2005 Class 2A Kentucky High School Football Playoff Preview

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    2005 Class 2A Kentucky High School Football Playoff Preview

    The top two teams in Class 2A and three of the top five in the final Bluegrasspreps Football Poll come from Region One, making one of those teams the likely favorite to win the title.

    But you can’t forget about Belfry, the two-time defending champion, Russell, Region Three champs two of the past three years, and a pair of up-and-coming Louisville programs, DeSales and Western that can score with any team in the state.

    REGION ONE – Teams from Region One have combined to win 13 state championships – second most to Region Three, which was once home to Highlands and Danville before they switched classes.

    Fort Campbell (10-0) is coming off their first unbeaten regular season in nearly 25 years, crushing their opponents by an average score of 46-5 during the year.

    No team scored more than one touchdown against the Falcon defense, which registered three shutouts during the season.

    While Falcon stud Micah Johnson (6-4, 275, Sr.) has garnered most of the attention – and deservedly so – Fort Campbell’s speed and ability to swarm to the football has been one of the main reasons for their success.

    Notre Dame commit Leonard Gordon anchors a secondary that has allowed just over 50 yards a game through the air, while Johnson and Co. helps limit the opposition’s rushing to 55 yards a game.

    If there is a concern for head coach Shawn Berner, it’s the fact that only one team (Trigg County) has played to within a touchdown of the Falcons, meaning that his players haven’t had to play four full quarters in seven weeks.

    However, the Falcons will have one of the biggest home field advantages in the state working for them this year.

    Visiting fans to the Army post on the Kentucky-Tennessee line are required to show ID and be photographed before driving past tanks and helicopters on their way to Fryar Field.

    The Falcons, who are looking for their first trip to Louisville in 25 years, could host every playoff game until the title game.

    “That’s very important for us,” said Berner.

    The Falcons will host Edmonson County (6-4) in the first round.

    The Wildcats, under second-year head coach Kyle Pierce, put up the school’s first winning season in seven years, thanks to a passing attack that averages nearly 160 yards a game.

    Senior quarterback Kyle Culbreth has completed nearly 55-percent of his passes for over 1,600 yards, while junior tailback Brandon Poteet topped 1,000 yards rushing.

    The Wildcats are going to need every yard they can muster to pull off the first-round shocker against Fort Campbell.

    Meanwhile, Owensboro Catholic (9-1) has won the last two region titles and advanced to the state title game before losing to Belfry.

    An experienced line and improving play from quarterback David Woodward is just one of the factors behind the Aces’ 9-1 record that has seen them average 40.4 points and allow just 14 a game.

    “David had a rough start, but a lot of that was my fault,” said head coach John Edge, who simplified the playbook some since the start of the season. Woodward responded by throwing for over 2,200 yards and 30 touchdowns.

    “He throws a great ball, and his confidence keeps growing,” said Edge.

    Junior Neil Holland has proven to be Woodward’s favorite target, catching over 50 passes for 750 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Houston Kamuf has combined for over 1,000 yards rushing and receiving to go with 18 touchdowns out of the backfield.

    On defense, the Aces have a pair of outstanding linebackers – David Jarboe and Adam McBride – who are among the team lead in tackles.

    Sophomore Brian Winkelpleck is among the state leaders in interceptions with 12, helping keep Catholic opponents to just under 100 yards through the air.

    The Aces will entertain Heath (6-4) in the first round for the second straight year. And all indications are this year’s game will end up much like last year’s 49-20 Catholic win.

    The Pirates have shown they have the ability to score points – 40.1 ppg. in their six wins – but have also shown the propensity to give up Trump-like real estate on the defensive side – 43.7 points in their four losses.

    Senior quarterback Clint Tilford, who threw for over 1,000 yards during the season, did not play in last week’s win over Webster County because of a broken left hand.

    That will put the offensive burden on sophomore Chad Wright, who has rushed for over 1,200 yards.

    For the third straight year, Owensboro Catholic and Trigg County could meet in the second round in Owensboro. The previous two games resulted in Catholic wins.

    Trigg County’s only two losses have come to number one teams – 2A Fort Campbell (14-7) and 3A Bowling Green (49-7).

    Trigg’s offense, an even mix of running and passing, has blossomed in recent weeks behind a steadily improving offensive line.

    Senior quarterback Tommy Woodall has thrown for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns and is the team’s second leading rusher.

    The Wildcats don’t have a standout rusher like in years’ past, but do feature four backs that average over 40 yards a game.

    Trigg also has a fast stable of receivers, six of whom have caught a touchdown this year.

    Teams haven’t had much success running the football against the Wildcats, who have 6-foot-8, 318-pound defensive tackle Jeffery Adams on one side and 6-foot, 297-pound tackle Taylor McGee on the other side.

    But, the Wildcats have a tough first round game against Glasgow (7-3), who knocked off District One champion Fort Campbell in the second round last year.

    The Scotties (7-3) were forced to hit the road in the first round for just the second time in the past ten years when they lost to Monroe County 27-26 last week.

    Athletic quarterback Lank Graves has thrown for over 1,200 yards after making the offseason move from receiver.

    Glasgow’s streak of eight straight seasons of eight wins or more would come to an end with a Friday loss in Cadiz.

    Monroe County (7-3) and Caldwell County (6-4) square off in another Region One matchup.

    Monroe is looking for their first playoff win in three years, while Caldwell has won just one playoff game since winning the 1998 state title.

    With both teams featuring size on the line and solid running backs, the trip to Tompkinsville may be longer than it takes to play the game.

    With three of the state’s top five teams in one region, this is the year for western Kentucky to bring the state title hardware home.

    “If the state champion doesn’t come out of this region this year, then everyone here has laid an egg,” Trigg County head coach Curtis Higgins said. “I just worry about us beating each other up before we get to Louisville.”

    Higgins may have a point.

    Region One in Class 2A and Region Three in Class 4A are the only two regions in the playoffs where every team has a winning record.

    Region Finals Prediction: Fort Campbell 21 Owensboro Catholic 14

    REGION TWO – Nine different schools have won the Region Two title in the past 15 years. Elizabethtown and Corbin are the only two of the nine still aligned in the region.

    This could be the year that a tenth different school brings home the regional trophy.

    Western and DeSales finished with identical 8-2 records, but you can never count out Corbin, who won their fifth straight district title and seventh in the past eight years.

    Brian Wright, a former assistant coach at Male and Waggener under Bob Redman, credits some of his team’s success to some advice his former boss gave him.

    “He said a tough schedule early in the season would benefit us down the road,” Wright said.

    The Warriors knocked off 3A Harrison County in their season opener and beat Breathitt County two weeks later. Their only two losses came to 4A Butler and 1A CAL.

    Western features one of the best underclassmen in the state in junior running back Justin Collins, who has rushed for 1,725 yards and 20 touchdowns. Collins has also caught ten passes for scores.

    “In 20 years of coaching, I have never seen an athlete like this,” Wright said.
    Senior quarterback Charles Shepherd spearheads the offense, which averages well over 400 yards and 35 points a game. Outside of Fort Campbell, Western may have the most speed of any team in 2A with seven players than run a 4.5 or better.

    Western has never had a 10-win season, which they would get by advancing to the region championship for the first time in the program’s 42-year history.
    “We need to play for something every week. That is what our kids like – to set a goal and achieve it,” Wright said.

    The Warriors will open with Casey County Friday. The Rebels (2-8) didn’t win a district game but advanced to the playoffs because they compete in a four-team district.

    Casey County’s offense is led by seniors Ricky Marrapodi and Marcus Patterson, who have combined to rush for over 1,500 yards.

    DeSales (8-2) was just five points away from the title district, but their 50-46 loss to Western sent them to the second seed and put them in Corbin’s bracket.

    The Colts get things done with a ball-control offense led by senior Jarrod Zinser, who has rushed for 1,422 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    DeSales averages 286 yards on the ground, but head coach Mark Sander has been more impressed with what the Colts are doing with that yardage.

    “We’re finishing our long drives with touchdowns,” he said.

    Senior quarterback Garrett Reed directs the Colt offense that averages nearly 34 points and 360 yards of offense a game. Tight end Kenny Hillerich leads the team with five TD receptions.

    DeSales will face a 3-7 Garrard County team that enters the playoffs losers of five of their last six games.

    Corbin’s reward for winning their district? They open with a Washington County team that is one of the better four seeds in the state.

    The Red Hounds would have to win the state title to ensure the program’s sixth straight season with ten or more wins.

    However, a loss would send Corbin to their first losing season in ten years.
    Either could happen.

    After losing their first five games to teams that were a combined 38-12, including three that won or tied for the district title, Corbin got on track and won five straight to end the season.

    Sophomore quarterback Clint Cashen threw for over 1,300 yards, while Blake Freeman settled into a starter’s role in the backfield and responded with over 700 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.

    Senior Erick Blackwood caught over 40 passes as Cashen’s favorite target.
    Corbin will face a Washington County that stumbled into the playoffs after losing three of their final four games but edged LaRue County for the final spot thanks to winning the tiebreaker.

    The Commanders (6-4) hope their defense can bring home the program’s first playoff win since 1997.

    In his second season, head coach Mark Perry’s defense has given up a single touchdown in five games and has 29 takeaways for the year.

    Christian Academy-Louisville (5-5) plays at Wayne County (6-4) in the other first round game.

    CAL’s move to Class 2A didn’t go quite as expected with a first round playoff game on the road. A win at Wayne County could set up a second round game with Western, who the Centurions beat 17-15 back on Sept. 16 for the Warriors’ lone district loss.

    It’s not out of the realm of possibility for District Three to sweep their District Four counterparts – something that has not happened since the playoffs expanded in 1991.

    With the District Three race coming down to the final week, while playoff berths in the four-team District Four were determined before the season began, DeSales coach Sander sees that as an advantage in the postseason.

    “Playing in our district prepared us well for the playoffs because we have the tougher district, and the completion of seeds wasn’t final until Friday night,” he said. “ Our district is one of the toughest around.”

    Region Finals Prediction: DeSales 34 Western 27
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    REGION THREE – If they want to advance to Louisville, Region Three teams know they have one important thing going in their favor – home field advantage in the semifinals.

    Russell and Newport are the district champions, but both teams have decidedly different paths to the region title game.

    Russell (9-1) opens with Henry County (6-4), who features one of the biggest lines in Class 2A.

    The Red Devils will counter Henry County’s size with one of the fastest teams east of I-65.

    Junior Kasey Clark leads Russell in rushing (980 yards) and receiving (220 yards), accounting for over 20 touchdowns in head coach Ivan McGlone’s wing-T attack.

    “Kasey seems to be the spark plug on offense and defense. He has scored 22 touchdowns in a variety of ways,” McGlone said.

    But teams can’t focus on just Clark as McGlone uses several backs in his offense.
    Despite averaging over 34 points and 355 yards a game, McGlone thinks his offensive machine could run smoother.

    “We really need to be more consistent on offensive side. We never seem to be very smooth in execution, just persistent,” he said.

    Defensively, the Red Devils are giving up just 13 points a game, which McGlone credits to a combination of speed and experience.

    McGlone guided Russell to the 3A state title in 1978, but the Red Devils have never appeared in the 2A championship game. With home field advantage, that could change this year.

    Russell won last year’s first round game over Henry County 56-21. A win this year over the Wildcats, who haven’t won a playoff game in 19 years, sets up a potential second round game between either Mercer County (9-1) or Morgan County (7-3).

    If not for a seven point loss to Newport, Marty Jaggers and his Mercer County squad would be the district champs and opposite Russell in the first two rounds.

    But some key injuries have hurt the Scotties in recent weeks.

    “I don’t know how we’ve done as well as we have. We've lost three players to ACL injuries, we've had one player with a concussion and another with a broken hand,” Jaggers said.

    A key blow was the loss of senior running back Brandon Scheller, who suffered a partially torn anterior cruciate ligament. Scheller rushed for 889 yards ands eight touchdowns in eight games before the injury.

    Fullback Sam Blackburn is recovering from a concussion, and his status for the playoffs isn’t immediately known.

    Junior Donald Walker has stepped to the forefront of the Mercer County offense, rushing for 1,191 yards and 20 touchdowns.

    Morgan County had a first round home game in their sights until last week’s hiccup to East Carter sent them on the road.

    Derrick Young has emerged this season as the Cougars’ main offensive threat, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.

    Morgan County’s defense has been solid until the last two weeks when they gave up 17 and 24 points.

    The Cougars’ first playoff win in school history came at the expense of Mercer County last year.

    Newport (9-1) won their second straight district title with a perfect 5-0 record, but two of their wins were by a single touchdown.

    The Wildcats will have a tough road in the playoffs, facing Fleming County, who knocked them out of the playoffs last year, in the first round and a potential second round matchup with Lloyd Memorial, who they edged 42-35 in overtime last week.

    “I think that the district games always have a little more intense feel about them. They definitely get you ready for the playoffs,” said first-year head coach John Schlarman. “All of the teams in our region concern us. It's the playoffs and you can't take anybody lightly.”

    Junior quarterback J.J. Hesch has thrown for 1,926 yards and 26 scores to lead the Newport offense, which averages 46 points and 419 yards of offense a game.

    James Glenn has added 958 yards on the ground, and James Thomas has 887 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns.

    But Schlarman knows the Wildcats will have the get the job done on defense to make a long playoff run. Newport gives up 22 points and over 250 yards of offense a game.

    “To get to Louisville, we have to play great defense, and it doesn't hurt to have the ball bounce our way a couple of times,” he said.

    Fleming County (7-3) was coasting along with a 7-1 record until a double overtime loss to Morgan County and a follow up loss to Russell sent the Panthers on the road in the first round for the first time in three years.

    But Gene Peterson’s Panthers are a dangerous team because of their experience, especially at quarterback where senior Jordan Fritz has thrown for over 2,400 yards and 30 touchdowns. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 600 yards and 11 more scores.

    East Carter (7-3) is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1997.

    The Raiders clinched the second seed with a win over Morgan County last week and by virtue of their tiebreaker over Morgan County and Fleming County.

    East Carter’s reward is a Lloyd Memorial squad that arguably played one of the tougher schedules in 2A this year.

    The Juggernauts (4-6) lost their last two district games by a touchdown each and are trying to avoid their first losing season in six years.

    Head coach Roy Lucas saw the same thing happen last year when the Juggs lost three of their last four games and fell to Fleming County in the first round of the playoffs.

    Senior quarterback Jeremy Addington is a dual threat on offense – passing for over 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns and rushing for over 900 yards.

    Dara Webb has also topped the 900-yard mark on the ground for Lloyd, who will need a better defensive effort if they are to advance to the second round.

    The Juggs are giving up 277 yards a game on the ground and allowed 23 points a game against district opponents.

    Lloyd and Russell have combined to win the last three region titles. None of the other current 2A Region Three teams have won a region title in this classification, and that is unlikely to change this year.

    Regional Finals Prediction: Russell 40 Lloyd Memorial 13

    REGION FOUR – Belfry has won the last two Class 2A state titles, but could face a tough region challenge from upstart Leslie County.

    And for the first time since the playoffs expanded in 1991, both Breathitt County and Prestonsburg enter the postseason with losing records.

    Phillip Haywood’s Pirates (8-2) won their fourth straight district title, but could have a tough second round assignment.

    Belfry plays Cawood in the first round. The Trojans (1-9) have lost eight straight playoff games dating back to 1993.

    Meanwhile, the Pirates’ ground game has been churning up yardage to the tune of 290 yards a game, led by junior Corey Chapman, sophomore Dustin May, and senior Matt Maynard, who have combined to rush for over 2,300 yards and 34 touchdowns.

    More impressive has been the Belfry defense, which is giving up just 15 points a game and have held seven of their ten opponents under 20 points.

    The Pirates have won 14 of their last 16 playoffs games but could lose home field advantage after the second round.

    Waiting for the Pirates in the second round will be either Middlesboro or Prestonsburg, who meet in the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

    Middlesboro (6-4) extended their streak of consecutive winning seasons to 12, but weren’t rewarded in the first round.

    Juniors Cornelius Ford and Casey Earls have been a nice one-two combo in the backfield, combining to rush for 1,263 yards and 18 touchdowns.

    Trevor Hoskins’ move from receiver to quarterback has fared well, with the signal caller throwing for 1,360 yards and 14 touchdowns.

    For Middlesboro to make a deep run in the playoffs, their defense must improve past the 26 points and 290 yards a game they are giving up. The Jackets have not held any of the last five opponents under 20 points.

    That’s good news for a Prestonsburg team that finds themselves on the road in the first round for the second time in three years.

    Unless the Blackcats win the region title, they are destined to their first losing season in six years.

    But after losing five of their first six games, Prestonsburg (4-6) seemed to get their offense in gear in winning their final three games by an average score of 46-15.

    But the Blackcats may be playing from a deficit if leading rusher Brandon Peters isn’t ready to go after suffering a knee injury against Shelby Valley two weeks ago.

    Peters has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and leads the team in scoring. If his offensive ability is limited, head coach John Derossett may have trouble overcoming that void.

    District 7 winner Leslie County (9-1) had a group of experienced players lead the school to their first district title in a decade.

    “Our kids have been together and had a lot of experience in the last three years,” said Eagles’ head coach Tim Koogler. “We have 16 seniors, and they have set the tone for this season.”

    Quarterback Quentin Morgan has passed for 1,900 yards this season, while junior Ryan Howard has rushed for 1,350 yards.

    Morgan spreads the field nicely, with Daniel Day, B.J. Young, and Brian Hubbard all catching in excess of 500 yards each.

    Defensively, John Horton and Timmy Baker lead a defense that has improved from giving up 21 points a game last year to 16 this year.

    Leslie County has beaten five playoff-bound teams this year and lost to a sixth – Bell County for their only setback.

    Their first round opponent is Shelby Valley (4-6), a fourth seed for the third straight year.

    Breathitt County, like Prestonsburg, needs to win the region title to avoid their first losing season since 1992.

    Mike Holcomb’s Bobcats meet Sheldon Clark (7-3) in the playoffs for the first time.
    Breathitt rebounded after a tough early schedule to win four of their last six games and broke even in the district at 2-2.

    After a 2-8 season last year, Sheldon Clark rebounded to avoid back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in 16 years.

    The Cardinals’ defense is much improved, giving up 18 points a game on the season and 15 in district play.

    In the regional picture, does Leslie County have enough to knock off Belfry for the school’s first region championship since Tim Couch and Co. led them to back-to-back titles in 1994-95?

    It sure is a good season for Hyden to host a potential regional championship game.

    “Belfry is the two-time state champ, and they are definitely the favorite,” Koogler said. “We would have to get the breaks to go our way and stay healthy to have a shot.”

    Regional Finals Prediction: Belfry 35 Leslie County 13

    Semifinals Predictions:
    Fort Campbell 35 DeSales 7
    Belfry 14 Russell 12

    State Championship:
    Fort Campbell 28 Belfry 14

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