2010 Kentucky High School Football Preview - Class 4A
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2010 Kentucky High School Football Preview - Class 4A
Allen County-Scottsville (11-1)
Head coach: Brad Hood
2009: Lost to Lone Oak 34-6 in the region semifinals
Allen County-Scottsville has won 20 games the past two years and could make a run at another double-digit win season with a bevy of skill people returning.
The Patriots will have to replace Corey Cooper at quarterback, but have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers returning in seniors Brandon Boards and Hunter York.
Senior Zach Tabor was last year’s leading receiver. But who will throw him the football is a major question for the Patriots. Likely candidates are Jacob Costello and Conner Ross.
Up front, Zack Kendall and Cy Williams return.
On defense, Cory Foster and Set Peay are back at linebacker. Jacob Drummond picked off three passes last year, and will be joined in the secondary by Eli Weaver.
Despite the loss of Cooper at quarterback, the Patriots’ roster is heavy with juniors and seniors and should make another strong postseason run in 2010.
Head Coach: Kenny Walker
2009: Missed the playoffs.
The Rebels always struggle with numbers and that will be a huge factor again this season for second-year coach Kenneth Walker.
But Atherton only had eight seniors on the roster last season, so there is some experience returning to the fold.
Laronta Murray was one of the team’s leading rushers last fall, while Jack Allgeier was one of the top receivers. Stephan Rogers is another returning standout.
Bell County (12-2)
Head coach: Dudley Hilton
2009: Lost to Boyle County 13-10 in the state semifinals
A 4A state championship remains the primary objective for legendary coach Dudley Hilton and his Bobcats, who bring back seven starters on both sides of the ball from a team that advanced to the state semifinals before falling 13-10 to eventual champ Boyle County.
John Dudley Hilton, the coach’s son, is back for his fourth season as a starter at linebacker where he teams with senior Josh Brown. Hilton recorded 122 tackles last season and added 521 yards rushing on 68 carries with nine touchdowns. He also hit 48 of 55 extra points and two field goals.
The Bell offense will again feature senior quarterback Ben Madon and speedy junior halfback Cory Davenport. Madon completed 67 of 121 passes for 1,437 yards and 17 touchdowns, with only two interceptions. He also averaged 38.5 yards as Bell’s punter. Davenport rushed for 1,820 yards on 207 carries with 29 touchdowns.
Cody Davenport, a senior split end, had 24 catches for 652 yards and nine touchdowns last year.
Taylor Mills, a senior, returns at fullback and defensive end. He had 52 tackles last season, including eight for losses.
Bell County’s two losses in 2009 were to a pair of state champions who were unbeaten. Alcoa won Tennessee’s Class 2A state title, and Boyle County won Kentucky’s Class 4A state title.
Bell County’s 2010 schedule replaces Alcoa with Class 2A Green County in the City/County Bowl
Bourbon County (5-6)
Head coach: Johnny Poynter
2009: Lost to Boyle County 61-0 in the first round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
After graduating 11 seniors, including standout quarterback Taylor Barnes, the Bourbon County Colonels may be going through some major changes this season -- at least on offense.
Bourbon County will switch from a wishbone attack, in which Barnes rushed for 2,201 yards and 15 touchdowns on 301 carries, to using the spread and pro I formations.
"Look for us to open it up and become more balanced this season," second-year Bourbon County coach Johnny Poynter said.
Dandre Jackson, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior, will take over at QB. Junior John Stout (5-10, 165) will also see time at QB and could also play wide receiver when Jackson is in at QB.
The duo will have a couple of tall receivers to pass to in seniors Jarrod Hilander (6-2, 155) and Joe Seivers (6-6, 165). They will be protected by returning linemen Dillon Arnold (6-0, 285-pound senior center), tackle Chris Haskins (5-10, 210-pound junior), guard Jacob Thompson (5-10, 185-pound junior) and Devon Arnold (6-1, 200-pound tight end).
Sophomore guard Nathan Mitchell (5-10, 265), another transfer, is expected to see plenty of time on the line as well.
Also back are sophomore running back Kentayvous Hopkins (6-1, 185) and senior RB Ryan Charles (5-9, 185).
While it may take some time to get the offense rolling, Poynter said the defense should thrive under new defensive coordinator Jerry Barners and line coach Brandon Charles, who played for Poynter at Pike County Central.
The Colonels return seven defensive starters, led by what Poynter said was a "much improved" secondary.
"Last season we had struggles in the secondary with a very young group," Poynter said. "But they have a year under their belt and should be much improved this season."
Retuning on defense are junior free safety Spencer Sledd (5-10, 165), junior cornerback Austin Burberry (5-8, 185), middle linebacker Taylor Myers (6-1, 195), senior tackle Levi Eads (5-9, 170), Stout at cornerback, Hopkins at strong safety and Ryan Charles at defensive end.
Bourbon County's front line should get a boost with the transfer of senior end Tony Huelett (6-4, 235), Poynter said. Senior Tyler Roe (5-11, 175) could also see extensive time on the line.
Poynter said several young players could move into start positions: sophomore DT Jamal Clark (5-7, 190), sophomore LB Joey Gomez (6-0, 165) and sophomore rover Jeff Hardy (5-11, 175).
Poynter also said a few freshmen could see solid playing time and even start: LB Jake Fooks (5-10, 175), LB Dakota Mitchell (6-1, 180), defensive back Jaxson Hilander (5-10, 150), DE Lucas Ruthleage (5-7, 175), OT Chase Berry (6-0, 190) and WR Hayden Cox (6-1, 135).
"Some of the strengths in this team should be improved secondary and team speed," Poynter said. "We have four of the fastest guys I have ever coached in Hopkins, Jackson, Charles and Gomez. But we should also see an improvement in our overall team speed. Another asset to this team will be a greater number of players that can contribute to the team. This should make for better competition in practice."
Boyd County (2-9)
Head coach: Lee Evans
2009: Lost to Knox Central 40-0 in the first round of the playoffs
Boyd County’s two wins were their fewest since a winless season in 1996.
While the Lions graduated 13 seniors, they are looking to a large group of underclassmen to turn things around for head coach Lee Evans.
Tyler Arthur is expected to return for the Lions who will likely have a lot of new faces in the backfield.
Boyle County (15-0)
Head coach: Larry French
2008: Lost to Bell County 17-15 in the state semifinals
Boyle County rolled through Class 4A, survived a couple of late playoff scares, and brought home the school’s first state title in six seasons with a nail-biting 42-39 double-overtime win over Lone Oak.
The Rebels return most of their defense from last year’s title team, including linebacker Lamar Dawson, who is drawing several high profile college looks.
Senior Chris Cook and junior Zach Hester are also back at linebacker to make running at Boyle County a difficult task.
Also back for the Rebel defense are end Ryan Wilson and tackle Paul Megilligan. Keith Thieleman could replace All-State tackle Grant Aumiller.
Bryan Ferrell and Devon Cox are half of last year’s secondary that returns for the Rebels, who expect to be just as stout on defense as last year.
There are a few more questions on offense, but they are big questions.
Replacing 3,000-yard rusher Rees MacShara will be the biggest chore for veteran head coach Larry French, but Devon Cox should step in and see the bulk of the carries this year.
Senior Devan Hale saw some mop-up duty last year and expects to take over the reins at quarterback.
Jarred Harrington, tight end Steven Talbott, and Dawson out of the backfield are the top returning receivers from last year.
Up front, the Rebels welcome back just two starters in tackle Tyler Priest and center Ben Coffman. Casey Tiller and Alex Fowler expect to challenge for starting job on the line.
With last year’s title and this year’s expectations, the fact the Rebels had a losing season just three years ago is long forgotten by many. And Boyle County enters the 2010 season as the favorites to repeat in Class 4A.
Breckinridge County (3-8)
Head coach: Scott Mooney
2009: Lost to Marion County 64-14 in the first round of the playoffs
2009 was a breakout season of sorts for Breckinridge County, who hadn’t won a football game on the field in three seasons, getting two wins in previous seasons via forfeit.
Last year, the Tigers won three games – as much as they had in the previous four seasons combined. Their three wins were the most for the program in nine years.
The numbers are up for third-year head coach Scott Mooney, who hopes the Breckinridge County program is close to turning the corner.
Bullitt East (4-7)
Head coach: Doug Preston
2009: Lost to Fairdale 39-22 in the first round of the playoffs
Bullitt East went from appearing in the Class 4A state title game in 2008 to a first round playoff loss in 2009.
The Chargers will have some key spots that are inexperienced but have a solid offensive line and should be strong on defense this season.
Linebackers Steven Wilson and Matt Husband will lead the defensive attack, along with nose guard Matt Thompson, tackle Andrew Okruch, and defensive back Wade Kelly and Taylor McMillen. Husband is also a top running back.
On offense, the Chargers must replace all-everything quarterback Matt Bowles and that will be a challenge.
Husband and Kelly are key running backs, while linemen Okruch, Daniel Goodlett and Logan Pruitt will bolster the attack. Austin Owen is a top wide receiver.
Calloway County (3-8)
Head coach: Josh McKeel
2009: Lost to Franklin-Simpson 41-14 in the first round of the playoffs
Just one season after missing the state finals by three points, Calloway County stumbled to their first losing season in three years.
There were a lot of distractions for the Lakers – both on the field and off, but head coach Josh McKeel is hoping those are behind the program.
The Lakers lost a lot of starters on both sides of the football, but return junior Hunter Arnold, senior Keaton Starks, and sophomore Tyler Greer are among the starters back for the Lakers on offense.
Calloway County has a large, but inexperienced group of linemen that should mold into a solid unit by the time the district rolls around.
Because of the on field brawl last year at Fulton County, the Pilots have been replaced on the Calloway County schedule with Hart County, giving the Lakers only three true home games this year.
East Carter (1-9)
Head coach: Aaron Baldwin
2009: Missed the playoffs
East Carter unexpectedly laid an egg last year and suffered through a 1-9 season that saw them miss the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade.
Head coach Aaron Baldwin is hoping the return of 13 starters along with a mix of newcomers can get the Raiders back to the postseason.
Quarterback Kyle Smith rushed for the second most touchdowns on the team last year but will have a new cast of backfield mates behind him.
Baldwin is looking to Zach Parsons, Case Stidham, Conner Staton, and Alex Napier to fill the rushing void.
Tight end Channing McGraw is back along with Jacob Layne.
Up front, Craig Delancey, Grant Flaugher, and Tyler Ison are back for the Raiders’ Wing-T attack.
Eight starters return from a defensive unit that must improve after giving up 29 points a game last year.
McGraw and Brett Carra return at linebacker as part of the 3-4 package, while Delancey and Ison are on the line. Parsons and Stidham should compete for starting jobs at linebacker.
“We are looking to bounce back from an unexpected record last year,” Baldwin said.
East Jessamine (4-7)
Head coach: Mike Bowlin
2009: Lost to Holmes 42-0 in the first round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
Interest is at an all-time high for East Jessamine coach Mike Bowlin, who's entering his sixth season.
The Jaguars return all but two starters from last year's team, which went 4-7 and lost four games by a combined 15 points.
And despite their second consecutive 4-7 finish, over 70 players are out for the team.
"Our strength will be our experience in every phase of the game," Bowlin said. "(We have) lots of returners with quality backups everywhere."
The Jaguars return a lot of key players from last year. Fullback Austin Hager and halfback Cameron Thomas, who combined for almost 2,000 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, return in the backfield.
Quarterback David Powers, wingback Seth Hunt, wide receiver Travis Votaw, tight end Zac Mincks, tackles Zac Templin and Ronnie King, guard Corey Kenion and center Dylan Harrison also return on offense.
East Jessamine also returns 10 players on defense: cornerbacks James Russell and Powers, linebackers Drew Edwards, Justin Myers, Tyler Nguyen and Hunt, Templin and Mincks at defensive tackle, Thomas at free safety and Hager at strong safety.
"The only weakness we have right now is we have an inexperienced kicker," Bowlin said. "We have two that will battle for the job but neither has kicked before. If that phase of the game is solid then we should be pretty good."
Bowlin has aspirations of leading his team on a deep playoff run. But with state powers Lexington Catholic and defending 4-A state champion Boyle County in the same district, that doesn't seem likely this year.
East Jessamine most likely will change classes next season, when the state's six classes will be realigned.
"The program is in solid shape this coming season," Bowlin said. "Our biggest problem is playing in a district that has two multiple state champions in it. It's hard to get any momentum built up when we are always having to play those two monsters. A move into another class in 2011, away from Boyle and Lex Cath, would be a huge move in the right direction for our program. Our goals are achievable this season but it will take a great effort and a little luck along the way to pull it off."
Head coach: Jonathan Miller
2009: Lost to Western 41-14 in the second round of the playoffs
While coach Jonathan Miller lost two of his best players in Bradley Vincent and Quintrell Morris, all is not lost this season with the Bulldogs.
Miller has almost 20 seniors and a handful of juniors that should help keep the Bulldogs very competitive.
Sophomore quarterback Brent “Boo” Crabtree has a ton of potential and should be a future star. Brent Weston is a standout on both sides of the ball and will catch a lot of passes, while Richard Rudolph is another two-way star.
The Bulldogs have four starters back on the offensive line, led by James Rhodes, Tommy Brown, Courtney Hanes, and Jason Tucker.
“We have an experienced offensive line, but we are green at the skill positions,” head coach Jonathon Miller.
On defense, most starters return although the depth in the secondary could be an issue, Miller said.
Franklin County (1-9)
Head coach: Chris Tracy
2009: Missed the playoffs
Franklin County endured their first losing season in seven years, and now will have their third head coach in as many seasons.
Former Woodford County skipper Chris Tracy takes over at Franklin County, where they will try and erase last year’s dismal season.
One of Tracy’s biggest tasks will be to replace quarterback Sean Thompson and receiver Damian Hicks.
Head coach: Tim Schlosser
2009: Lost to Lone Oak 49-7 in the second round of the playoffs
Franklin-Simpson’s three losses in 2009 were to teams that lost a total of five games – Lone Oak, Bowling Green, and Allen County-Scottsville.
With only eight seniors lost to graduation, the Wildcats are expected to challenge again for the region title.
Playmakers Darius and Jerrell Wickware combined for over 1,400 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns last year.
Senior Hayden Williams should return at quarterback after throwing for over 800 yards.
Jarrell Wickware and Jerron Patterson were the team’s leading receivers last year.
On defense, J.T. Blakemore, Ray Huckaby, and Dee Harris return on the line, while Williams, Patterson, Jalen Bell, and Caleb Lockhart are back at linebacker.
Max Bennett and Peyton Smith are expected to make bigger contributions on defense as well.
Greenup County (3-8)
Head coach: Mike Copley
2009: Lost to Bell County 44-0 in the first round of the playoffs
Corey Lyle expects to again play a big role in the Greenup County offense, although he should have some help this year with numbers on the rise for head coach Mike Copley.
Greenup County has been busy in the weight room, which Copley is hoping will pay dividends this year.
Word is some extra athletes from other sports will help support the skill positions on both sides of the football.
After two straight three-win seasons, the Musketeers appear ready to jump past the .500 mark this year.
Harrison County (5-6)
Head coach: Mark Carroll
2009: Lost to West Jessamine 49-6 in the first round of the playoffs
Harrison County returns quarterback Joe Korona, who threw for 970 yards and 10 touchdowns last year.
Several other players will have to be replaced, but head coach Mark Carroll will have the services of Shane Fowler and Shawn Neal on defense
Head coach: Stephen Lickert
2009: Lost to Lexington Catholic 25-7 in the second round of the playoffs
The return of 18 starters from a team that won nine games last year has Holmes looking to make their longest postseason run in 15 years.
Three linemen – Tommy Courtney, Kenny Sheffield, and Derek Poe – all return to open holes for a Holmes offense that averaged 28 points and 333 yards per game.
Quarterback Jesse Jensen threw for 1,180 yards last year, with 638 of those yards going to sophomore Dasean Peterson.
Jensen added 911 rushing yards and eight scores in the spread offense.
Running backs Damian Oden (985 yards) and Greg Clemons (591 yards) also return.
“Oden has the skills to become one of the best players in northern Kentucky before he is finished,” head coach Stephen Lickert said.
On defense, Holmes welcomes back nine starters, including all three linebackers in their 3-3 stack – Tommy Courtney, Greg Clemons and Deshauntey McClendon.
Peterson, Carlos Gipson, and Tyrique Simpson return in the secondary.
“This is the fastest Holmes team in a long time,” Lickert said. “We return multiple starters in key positions that should provide for a fast start. We must build depth at the line and skill positions and find a kicker that can kick field goals.”
Hopkins County Central (4-7)
Head coach: Zach Hibbs
2009: Lost to Logan County 24-21 round of the playoffs
Hopkins Central slipped to four wins in 2009, but it wasn’t a big surprise to first-year head coach Zach Hibbs given the substantial losses the previous season.
A young team won four games but lost four others by a touchdown or less.
With several starters back from last year’s team, the Storm look to jump back above the .500 mark and advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Multi-faceted Jesse Almon can play quarterback or could line up in the backfield for the Storm. Almon did both last year.
Sophomore Antonio Nance rushed for 570 yards last year, and could be joined by senior Stephen Gordon.
Senior Micah Rorer led the Storm in receiving with 33 catches but can also line up in the backfield.
Junior Bryan Mason is slated to return at tight end.
The Storm lost several starters on the line but return Kohl Arnett and Cody Carter on the line.
On defense, Rorer returns at linebacker as do Jace Oldham, one of the team’s leading tacklers, and Tyler Powell.
Knox Central (7-5)
Head coach: Wayne Mills
2009: Lost to Lawrence County 19-0 in the second round of the playoffs
The next step for an improving Knox Central football program is winning a district championship, no easy task in a district that includes perennial state power Bell County. With nine starters back on offense and 10 on defense, the Panthers should move up the ladder in 4A.
Quarterback Jonathan Barger returns, along with receivers Jeffery and Travis Canady. Senior Tyler Bailey and junior Johnathan Turpin will split time at tailback.
Barger completed 88 of 138 passes last year for 1,237 yards and 13 touchdowns. Jeffery Canady had 31 catches for 600 yards and eight touchdowns.
The big and physical Panthers’ defensive front will feature senior guard Scott Gilliam (6-2, 245), junior guard Tyler Grubb (6-3, 275), junior tackle Cody Diamond (6-3, 285) and senior tackle Jake Asher (6-1, 260).
Larue County (7-5)
Head coach: Rodney Armes
2009: Lost to Marion County 41-14 in the second round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
It could be a long year in Hodgenville as the LaRue County Hawks must replace 16 seniors - including most every starter on the offensive and defensive lines - and their quarterback.
Linemen Tyler Davenport, David Blair, Kenneth Sanders, Lincoln Bingham, and Ian Mortensen all graduated, and quarterback Jordan Brewer transferred to Bardstown after his dad, James "Boo" Brewer, took the boys' basketball head coaching job there in the spring.
The good news, though, is LaRue County returns two of its top three running backs in senior Alex Lee and junior Drew Newberry. Lee rushed for 1,211 yards and 10 touchdowns on 197 carries, and Newberry amassed 786 yards and 10 scores on 137 carries.
Bolstering the backfield should be the return of seniors Shaquille Cox and Marquis Cobb, each of whom saw some action there last season.
Senior Robert Gatton is the most likely candidate to replace Brewer at QB for the Hawks, but throwing the ball isn't priority No. 1 for longtime coach Rodney Armes. LaRue County QBs only threw for 607 yards last season and rushed for 3,194.
The Hawks went 7-5 last year, their first winning season since going 10-3 in 2006. In order to build on that success, LaRue County must develop its offensive and defensive lines, and rely on its speed and power out of the backfield.
Lawrence County (12-1)
Head coach: Luke Salmons
2009: Lost to Bell County 41-0 in the region championship
Lawrence County put together one of the biggest season one season turnarounds in state history, going winless in 2008 to winning 12 games last year.
With many of their skill people back, the Bulldogs are hoping for another strong postseason run.
Senior Hunter James topped 1,000 yards on the ground last year, and junior Hayden Kiser threw for over 800 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Sophomore Caleb Bentley was a surprise, rushing for over 600 yards and averaging over nine yards a carry and fellow sophomore Jacob Marcum should also see more carries in 2010.
Lawrence County will have to replace most of their receivers that graduated last year.
Junior Tyler Combs is one of two starters back on the offensive line.
Blake Schaeffer and Blake Bradley return at linebacker, and Turner O’Brian is a returning starter in the secondary.
The folks in Lawrence County are hoping that 2009 wasn’t a flash in the pan season and that the Bulldogs appear to be turning the corner.
Lexington Catholic (8-5)
Head coach: Bill Letton
2009: Lost to Boyle County 34-20 in the region title game
Lexington Catholic lost a ton of talent from last year’s team that posted a second consecutive 8-5 season and region loss to Boyle County.
The Knights are looking for replacements at just about every position on both sides of the football.
Sophomore Nick Bolin is the only returning player who took snaps at quarterback last year. With 34 rushing yards to his credit last year, senior Konner Vasiko is the leading returning rusher.
Senior Bill Jack Brown (25 catches, 277 yards) is the only receiver back who caught more than five passes last year. Senior Aaron Price could join Brown at wide out.
Senior Will Whitman is a three-year starter on the offensive line.
Nate Letton returns at linebacker for the Knights’ defense and should be joined by junior Jordan Artip and lineman Trey Mattingly.
Lexington Catholic always puts together a tough schedule, but their slate will be a bigger factor this year as head coach Bill Letton counts on his younger players early to get settled into their new roles.
Logan County (5-7)
Head coach: Lee Proctor
2009: Lost to Allen County-Scottsville 41-33 in the second round of the playoffs
Logan County was an inconsistent bunch in 2009, yet still managed to advance past the first round of the postseason for the first time in 11 years.
The return of senior quarterback John Logan Dockins should help offset heavy losses in the backfield. Dockins threw for 2,063 yards and 23 touchdowns last year for an offense that averaged 26 points a game.
Athletic Twin Lancaster is expected to be one of Dockins’ main targets after catching 34 passes for 482 yards a year ago.
Lone Oak (14-1)
Head coach: Jack Haskins
2009: Lost to Boyle County 42-39 in the Class 4A state title game
Lone Oak was a quarter away from completing an improbable run at the school’s first football state title.
The double-overtime loss to Boyle County in the state title game has the Purple Flash wanting a shot at redemption in what is expected to be their next to last season of existence before consolidation.
The Flash return half of their starters and have a solid crew of newcomers who could come in and keep the Flash from missing a step.
Junior Tyler Presnell is expected to step in at quarterback and has some big shoes to fill. Cameron Looper threw for 3,400 yards and had just one interception in 359 pass attempts. Presnell will have three targets back to throw to in the pass-happy Flash offense.
Joe Starks caught 46 passes for 799 yards and three touchdowns. Felix Colon added 44 catches for 760 yards and seven touchdowns, and Jared Hill had 33 receptions for 430 yards and five scores. Starks also had seven rushing touchdowns.
Head coach Jack Haskins also expects to get contributions from Joeshawn Starks, Derek Collier, and Braydon Hopper at receiver. Payton Harris and Bryce Wright will add depth at running back.
Jack Coorts, who also doubles as the team’s kicker, returns on the offensive line with Jay Cain. Connor English is expected to challenge for a starting job on the line also.
The Purple Flash have six starters back on defense, including three in the secondary.
Jared Hill had four picks last year, and Blake Bickerstaff added two picks. Colon will play safety.
Cameron Byrd and Clayton Cain return on the D-line and Devonte Wilson plays linebacker. Joeshawn Starks and Tanner Riley are expected to step in to starting roles on defense.
While the Purple Flash lost several playmakers that helped them reach Bowling Green, Haskins feels like he has enough talent back, coupled with the newcomers, to make another strong postseason push.
“We feel good about this team, and think the program is in good shape. We just need the right chemistry and some luck,” he said.
Madison Southern (1-9)
Head coach: Dave Brumley
2008 - Missed the playoffs
Losing the multi-talented Rico Brown is a blow, but the Eagles should be more balanced in 2010, led by senior tailback Devon Johnson (518 yards rushing last season), junior quarterback Chris Roberts (1,372 yards passing and 14 touchdowns) and junior wide receiver Ethan Lake.
Senior linebacker Bubby Parsons (75 tackles) and senior tackle David Rufty (5-11, 270) will lead the Madison Southern defense.
Marion County (11-3)
Head coach: Jeff Robbins
2009: Lost to Lone Oak 45-28 in the state semifinals
Marion County has turned things around under head coach Jeff Robbins, reaching the state semifinals last year after an 0-2 start.
With several key starters back, the Knights could once again make some postseason noise.
Junior Ryan Peterson and senior Jordan Bell both split time at quarterback last year. They combined for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns. Bell also had 829 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
Senior Joseph Hazelwood will be expected to pick up the rushing slack with the exits of 1,300-yard rushers Dylan Peterson and Bryson Bell. Hazelwood ran for 555 yards and four scores last year. Junior fullback Jeremy Mattingly will be counted for a bigger role after running for three touchdowns last year.
The big chore for Robbins will be replacing his entire starting line, which was lost to graduation.
On defense, Bell and Chuck Elder return at linebacker while the defensive line should just about be intact from last season.
Jeremy Mattingly, Cody Brahm, and Justin Price all return on the defensive line for the Knights along with senior Dylan Caldwell.
The Knights should again challenge for the region title as long as a young offensive line develops quickly.
Martha Layne Collins
Head coach: Jerry Lucas
2009: First season of varsity action
The state’s newest school has some impressive veteran coaches on staff. The school is the second in Shelby County and opens this fall.
Jerry Lucas, who was the offensive coordinator at Shelby County since 2001, is the head coach and will have legendary Shelby County coach Tom Becherer, who led the schools to the 1987 state title, as his defensive coordinator.
Lucas will also get some of the top players from Shelby County’s team that finished 9-3 last season.
Quarterback Brandon Cresap will switch schools and leads the Titans attack. He passed for almost 2,400 yards and 30 touchdowns with just five interceptions as a junior.
Wide receivers Ben Axline and Travis Elzy and running back-linebacker Michael Brooks are key performers and should be among the best in the area.
Lucas has a shot to win right away at Collins.
McCreary Central (7-4)
Head coach: Derrick Smith
2009: Lost to Lawrence County 42-19 in the first round of the playoffs
Life without Aaron Watts and Zack Roark will be a challenge for the Raiders, who will have a hard time matching their recent success without the big-play threats in their backfield.
Senior quarterback Dustin Goins will be counted on to play a larger role in the offense, along with junior quarterback Storm Stevens and sophomore running back Noah Duncan. Senior tackle Vince Staten (6-2, 300) and senior guard Cody Perry (5-8, 200) will anchor the line.
Staten, an end, and Goins, a safety, are the top players returning on the McCreary defense.
Derrick Smith takes over for Clinton Gay as McCreary County head coach.
North Bullitt (2-9)
Head coach: Brett Newton
2009: Lost to Western 24-8 in the first round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
North Bullitt struggled to a 2-9 finish last season, but coach Brett Newton expects his team to make it to the playoffs in the revamped Class 4-A, District 4.
The district grew to six teams with the additions of Shelby County and Martha Layne Collins, meaning two teams won't make it to the postseason.
With eight starters back on offense and nine back on defense, Newton doesn't think the Mustangs will be on the outside looking in come November.
Offensive returnees include tackle John Lister, guards Aaron Nelson and Duke Tomlinson, receivers Brandon Shawver and Jake Exton, running backs Todd Asbury and Zack Reynolds and quarterback Dalton Hadley.
Asbury rushed for 476 yards, while Reynolds had 353 last season. Hadley threw for 1,093 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
On defense, Fussy Elmore is back at tackle, Tomlinson and Lister are back at end, Asbury, Travis Downing, Shawn Underwood and Ryan Collins return at linebacker, Exton is back at corner and Reynolds returns at safety in North Bullitt's 4-2-5 scheme.
Senior Tyler Crick and freshman Elijah Wallace are newcomers Newton feels could make an impact this season.
"After a down year last year, we return a lot of starters that have improved their strength significantly," Newton said.
Pendleton County (7-4)
Head coach: Terry Brown
2009: Lost to Lexington Catholic 62-0 in the first round of the playoffs
Lee Teegarden helped lead Pendleton County to their first winning record in the program’s history last year. He then bolted to join the staff at Ryle.
Newport Central Catholic graduate Terry Brown takes over a team that graduated seven seniors from a 29-player roster.
Because they play in a four-team district, the Wildcats are guaranteed a berth in the playoffs.
Rockcastle County (5-7)
Head coach: Scott Parkey
2009: Lost to Bell County 48-0 in the second round of the playoffs
After a rare losing campaign in Mount Vernon, the Rockets are hungry to bounce back and will turn to a strong ground game led by running backs Clark Rowe (2,107 yards rushing last year) and John L. Saylor (712 yards rushing).
Rockcastle also features an experienced offensive front, led by junior tackle Ben Lake (6-3, 260), senior guard Dylan Thacker (5-11, 210) and junior center Kenton Adams (5-11, 185).
Juniors B.B. Bradley, a linebacker, and Steven Thomason, an end, are back to lead the defense after recording 32 and 35 solo tackles, respectively, a year ago.
Rowe plays defensive back, and Saylor returns at linebacker.
Head coach Scott Parkey says junior Jadon Brock is ready to step in at quarterback after missing most of last year from injury.
Parkey said junior Curtis Causey would likely move to cornerback and junior Zack Reams would make an immediate impact on both sides of the football.
"Obviously, we are looking to improve on the record from last season,” Parkey said. “Three of our losses occurred in the final quarter. We have had a great offseason with focus being on finishing strong.”
Rowan County (7-4)
Head coach: ShaDon Brown
2009: Lost to Rockcastle County 41-21 in the first round of the playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
The Rowan County Vikings have taken some big steps under coach ShaDon Brown, going from 4-7 in 2008 to 7-4 last season.
With six starters back on both sides of the ball, the Vikings will look to continue that progression under Brown, now in his third year in Morehead.
"Our program has grown in our first two years here," Brown said. "We have gained respect from opponents and have some community support for football now. No, we are not where we want to because we have not won a state title. I think we need to stay healthy and our younger players have to step up and fill some holes for us to have success as a team. We have some great individual players but we need role players to help us win the big games this year.
"I feel our team can compete for the district title this year," he added. "We need to get over the hump and win a playoff game once we do that I feel like we will be ready to make the big run toward a regional title "
Rowan County, which Brown said will continue to be a spread- and option-based team this fall, should benefit from the return of several top players on offense.
Junior Adam Wing (6-foot-4, 195) returns at quarterback, and he'll have some solid options to throw to in senior Darrell Cross (5-8, 180) at running back and junior Phillip Hodge (5-9, 175) at wide receiver.
"I feel like our backs will be our strength for the third year in a row," Brown said. "Darrell Cross returns for his senior season with speed to burn. He will be our workhorse. Quarterback Adam Wing will lead the attack. Wing has a strong arm and at 6-4 is a dangerous weapon for our offense. Phillip Hodge is also a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver."
Other returnees on offense are linemen Aaron Young (5-10, 210-pound senior), Dan Prater (6-3, 345-pound junior) and Tyler Stewart (6-0, 265-pound junior).
On defense, the Vikings return seniors Cody Wallace (6-1, 230) and Doug Sanders (6-4, 220) at defensive end, senior Ian McClurg (6-0, 210) at linebacker, Cross and Hodge at cornerback and Wing at free safety.
Brown said he expects big things from newcomers Keontae Moore (5-9, 290) and Travis Dixon (6-1, 190). Moore, a freshman, will play running back and nose guard, while Dixon will see time at linebacker.
"Keontae will make an impact on both sides of the ball from Day 1. He is a big physical runner. This kid will be a big-time player in four years," Brown said. "Travis will become an impact player as he gets more experience."
Russell County (5-6)
Head coach: Bill Sharp
2009: Lost to Lone Oak 59-27 in the first round of the playoffs
It’s been a decade since Russell County advanced past the first round of the playoffs, but after losing just nine seniors the Lakers look to end that streak in 2010.
Most of the playmakers return from last year’s 5-6 squad return in hopes of bettering their 1-3 district mark from a year ago.
Nathan Irvin (805 yards), Nick Britt (667 yards, 11 TDs), and Jeron Hammond (600 yards) are all slated to return for head coach Bill Sharp.
Martin Cross added over 1,000 passing yards and rushed for three scores.
Britt and Hammond were among the team leaders in receiving yards along with senior Taylor Hutchison.
Shelby County (9-3)
Head coach: Todd Shipley
2009: Lost to Trinity 42-10 in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs
By Josh Claywell
The Elizabethtown News-Enterprise
The opening of Martha Layne Collins has brought about plenty of change at Shelby County.
The Rockets drop to Class 4-A this season and will be in a district along with five other teams -- Bullitt East, Collins, LaRue County, Marion County and North Bullitt.
"The program was going in the right direction," Shelby County coach Todd Shipley said. "The splitting of the high school has caused us to reevaluate our situation. Time will be our biggest indicator."
Making the postseason will be even tougher this season as only the top four move on. Since realignment, every team in District 4 advanced.
"Dropping from 6-A to 4-A puts us in unfamiliar territory," Shipley said. "Bullitt East is one year removed from a state championship appearance and Marion brings back a talented group that went deep in the playoffs."
The opening of Collins also meant the Rockets lost several players -- 10 juniors and eight seniors -- to the new school. Notable players gone from last year are quarterback Brandon Cresap, who was honorable mention All-State, and receivers Ben Axline and Tavis Elzy, who combined for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2009.
Outside linebacker Daniel Dixie and Michael Brooks also transferred to Collins. Cresap, Axline, Elzy and Dixie are seniors; Brooks is a junior.
The Rockets do return five players on defense -- defensive backs Tyler Phillips and Quentin Cottrell, linebackers Logan Forrest and Robert Rogers, defensive end Dustin Casey -- and one on offense -- Cottrell at fullback.
Shelby County should also benefit from the addition of several new players: senior tight end Tre' Clark, junior tailback/free safety Brandon Ford, junior WR/DB Zakk Bailey, sophomore WR/DB Zach Shipley, sophomore guard Jacob Hudgens, sophomore LB Deric Hyman, sophomore center Ethan Hardin, sophomore RB/LB Chris Monfort and sophomore RB/LB Justin Stewart.
"We will be young at most positions," Shipley said. "Our strength should come from the defense. With Phillips, Cottrell, Forrest, Rogers and Casey, we should have good leadership and experience. Our weakness will be the youth and newness of our offense. With Cottrell as our only returning starter we will go through some growing pains in the beginning."
Head coach: Roger Deskins
2009: Lost to LaRue County 35-32 in the first round of the playoffs
Junior running back Lee Lee Hayden had over 1,300 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns last season and returns as one of the top backs in the Louisville-area.
The speedy Hayden is the key for the Vikings. If he can stay healthy and get a few holes then the Vikings can look to cash in the success for another winning record.
Senior George McKinney and Nelson Craig are solid wide receivers, while McKinney is also a top defensive back. Vincent Eldridge and T.J. Jones are top linemen.
On defense, linebacker Cortez Moore should lead the Vikings. Other top players returning are defensive end Mike Brown and defensive linemen Corey Morgan and Bruce Dulin.
Warren East (1-9)
Head coach: Ben Bruni
2009: Missed the playoffs
Things came apart at the seams for Warren East, who missed the postseason just two years removed from playing in the Class 4A state semifinals.
Injuries and defections saw the Raiders lose their final seven games of the season.
Head coach Ben Bruni has some workable parts returning in 2010. Getting them into the right slots will be the challenge.
The offensive line will be anchored by senior tackle Dylan Richardson. Three other returning starters are coming back in seniors Merritt Blevins and Kaleb Yoebstl, and junior Ben Conner.
Senior Will Gott expects to play a bigger role in the offense this year.
Bruni has several candidates to man the front line of his 3-4 defense. Returning is senior Phillip Jones and senior Damien Duarte as well as junior Bobby McDaniel.
Senior Hunter Lawrence and junior Ed Flores should return at linebacker for the Raiders.
While the Raiders endured a one-win season last year, they only lost eight players to graduation and should right the ship well this year.
West Jessamine (9-3)
Head coach: Graham Heasley
2009: Lost to Boyle County 48-7 in the second round of the playoffs
West Jessamine won a school-record nine games last year but had to replace head coach Randy Wood, who stepped down after two seasons.
Longtime Woodford County assistant coach Graham Heasley hopes to bring some stability to a program that has had four coaches in four seasons.
Senior Duke Brown rushed for 1,326 yards and eight scores, while senior quarterback Matt Carbol threw for 500 yards and ran for 600 more.
Heasley had said he will use the spread offense featuring those two in the starring roles.
Head coach: LaVell Boyd
2009: Lost to Marion County 31-24 in the region championship game
Western coach Lavell Boyd, a former Doss High and University of Louisville star wide receiver, has high hopes for the Warriors this season.
The Warriors have one of the top defensive players in the state in 5-foor-9, 175-pound defensive back Leon Melvin, who was a second-team All-State selection as a junior.
Melvin had 10 interceptions on defense and also ran for 300 yards on less than 30 carries on offense. He’ll get plenty more carries on the offensive side of the ball.
Junior defensive back Jalen Boyd and senior defensive end Jacori Ritchie are among the top players in the district.
Boyd will also count heavily on two-way starters Stephon Tanga and Keith Miller.
There should be plenty of Western wins this season.