-7 Carrington Maxey who picked off four passes last year in the secondary.

    Junior linebacker Jason Adams and junior defensive back Chad Nuckols also return, with Nuckols expected to get some carries in the backfield.

    With the number of starters returning around the district, Caverna will likely battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the district.

    Crittenden County

    By The Marion Press

    The Crittenden County Rockets return a solid team after finishing 8-3 last season and runner-up in the Class A, First Region, Second District.

    Crittenden will hit the field in 2005 with the nucleus of last year's club that extended Mayfield in the second round of the playoffs before losing 35-28.

    Returning are the senior quarterback-receiving tandem Austin Berry and T.K. Guess.

    The duo already hold nearly every passing and receiving record in Crittenden County football history, a program that has been known more for their power running game than their passing attack.

    Guess is one of the top returning players in Kentucky and is being highly recruited by several schools, with Murray State and most recently Kentucky showing interest.

    Guess caught 45 balls for 900 yards and a dozen touchdowns last year, but has impressed college recruiters with his 4.55 speed in the 40.

    Guess will see his share of double teams on defense this year.

    Berry threw for 2,017 yards last year, breaking the school’s single season passing mark in the Rockets’ eighth game.

    Also returning is star linebacker Blake Gardner, who has spent the offseason getting bigger and quicker. At 5-11 and 210 pounds, Gardner runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.

    Receiver Cory Hamby has also made steady improvements after catching one touchdown pass last season.

    Dustin Lanham, a returning lineman, is also considered a top college prospect.

    At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Lanham's physical size is attracting a great deal of attention, and he is working on getting faster, Rocket coach Al Starnes said.
    Lanham is running in the 5.5 range in 40 yards.

    The Rockets will have their top rusher back this season. Last year Josh Franklin led team with 532 yards on the ground. A bull of a back, Franklin is great middle of the field runner. He is also a steady linebacker.

    Some players to watch for breakout seasons this year are George Congenie at linebacker and Jacob Courtney at tight end and defensive end. Courtney is a sure-handed receiver with a lot of height at 6-foot-3.

    The Rockets open Aug. 26 at home against archrival Caldwell County. New to the Rocket schedule in 2005 will be Class 3A Logan County.

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    Cumberland

    It was a year of transition for the Cumberland Redskins in 2004.

    After several years of pass-happy teams, former Eastern Kentucky lineman Jon Reynolds switched to the wing-T in hopes of balancing the offense and controlling the football more.

    The result was a 6-4 record, which wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs in Class A’s Seventh District.

    With 15 starters returning and a year under his belt, Reynolds is hoping to return the Redskins to the playoffs and notch the school’s first playoff win in eight years.

    Senior running back Robert Constant will be the main offensive threat after rushing for 632 yards on just 63 attempts last year.

    Wingbacks Justin Cornett and Chris Vicini and split end Michael Washington return.

    Cumberland lost three starters off their offensive line, but should get help from senior John Begley (5-10, 285), sophomore William Marshall (6-0, 260) and senior Philip Gilliam (5-10, 190).

    Senior Brad Watts will anchor the defense from the linebacking spot.

    Cumberland’s defense gave up over 200 yards rushing a game last year and will be one of the focal points for improvement in 2005.

    Dayton

    While a three-win season doesn’t sound like much, Stephen Lickert hopes to use it as a building block for his football program.

    The 26-year-old Lickert, who won a state football title at Highlands in 1996 and an NAIA national championship at Georgetown (Ky.) in 2000, is one of the youngest head coaches in the state.

    And his young team seemed to respond to him last year.

    The Greendevils’ 3-7 season was the program’s best record since 2000 and 2005 could produce Dayton’s first winning season in nine years.

    Lickert expects to return eight starters on offense and seven on defense.

    Expected back in the split-back, pro-style offense are leading rushers Ryan Polly (6-2, 180, Sr.) and Gary Anderson (5-9, 155, Sr.) and junior quarterback Chris Heightlow (6-2, 170).

    Alan Haire, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior) returns on defense at linebacker.

    Lickert has a senior-dominated squad that could surprise some people in the district this year.

    Evarts

    Ovie Canady’s switch from the veer to the wishbone offense in 2004 resulted in a two win improvement, but still left the Wildcats on the outside looking in at playoff time with a 3-7 record.

    Entering his fifth season as head coach at Evarts, Canady is set to return 12 starters from a roster that totals in the high 20s to low 30s.

    “We lost nine seniors, but only four of them started both ways and only seven of them even had significant contributions, Canady said.

    The 2005 roster will have nine seniors, all expected to start on both sides of the football.

    Among those are running back Dustin Mefford, defensive lineman Brit Lipfird (6-3, 270),and lineman Brandon Middleton (6-1, 210), who Canady says may be the team’s best player.

    Evarts’ defense improved from giving up a staggering 37 points a game in 2003, to 25 last year.

    If the Wildcats are to make the playoffs, that number will have to shrink some more in 2005.

    With consolidation looming ahead with Cawood and Cumberland in 2007, Canady is hoping for Evarts to send the Wildcat program out as a winner.
    “This is our last good chance to have a good team here before consolidation. We could very well surprise some people. Our overall team speed is probably the best it has ever been.”

    Fairview

    Fairview will feature one of the top fullbacks in the state in 6-foot-2, 225-pound Bradlee Jones, who has received interest from programs across the nation.

    Jones, who rushed for 1,142 yards and 16 touchdowns last year, carries a 3.8 GPA and has qualified for college after scoring a 29 on his ACT.

    He was expected to visit Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Western Kentucky, and Louisville over the summer.

    Jones also totaled 73 tackles from his linebacker position with 13 tackles for loss and four quarterback sacks.

    Unfortunately for third-year head coach Chad Tackett, Jones is one of only two starters on offense and three on defense that return from last year’s 9-3 team.

    One problem Tackett won’t have unlike his district opponents at Berea and bath County is numbers.

    “We finished 2004 with 53 players, but we need to get numbers comparable to that of Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic in order to create a better and more competitive practice environment,” the coach said. “Depth and talent is always a concern at a small school, so we need to attract the best athletes in school to play football.”

    Tackett will have a pair of 300-pound linemen to work with in senior Nick Deweese (6-1, 300) and junior Zach Prichard (6-0, 3-5).

    Expected to share the ball carrying duties with Jones are John Tidd (5-9, 175, Sr.) and Danny Stewart (5-9, 180, Jr.).

    Senior Bo Barber (5-9, 170) should get the start at quarterback.

    While making the playoffs should be no problem for the Eagles, where they finish in the district will be of major concern with heavyweights Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic looming in the region.

    Fairview’s first-ever playoff wins came the past two seasons, but Tackett wants more than just a second round appearance.

    “I feel our work ethic is second to none, and it will only be a matter of time until we can get over that second round hump sort of speak,” he said. “In order to get over that hump, we need to continue to work hard in the off-season and increase our team speed in order to compete with Beechwood and Newport Central Catholic. We are a work in progress.”

    Fort Knox

    Fort Knox is one of those teams that leave you scratching your head.

    Two years ago, they beat Class 2A runner-up Elizabethtown during the regular season and then went out suffered a pair of 50-plus losses.

    Last year, they gave Elizabethtown another close game (losing 13-12), but lost of three of their four district games by ten points or less and missed the playoffs for the first time in four years.

    Tom Jaco (28-46) enters his eighth season as head coach and isn’t afraid to play the big boys to better his Eagle squad.

    The 2005 Fort Knox schedule features Class 2A favorite Fort Campbell in the annual Army Bowl (Fort Campbell leads the series 15-14), Class 4A Oldham County, and Elizabethtown once again.

    Jaco’s record against 1A opponents in seven years is a respectable 20-14.

    But Jaco faces an uphill battle in 2004 despite returning one of the top defensive players in Class A.

    Dezmond Larkins, a 5-foot-10, 215-pound senior, anchors the Fort Knox defense from his middle linebacker position and plays fullback on offense.

    Larkins missed several games last year due to an ankle injury.

    On offense, Troy Meno (6-2, 220, Jr.) is being handed the keys to the wing-T offense in the hopes he can drive the Eagle offense into the playoffs.

    Meno is a multi-sport athlete that plays basketball and throws the discus and shot on the track team.

    He may need his track abilities to stay healthy in the pocket as the Eagles must overhaul their offensive line, returning only Tommy Schlett.

    Meno is just one of several projected starters that will likely have to wear name tags in the initial days of practice so that the coaches know who they are.

    Only ten players who were on the 45-man roster last year came out for spring practice.

    Part of that is due to the constant turnover of families transferring off the army post.

    Of course, that can also be a positive as Fort Campbell’s recent fortunes prove.

    Fulton City

    Fulton City graduated ten players from a 33-player team that was 3-7 last year and made the playoffs after a two-year absence.

    The numbers are nothing new to head coach Wayne Lohaus, who must battle to field a full roster since he coaches at one of the smallest schools in the state to have a football team.

    Making matters tougher for Lohaus is the graduation of quarterback Keith Burton, who led the Bulldogs in both passing and rushing last year.

    Senior David Madding could get the quarterback job in 2005, while junior Anthony Tipton, senior Keven Moran, and sophomore Kentrall Rouse all saw considerable time in the backfield last year.

    Lohaus does have the luxury of returning three starting linemen, including juniors Tyler Hamrick and Steven McClanahan.

    As has been the case in recent years, the Bulldogs will find themselves battling rivals Fulton County and Ballard Memorial for a playoff spot.

    Fulton County

    Fulton County is just hoping to finish the 2005 season with their team and coaching staff intact.

    The past two years has seen the Pilots lose their head football coach in the season’s third week.

    Two years ago, John Saxon was relieved of his duties because of a potential violation of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association's eligibility requirements.

    Last year was even more bizarre when head coach Bob Winston packed up without telling his assistant coaches, players, or teachers and left the school and town on the day of Fulton County’s game with Heath.

    In both instances, assistant coach Stephen Long took over the head coaching duties for the rest of the season.

    Despite Long’s hard work at overcoming adversity within the program again, the end result was a 2-8 record that saw the Pilots miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

    Now, the keys to the program have been turned over to former Pilot star Mancell Elam, who was part of Fulton County’s success in the early 1990s.
    Speedsters James (5-9, 140, Soph.) and LaDrekus Moffatt (5-7, 140, Soph.) both saw time in the backfield last year, with James winning the starting job midway through the season.

    Zach Curlin, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior, will be a blocking back and anchor the defense.

    It’s that defense that must improve after allowing 43 points a game last year, including five times when the opponent topped 50.

    Fulton County should return a pair of experienced linemen in Rod Kinney (6-2, 250, Sr.) and David Swegman (6-0, 210, Jr.).

    Tari Bishop (5-10, 190, Jr.) could play either receiver or back and should be a threat on special teams.

    While it may take some time for the Pilot football program to return to the success they enjoyed in the 1990s when they had four seasons of eight or more wins, the 2005 version would just like to play a full year without any controversy and make the playoffs.

    Green County

    A late coaching change saw John Gupton resign in June after two years on the job and Joey Bush taking over the top spot.

    Bush’s first order of business will be to try and put an end to the state’s fourth longest losing streak at 14 games.

    The Dragons, who won 29 games from 2000-02, have won just one time since.
    Bush should have six starters returning on both sides of the football, led by dual threat quarterback Matthew Edwards.


    Hancock County

    Hancock County was senior-dominated squad in 2004 that was picked by many to unseat Mayfield and possibly return to Louisville for the first time in five years.

    It didn’t happen.

    The Hornets reeled off 11 straight wins after a season-opening loss to Ohio County but fell short against Mayfield 47-21 in the Class A, Region I finals.

    Brock Shoulders enters his fifth year with seven starters returning on both sides of the football.

    Among the starters returning are Josh Sanders, Jarrad McCormick, and Brandon Bozarth.

    Sanders (5-11, 190, Sr.) rushed for 1,12 yards and 16 touchdowns but missed Hancock County’s playoff loss to Mayfield after shooting his foot in a hunting accident the week of the game.

    While Shoulders admits having Sanders, who also plays safety on defense, probably wouldn’t have meant a win, he would like to have had his full compliment of players in the playoffs. The coach said Sanders is 100-percent healed from his injury.

    Bozarth, a 6-2, 170-pound senior, anchors both the offensive and defensive lines for the Hornets, who are also slated to return Derek Napier (5-10, 160, Sr.) to the line.

    Junior quarterback Jarrad McCormick (5-9, 185) threw for 1,506 yards and 18 touchdowns but was also picked off 16 times.

    McCormick also won’t have top target Michael Schwindel (31 catches, 714 yards) to throw to, with the departed senior playing at the University of Kentucky this fall.

    The Hornets averaged 44 points and nearly 400 yards of offense a game, playing in arguably the weakest district in Class A last year.

    Those numbers dropped later in the season when Hancock played tougher opponents such as Mayfield, Murray, and Crittenden County.

    Hancock County will try and remedy that this year by scheduling a road game in Lexington against Lafayette, and road games at Class 3A Graves County and 2A Butler County.

    “We will probably be picked by most to finish second in the district behind Crittenden County, but we probably don't deserve that much respect,” Shoulders said. “We must stay healthy and improve every week. Then maybe we can make a run come playoff time.”

    Lying in wait for the Hornets once again in the region will likely be Murray and Mayfield.

    Harlan

    Harlan’s 2004 season ended a little quicker than they wanted it to with a second round playoff loss to Pikeville.

    While Harlan has made the playoffs in 10 of head coach J.B. Donahue’s 12 years as head coach, it marked the fifth straight year that the Dragons failed to advance past the second round.

    Unless the play of their line makes leaps and bounds over the summer, it could be six straight years of playing no more than 12 games.

    The Dragons return only two linemen from last year’s 9-3 team and must replace All-State tackle Jake Anderson, who was among 12 seniors to graduate.

    Among those who could win starting jobs in the trenches are junior Blake James (6-0, 245), senior Andrew Massingale (6-0, 230), and sophomore Aaron Jones (6-0, 230).

    If the Harlan line surprises some people, the Dragons have the offensive threats the put some points on the scoreboard.

    Senior tailback Teddy Thompson rushed for 1746 yards and 20 touchdowns behind an experienced line last year.

    Junior Jon Lundy returns at quarterback and should get help from tailback Casey Belcher and receiver Will Pope.

    Harlan’s defense gave up just 189 yards a game on defense and held seven of their 12 opponents to single digits.

    If the Dragons can get the same kind of play on defense and their line progresses well, Harlan could be a player in the District Seven chase.

    Harrodsburg

    Harrodsburg returns several key players they feel may enough to supplant five-time champion Danville from atop the district standings.

    The Pioneers limped home with a 6-5 record last year, losing their final three games, including a 56-0 thrashing to Danville in the regular season finale and a 28-0 whitewash to Holy Cross in the first round of the playoffs.

    Third year coach Terry Yeast has several talented underclassmen back in 2005 with hopes of winning the school’s first district title since 1999.

    Junior Freeman Edwards (6-1, 160) begins his third year as starting quarterback after throwing for 640 yards and nine touchdowns last year.

    Seniors Kenton Masterson (6-4, 175), and juniors Demarkus Masterson (6-3, 175), Chrys Jones (6-0, 165), all give Edwards big targets to aim for.

    Also back in the mix are speedy running backs Cory Jackson (5-7, 145, Jr.) and Brandon Ford (5-8, 150, Jr.).

    Ford rushed for 1,805 yards and 18 touchdowns last year, while Jackson added 777 yards and eight scores, giving the Pioneers a potent backfield.

    Harrodsburg will have some holes to fill on both sides of the line and on defense after graduating their top two linebackers.

    Junior Terrelle Singleton (6-2, 260) saw some time on the line last year but is just one of a few linemen with any game experience.

    With Danville reloading as always and Frankfort pointing to 2005 as the year they could challenge for the district, the development of Harrodsburg’s line play could be the difference in playing at home or on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

    Hazard

    Hazard returns senior quarterback Durrell Olinger, who threw for 2,568 yards and 28 touchdowns as the Bulldogs suffered through their first losing season in nine years.

    Senior tackle Jimmy Miller (6-1, 260) and senior center Matt Turner (6-0, 195) also return for Mark Dixon’s Bulldogs, who should challenge Pikeville for the district title.

    Holy Cross (Covington)

    2004 was a season of transition for Holy Cross football on several fronts.

    First, the program had to deal with the death of former coach John Wysong, who died a couple of weeks before school dismissed. Wysong began the football program at Holy Cross in 1998 and coached the team to back-to-back winning seasons in 2002 and 2003.

    The program’s reins were officially handed over to Bruce Kozerski, the center on the 1988 Cincinnati Bengal Super Bowl squad, who had stood alongside Wysong since the program’s inception.

    After losing their first five games, the Indians rebounded to win three straight games and make the playoffs.

    Holy Cross is set to return their entire starting backfield from last year – leading rusher Anthony Penny (5-11, 180, Jr.), Adam Placke (6-1, 190, Sr.), and Scott Baker (6-2, 210, Jr.).

    Matt Abeling, a 5-foot-11, 150 pound junior, is set to take over at quarterback for the Indians, who must replace their starting receivers from last year.

    Two of Holy Cross’ top defensive players return in Chris Schneider (6-0, 210, Jr.) and Dana Riley (5-11, 295, Sr.).

    Also set to provide blocking for the Indians up front is Chris Merritt (6-2, 280, Jr).

    Holy Cross graduated 12 seniors off last year’s team and will look to a talented junior class to get them back to the playoffs for a fifth straight year.

    It should come down to the Indians, Bellevue, and Dayton for the final playoff spot.

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    Kentucky Country Day

    Kentucky Country Day will be continuing their transition from 8-man football to the regular 11-man game, using three returning offensive players as building blocks.

    The Bearcats played a district schedule last year, although they weren’t eligible for the playoffs. In the district, they will replace Evangel Christian, who withdrew from district play.

    Last year’s 6-4 campaign included a 14-13 win over Bardstown and a 49-42 loss to Campbellsville, a pair of teams that figure to challenge for the district title in 2005.

    However, KCD doesn’t return the same amount of personnel as the district favorites.

    “After playing a district schedule last season, we know what a challenge we have in front of us. We have four starters returning on offense and four on defense. We are asking several players to step up big in replacing a special group of seniors that we had last year,” said head coach Tim Green, who enters his third year at KCD with a record of 10-10.

    Cassidy Cook takes over the reigns at quarterback, while Ben Anderson will be the main receiver.

    Running back Terronce Adams, who rushed for five touchdowns and caught three more, is the top returning offensive threat for the Bearcats, who will be hard-pressed to repeat their 300-yard per game offensive output from last year.

    Jenkins

    Jenkins hasn’t had a winning season since 1993, and the Cavaliers haven’t won a playoff game in over 25 years.

    Neither is expected to change this year.

    Jenkins does return some size on their line but will have to find some players who can score if they are to improve upon last year’s 2-8 record.


    Ludlow

    After recording the school’s first winning record since 1998, The Ludlow Panthers again find themselves in a rebuilding mode.

    Third-year head coach Steve Hensley (13-9) guided Ludlow to an 8-3 record last year and the school’s second straight trip to the playoffs after a four-year absence.

    Now, the Panthers must replace 20 of 22 starters on the field while other teams in the district’s lower tier are getting better.

    The only returning offensive starter is running back Vincent Sullivan (5-11, 185) who had 800 yards rushing and 150 yards receiving with 13 touchdowns while missing all or parts of four games with an injury.

    While the returning starters are scarce, the cupboard is not bare.

    The last two junior varsity and freshman teams at Ludlow have produced winning records, and they seem determined to prove they can do this on the varsity level and continue the progress that has been made in the last two years.

    Among the people expected to step into starting roles this year are senior quarterback Chase King, senior D.J. Trenkamp (TE/DE), junior Aaron Duncan (OL/DL), junior Paul McGlassson (OL/LB), junior Cory Gilbert (RB/LB), senior Derek Shackleford (TE/LB), and senior Zack Hein (PK).

    A healthy Nick Papas (6-3, 255, Sr.) on the line should also help the Panthers as should the addition of basketball player Dan Penick at the receiver position.

    Considerable progress within the program has been made over the last two years, and this group of young men wants to continue that and to build upon that progress.

    They also want to prove to some of the naysayers that they too can be an outstanding football team and to not let down the last two groups of graduating seniors.

    Despite the lack of returning starters from last year, things are cautiously optimistic in Panther Land. Don't be surprised if this group doesn't pull off a few surprises.

    McLean County

    With very little experience returning in 2004, first-year head coach Marcus Kimbrell saw his McLean County Cougar team struggle to a winless record – the school’s first 0-10 mark since 1998.

    However, McLean County doesn’t expect to be the district doormat this year with 15 starters returning in 2005.

    “Offensively, we have seven returning starters who were really young last season playing as freshman and sophomores,” Kimbrell said. “Defensively, we will be more experienced with eight starters returning.”

    Among the returning starters is quarterback Nick Tanner, who threw for 637 yards and three touchdowns last year.

    The 6-2, 185-pound junior also earned all-state honorable mention accords by making 59 tackles and intercepting five passes.

    One of Tanner’s favorite targets is 6-3, 200-pound tight end A.J. Henderson, who caught 16 passes for 283 yards last year. The junior also had 33 tackles as a linebacker.

    Scotty Woodburn joins Henderson in the linebacking corps.

    The Cougars will feature some beef up front, led by 6-2, 285-pound tackle Eric Fain, who is drawing looks from Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky. Fain, one of only two seniors on the McLean County roster, recorded 77 tackles and two sacks on defense as a junior.

    In a district that should be improved over last year, the Cougars will need their young players to contribute more in 2005. McLean only scored 66 points in ten games and reached double figures in just three games.

    Metcalfe County

    After posting the school’s best record in 2003 (12-1) and a trip to the region finals, Metcalfe County hit a speed bump last year and slipped to 3-7, missing the playoffs in a weak district.

    Like a couple of other teams in the district this year, the Hornets return more starters than they lose.

    Many of those 17 starters returning saw their first varsity action last year, and head coach Larry Harbison is hoping the players coming back can surprise some people in a district that many people have picked Crittenden County or Hancock County to win.

    Ryan England (6-0, 170), who played quarterback most of last year, will return to the backfield along with fullback Russ McMurtrey (6-1, 190).

    Will Warf is expected to be the Hornets’ quarterback in 2005, with Michael Bonnema one of his main targets.

    With Hancock County and Crittenden County the district favorites, Harbison knows Metcalfe County must beat one of them in the district to avoid a likely first round playoff game on the road at Murray.

    Murray

    With the 2004 Football Season concluding in the Second Round of the Class A Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, Murray High School also saw the end of an amazing era as Head Football Coach, Rick Fisher, officially retired.

    Fisher oversaw Murray High’s most successful years, in terms of winning percentage, for any single coach in Murray’s 103-year old football history.

    Fisher inherited a troubled program and guided the Tiger’s into the playoffs every season, winning the region two times and to a state runner-up finish in 1994.

    With the end of one era, begins a next. The keys have now been given to assistant coach Lee Edwards.

    Prior to Murray, Edwards coached, on the defensive side of the ball, for a very successful Lipscomb team in Tennessee.

    Edwards has brought along a new sense of revitalization and philosophies he has adopted coaching against some of Tennessee’s best football players.

    Murray was hit hard as far as graduation goes, losing two First Team All-State players – lineman Cory Zirbel and receiver Tim Masthay – and a few All Region selections. The success of this year’s team depends on how well the offensive line comes together and developing the young talent around team.

    The most notable returnees for Murray High are first and foremost Rashad Troupe, one of the state’s fastest players. Troupe rushed for 1,723 yards and 23 touchdowns last season, despite missing a game due to injury.

    Troupe turned some heads at the coach’s combine in the spring, running a 4.32 40-yard dash.

    The success of any running back depends on how well the offensive line comes together. The only two returning on the offensive line are 6-2, 250-pound center Andrew Cain and Kent Erwin.

    They will anchor the front five while the three new starters progress through the season.

    Under center will be Hugh Rollins (6-4, 195, Sr.) who threw for 1,466 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

    However, Rollins will have to spread the football around more in 2005 after completing 49 of his 68 passes to the graduated Masthay.

    Joe Benton or 6-foot-9 tight end Joey Jackson should see some passes come their way.

    Defensively, the Tigers will be highlighted with pretty much the same names as on offense.

    Murray should be pretty solid along the front five being led by Drew Stephens, Jackson, and Cain, but the seven behind them is where the biggest question marks arise.

    Edwards will employ a new attacking style of defense. If the young Tigers can adjust to it early, the potential is there for success.

    Murray has boosted their schedule in hopes of improving come playoff time.
    The only games against schools their size will be in district play or any post-season games.

    Look for Murray to be very competitive and a lot better than some are anticipating.

    Their biggest weaknesses will be in lack of experience and lack of depth – both of which district rival Mayfield has plenty of in 2005.

    Nicholas County

    Nicholas County put together four straight winning seasons from 1999-2002 but have stumbled recently with consecutive eight-loss seasons.

    Head coach Robert Hopkins lost six senior starters off last year’s 2-8 team, but does return leading rusher Tyler Curran (5-10, 190, Sr.) to the mix.

    Curran rushed for 768 yards and ten scores last year.

    The Bluejackets do return a pair of key starters on defense, including diminutive defensive back Jonathon Maddox (5-7, 150, Soph.), who had three interceptions last year, and tackle David Livingood (5-11, 245, Jr.).

    Last year’s 24-player roster had 15 sophomores and freshman on it.

    Hopkins would love nothing more than for the Bluejackets to grab the fourth playoff spot and get his young players some postseason experience to build on for next year when several of the district leaders are expected to have big losses due to graduation.

    Owen County

    Greg Ulasiewicz returns for his fifth season as head coach of the Rebels, a stretch that has seen the program post a 13-28 record.

    However, none of those teams returned 20 starters like Ulasiewicz hopes happens in 2005.

    One starter he hopes does return is last year’s leading rusher Aaron Sutherland (5-9, 160, Sr.), who may play fall baseball instead of football, Ulasiewicz said.

    Senior running back Josh Juett (5-5, 165, Sr.) and senior quarterback Shane Perkins (5-10, 155, Sr.) are also among those slated to return along with receiver Cameron Logan (6-1, 170, Sr.).

    The Rebels’ offense showed signs they could put some points on the board in losses to Harrodsburg (37-27) and Frankfort (38-35).

    However, in a district where the opposition has several explosive weapons, the Rebels must improve on last year’s numbers when they gave up 30 points a game.

    Owen County will likely battle Carroll County for the final playoff spot but their senior-laden team could catch anyone off guard if they’re not careful.

    While the Rebels will be looking for their first trip to the playoffs since 2001 (Ulasiewicz’s first year at OCHS), a higher goal for the team would be to produce the football program’s first winning season in 14 years.

    Paintsville

    After the resignation of ten-year coach David “Burrhead” Lemaster, the administration wasted no time in continuing tradition and greatness of Paintsville.

    Bill Mike Runyon was named the new head football coach in early May.

    Runyon is known for his greatness as the boys’ basketball coach, and the hire was a shocker to many folks outside of Paintsville.

    But the well-known truth around Johnson County is that Runyon has desired this opportunity for many years. Runyon served as the offensive coordinator in years past for Tiger football program, including their 1985 state runner-up team and the 2001 regional title team.

    Runyon definitely walked into a situation of opportunities. Expectations are high for this team as the Tigers only lost one player to graduation from last season.

    The return of Runyon to the sidelines also returns assistant coach, Jim Tom Allen.

    After the 2003 season, Allen left the Tiger staff to join the Pikeville college staff as an offensive line and strength coach.

    Joe Chirico also returns to the Tigers staff as a secondary/offensive back coach.

    Other returnees to the staff include line coach Milt Preston, linebacker coach B.J. Ward. Paintsville has also added assistants David Vanhoose and Jimmy Daniels to the staff, even though neither are strangers as they have been on the staff with Runyon before.

    Runyon’s offense consists of a run and gun style. This style of offense is more suited for athletic junior QB Daniel Pugh (6-0, 180), who is now a threat running and passing the pigskin.

    Paintsville also returns leading rusher, senior tailback Hans Doderer (5-9, 175), who surpassed 1,000 yard mark in just eight games last season.

    Also seeing action at tailback will be senior Adam Smyth (5-10, 180), junior Shane Cantrell (5-11, 170), and sophomore Hunter Preston (5-6, 125).

    The Tigers will have two options at fullback where senior Wes Ward (6-3, 240) and junior Kyle Sublett (5-11, 215) will compete for playing time. Last season in the belly offense, Sublett served as the blocking back while Ward was the fullback and had a significant amount of carries. Both have the ability to make big runs with their bulldozer style.

    Casey Brown (6-1, 205), the younger brother of former Tiger standouts Matt and Ryan Brown, will be a reserve at the fullback position.

    At the tight end position, one year starter senior Kevin Williams (6-3, 220) returns. Williams has the ability to block but is a bigger asset with his hands.

    Senior receivers T.J. Freno (6-2, 200) and Andrew Brown (6-0, 190) return to the Tiger lineup. Both have the speed and the ability to get open. Both could also lineup at tight end in two tight end sets along with newcomer sophomore J.D. Vanhoose (6-2, 205) who is the WR/TE type of player.

    Senior Matt Crisp (6-0, 175) and junior Brian Walker (6-0, 150) could also see action at the receiver positions.

    Paintsville returns three players that have started for four years on the offensive line.

    They are senior tackles Blake Lemaster (6-3, 230) and Johnny Porter (6-2, 235) along with senior guard Adam Cummings (6-0, 225). All three have gotten in the weight room during the off-season and packed on some strength.

    Also returning is sophomore J.J. Hensley (5-10, 220) who started the majority of last season at center as a freshman.

    The only hole on the line to fill is one of the guard positions which more than likely will be filled by senior Jeff Collett (6-2, 240). Collett will also man all kicking duties as he did last season. Collett works extremely hard on his kicking game, which is known to produce deep kickoffs and up to 50 yard field goals in non-pressure situations. He will be relied on often this season to get the Tigers three points when necessary and to put the PATs through.

    Sophomore linemen Bucky Bailey (5-9, 200), Trenton Caudill (6-2, 215), and Justin Stafford (6-2, 210) will serve as the reserves.

    On defense, Sublett returns to the middle linebacker post as the Tigers’ leading tackler and sack leader from last season.

    Also returning at linebacker is four-year starter Matt Blevins (6-1, 200).
    Smyth, A. Brown, and Bailey could also see time at the linebacker positions.

    Brown is very versatile and is dangerous off of the edge. He could line up anywhere from end to safety, but more than likely will be a DE/OLB.

    Vanhoose and C. Brown could also see action at a linebacker or end spot.
    The defensive line is anchored by senior nose guard Nic Ramey (6-0, 330), who is excellent at clogging up the line and demanding double-teams to free up the linebackers to make tackles.

    Also returning on the line is Cummings at tackle and Williams at defensive end.

    The other tackle spot is up for grabs. Ward could possibly fill that void along with others such as Lemaster, and Porter.

    The secondary possesses a lot of experience. Seniors Doderer, Freno, Crisp and Smyth, along with juniors Walker, Cantrell, and Pugh have all been starters in the secondary sometime in their career. Since Paintsville will probably not play seven defensive backs at once, look for the Tigers to keep the secondary fresh, especially against passing teams.

    Paintsville hasn’t played up to par the last two seasons. Granted the team was young, but in 2003 the Tigers ended the regular season on a three-game skid placing them fourth in the district. This caused them to travel to Somerset in the playoffs.

    In 2004, Paintsville lost a big district game to South Floyd forcing them to go on the road in the first round of the playoffs against a tough Harlan team. Those young players are now upper classmen, and the Tigers are expected to rely on their leadership and experience.

    As of right now, Pikeville is the team that’s circled on the Tiger schedule as the biggest game, which could very well be a District Championship game.

    Paintsville has been mentioned to be in the regional title hunt as well. But the Class 1A Region 4 is strong with teams such as Pikeville, South Floyd, Hazard, Harlan, Lynn Camp and Somerset.

    Paris

    The Greyhounds have turned to former Paris standout Brian “Boo” Washington to turn around the once dominant Class A program that has endured losing seasons two of the past three years.

    Washington becomes the sixth Paris head coach in nine years and replaces Mark Allen Crain, who left to become an assistant at Montgomery County.

    He was an assistant coach at Paris for eight years, and he played for the Greyhounds 15 years ago.

    One of Washington’s first goals is to return the Paris program, which won state titles in 1973, 81, and 82, to the top of Class A football.

    “We have establish that we can’t be satisfied with being average. Paris was always traditionally a football powerhouse, but this era of kids has not experienced that. With the returning nucleus of players, I've really got to express to them it's time to start playing like the players that this school had been accustom to seeing.”

    Paris returns four starters on offense and five on defense from last year’s team that was 6-5 and was thrashed by Beechwood in the first round of the playoffs.

    One of the first things Washington wants to do with the returning players is get them stronger.

    “My first priority was to make sure our kids continued in the progression of our strength, and conditioning program. Being a physical and strong team is always a priority of any successful high school team,” he said.

    Washington must replace graduated quarterback Trevor Rice, who threw for 1,429 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

    Among the players Washington feels will have a chance to lead the Greyhounds on the field are senior running back Austin Harney, who sat last year out after transferring from Bourbon County, receiver A.J. Cosby, and sophomore running back Terrell Harris, who Washington said looked good during spring practice.

    Those three will have the privilege to get blocks from junior Chase Dumphord, a 6-foot-7, 300-pound tackles, that is already drawing some attention from major colleges.

    Despite the rebuilding task ahead of him, Washington expects the Greyhounds to be in the district hunt come October.

    “This should be an exciting year for our district, and I look for us to be right in the hunt with the rest of these guys when it's all said and done.”

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    Phelps

    Phelps will be hard-pressed to avoid their seventh straight season of not finishing above .500, but the Hornets are set to return junior quarterback Robert Gannon and senior linebacker Cody Salyer.

    Gannon threw for 604 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore last year while completing 58-percent of his passes.

    However, he will have to find some new targets to throw to in 2005.

    Pineville

    Pineville has notched only two winning seasons in the past fifteen years.

    Last year, the program suffered through its first winless season in 80-plus years of Lion football.

    Tom Bryant was named the new head coach in the spring in hopes of resurrecting the Pineville program.

    Bryant had been an assistant coach at Trion High in Georgia the last three years, and is also a former college assistant at Tusculum.

    After building the roster size, Bryant will have to figure out a way for his players to reach the end zone. The Lions scored only 37 points last year and were shut out six times.

    Among the players who should greet Bryant are junior quarterback David Adams and senior tailback Alvin Brock.

    Raceland

    Raceland graduated just four seniors from last year’s 5-6 team that lost 56-13 to Newport Central Catholic in the first round of the playoffs.

    The Rams return the aerial combination of Scott Grizzle and Thomas Tolliver from an offense that averaged 24.5 points a game.

    Grizzle, a 5-foot-11, 160 pound junior, threw for 2,118 yards and 25 touchdowns last year, while Tolliver, a 5-foot-9, 145 pound senior, caught 64 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 scores.

    The Rams’ line should be anchored by senior Zack Schwab (6-3, 210) and Tejas Shastry (6-2, 200, Sr.).

    Depth will continue to be a problem for head coach Randy Vanderhoof, whose 2004 roster only had 23 players.

    If either Grizzle or Tolliver are bitten by the injury bug, it could mark the first time since 2000 that the Rams miss the playoffs.

    Russellville

    Russellville has a storied tradition of football, playing in six Class A state finals and winning three titles between 1980 and 1990.

    However, the Panthers haven’t advanced past the second round of the playoffs since 1994 and have posted five straight losing seasons – something Russellville alumni aren’t accustomed to.

    Jon Myers left Monroe County last year to rebuild Russellville’s program and posted a 4-7 mark in his inaugural campaign.

    Myers, who was an assistant coach at Mayfield before helping rebuild Monroe County’s football program, was greeted last year with a new weight room.

    He hopes the hard work in there pays off on the gridiron.

    Myers graduated 13 seniors from last year’s team, including most of the skill players.

    He only has a few juniors to work with, but a talented sophomore class has Myers excited about Russellville’s future.

    Seniors expected to return in 2005 include offensive tackle Paul White (6-0, 280) and Chris Ward (5-8, 165) at halfback.

    Junior Justin Rust (6-1, 195), a standout on the baseball diamond, could get some carries in the backfield as well.

    Others who could help Myers on the line include senior Brooks Warden (6-1, 235), senior tackle Tim Sutton (6-0, 225).

    A pair of seniors, Andre Smith (6-2, 165) and Matt Rosser (6-0, 220) will see plenty of time at defensive end.

    If Myers can plug some holes at quarterback and receiver, and the sophomore class matures quickly, Russellville could surprise some people in a traditionally weak district and win a playoff game for the first time since 1988.

    Somerset

    By Tim Washam

    After a disappointing 5-6 season in 2004 with the last two games being blow outs by Harlan and Pikeville, the Briar Jumper faithful were glad to see the season end.

    Jay Cobb is excited about what this team could accomplish. The Briar Jumpers lost only 5 players to graduation and the 2005 roster has 13 seniors, 11 juniors, and 13 sophomores returning. The word out of “The Patch” is that this is the physically strongest team since 1999. Cobb returns all of his skill positions, so this could be a fun year for the Jumpers.

    Scotty Newell returns for his senior campaign after scoring 17 touchdowns last year and rushing for 1510 yards. Leading Newell out of the backfield will be two tough fullbacks, Matt Salmons and Kenny Hughes. Both can block and get the short yardage when it’s needed.

    At quarterback, Boone Williams returns after starting every game last year. Williams will have stiff competition from sophomore Chase Hall who was the starting catcher for the baseball team.

    A transfer from Pulaski County High School, Ross Deaton, will also compete for the spot. He saw some playing time last year at 4A Pulaski County.

    Ray Norman had an outstanding season last year with 36 catches averaging 15 yards/catch and had five touch downs. He will be joined by sophomore John Cole, who grew up last year starting as a freshman and got better every week.

    Kyle Spears and Kyle Moore will round out the receiving corp. They both played in every game last year and had some big catches. The jumpers have four talented receivers that can catch the football.

    The returning linemen are Kyle McCoy, Roy Rhodus, John Whitson, Phillip Lowery, Michael Hagar, John Jones and Logan Lee. They all started at times and will give Cobb much needed depth.

    With returning linebackers Cam Jones, Chad Hinton and Kyle Spears, the defense should have a solid front seven.

    The defense backfield has been a consistent area of weakness but should be much improved with A. T. Hunter, Chris Ledford, C. J. Megargel, Kyle Moore, Boone Williams, Ray Norman and Scotty Newell returning.

    Scotty Newell handled the punting last year and John Wright Polk handled the PATs and field goals.

    The Briar Jumpers must answer three questions early in the season to have the kind of year everyone expects:

    1) Will someone step up and provide the senior leadership for the team?

    2) Can they consistently run the football?

    3) Do they have the physical and mental toughness to go out and play four quarters every Friday night?

    The early season schedule will give us some indications of where this team can go. They start out with Carroll County and then play Pulaski County, Warren East and Danville.

    The Jumpers will play in the friendly confines of Clark Field six times with two really tough road trips to Cumberland (9/16) and Harlan, the last week of the season.

    South Floyd

    The Raiders return one of the more potent aerial combinations in the mountains with seniors Ryan Johnson and Justin Slone set to lead South Floyd’s offense.

    Johnson, a three-sport star who missed the first two games of 2004 from injuries suffered in a car crash, still threw for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing nearly 60-percent of his passes.

    Slone caught 42 passes for 804 yards and ten touchdowns in helping the Raiders average 40.3 points a game.

    But head coach Donny Daniels must replace Joe Osborne and Wes Hall who combined to rush for nearly 3,200 yards and 34 touchdowns last year.

    The Raiders won a school-record eight games last year, but have a lot of holes to replace on a defense that gave up nearly 30 points a game last year.

    Trimble County

    Trimble County looks to get a giant monkey off their backs in 2005.

    The Raiders will be looking to end the state’s longest losing streak at 24 games which dates back to the 2002 season.

    The man tabbed to end that streak is former Pike County Central coach Johnny Poynter, who was 14-18 in three seasons in the mountains.

    The Rockcastle County native worked as a defensive coordinator for five years at his alma mater before serving as defensive coordinator at Bourbon County for four years, including their state championship season of 1997.

    Poynter inherits a squad of mainly freshmen and sophomores with just four or five seniors on the roster.

    Williamsburg

    After setting a school record with 12 wins in 2004, Williamsburg may be lucky to field a team in 2005.

    The Yellowjackets graduated 12 players from their 24-man roster last year, including record-setting quarterback Andy Greer and running back Will Hill.

    Junior Thomas Frazier is the likely quarterback in 2005, with linemen accounting for most of the returning players for head coach Jim Black.

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    ttt

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