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DevilMayCare

Class 5A Pre-Season Rankings

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1. Frederick Douglass (14-1, 5A Runner-up) - The Broncos got a taste of the bright lights of Kroger Field last year, but ultimately fell just shy of claiming the young program's first state football title. As talented as Douglass was last season, they're perhaps even more loaded in 2020. Future UK Wildcats Jager Burton (OL/DL) and Dekel Crowdus (WR) will be joined by Dane Key (4-star WR with too many P5 offers to list here), Darius Neal (RB), Ty Bryant (WR/DB), and Romarion Warner (DL) to give first year head coach Nathan McPeek the most athletically gifted nucleus of talent in 5A to build around. Additionally, the Broncos added 6'7" QB Samuel Corbett over the summer. He comes to Lexington from Skyline High School, a powerhouse program from Washington state and has drawn some interest from Power-5 schools. The pieces are in place, it's just a matter of seeing it through to the finish line.

2. Covington Catholic (15-0, 5A State Champion) - Let's get the bad news out of the way. All-world TE/LB Michael Mayer no longer roams the hallways at Covington Catholic high school. But take a deep breath Colonel fans, because Mayer's QB still does. Caleb Jacob (2,817 yards/33 TD passes) is back, looking for a third consecutive trip to the 5A championship game and a second straight title. His most reliable target will likely be WR Ethan Reardon (804 yards/9 TDs), who thrived in his role as the Robin to Mayer's Batman. Teaming with the 6'5" Reardon to provide another big target for Jacob, will be 6'8" transfer TE/DE Skylar Schmidt. With Jacob's arm and the masterful play calling of coach Eddie Eviston guiding the offense, CovCath should score points, but the defense took a major hit with the graduation of ten of the top twelve tacklers from last year. Kicker Trey Gronotte has committed to Army and will be a valuable weapon this year. 

3. Owensboro (12-2, State Semifinalist) - It's time to give the Devils their due. Coach Jayson Fallin has Owensboro football trending hard in the right direction following last year's run to the semifinals, where they proved to be a handful for Frederick Douglass. Last season was all about defense, with the Red Devils boasting one of the state's stingiest units. This year, the offense looks to take the lead, with the return of Kentucky's #1 overall prospect in the class of 2022, QB Gavin Wimsatt (3,293 yards of total offense/43 total TDs) and three of his top four WRs, including Treyvon Tinsley (909 yards/12 TDs). Leading rusher Ethan Avery is also back, and may split carries with a healthy Austin Gough. Gough, who was an All-State selection at linebacker two years ago, missed most of last season with an injury. He'll need to return to that All-State form, with Owensboro graduating its top eight tacklers from 2019. 

4. South Warren (10-2, second round loss to Bowling Green) - After a smidge of uncertainty began swirling around Brandon Smith's possible return to Boyle County in December,  Smith calmed the waters by electing to stay at South Warren, and all parties involved should be happy with that decision. The Spartans return a healthy Caden Veltcamp at QB after throwing 16 touchdown passes and a single interception in just half a season. He'll have Ohio State commit and Mr. Football candidate Jantzen Dunn back at WR and 1,000 yard rusher Kobe Martin in the backfield. Aside from Dunn in the secondary, South Warren returns its top four tacklers from a year ago, including defensive linemen Jake Jackson and Julian Boley, and linebackers Luke Burton and Dakota Lambrianou. That quartet combined for 260 tackles/48 TFL/18 sacks.

5. Bowling Green (9-4, region final loss to Covington Catholic) - The top dogs of Warren County football continue to run together, with the Purples checking in just below South Warren. And barring a monumental upset along the way, they'll probably see each other twice again this season. Coach Mark Spader welcomes back a returning offensive foursome of QB Connor Cooper, RB Javy Bunton, WR Dezmond Wilson, and TE Jordan Dingle, who holds offers from UK, Ohio State, WVU, and Virginia Tech, among others. Tackling machine Rece Jones (team high 158 last year) will see plenty of new faces around him, with several first year starters on that side of the ball, especially in the secondary.

6. Scott County (10-2, second round loss to Frederick Douglass) - You always know what you're going to get from Scott County. Jim McKee's wing-t offense allows for a certain consistency from year to year that helps cushion the fall from a significant loss of talent. That consistency should come in handy this season, as the Cardinals have numerous holes to fill on offense. Gone are two 1,000 yard rushers, a multi year starter at QB, and all but one offensive lineman. Things don't get any prettier on the other side of the ball, either. Eight of 2019's top nine tacklers have moved on. But this is Scott County. They have the coaching, numbers, and program foundation to put a formidable team on the field every year. The trio of Jaxson Saylor, Jeremy Hamilton, and Mikaleb Coffey return after collectively averaging 12 yards per touch last year. And with McKee's knack for developing great offensive lines, expect another one this season. 

7. Highlands (6-5, first round loss to Conner) - Some of you may be groaning and rolling your eyes at another Highlands top 10 ranking. And, honestly, that reaction is justified. The Birds weren't great last year and they lose a lot from that team, but the Highlands name always brings expectations with it. In the six class system, they're still preseason top ten material. Some bright spots returning this season include linebacker Mason South, defensive back Jason Noe (4 ints.), and offensive linemen Kaleb Kissee and Jackson Roy. 

8. South Oldham (11-2, region final loss to Bowling Green) - The Dragons are here based purely on the program standard of the past several years, with Coach Jamie Reed laying a strong foundation in Crestwood. That foundation will be put to the test this year after the graduation of a large (23), talented, and very productive senior class. A strength of the team should be the linebacker position, which returns Nate Garrison (63 tackles/2 ints.) and Austin Covington (49 tackles/2 ints.). South Oldham has rolled to five straight outright district titles, but look for them to be pushed hard this year by North Bullitt.

9. Pulaski County (7-4, first round loss to Southwestern) - Last year, no one in 5A had the lights go out on their season faster than the Maroons. One minute, they were riding a seven game winning streak and looking like the district favorite. The next minute, QB Drew Polston goes down with a season ending injury and Pulaski drops three in a row before turning their attention to basketball season. The offense was anemic without its trigger man, and fortunately for Johnny Hines and Co., Polston was just a sophomore last year. Polston may have made the offense go, but it won't all fall on his shoulders this season. Purdue commit Tristan Cox is back as a four year starter at RB/LB, and the broad shoulders of his 6'3", 235 pound frame should help lighten his QBs load.

10. North Bullitt (7-5, second round loss to South Oldham) - The final spot in the preseason rankings brings a little new blood that we're not used to seeing in this position, but the Eagles are here for good reason. In terms of returning starters, arguably no one in 5A has more back from 2019 than North Bullitt. Cole Durbin returns after leading the class in touchdowns (33) and finishing second in rushing yards (1,813). All together, the Eagles returns roughly 95% of their offensive production and eleven of their top twelve tacklers. Realistically, a state championship is probably beyond their reach, but usurping the district from South Oldham is a very attainable goal.


Five to watch (in alphabetical order): Cooper, Graves County, Madison Southern, Southwestern, Whitley County 

 

Questions and observations entering the 2020 season:

If Douglass plays up to its potential, will anyone stop them from claiming the 5A title? - The gap in talent between the Broncos and the rest of the class is sizable. Several players on the roster will play college ball, many of them at the FBS/Power-5 level. But this was also the case a season ago, and it wasn't quite enough. It took beast-mode from CovCath's defense and some perfectly executed pitch and catch between Caleb Jacob and Michael Mayer to take down the Broncos last year. When the opportunity arises, who among the other contenders has the tools to stop Douglass again?

Quarterback play unrivaled? - Gavin Wimsatt, Caden Veltkamp, Caleb Jacob, and Samuel Corbett either all have D1 offers, or should soon enough. All have great size - Wimsatt is the "baby" of the group at 6'3", 200 lbs - and arm strength. They also happen to occupy the signal caller duties for our top four teams, so don't be surprised to see them squaring off against one another deep into the playoffs. No doubt, the 5A class is stacked at the top with QBs. 

Highlands title drought - I promise this is not an attempt to rile up the Highlands faithful, but after perusing some historical info, I discovered that Highlands has never gone more than six seasons without winning a state championship since the inception of the playoffs in 1959. The Birds experienced a dry spell from '83-'88 and are on the verge of equalling that drought unless they can put something special together this season.

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Great write up!

With 5A such a deep class (see Scott County at preseason #6), really looking forward to seeing things shake out this year. 

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Great Job DMC!

I'm now looking forward to that South Oldham vs North Bullitt game!

The BG vs South Warren games should both be close this year.

A lot of differing schedule strengths as well.  Will that be a factor?

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52 minutes ago, Purple88 said:

Great Job DMC!

I'm now looking forward to that South Oldham vs North Bullitt game!

The BG vs South Warren games should both be close this year.

A lot of differing schedule strengths as well.  Will that be a factor?

I think schedule will be factor.  Bowling Green has got to lighten up on a schedule a little bit. I am not saying for them to play a bunch of no bodies but they need to lighten up a little bit.

I realize this year is different due to COVID, but to open with St.X, PRP and South Warren is bad.  And to play Trinity so late is not good either.  Least they added Hopkinsville after it.

I don't know how far in advance these schedules go out, but when some of these contracts are up BG needs to take at least two of killer games off the schedule.

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I'm surprised Conner didn't make it in the top 10.

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17 minutes ago, Bill W. said:

I'm surprised Conner didn't make it in the top 10.

That is the only thing sticking out for me. MaxPreps, although not nearly as knowledgeable as @DevilMayCare has Conner ranked #25 for the entire state, and I believe they return some talent off one of their best teams in many years.

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52 minutes ago, Bill W. said:

I'm surprised Conner didn't make it in the top 10.

 

35 minutes ago, Bluesport said:

That is the only thing sticking out for me. MaxPreps, although not nearly as knowledgeable as @DevilMayCare has Conner ranked #25 for the entire state, and I believe they return some talent off one of their best teams in many years.

Conner lost its heart and soul in Jared Hicks and returns only one offensive skill player of note. We don't know what they had at the JV level, so perhaps some younger players can step up and fill those roles admirably. But we have to see that play out on the field first.

Plus, they lost their best and most productive DL and a big chunk of their secondary.

On paper, I like Cooper over Conner this year. I may eat those words later, but that's how it looks to me right now.

 

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19 hours ago, DevilMayCare said:

 

Conner lost its heart and soul in Jared Hicks and returns only one offensive skill player of note. We don't know what they had at the JV level, so perhaps some younger players can step up and fill those roles admirably. But we have to see that play out on the field first.

Plus, they lost their best and most productive DL and a big chunk of their secondary.

On paper, I like Cooper over Conner this year. I may eat those words later, but that's how it looks to me right now.

 

Fair enough!

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Look out for Mason Zion at WR for CovCath (Sophomore). He has made a big impression on the coaching staff this summer, and gives Caleb Jacob another nice option to throw to.

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