2009 Kentucky High School Football Class 5A Playoff Preview
BluegrassPreps has established themselves as producing the most in depth and accurate Kentucky High School Previews available. Researched and written by our football experts in each area who know the teams, players and coaches, the foundation of our previews is actual knowledge, not just statistics.
2009 Kentucky High School Football Class 5A Playoff Preview
Class 5A Football Playoff Preview
Region 1 appears to be wide open as any of a number of teams could take home the title and host the state semifinal game.
Christian County has played one of the toughest schedules in the region and has survived, for the most part, intact.
Various injuries have subsided, and the Colonels head into the postseason ready to defend their region title.
Alex Davie has taken over the reins at quarterback and responded with 532 rushing yards, 538 passing yards, and 12 total touchdowns.
Davie’s presence has kept teams from stacking the line to stop Vashun Banks, who has 833 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively, the Colonels allow just 16 points a game, which has carried them to several wins while their starters have healed.
Barren County is the first opponent up for the Colonels. The Trojans haven’t won a playoff game since 1992, but do feature talented quarterback Colton Phelps, who leads the team in passing (995) and rushing (427) with 18 total touchdowns.
Warren Central got hot at the end of the season, and their upset win over Bowling Green ensured the Dragons of a first round home game in the playoffs.
The ground attack of L.A. Rigsby and Cortez Barber has combined to produce 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Their first round opponent is a Madisonville team that is back in Class 5A after a couple of years in 6A. They are looking for their first playoff win in five years.
Grayson County lost only one district game but dropped to a three seed when Warren Central upset Bowling Green and forced a three-way tie that bumped them to a first round road game.
The Cougars feature the running attack of Aaron Deviney (843 yards, 10 TDs) and quarterback Hunter Gary, who has rushed for 536 yards and rushed for 628 yards.
Grayson County hasn’t won a playoff game since 1982.
They have had a week off to prepare for an Owensboro squad whose only two losses have come to the region’s top seeds Bowling Green and Christian County.
Kal Prince and Aquado Douglas lead a Red Devil offense that totals 215 yards on the ground.
Linebacker Khiry Maddox is closing in on 100 tackles and is among the team leaders in interceptions (3) and fumble recoveries (2). As a unit, the Owensboro defense gives up just over 10 points a game.
The winner could face a Bowling Green team whose two losses have come by a total of 17 points.
Defensively, the Purples are among the state’s elite, giving up just over a touchdown a game. Devon Daniel and Michael Bailey key a defense that gives up less than 70 yards a game through the air and has five touchdowns.
However, the Purples struggled to find offense in their losses to Trinity (9-0) and Warren Central (18-10). Levance Anderson leads the ground game with 871 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Bowling Green plays a Hopkinsville team struggling to score. The Tigers average an uncharacteristic 12 points a game and haven’t scored more than one touchdown in each of their last four games.
Projected Region Final – Christian County 13 Owensboro 3
Region 2 features three teams ranked in the top 7 of the Bluegrasspreps.com 5A rankings...but John Hardin is the definite favorite to repeat as region champs.
The #2-ranked Bulldogs (8-2) open defense of their region crown against the South Oldham Dragons (3-7), who return to the playoffs after a one-year hiatus.
South ended a 19-game losing streak during the course of the season, and ended their season by winning two of their final three games. The Dragons' strength is their defense, in particular a front eight that feature strong, active players such as Trafton Holder and Evan Jorgensen. The Dragons nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when they lead #7 Anderson County, 19-15, late in the third period three weeks ago in Lawrenceburg before falling late, 29-19.
John Hardin's offense will put constant pressure on South, though; the Bulldogs average 400 yards in total offense per game, and are lead on the ground by Landon Savoy (926 yards rushing / 13 touchdowns) and Michael Wright (730 / 10). Both Savoy and Wright average an almost obscene 10 yards per carry.
When the Bulldogs have to pass, quarterback Alex Dingle has excelled, completing 65% of his passes for 1,433 yards and 19 touchdowns, with only 5 interceptions.
John Hardin's defense, however, presents even more matchup problems for South. The Dragons' offense ranks 33rd (of 38 teams) in 5A in scoring at just 12.3 ppg. That offense must try to score against the number two-ranked defense in points per game allowed; John Hardin gives up a measly 9 points per contest.
If John Hardin avoids the upset, they will likely play seventh-ranked Anderson County, one of the most explosive offensive teams in the state.
The Bearcats averaged nearly 39 points per contest and almost 440 yards of offense. The Bearcats separated from a perfect regular season mark when Oldham County knocked them off by a mere three points in a 10-7 Oldham win in Buckner.
Senior Jacob Russell is one of the state's premier signal callers, throwing for an incredible 2,089 yards with 19 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. He completed over 60% of his passes. Russell is also a threat to run the ball, with 390 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
Tight end Grant Cox is Russell's favorite target, and goes into the post-season with 50 catches and 9548 yards, with 11 touchdowns. When Russell needs a completion, he'll be looking for #25.
On the ground, Anderson is tough to defend as they feature several backs. Dustin Combs comes into the game with 753 yards and a team-best 15 touchdowns, while Ben Walker has 752 yards and 4 TDs.
The Bearcats face Doss (4-6) in the first round in Lawrenceburg. Doss comes into the playoffs losers of five of their last seven, and the Dragons have been very suspect against good running teams. John Hardin, Bullitt Central, and Butler scored 52, 41, and 49 points, respectively, against the Dragons.
The Dragons will try to play "keep-away" from the Anderson offense with a ball-control offense featuring senior running back Donald Bethel.
#6-ranked Oldham County tested itself early against 6A opponents Conner, Scott County, and Eastern, and recently against Shelby County. Shelby and Scott are both ranked in the 6A top 10 and Conner has been flirting with the 6A top 10 in various polls. The result is that the Colonels' record is a misleading 6-4, but Oldham County has not lost to a 5A team, and has victories over 7th-ranked Anderson County and 4A Fairdale, which has been in and out of the Bluegrasspreps.com top 10.
The Colonels' defense is giving up just 200 yards of total offense a game, and was at its best against Anderson County, when the Colonels allowed the Bearcats no first downs and a total of -5 yards in total offense in a dominating first half of action. The Bearcats would ultimately score just 7 points, 32 below their average. Middle linebacker Dylan Simms, linebacker Tyler Oldham, defensive lineman Zach Littlefield, and defensive back Antonio Brown-Campbell have excelled for Oldham County this year.
Offensively, Oldham County runs an array of backs at opponents; frequently 8 or 9 backs will carry the ball in a game. Brett Leary leads the team with 707 yards and 4 TDs, and an average of over 7 yards per carry. Tyler Oldham has rushed for 474 yards and 5 scores, and Kirk Yepko has rushed for 453 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Colonels will face Waggener (2-8) for the second straight year in the first round of the 5A playoffs. Counting a regular season game in August, this will be the third time the two have played in 13 games. Oldham won last year's playoff game, 58-6, and defeated Waggener, 39-7, in August.
Waggener coach Robert Ross is in the middle of a rebuilding project in St. Matthews. The Wildcats at one time had lost 18 straight before Waggener earned a 26-6 win over Iroquois this year. The Wildcats come into the playoffs fresh off an upset victory over 4A #9 Valley in the last week of the season.
The challenge for Waggener will be the fact that their weak point - scoring points - will be matched up against Oldham County's strength (defense). Oldham County's defense is #9 in 5A in scoring defense at 15.3 ppg allowed; Waggener is ranked #35 (of 38) in scoring at 11.7 ppg.
The fourth game in region two may be the most competitive, as the third district's second-seeded Bullitt Central Cougars (8-2) meets the fourth district's three seed, the Jeffersontown Chargers (6-4).
Jeffersontown is a dangerous team with extraordinary team speed and the personnel who can turn any play into a long touchdown. Offensively, it's impossible to key on any one player, as the Chargers feature three inter-changeable speedsters at running back: Demtrius Conley (101-605 rushing, 99 TDs), Richard Kennedy (83-788, 9 TDs), and Demichael Jackson (79-711, 2 TDs). Joey Pierce is one of the most improved quarterbacks in the region, and has thrown for 1,194 yards and 12 scores. His favorite target is Kennedy, who is averaging over 21 yards per catch.
The Charger defense has struggled a bit in big games against top tier teams, giving up over 30 points in losses to top-10 Anderson County and Oldham County, but everybody else has struggled against them; the Chargers have held six teams to 14 points or less, and they've shut out three opponents. A critical matchup this week for Jeffersontown will be their undersized defensive line against the Bullitt Central offensive line.
The Bullitt Central Cougars are enjoying one of their best seasons ever. They opened the season with six straight wins, and the only blemishes on their record are a 42-7 loss to #7 Anderson County and a 14-0 loss to #2 John Hardin. Jeremaie Bennet is the go-to guy for the Cougars, with 1,341 yards rushing and an incredible 19 touchdowns. The Cougars have been so successful on the ground, they've attempted an average of less than 10 passes per game, completing about five. Damon Wibbles has been effective in the limited passing, throwing for 610 yards and 6 TDs.
Look for John Hardin and Anderson County to advance to a big showdown in the second round in Elizabethtown, with John Hardin winning a close one over the Bearcats to advance to the region final.
Oldham County should handle Waggener pretty easily, and don't be surprised if Jeffersontown upsets Bullitt Central, setting up a rematch of a game of the October 9th district game between the two squads, won by Oldham County, 36-14.
Projected Region Final – John Hardin 21 Oldham County 7
Defending state champion Highlands comes into the postseason as the overwhelming favorite to win their 19th state title.
The Bluebirds rolled through the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record and have won 23 straight games – including 36 straight against Kentucky schools.
Highlands has been banged up of late although it shouldn’t matter much in the early rounds.
Patrick Towles has taken over at quarterback for the injured Will Bardo and thrown for 504 yards and five touchdowns in seven games. Bardo could return to limited action the farther the Bluebirds advance.
Highlands also needs a healthy Austin Collinsworth in their bid to repeat. The senior Mr. Football candidate has been limited to seven games but has still rushed for 963 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Highlands faces Montgomery County in the first round and will likely meet the winner of the Dixie Heights/Ashland game.
Highlands drummed Heights 52-9 back on Oct. 2 and beat Ashland 53-6 in the second round last year.
Dixie Heights began the season with wins over Newport Central Catholic and Beechwood then dropped six of their next eight games.
Quarterback Ryan Wilson leads the Colonels with 2,230 passing yards and 19 touchdowns and another 677 yards on the ground.
Ashland’s lone loss was a one-point district road setback at Johnson Central. The Tomcats have gotten production in the backfield in the way of Josh Alber (1,146 yards, 15 TDs) and Trey Rogers (660 yards, 6 TDs).
Ashland’s defense has impressed at times, holding six of their 10 opponents to single digits.
Johnson Central overcame some early season adversity to finish with six straight wins, including victories over Belfry, Ashland, and Breathitt County.
J.J. Jude has been getting the lion’s share of the carries in the backfield, while J.K Hall has settled into the quarterback’s role nicely.
But the Eagle defense has been the biggest factor in their turnaround, giving up 35 points a game in their first four losses and just 17 in their six-game winning streak.
Covington Catholic is a team that could make some noise but could be too banged up to make a long playoff run.
Despite winning the state title in 2006, CovCath has been bounced from the playoffs in the second round or earlier five of the last seven years. If the Colonels beat Woodford County in the first round, a road trip to Johnson Central could loom in the second round. The Eagles drummed CovCath 49-14 in the second round last year.
Projected Region Final – Highlands 41 Johnson Central 7
Out of the four regions, Region 4 is going to be the most exciting. Three teams look to be neck and neck for the top spot, and two or three others have a legitimate shot. Look for this region to be the most unpredictable in Class 5A.
Letcher County Central (8-2) would probably be the favorite if you had to name one from this region. Logan Johnson is leading the way for LCC; he has amassed 814 yards rushing for 12 touchdowns, and has passed for 1,392 yards and another 16 touchdowns. Johnson favorite two receivers, Dustin Brown and Robby Huff have 447 yards and 359 yards respectively. Look for Johnson to try to lead LCC to the Region 4 Championship, and beyond.
In the way of Letcher County Central’s Region Championship is a solid Whitley County team, and Pulaski County. LCC will have to beat one of them to claim the Region.
Whitley County (6-4) brings a potent running attack that not many teams have seen. Whitley has 5 players with over 500 yards rushing apiece: Jamie Lebannion, Josh Wynn, Cody Bramlett, Cody Bowlin, and Jordan Chute. Labanion also supplies the passing attack for Whitley, if they need it, with over 500 yards passing. Look for Whitley to make a fight of it and possible walk away Regional Champions.
Pulaski County (7-3) will add a wrinkle to the mix bringing a balanced offense into the playoffs. Pulaski has a duel threat quarterback in Zach Eastham who has passed for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns and who has also ran for 644 yards and another 8 touchdowns. With Eastham is Alex Abner supplying additional rushing and also working as a receiver for Eastham. The receiving has been spread around to six different receivers: R.C. White, Abner, Jordan Walden, Sean Haste, Steven McQueen, and Mikey Shepard.
Regional Finals Letcher County Central 28 Whitley County 21
Projected Semifinals – John Hardin 24 Christian County 7
Highlands 44 Letcher County Central 6
Projected Championship – Highlands 35 John Hardin 13