Jump to content

Bluegrasspreps' Class 1A Pre-Season Preview


Ram
 Share

Recommended Posts

Bluegrasspreps' Class 1A Pre-Season Preview

 

The King is Dead, Long Live the King?

 

The major change redistricting brought to 1A is a big one. Three time defending champion Mayfield is now in 2A. Many believe that opens the path to a title for the 2nd most dominating team in 1A in the 6 class era – Beechwood. The Tigers could not get past Mayfield over the past 5 years but the only other team in 1A that has a win over Beechwood in the 6 class era is Frankfort.

 

Don’t expect it to be that clear cut! There are quality, winning programs in 1A who think the Mayfield move opens the door for them as much as it does for Beechwood. In years past, 1A usually shaped up as a 2 or 3 team race. This year 1A is going to be much more of a battle than most think with almost all of the top 10 below being capable of winning the 2015 title.

 

1. Beechwood Tigers (11-3; lost in state semis to Mayfield) – Beechwood is not the overwhelming favorite being predicted by many. The Tigers have a lot of holes to fill – literally. Their entire line on both sides of the ball is gone except for returning guard Justin Overstreet. The good news - Overstreet is a player you can build a line around. He is big, strong and has a nasty edge. He is getting D1 interest and will need to be the anchor for the new starting line. More good news is there are a number of experienced underclassmen chomping at the bit now that their opportunity is finally here. The Tigers, as usual, will have plenty of speed. They have 3 stud skill players in 4th year starting QB Kyle Fieger, RB Ethan Stringer and WR/LB Brett Slusher. All three are college level athletes. Stringer committed to UofL baseball as a sophomore. Slusher is getting interest for both baseball and football. The Tigers are a bit of mystery because they have so many starters to replace but with those three and Overstreet leading the way and the Beechwood tradition, they will be the team to beat till proven otherwise.

 

2. Raceland Rams (11-3; lost in state semis to Williamsburg) – The Raceland story is very different than Beechwood’s, and many others in 1A. While most of the top teams in 1A seem to be in a rebuild or reload year, the Rams bring a lot of experience and talent back. Yes, they lost three year standout Conner Messer but with all they return it was difficult not to give them the pre-season number 1 ranking. The Rams return 3 experienced backs, led by Kane Snyder who was the leading rusher on last year’s team. They return three experienced linemen. They return the front 7 on a very strong defense. How is this team not the pre-season number 1? The only question mark is, who is the QB? Entering training camp it was a two man battle between JR Nathaniel Davidson and Soph. Damon Black. Davidson has performed well in 7 on 7’s and looks to be the winner of the QB competition. With a 60 man roster, Raceland will have plenty of depth to overcome those injuries that always impact a football team. That may come into play as the Rams face perhaps their most challenging schedule ever. Raceland is a very strong 2 and has a legitimate argument that they should be at the top of these pre-season rankings.

 

3. Paintsville Tigers (10-3; lost in regional final to Raceland) – The eyes of 1A followers are going to be paying a lot of attention this year to Eastern Kentucky. Paintsville has 1A UK commitment Kash Daniel leading a group of experienced returning players. A D1 level talent makes a big impact on any football team but it is even more true on a 1A team. The Tigers do have to find a way to replace two of their top rushers behind Daniel and a couple of productive receivers. They hope to fill that void at RB with Jr. Kent Phelps. They do return their two leading receivers in SR Luke Trimble and JR Darren Morris. With the offensive line coming back, led by Sr. Jonathon Lemaster, the Paintsville offense should be formidable. On defense, keep an eye on Soph. Dalton Daniels who racked up 58 tackles in 2014 as a freshman. Paintsville sprung a big upset in last year’s playoffs when they turned the tables on Pikeville in a 30-6 shocker. Pikeville had blasted them 62-8 in game 2 of the 2014 season. Paintsville has a couple question marks but so do most of our top 1A teams. With Kash Daniel on both sides of the ball, the Tigers open the season as our three in our pre-season preview.

 

4. Russellville Panthers (9-4; lost in regional final to Mayfield) – A team that is often overlooked because of the Western Ky. dominance of Mayfield, no one can be more excited about Mayfield leaving than Russellville. Mayfield fans will tell you that Russellville is a team they always worried about and knew would be a tough battle. That speaks well for the Panthers chances in the new 1A District 1. The Panthers lost their two leading rushers but they return SR Joshua Bigbee, who rushed for over 800 yards averaging nearly 9 yards per carry, and JR Johnny Drumgole who averaged over 10 yards per carry while rushing for 706 yards in 2014. Russellville is a rushing heavy offensive team so the returning backs bode well for offensive success in 2014. The Panthers will be looking for a new QB with the leading candidate being Jaylyn McMurry who appeared in 9 games in 2014. With a solid core of returning players, Russellville might step right into Mayfield’s shoes and become the new Western Ky. power in 1A. The Panthers were a young team in 2014 and that youth is surely pumped up for the opportunity before them in 2015.

 

5. Pikeville Panthers (11-1; lost in district final to Paintsville) – An undefeated 2014 season came to an abrupt and unexpected end when Paintsville upset Pikeville in the district title game. The Pikeville story is a strikingly similar one to other 1A teams. Pikeville lost key players including top receiver Cody Estep and QB Austin Charles but return a dominating player they can build around. Sr. RB Daric Pugh is back after averaging 145 yards rushing per game and scoring 24 TD’s. The challenge is replacing Charles and 2nd leading rusher Ben Maynard. JR Cody Dials should win the QB job. The Panthers return an experienced line. The defense returns most of its starters with Tanner Roop back in the middle of the defensive line at noseguard. Pikeville will be a 1A force once again in 2015.

 

6. Frankfort Panthers (10-3; lost to Beechwood in regional final) – Yes, another group of Panthers fill the number 6 slot in our pre-season preview. And once again the story sounds very familiar. This Panthers team however faces more significant losses than some of our other 1A contenders as they lost several long time coaches and both their offensive and defensive coordinators over the past couple seasons. All the losses cause us to drop Frankfort lower than where they usually sit in 1A but we need to see this team in action before we can rank them higher. A D1 committed player will lead the way in 2015. QB Anthony Robinson was the first commitment for Western Ky’s 2016 recruiting class. At 6’3 225 pounds, Robinson is a big powerful force for the Panthers rushing for over 400 yards and throwing for more than 1,400 yards in 2014. He will miss UofL signee Jalen Washington and will be running behind a new offensive line. A lot of changes and rebuilding in 2015 for Frankfort. The Panthers also are moving to a new district with Louisville Holy Cross and Ky. Country Day being new district opponents. Frankfort always has excellent skill players. Like Beechwood, Frankfort will be rebuilding their line around a standout player, Jr. Hunter Conway. Can they overcome all the changes and put together a line that will make them a contender? That is the challenge in 2015.

 

7. Hazard Bulldogs (10-3; lost in regional final to Williamsburg) – Hazard is a perennial contender in 1A but they may have lost more than any team in the class. With the graduation of RB Brandon Jones and the move of QB Tanner Morgan back to Ryle, the Bulldogs lose 4,300 yards of offense. That is obviously a huge loss. But the Hazard program is a proven winner. They know how to build a team and they are always a strong, hard hitting opponent. Hazard is moving Sr. Cole Ratliff to QB to replace Morgan and will be counting on his leadership on both sides of the ball to keep the Hazard winning tradition going. The challenge this year looks to be their biggest challenge in building a team in several years, but the Hazard program always seems to rise to the challenge.

 

8. Fairview Eagles (7-5; lost in district final to Raceland) – Fairview is another team led by an experienced and talented QB. Sr. Alex Roy is back for his 3rd year as the starter at QB for the Eagles. Roy was arguably the best QB in 1A last season, throwing for over 2,700 yards in 2014. He will have some nice experienced players back with him to try and get the Eagles back to another state title game. RB Johnathon Ruggles and WR Antwan Washington, with just under 1,000 receiving yards in 2014, will be a nice set of skilled weapons for Roy. The line returns some good size and experience, led by Billy Davis and Brock King. The Eagles have the core pieces in place. They are in a tough district with fellow top ten teams Raceland and Paintsville, which should prepare them for the playoffs. With Coach Ray settling in for his second season at the helm, Fairview is a dark horse that could spring some upsets this year.

 

9. Campbellsville Eagles (7-5; lost to Hazard in playoffs) – Campbellsville has a returning RB in Kendon Young that everyone needs to see. In 2014 Young rushed for 1,657 yards, averaging about 15 yards a carry, and scored 26 TD’s. Young has D1 offers from Austin Peay and Navy. A back like this in 1A makes you a threat to beat anyone but Campbellsville has more than Mr. Young returning. Jr. QB Davonte Cubit returns for a second year under center to try and add some offense and help Young. The Eagles need Cubit to take a step forward this year if they want to challenge for a 1A title. This is an experienced team that has been building toward this season over the past few years. The Eagles are excited about the 2015 season. They are a team on the cusp of being in the top group in 1A. They struggle when they face tough opponents but control the games against lesser ones. This is a team to watch and another sleeper pick in 1A.

 

10. Williamsburg Yellow Jackets (14-1; lost title game in OT to Mayfield) – What a magical season it was in 2014. An undefeated team that came as close as you can get to a title without winning. The 2014 senior class for the Yellow Jackets is one for the ages in Williamsburg. However, for 2015 that large talented senior class has graduated and leaves a huge question mark over what to expect in 2015 for Williamsburg. Williamsburg had 8 two way starters that graduated plus two other defensive starters. Replacing 18 of 21 starting positions is a huge challenge, especially considering the talent that needs to be replaced. There are only two returning starters from last year’s runner up – TE/DE Stone Hughett and RG Dakota Dunn. With so many question marks, it is difficult to project 2015 for this team. Often on a team with as much talent as the 2014 team, there are very good players waiting their turn who benefited from practicing every day with the talent ahead of them. The Jackets will be young and inexperienced. However, out of respect for what the Jackets accomplished in 2014 and expecting unknown talent to show something as they get their chance, we will slot them at 10 and watch for early results to see how good this new group will be.

 

Knocking hard on the Top 10 door:

 

11. Paris Greyhounds (9-3; lost in playoffs to Beechwood) – Coach Brian Washington and his staff have done a fabulous job rebuilding the football program at their alma mater. Just a few years ago many people were wondering if Paris football could survive. The Greyhounds were a young team in 2014 and had a solid season. They only graduated 6 seniors and return nearly all starters on both sides of the ball. Back to lead the offense is RB James Clark, who was the second leading rusher last year with 831 yards rushing. Paris is a program that seems to be getting better each season and looks to be ready take another step up the ladder of success this year. They will be in a new district this year and are the favorite to win their district. It will be fun to watch this experienced group and see if they take the favorite role to a district title.

 

12. Louisville Holy Cross Cougars (8-4; lost in playoffs to Russellville) – The Cougars have been a consistent top 15 team in 1A and they may jump into the top 10 this season. Last year their roster had only 3 seniors. They return a lot of players with experience. Back leading the offense for a 3rd season at QB is Sr. Alec Greenwell. Greenwell also starts at DB and should be ready to make some noise this year. Returning at RB/LB is Sr. Evan Perry and at WR/FS the Cougars return Jacob Ables. The Cougars always seem to have size at the line of scrimmage and this year’s roster goes to a new level with 4 players over 300 pounds. This is another possible sleeper pick to keep an eye on.

 

13. Bethlehem Eagles (7-5; lost in playoffs to Mayfield) – The Eagles had a strong campaign in 2014. They lose top RB Jake Yates and will need to find someone to replace that 1,300+ yards of rushing. Jr. QB Matthew Hagen threw for over 1,000 yards last year and will be relied upon to do that and more in 2015. Bethlehem was not expected to have the season they did in 2014. They have posted some nice wins in the past couple of seasons over other top 15 1A teams. Let’s see if they can take it up another notch in 2015.

 

14. Kentucky Country Day Bearcats (6-5; lost in round 1 of playoffs to Russellville) – The Bearcats lost some talented players and will be rebuilding but they are always right around .500 or better and usually post a couple good wins along the way. They return their defense almost intact led by 290 pound Soph. nose guard Brandon Leonard, who started as a freshman in 2014. Jr. Jared Frank played QB as freshman, then moved to WR last year. Now he is back at QB to lead the offense. Add Ky. Country Day to your 1A sleepers list.

 

15. Crittenden County Rockets (4-7; lost in round 1 of 2A playoffs to Owensboro Catholic) – Perhaps it seems a little odd to have a 4-7 team from 2014 rounding out our top 15. However, Crittenden County is dropping in class to 1A after spending the last 4 years in 2A. They also return an experienced team including Sr. QB Nick Castiller and Sr. RB Dylan Hollis. It isn’t often that the top 2 tacklers on a team’s defense are defensive linemen, but that is what happened in 2014 for the Rockets. Sr. DL/OL Travis McKinney and Sr. DL/OL Travis Fitzgerald led the Rockets’ 2014 defense and are back to lead the way again in 2015. One final note. Who was the last team to keep Mayfield from reaching a state final in 1A? None other than Crittenden County who defeated Mayfield in a 1A regional final game in 2008.

 

Next 5 looking to move up:

 

16. Ludlow Panthers (6-5; lost in round 1 of playoffs to Paris) – The athletic programs across the board are on the rise at Ludlow. Ludlow returns some strong skill players and could once again jump into the top 15.

 

17. Bellevue Tigers (7-5; lost in district final to Frankfort) – The Tigers have annually been the team giving the biggest challenge in district 4 to Beechwood. Woody McMillen is the new head coach and will almost certainly take Bellevue back to their roots as a hard hitting, hard running team.

 

18. Harlan Green Dragons (5-6; lost in district final to Williamsburg) – With an experienced team back, the Green Dragons look to get back on the winning side of things this season. Harlan returns some key players in the middle on defense and defense wins games.

 

19. Pineville Lions (5-6; lost in round 1 of playoffs to Campbellsville) – Pineville returns as much experience as anyone in 1A and are hoping the experienced players are ready to make some noise in 2015. Sr. QB Tuck Woolum returns after throwing for more than 1,200 yards in 2014.

 

20. Nicholas County Blue Jackets (2-9; lost in round 1 of playoffs to Pikeville) – The Blue Jackets struggled in 2014 but they return nearly all starters for this season. That experience should help them show well in their new district in 2015 and lead to a winning season.

 

Top Players to Watch:

 

QB Kash Daniel, Sr., Paintsville

QB Anthony Robinson, Sr., Frankfort

RB Kendon Young, Sr., Campbellsville

QB Alex Roy, Sr., Fairview

QB Kyle Fieger, Sr., Beechwood

WR/LB Brett Slusher, Sr., Beechwood

RB James Clark, Sr., Paris

WR Antwan Washington, Sr., Fairview

RB Kane Snyder, Sr., Raceland

RB Daric Pugh, Sr., Pikeville

RB Ethan Stringer, Sr., Beechwood

RB/LB Joshua Bigbee, Sr., Russellville

WR/LB Austin Huskey, Sr., Williamsburg

 

Top linemen:

 

OL/DL Trey Matthews, Sr., Russellville

OL/DL Hunter Conway, Jr., Frankfort

OL/DL Billy Davis, Sr., Fairview

OG Justin Overstreet, Sr., Beechwood

OL/DL Isaac Wallace, Jr., Raceland

OL/DL Jonathon Lemaster, Sr., Paintsville

OL/DL Travis McKinney, Sr., Crittenden County

OL/DL Thomas Morgan, Jr., Harlan

DL Tanner Roop, Sr., Pikeville

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Class 1A

District 1 – Crittenden County, Fulton City, Fulton County, Russellville

District 2 –Bethlehem, Campbellsville, Caverna, Fort Knox

District 3 – Eminence, Frankfort, Holy Cross (Louisville), Kentucky Country Day

District 4 – Beechwood, Bellevue, Dayton, Ludlow

District 5 – Berea, Bishop Brossart, Bracken County, Nicholas County, Paris

District 6 – Fairview, Paintsville, Raceland

District 7 – Harlan, Lynn Camp, Pineville, Williamsburg

District 8 – Hazard, Jenkins, Phelps, Pikeville, South Floyd

5th place team from District 8 as the 4th place in District 6 for playoff brackets

5th place team from District 5 will not advance to playoffs

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I look at 2015 Paintsville I can't help but think of Hancock County and Travis Atwell.

 

Never underestimate the significance in 1A Football of having the best player on the field in the entire class... especially if he is the one touching the football every single play.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1. Beechwood Tigers. (11-3; lost in state semis to Mayfield) – Beechwood is not the overwhelming favorite being predicted by many. The Tigers have a lot of holes to fill – literally. Their entire line on both sides of the ball is gone except for returning guard Justin Overstreet. The good news - Overstreet is a player you can build a line around. He is big, strong and has a nasty edge. He is getting D1 interest and will need to be the anchor for the new starting line. More good news is there are a number of experienced underclassmen chomping at the bit now that their opportunity is finally here. The Tigers, as usual, will have plenty of speed. They have 3 stud skill players in 4th year starting QB Kyle Fieger, RB Ethan Stringer and WR/LB Brett Slusher. All three are college level athletes. Stringer committed to UofL baseball as a sophomore. Slusher is getting interest for both baseball and football. The Tigers are a bit of mystery because they have so many starters to replace but with those three and Overstreet leading the way and the Beechwood tradition, they will be the team to beat till proven otherwise.

 

I wonder how many times this has been seen in the last 30 or 40 years at a school with a resume like Beechwood's.

 

Can't wait to see what Fieger's season looks like!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wonder how many times this has been seen in the last 30 or 40 years at a school with a resume like Beechwood's.

 

Can't wait to see what Fieger's season looks like!

 

Technically, he's not a 4 year starter. He started in the Playoffs his Freshman year after the Freshman season had completed. That said, its very rare to even have a 3 year starting QB at Beechwood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is certainly a lot of chatter about Beechwood having an easy path with Mayfield in 2A. It's pretty short-sighted given the rise of other programs in recent years. Anytime a giant is removed it's easier, but it's far from "Easy".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is certainly a lot of chatter about Beechwood having an easy path with Mayfield in 2A. It's pretty short-sighted given the rise of other programs in recent years. Anytime a giant is removed it's easier, but it's far from "Easy".

Who do you see as stumbling blocks for Beechwood in their road to the State Championship Game?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who do you see as stumbling blocks for Beechwood in their road to the State Championship Game?

 

Did I hear that the annual Frankfort match in the quarters has been eliminated due to realignment? That would be one team. Raceland IMO is the team to beat, and as the article mentions Russelville has to feel even more relief than BW does that the 800 lb gorilla is gone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did I hear that the annual Frankfort match in the quarters has been eliminated due to realignment? That would be one team.

 

No. Beechwood and Frankfort are still in the same region and a potential matchup this season would be in Frankfort. The state semifinal would be out west, too, likely at Russellville or Campbellsville.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the Beechwood playoff opposition, I see Beechwood having a more challenging second-round opponent then they have faced in recent years. If they get to the regional final, they still would be lined up to face Frankfort. Then in the state semis it would be Russellville or someone else who can spring an upset. Overall, I can make an argument that the playoff run now is more difficult because of the tougher round 2 matchup. Of course, not having to face Mayfield in the semis is a big argument that the new alignment is less difficult.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Who do you see as stumbling blocks for Beechwood in their road to the State Championship Game?

 

Not knowing all of the realignment, I would just say that BW seems to be a bit down (hope I'm wrong) and other teams mentioned such Raceland and Paintsville are coming on strong. I also never look past Frankfort.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not knowing all of the realignment, I would just say that BW seems to be a bit down (hope I'm wrong) and other teams mentioned such Raceland and Paintsville are coming on strong. I also never look past Frankfort.

 

I agree that Beechwood 2015 does not look as strong as last year's team. This year's team reminds me of 2012 but perhaps a little more talent in the skill positions this year than 2012. That 2012 team was a work in progress all year but by the end of the season they dominated a Frankfort team that most people thought they would lose to and then gave Mayfield a very good game. I see this Beechwood team getting better as the season goes on like 2012 did

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Russ lost some big shoes to graduation, especially trying to replace Coco Darden who I thought was the best back we faced the past 2 years, but Russ has one of the best coaches out there period in John Myers and he will always surprise you with what he comes up with. They were a constant thorn in MF's side just as the scores to those games reflect. 1A keep a close eye on them, I expect them to be a factor most years

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Russ lost some big shoes to graduation, especially trying to replace Coco Darden who I thought was the best back we faced the past 2 years, but Russ has one of the best coaches out there period in John Myers and he will always surprise you with what he comes up with. They were a constant thorn in MF's side just as the scores to those games reflect. 1A keep a close eye on them, I expect them to be a factor most years

Do you know who their big players are going to be this year?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using the site you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use Policies.