In its brief existence (since 2008), Walton Verona's football program has grown steadily, taking the necessary small steps it takes to lay a strong foundation for long term success. Coach Jeff Barth is the man behind the Bearcats emergence in recent years. After John McMillen left following a respectable 4-6 inaugural season, Barth took over and has guided Walton Verona to a 63-35 record in his 8+ years at the helm. Included in that run is five seasons of at least eight wins.
This year's squad looks like they're well on their way to surpassing that total. The Bearcats currently sit at 3-1, with wins over East Jessamine (43-20), Holmes (41-0), and Covington Holy Cross (56-0). The lone defeat came at the hands of 1A #2 Kentucky Country Day in a 21-20 nail biter as they went for the win late in the 4th quarter and missed on a two point conversion. Whether or not Walton Verona is destined for a deep playoff run this year remains to be seen, but for the time being, they've firmly entrenched themselves in the BGP 2A top 10.
Next up on the schedule is their greatest challenge to date… an LCA team loaded with talent and confidence, coming off a huge 56-36 win over 3A #7 Lexington Catholic.
This game will serve as the first true test of where Walton Verona stands in their own class. Can they prove themselves a force to be reckoned with, or will LCA expose them as not being ready for the bright lights?
Lexington Christian Academy comes in unbeaten at 4-0, with wins over Waggener (40-14), Pikeville (49-21), and Vincennes Lincoln (IN) (41-21) preceding the victory over Lexington Catholic. While the Eagles hadn't done anything to diminish their standing in 2A, they also hadn't done anything to elevate themselves either. CAL, Danville, DeSales, and Mayfield were posting one impressive win after another and LCA, by comparison, just seemed to be treading water. That all changed on Friday night on the turf at LCA.
Lexington Christian Academy and Lexington Catholic had not met since 2010. The result that night was a 62-0 drubbing of the Eagles by the Knights. LCA had to wait seven years for payback, but boy was it worth it. The Eagles sprinted to a 21-0 lead after one quarter and led 38-7 at halftime before Lexington Catholic woke up and rattled off three straight touchdowns to start the 3rd quarter. LCA survived that offensive surge from the Knights and held on for a 20 point win that should have them squarely in the thick of title contention in 2A.
Walton Verona's defense, which has pitched consecutive shutouts and is surrendering only 10 ppg, will be faced with the daunting task of taming an LCA offense averaging 46 points and over 500 yards of offense a game.
This contest presents each team with a tremendous opportunity. For LCA, it's a chance to follow up a huge win with another victory over a ranked opponent, further padding their growing resume. For Walton Verona, it's a chance to show that they're ready to take the next step in their program's progression, to show that they're ready to play with the big boys.
When that opportunity knocks, will the Bearcats answer the door, or will the Eagles soar to victory and remain unbeaten?