2010 Kentucky High School Football Preview - Class 3A
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2010 Kentucky High School Football Preview - Class 3A
Adair County (3-8)
Head coach: Eric Graves
2009: Lost to Union County 67-26 in the first round of the playoffs
Wins have been few and far between in Columbia, with Adair County winning just 11 games the past five seasons.
After a winless 2007 campaign, the Indians have won seven games the past two seasons and look to improve on that total in 2010.
Head coach Eric Graves has several players back to run his option attack but must replace several key starters on defense.
The Indians are likely to again battle for the final playoff spot in the district.
Head coach: Phillip Haywood
2009: Lost to Sheldon Clark 20-14 in the second round of the playoffs
Belfry failed to reach double-digits in wins for the first time since 2001 thanks to a second round playoff exit courtesy of Sheldon Clark.
With half their starters back in 2010, the Pirates will try and get back to the 10-win plateau that hasn’t eluded them in consecutive years in nearly a decade.
Junior quarterback Tyler Williams is back for another season under center after directing the Pirates to nearly 30 points and 300 yards a game in 2009.
Senior Nathan Carroll is the leading returning rusher for Belfry, who has three starters back on the line – seniors Garrett Francis, Cameron Tackett, and Morgan Bentley.
Senior Jeffree Pruitt and sophomore Zack Francisco will also see some time in the backfield for the Pirates.
Bentley will also play on the defensive line along with seniors James Hardin, Steven Gibbs, and Micah Mahon.
Junior Gary Runyon and sophomore Payton Mullins are back at linebacker in the 5-2 defense.
One area where Belfry will have to see some quick improvement will be at the skill positions on both sides of the football.
Belfry opens their season Aug. 20 at home against Prestonsburg.
Breathitt County (7-6)
Head coach: Mike Holcomb
2009: Lost to Somerset 51-33 in the region championship game
Breathitt County has two huge holes to fill on offense with the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Channing Fugate and 1,000-yard passer Jade Haddix.
These two were the main focal point of opposing defenses the past three years. Now, Bobcat opponents must prepare for a mixture of new faces.
Head coach Mike Holcomb has a talented group of sophomores and juniors that will fill the many holes left due to graduation.
Josh Fletcher, Brayton Fugate, and Tyler Little are among the candidates to see more action in the Bobcat offense.
Butler County (4-8)
Head coach: Robert Tuck
2009: Lost to Russellville 42-7 in the second round of the playoffs
After three straight winning seasons, Butler County slipped to 4-8 last year, and Robert Tuck resigned as head coach to take an administrative job in the high school.
Ryan Emmick was promoted to head coach, and one of his first jobs will be to replace the school’s all-time leading rusher in Jason Byrd.
Byrd is one of several starters lost to graduation, meaning the Bears will be in rebuilding mode for their first-year head coach.
Cole Tynes and Zack Ford expect to move into starting roles on offense for the Bears team that averaged just under 20 points a game.
Butler County lost four linemen to graduation but have a deep pool of underclassmen returning in the trenches.
Casey County (3-7)
Head coach: Andy Stephens
2009: Missed the playoffs
Casey County is looking to snap a three-year playoff drought and have a bunch of people back to help end that streak.
The Rebels return most of their line intact.
Tyler Stephens (5-11, 265, Jr.), guards Kyle Fuller (5-10, 200, Sr.) and Zack Fredrick (5-9, 185, Jr.), and tackle Trent Lee (6-0, 215, Jr.) all started last year.
The Rebels’ wishbone attack is led by quarterback Will Hatter (5-10, 155, Jr.), with fullback Cody Roy (5-10, 180, Jr.) and running back Corey Roy (5-8, 150, Jr.) expected to return.
Junior tight end James Burton also returns for Casey County.
Cody Roy, Trent Lee, and Travis Crowe all return for the Rebels on defense.
Head coach: Ty Scroggins
2009: Lost to Paducah Tilghman 24-21 in the state semifinals
The Yellowjackets have become one of the more consistent programs in the state, winning two of the past three 3-A state titles and producing a ton of Division I kids.
While coach Ty Scroggins didn’t have his best season a year ago at Central, the Yellowjackets still just dropped a narrow 24-21 decision to eventual champion Paducah Tilghman – on the road in the 3-A semifinals.
All-State linebacker Tim Patterson and some other key cogs are gone but Scroggins has plenty of talent.
The next star at Central is likely to be junior running back Anthony Wales. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Wales ran for 1,950 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore. He contributed as a freshman on the 3-A championship team.
Kris Pugh is a 295-pound lineman and Demetrius Jackson is another lineman that will open holes for Wales.
Scroggins could start upwards of 10 sophomores in the lineup and expects a big season.
Sophomore linebacker Mashile Dozier was fifth on the team in tackles as a freshman.
Senior defensive back Tim Witchard is the leader.
East Ridge (3-8)
Head coach: Brad Allen
2009: Lost to Mason County 62-6 in the first round of the playoffs
East Ridge head coach Brad Allen is hoping to build off of the school’s first-ever postseason appearance. Even though it ended in a lopsided loss to Mason County, Allen is trying to get the building blocks into place.
Last year’s three wins were equal to the previous three seasons combined.
Senior Bryan Casey should return at quarterback, while senior Dalton Lewis is another offensive starter.
Brent Belcher and Tyler Ratliff are two more two-way starters expected to help the Warriors get back to the postseason.
East Ridge opens their season August 27 against Shelby Valley.
Edmonson County (6-5)
Head coach: Kyle Pierce
2009: Lost to Paducah Tilghman 56-31 in the first round of the playoffs
Edmonson County can see the corner, and now head coach Kyle Pierce feels his team is ready to round it.
The Wildcats have depth in the backfield and an athletic quarterback in Josh Milam to run the offense.
Milam led Edmonson County in rushing with 557 yards and added another 578 through the air. With a year under his belt under center, Pierce thinks Milam will have a better season throwing the football.
Matt Caudill and Dean Jenkins will see time in the backfield with Paul Harder a likely starter at receiver and Matt Newton at tight end.
Up front, Jacob Irwin, Ethan Schultz, Timmy Jaggers, and Ethan Stice are four starters back on the offensive line.
Defensively, the Wildcats only have four starters back on defense and only one on the line – tackle Chris Reeves.
Tyler Thompson, Aaron Duncan, and Dean Jenkins return in the secondary.
Pierce expects contributions from Ryan Cowles at end and Richard Burton and Brandon Graham at linebacker.
Head coach: Brad Todd
2009: Lost to Henry County 14-0 in the second round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
After a short rebuilding phase, the Elizabethtown Panthers are ready to get back to the top of Class 3-A.
Elizabethtown went 5-7 last season, one year after going 10-3 and advancing to the state quarterfinals. And with several playmakers back this season, the sky is the limit for the Panthers.
Elizabethtown returns junior quarterback Kyle Todd, who threw for 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, along with Todd's top three targets in senior tight end Mitchell Henry, senior wide receiver Clayton Patton and junior wideout Devante Clarkson.
Henry caught 41 passes for 534 yards and seven scores, and has burst onto the recruiting scene this offseason. Memphis, Bowling Green State and Western Kentucky have all offered a scholarship to Henry, with North Carolina and Southeastern Conference rivals Kentucky and Mississippi still in the running.
Patton had 33 catches for 541 yards and four TDs, while Clarkson caught 37 passes for 483 yards and three scores.
The only thing holding the Panthers back this summer was a KHSAA rule change banning passing leagues in June. Coach Brad Todd hopes that won't hinder the Panthers' aerial attack, which has been one of the state's most potent the last few years.
Elizabethtown struggled to a 2-6 start last year, including a loss to 6-A mainstay Male. But the Panthers turned it on at the end of the regular season, picking up wins over Moore and Bardstown before beating North Oldham in the first round of the playoffs.
But their run came to an end in the second round, as the Panthers fell to Henry County, 14-0.
Estill County (7-5)
Head coach: Mike Jones
2009: Lost to Somerset 63-14 in the second round of the playoffs
Estill County has been knocked out of the playoffs by a state semifinalist each of the last three seasons, which has seen the Engineers post a 27-10 record.
Hopes are high this year that Estill County can be the ones to advance to the semifinals. With 20 starters returning from last year’s 7-5 team, the Engineers may just be primed to do so in 2010.
The Engineers return one of the best backfields in the region as part of their double wing attack that averaged over 300 yards a game on the ground last year.
Senior Kenton Roberts ran for 1,675 yards and 25 touchdowns last year. He also led the Engineers on defense at linebacker with over 100 tackles in being named District player of the year. Roberts enters his senior season with just under 3,500 career rushing yards.
Senior Tyler Cole ran for 718 yards and four scores as a junior, and junior Randy Davidson also returns in the backfield.
Head coach Mike Jones is also expecting contributions from a couple of basketball players coming out for the team – Jon Plowman and Brandon Morris.
“We had our best year ever in the weight room, and we hope to push for a district title this year,” Jones said.
Fleming County (6-5)
Head coach: Bill Spencer
2009: Lost to Perry County Central 74-50 in the first round of the playoffs
Long-time assistant coach Bill Spencer takes over the coaching reins at Fleming County following the decade-long run by Gene Peterson.
The Panthers brought home their first winning season in three seasons and have enough workable parts returning to do it again in 2010.
Junior quarterback Chris Jones accounted for over 600 yards, while Chip Clark and Justin Conley return in the backfield.
Conley and William Carroll are big players on defense.
Garrard County (5-7)
Head coach: Mark Scenters
2009: Lost to Breathitt County 62-12 in the second round of the playoffs
Garrard County’s defense appears to be ahead of the offense with the return of seven starters. Head coach Mark Scenters was forced to start a ton of underclassmen on defense, and they played like it at times, giving up over 30 points a game.
“We hope the experience that our young group got last year will begin to show this season,” Scenters said. “Maturity and how quickly some players mature into team leaders will be a key to determining our strength.”
Juniors Austin Napier and Bret Dowell return at linebackers in the 4-3 defense, with sophomores Garrett Caudill, J.K. Howard, and Shae Garcia back on the line.
Juniors Tyler McCoy and Markell Hayes will be in the secondary.
On offense, sophomore Billy Abney threw for over 900 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Running back Cory Wilson added 800 yards and eight scores running behind the blocking of senior Ethan Baker and sophomore J.K. Howard.
Scenters expects sophomores Dylan Lane and J.D. Brown to contribute in the backfield.
“Our program continues to grow and mature, and I truly believe that we continue to make progress. We believe that the time is very close to where we are in the hunt for the district championship,” Scenters said.
Hart County (4-6)
Head coach: Anthony Boone
2009: Missed the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
The Hart County Raiders haven't been the playoffs since 2007, but second-year coach Anthony Boone hopes his squad can make it back to the postseason this year.
Boone went 4-6 in his first year, and the Raiders return two of their top players from a year ago in junior running back Nathaniel Morrison and senior wideout Bobby Duckwall.
Morrison was the team's leading rusher, gaining 1,099 yards and scoring seven touchdowns on 131 carries. Duckwall, meanwhile, caught 14 passes for 233 yards and three scores.
Other returnees include sophomores Dakota Berger, C.J. Walden, Wesley Sutton, Zack Milby, Trevor Cook and Corbin Cox, juniors Matt Taylor, Dakota Hawkins, Dustin McDowell, Dylan Goldsmith, Richard Roe and Shaq Jordan, and seniors Logan George, Corey Weckman, Hunter Smith, Garrett Dunagan, Luke Romance, Austin Atwell, Jamie Avery, Chris Goldsmith and Daniel Jordan.
Hart County started 3-1 last season, but won only one game the rest of the year and missed the playoffs for the second straight season and for the ninth time since 1998.
Henry County (10-3)
Head coach: Lyndon Johnson
2009: Lost to Central 48-38 in the region championship
It’s been a bizarre summer for Henry County football.
Veteran head coach Chris Engstrand stepped down after the school’s second trip to the region championship game in three years.
Ray Graham was announced as the new head coach but quickly bolted back to Lexington Christian Academy when Pail Rains suddenly resigned.
Lyndon Johnson has been promoted to head coach of the Wildcats.
He will welcome the return of senior quarterback Luke Magness, who threw for over 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns.
While Magness lost most of his targets to graduation, seniors Ryan Mitchell and Justin Hartledge return and should play a prominent role in the offense.
Darien Ingram and Joe Fraze return on the line for the Wildcats.
Dylan Doll is back on the defensive line along with Ingram. Magness and Hartledge return in the secondary.
If the Wildcats can adjust to the new coach, you can look for Henry County to make another strong postseason run.
Jackson County (0-10)
Head coach: Arthur Carter
2009: Missed the playoffs
Arthur Carter begins his second season as head coach at Jackson County in hopes of getting the program on solid footing.
The Generals have won just seven of 40 games since starting football in 2006.
Senior Joe Campos is one of the starters returning for Jackson County, who have the modest goal of making the playoffs for the first time in school history.
Lewis County (4-7)
Head coach: Josh Hughes
2009: Lost to Belfry 41-14 in the first round of the playoffs
Lewis County showed marked improvement last year, winning four games in a season for the first time since 2005.
However, most of the key parts were lost to graduation, including quarterback Cole Cooper, who accounted for over 1,300 yards in 2009.
Magoffin County (5-6)
Head coach: Chester McCoy
2009: Lost to Somerset 48-16 in the first round of the playoffs
Magoffin County started strong and fizzled down the stretch, losing their last five games of the season.
They do return quarterback Dylan Keeton, who threw for over 1,200 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.
Sophomore Austin Whitaker and senior James Howard both return in the backfield for the Hornets.
Receivers Justin Poe and Caleb Hall proved to be serviceable targets for Keeton last year and return to the lineup this year.
Richie Gray and Montana Bailey both return to lead the Magoffin County defense, which gave up at least three touchdowns in every game but one last year.
Mason County (11-1)
Head coach: David Buchanan
2009: Lost to Pike County Central 26-23 in the second round of the playoffs
Mason County was sailing right along, riding an 11-game winning streak until they were upset in the second round of the playoffs by Pike County Central.
The Royals have several starters back as they look to advance past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Quarterback Neal Pawsat returns for the Royals after throwing for 1,427 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior.
His main targets are expected to be senior Jordan Gilbert, who caught 32 passes for 532 yards and seven touchdowns, and junior Josh Harris, who caught 17 passes out of the backfield last year.
Harris led the Royals on the ground with over 1,300 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.
Harris, Carson Gray, and Corey Jones also return at linebacker for Mason County, and should give them experience at key positions. Tyler Black is one returnee at the end position.
McLean County (5-6)
Head coach: Marshall Enoch
2009: Lost to Butler County 33-24 in the first round of the playoffs
McLean County has reeled off three consecutive 5-6 seasons thanks to a strong ground game.
Despite the loss of 1,900-yard rusher Spencer Phillips and his 22 touchdowns, the Cougars should approach .500 again this season with the return of quarterback David Burden. The senior ran for 463 yards and threw for 474 yards. In all, he accounted for 15 touchdowns.
Senior Derrick Hardin is expected to play a larger role in the Cougar offense in the backfield, while junior Dakota West is one of the leading returning receivers.
However, the Cougars have some major holes to fill up front with junior Zach Johnson one of the few starters returning on the line.
Head coach: Ravon Patterson
2009: Lost to Henry County 57-27 in the first round of the playoffs
Former Shawnee coach and Waggener player Ravon Patterson takes over for Robert Johnson.
The Mustangs don’t have a lot of numbers but have a talented quarterback – Mekale McKay – who will run the show. He’s an athletic junior with a strong arm and one of the top basketball players in the Seventh Region.
Junior DaQuan Boyd will be a threat on the offensive end with seniors Jalen Miller and Bristin Odom also returning.
North Oldham (5-6)
Head coach: Billy Martin
2009: Lost to Elizabethtown 37-30 in the first round of the playoffs
By: Mike Montgomery
Pegasus Sports Network
The North Oldham Mustangs try to bounce back in 2010 after an injury-riddled 2009 campaign. Late in the season, as many as 16 Mustangs were on the sidelines in street clothes as North dropped three of its final four regular season games and lost in the first round of the playoffs on a final-minute touchdown to Elizabethtown, 37-30, to finish 5-6.
Gone are players that helped North go 23-12 over the past three seasons and capture one district crown, including Zach Price, who set a school single-season record with 829 yards rushing last season.
The Mustangs graduated their top three rushers and nearly all of the players who had a pass reception last season. Gone also is all but one starter from an offensive line that paved the way for an attack that averaged 256 yards rushing per game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the entire starting D-line and most of the linebackers have moved on. Of the graduating class of 2009, nine different players made either the first or second all-district teams, including four who made all-district on both offense and defense.
But all is not gloom and doom in the North Oldham camp. In fact, fifth-year coach Billy Martin (23-22) feels that there’s much to be excited about in the 2010 version of the Mustangs, in just the school’s eighth year of existence.
Despite the sub-.500 mark in 2009, Martin feels the excitement built from an 8-4 mark in 2007 and a 10-2 district championship team in 2008 continues to carry over. It certainly has in terms of the numbers of players on the field; for the second year in a row, the Mustangs will likely field over 70 players on their roster, a number more commiserate with a 5A team and significantly higher than most of the 3A teams they will compete with.
Offensively, the Mustangs return some talented skill players who saw plenty of action in 2009. Junior Cameron Renaud is the most-likely candidate at quarterback. Renaud missed all but the last three games in 2009 after breaking his leg in pre-season practice, but he showed his play-making and passing abilities with a solid performance in a narrow loss in the AAA playoffs to Elizabethtown, when he completed 8 of 14 passes for 104 yards and a TD.
Renaud is incredibly strong for a quarterback and gives the Mustang offense an added dimension with his ability to throw the deep ball.
Senior Austin Peterson, who started most of 2009 in Renaud’s place, is more than capable of leading the team at QB if need be. He threw for 496 yards and 4 TDs in the Mustangs’ run-first attack last year. Peterson – a talented all-round athlete who also rushed for 280 yards and 6 TDs in 2009 – may move to halfback.
The leading returning rusher is junior wingback Zach Evans, who may move to the fullback spot vacated by the graduated Price.
Evans, who finished fourth in the state in the 100 yard dash as a sophomore, is perhaps the greatest “home run” threat the Mustangs have ever had in their young program, and Mustang fans have been eagerly waiting to see what he can do once he gets the chance. The speedster broke his foot early last year and didn’t see action until the second half of the season, but he flashed his potential quickly once he got on the field, with a 95-yard kickoff return on the opening play to start the Spencer County district game.
In the playoff loss to Elizabethtown, Evans left the North crowd thinking about 2010 with a 10 carry, 135 yard performance and a score.
A North Oldham runner has eclipsed the school single-season rushing mark in each of the past three years, and it’s very conceivable that Evans could make it four straight years this season.
Joining Renaud, Peterson, and Evans in the backfield are several other runners who will give Martin the opportunity to keep his backs fresh. Senior twins Austin and Cody Crawley will each get some carries on the wings, as will senior Chris Streicher. Of the three, Austin Crawley (39 carries, 210 yards, 3 TDs) got the most touches in 2009.
In 2009, the running backs accounted for 31 of the team’s 41 pass completions, but Martin thinks his new crop of wideouts may be better receivers than his new crop of running backs so that may change. Last year’s starters – Brad Norris and John Askin – have graduated, and several players will get the chance to earn a starting wide receiver role, including sophomore Michael Choe. Martin is excited about this young speedster, who may give the Mustangs the ability to stretch defenses more than they have been able to in the past.
Senior Ben Tompkins, junior Carson Yanke, and junior Jacob Sanders all look to be leading candidates. Of the four, only Sanders (1 reception for 6 yards) had a catch in 2009, so this is a major question mark for North heading into the new year.
The biggest question mark for the offense, however, will be on the line. Martin expects the Mustangs to be smaller, but quicker, and he thinks this may actually work out well in the Mustangs’ wing-T offensive scheme. Gone is a strong, veteran line led by longtime stalwarts Alex Miller (first team all-district, headed to Ohio Wesleyan) and Zach Lagrange (first team all-district, headed to Ky-State).
In their place will be a line featuring just one player with any experience as a starter, 5’11” 210 pound sophomore Tanner Williams, who started the last three games of 2009 at center. Heading into summer practice, a number of candidates are bidding for roles on the line with Williams.
At guard, 5’9” 160 pound junior Christian Oberst is probably the most experienced, having seen action in 2009.
Sophomore R.J. Condren (5’9” 211 pounds), sophomore Peter Ingemi (5’5” 160), Steven Verhalen (6’1” 163 senior), Brian Hasl (6’0” 190 sophomore), and Colie Taylor (5’8” 181 pound sophomore) all will get looks in the weeks leading up to the first game. Hasl and Condren could also play tackle, and will compete with Kyle McGrew (6’0” 210 pound junior), Drake Woods (6’0” 190 pound senior), and senior Clayton Gerlach.
An interesting possibility at tackle is first-year high school player Brandon Holmes, a former lacrosse and basketball player. The 6’2”, 220 pound senior would give the Mustangs needed size on the offensive line if he can pick up the schemes quickly enough.
It’s very possible that the Mustangs could line up with five sophomores on the o-line.
Fortunately, the team looks to have depth. The Mustangs hope to keep at least three of the offensive linemen exclusively on offense; perhaps Williams, Hasl, and McGrew.
The offensive linemen aren’t all that’s new. Gary Satori will replace the retiring Mark Bennett as offensive line coach for the Mustangs in 2010. Another new face in the offensive coaching ranks is Todd Pitchford, who moves from Male to coach the wide receivers. Satori and Coach Martin will share the offensive coordinator role.
Martin said the influx of inexperienced players led him to change his preparations somewhat. While other teams played in 7 on 7 passing leagues, the Mustangs held a minicamp to install their base offense, with the focus of getting the offensive linemen up to speed faster.
On special teams, both kicker Luke Nolte (2nd-team all-district) and punter Vince Lewis (31.2 yards per punt in 2009) return, and Martin expects special teams to be a strong suit. Nolte hit 4 of 7 field goals in 2009, with a long of 35 yards, and showed the potential to hit from 40+. And with a healthy Evans in the fold, the Mustangs have lightning in a bottle waiting to break out on returns.
Defensively, the Mustangs will move back to the 3-5 alignment after playing 2009 in a 4-3 base set. With injuries piling up over the course of the year, the 2009 Mustangs struggled defensively at times, giving up 200 yards per game on the ground and 22 points per game. Six opponents scored 28 points or more, and the Mustangs gave up 30 or more points in each of their last three games, all losses.
Over the course of the season, North had just 6.5 sacks and two interceptions. Martin hopes to see those numbers change in 2010, but the new alignment also recognizes two other realities: the personnel on the team featured more linebacker-types, and using three down linemen will allow North to rest their linemen more often.
Martin is cautiously optimistic about this year’s defensive squad. Although it’s a physically smaller group than previous squads, it’s arguably the fastest defense overall North has ever had, without a single player on the field running over a 5.0 forty. As a result, the Mustangs hope to be more aggressive on defense. This will come as good news to Mustang fans, who watched quick teams such as Moore, Jeffersontown, and Elizabethtown give North problems last season.
The defensive line will be deep, but not very experienced on opening day. Brandon Holmes, Steven Verhalen, Drake Woods, Christian Oberst, and Logan Durnil (6’3” 172 pound senior) will compete for the defensive end slots, and Martin hopes that whoever wins the defensive end spots won’t have to play on the offensive line as well. Colin Sanborn (5’10” 180 sophomore) or Oberst look to be the most likely candidates at nose tackle.
Perhaps the deepest position on the defensive side of the ball is the linebacker position, where Martin has “bunches” of players.
At middle linebacker, senior Chris Streicher looks to be the leader of the bunch. Streicher was the team’s second-leading tackler last season (76 total tackles) and will be called upon to provide both production and leadership on the field, especially early in the season.
The rest of the middle linebackers are a bit more green: Colie Taylor, Peter Ingemi, Oberst, Gerlach, and Ben Zinno (5’10”, 170 pound junior) should fill out the rest of middle linebacker spots.
There’s a bit more experience at the outside linebacker spot. Josh Smith, a 5’9” 151 pound sophomore, started 3 or 4 games last year (38 total tackles), and he could be joined by Jacob Sanders (33 total tackles) or Zach Evans (32 total tackles) on the other side. Sophomore Jacob Raymond and Carson Yanke add depth to one of the team’s deepest positions.
Martin feels that the secondary should once again be a strength for North. If Renaud takes over the quarterback spot, Austin Peterson will likely move back to a starting role as the safety, a position he excelled in during the 2008 season when North went 10-2 and the secondary had 18 interceptions (Peterson had three).
Kevin Yurt will likely man one of the starting cornerback roles; he had two interceptions in 2009. Michael Choe, Zach Evans, Jacob Sanders, Jacob Raymond, and Carson Yanke will compete for the other spot and all will provide speedy depth to one of the team’s better units.
Overall, it will be a faster Mustang team in 2010, but a somewhat smaller team and definitely an inexperienced team up front on both sides of the ball. If the offensive line can jell and the re-aligned defense can put together more pressure than the 2009 squad, the Mustangs again have the potential to win what has become a very competitive and balanced district.
The bad news is that the Mustangs have just four home games, and two of their three district games are on the road (at likely pre-season district favorite Henry County and at Spencer County). The good news is that the Mustangs have six games to season their youngsters before heading into district play.
The schedule – which is exactly the same schedule as last year - is challenging, but not overly tough. The Mustangs face 5A Jeffersontown in their second game, and 2A power Christian Academy of Louisville in their third game. They also have an emotional matchup against archrival South Oldham (5A) on 9/17/10 and will close the season against 4A East Jessamine at home.
Paducah Tilghman (9-6)
Head coach: Randy Wyatt
2009: Won the Class 3A state championship 21-0 over Somerset
A 1-4 start to 2010 following a 2-8 campaign in 2009 had the Paducah Tilghman faithful ready to circle the wagons.
At some point, the light bulb came on for Randy Wyatt’s Blue Tornado, who reeled off eight wins in their final 10 games to win an improbable state title.
After winning their first state title since 1985, Tilghman should make a strong run at a repeat in 2010.
Senior Sam Cox rotated with the graduated Kris Jackson at quarterback and had over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns. With the starting job his and most of his receivers back, Cox should surpass those numbers this year.
Senior Josh Forrest has committed to the University of Kentucky after catching 21 passes – seven for touchdowns. Forrest also stars on defense. He picked off three passes in Tilghman’s state title win against Somerset.
Justin Williams, Rashad Brown and Jadarion Harmon will also be key components to the Tilghman offense.
Up front, Tilghman is in good shape with the return of four starters – D’Shon Jackson, West Nichols, Mason Malone, and Leon Jones.
Tilghman returns eight starters on defense, led by Forrest at safety.
Javarious Hodge and Shaquille Jordan are back at linebacker, and Dejuan Edmonds, West Nichols, Justin Williams, and D’Shon Jackson return at tackle.
Tilghman’s run to the state title was an improbable one – becoming the first team to win the championship with six losses.
However, the Tornado enter 2010 as one of the favorites to win the state title. If they can recapture some of the magic used on last year’s run, another title is likely in Paducah.
Pike County Central (7-6)
Head coach: John Chapman
2009: Lost to Sheldon Clark 26-12 in the region championship
Pike County Central has never won a playoff game heading into the 2009 postseason. However, the Hawks won their first two playoff games last year, including a second round road upset over Mason County.
Michael Chandler and Justin Smith both are expected to return in the backfield, and a large junior class should pay dividends for head coach John Chapman.
Pike County Central opens their season Aug. 27 against Phelps in the Pike County Bowl.
Powell County (2-9)
Head coach: Michael Burchett
2009: Lost to Garrard County 70-33 in the first round of the playoffs
Powell County slipped to two wins in 2009, but a large cast of returning players has the Pirates hopeful for a turnaround in 2010.
Junior Derek Taulbee ran for 1,131 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, while Daylan Watkins and Austin Charles also return in the backfield.
Junior Eliott Hale settled in at quarterback and had over 700 yards of total offense.
Senior Bobby Ward was the team’s leading receiver last year.
Dylan Davis, Frank Spencer, and Jacob Conner all return on the line for the Pirates.
Head coach: Ivan McGlone
2009: Lost to Sheldon Clark 36-14 in the first round of the playoffs
First round playoff exits have become rare at Russell where last year’s opening round loss to Sheldon Clark was their first in 11 years.
Veteran head coach Ivan McGlone has been battling a recent numbers problem, which means another small senior class.
However, the Red Devils are looking to a solid group of juniors to get the program back to the hey days when they averaged 12 wins from 2002-07.
The loss of Travis Jones will be tough for McGlone to replace on both sides of the football.
The offense has several question marks and unanswered questions. Patrick Cooper and Logan Dehoff spilt time at quarterback last year, and the addition of transfer Shaquan Hayes gives the Red Devils more athleticism at the position.
Junior Justin Davidson also returns in the backfield.
Russell has four starters back on defense – senior lineman Joel Korcep and defensive backs Cooper, Dehoff, and Davidson.
McGlone feels that Paul Spradlin at linebacker and Luke Bailey at end can also help his defensive unit.
“Our numbers have been a little down the last two years, but we will compete for the top spot in the district. We won’t be favored, but we will compete,” McGlone said.
Head coach: John Myers
2009: Lost to Paducah Tilghman 21-14 in the region championship
Russellville was a fumble away from knocking off eventual state champion Paducah Tilghman in the region title game. With virtually all of their skill people back in 2010, the Panthers are again expected to challenge the Tornado for the region title.
Athletic quarterback D.J. Quarles leads an offense that averaged nearly 30 points a game last year. Davonta Bryant and Kevin Temple both return in the backfield, while speedy receivers Victor Hampton and Seth Washington also return.
While the Panthers have many of their skill people back, who is going to block for them is a question head coach John Myers hopes to have answered before the start of the season.
Dequan Johnson is the lone starter back on the line. Myers is hoping that Matt Marshall, Daniel Duncan, Ryan Bibb, and Travis Kennedy can fill some holes on the line.
Six starters return on defense, led by linemen Layton Bush, Kevin Temple, Dequan Johnson, and Travez Hampton.
Bryant was a starter at linebacker and could be joined by A.K. Tisdale.
“I feel like we have a shot to win the region this year. Our returning skill positions will be our strength. We just have to continue working in all areas to get better,” Myers said.
Head coach: Ted Leasor
2009: Lost to Western Hills 34-22 in the first round of the playoffs
Ted Leasor is a veteran of more than 20 years coaching in the state of Florida.
Now, he comes to Kentucky and takes over a Shawnee program that has struggled in recent years. But the Golden Indians did win four games last year.
Seniors Keith Traynor and Javonte Bryant will be key players on both sides of the ball.
Leasor coached three seasons at Moore (1978-80) and one at Pleasure Ridge Park (1981) before embarking on a long coaching career in Georgia and Florida. He moved back to Louisville 18 months ago.
Sheldon Clark (9-5)
Head coach: Shawn Hager
2009: Lost to Somerset 28-12 in the state semifinals
Sheldon Clark was one game away from reaching Bowling Green and the state finals.
Despite the loss of several starters on both sides of the football, the Cardinals are expecting another strong run through the playoffs.
Senior Avery Ray averaged nearly nine yards a run last year, and Kristian Skyles and Mikie Moore both return in the backfield.
Senior Austin Stepp proved efficient in throwing the football in the run-oriented offense. Stepp threw for 858 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ray and Moore are the leading returning receivers for the Cardinals.
On defense, B.J. Jarrell returns at linebacker, while Kelly Hayes is back in the secondary.
Head coach: Robbie Lucas
2009: Lost to Paducah Tilghman 21-0 in the Class 3A championship game
Somerset graduated 16 seniors from last season's 14-1 3A State Runner-Up team. However, the cupboard is far from bare.
On offense most of the skill position players return led by senior quarterback Erik Manning. Manning threw for over 2300 yards and 28 TDs while rushing for over 550 yards and 7 scores as a junior.
His 2 leading receivers also are back in junior Storm Wilson and Senior JP Henderlight. Wilson was a 2nd team AP all-state receiver last season. He had over 1,000 yards and 11 TDs in 2009, and Henderlight had 500 yards and 6 scores.
Seniors Corey Jones and Taylor Sears will likely fill the 3rd receiver spot after both had a nice spring. Senior tightend Clayton Stringer returns after a solid 2009.
Senior Derrick Jackson should get the bulk of the carries at running back. He missed almost the entire 2009 season with a knee injury but he ran for 761 yards and 12 scores as a sophomore in 2008. He will be joined by sophomore Tevin Slaughter and Senior Zack Bastin.
There will be five new starters on the offensive line. Junior Taylor Speaks is the lone returning player who played significant minutes last season. Speaks made one start at center and alternated series at right tackle in 2009. This season he will move to left tackle and be expected to anchor the line.
He'll be joined by fellow Juniors (G)Jarred Price and (T)Trey Slaughter and seniors (G)Justin Perdue and (C)Joey Harris.
Seniors Tyler Brummett and Seth Lakes will provide depth. The line will be much smaller and faster than last season when the 2 offensive tackles each weighed over 300 pounds. This season's heaviest player will be around 225.
The defense returns eight full-time starters and several key reserves and should be the backbone of the team. The Briar Jumpers return three starters in the secondary, three starters at linebacker and three starters on the line to a team that gave up 14 points a game in 2009.
Junior Trey Slaughter will anchor the line he recorded over 120 tackles from his defensive end position in 2009. He'll be joined by Clayton Stringer at the other defensive end and Justin Perdue at the nose.
The linebacking corps will be led by senior Rob Stevenson. Stevenson recorded over 115 tackles and had 2 interceptions in 2009. He'll be joined by Tevin Slaughter, Jarred Price, Jordan Perdue and Daniel Carr.
In the secondary, safety Taylor Sears will be the key player. Last season he had 5 interceptions and made numerous score saving tackles. He'll be joined by fellow seniors Erik Manning and Zack Bastin at corners. Both players had very good 2009 seasons. The other safety spot will likely be filled by junior Alex Lange.
On special teams Alex Lange will return to handle the punting. Senior soccer player Colby Hall has joined the team and will likely handle the kicking duties. Taylor Speaks is the long-snapper.
Spencer County (3-8)
Head coach: Wes Napper
2009: Lost to Central 56-36 in the first round of the playoffs
The return of 18 starters and improvements to their stadium has the folks in Spencer County optimistic about 2010.
A young team lost three games by a touchdown or less, and head coach Wes Napper is hoping that experience will translate into a turnaround season.
Kevin Hume moves into the starter’s role at quarterback, while Erico Smith and Bryan Harris return in the backfield after combining for nearly 1,300 yards last year.
The Bears are solid up front where three starters have played alongside each other in that role for three seasons. Tackle Daniel Bell, guards Austin Cook and Josh Caster, and center Andy Christian give Spencer County size and experience on the O-line.
Ten starters are back for Napper’s 4-4 scheme, including linebackers Hume, Harris, and Michael Wessels.
Logan Dunbar, Austin Cooke, Andy Christian, and Josh Caster make up the defensive line, and three starters return in the secondary.
“Our senior class is a great group of kids who understand what it takes to win ballgames,” Napper said. “Our team should be in the hunt for a district championship.”
Taylor County (4-7)
Head coach: Curtis Cotton
2009: Lost to Estill County 21-14 in the first round of the playoffs
It’s a major overhaul at Taylor County where Curtis Cotton is the new head coach, and his staff is made up of mostly new faces.
Cotton is looking to implement a no huddle spread offense in hopes of speeding up the game for the Cardinals.
Ben Hollingsworth is expected to move from receiver to quarterback, with Blake Dudgeon and Dalton Kent back at receiver. Dudgeon caught 51 passes for 587 yards last year.
Lucas Bradshaw and Hunter Pelly are two starters back on the offensive line.
Cotton said that Alex Gupton and Dre Thornton could join Pelly on defense at the linebacker spot.
Cotton will need a quick progression of his line play in order to become a district threat this year.
Union County (8-4)
Head coach: Steve Carter
2009: Lost to Paducah Tilghman 34-7 in the second round of the playoffs
Union County has back-to-back eight win seasons after three straight losing campaigns. With 14 starters back, the Braves should put together another eight-win season and make a strong run at their second region title in three years.
The health of senior running back Devin Foster will be a key factor for Union County. After rushing for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore, Foster was bothered by an ankle injury most of last year but still rushed for 560 yards and nine touchdowns in eight games.
Fullback Logan Joiner, who ran for nearly 400 yards last year, also returns in the backfield.
Aaron Hedgepath is expected to take over at quarterback, replacing the graduated Jordan Robison who threw for over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.
Senior Bryan Bickett turned into a threat at receiver, with 778 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.
Mason Holloran, Luke Davidson, and Thomas Buckman return up front for the Braves, as does tight end Michael Wadlington.
The Braves return most of their linebacking corps intact, with Hedgepath, Joiner, and Wadlington back.
Head coach Steve Carter expects newcomers Brandon Vernam and Dustin Ellis to make contributions on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Wayne County (4-7)
Head coach: Shawn Thompson
2009: Lost to Breathitt County 26-0 in the first round of the playoffs
After winning seven games in four straight seasons, Wayne County slipped to four wins last year.
With the loss of several key playmakers, it may be another four-win season again for the Cardinals.
Junior Shawn Dishman appears set to take over at quarterback, but most of his offensive weapons will be first-year starters.
Webster County (0-11)
Head coach: Adam Kettler
2009: Lost to Russellville 59-0 in the first round of the playoffs
Webster County suffered through the program’s first winless season in 14 years under first-year head coach Adam Kettler.
The first priority for Kettler will be numbers as seven seniors graduated from a 30-man roster last year.
West Carter (5-5)
Head coach: Kevin Brown
2009: Missed the playoffs
West Carter won five games and finished with a .500 record, but their 0-4 district performance kept them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2005. Making matters worse, three of the district losses were by a total of 13 points.
With most of their skill people back, don’t look for the Comets to miss the postseason again this year.
Danny Kline and Timmy Bradley combined to run for over 900 yards, and quarterback Harrison Bond accounted for nearly 1,200 yards of offense in his first season as a starter.
Western Hills (8-4)
Head coach: Don Miller
2009: Lost to Central 34-27 in the second round of the playoffs
Western Hills won the school’s first-ever playoff game last year but lost a lot of their main contributors in the process.
Gone are 1,000-yard rusher Justin Wright and 1,000-yard passer Dylan Curry, who left with many of the school’s passing records.
Arie Slone, Bobby Clay, and Logan Curry expect to nail down starting spots for Western Hills on offense this year.