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DragonFire

Class 4A Pre-Season Rankings

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1. Boyle County (2019: 14-1, State Runners-Up) - Last year, the Rebels rolled up the competition by no less than 17 point margins all the way to the title game, but a missed PAT proved to be their undoing in a 21-20 loss to Johnson Central. 19 seniors departed from that stacked squad, but the cupboard is never bare at Boyle County.  Leading rusher Will McDaniel returns, averaging over 7 yards per carry while amassing 887 yards and 17 TDs a season ago.  Jagger Gillis has transferred in to fill Reed Lanter’s big shoes at quarterback. Speaking of big shoes to fill, Justin Haddix enters his first season as HC, replacing the legendary Chuck Smith, coming over from the highly successful Corbin program.  The Rebels open up with Mercer County, who they defeated 43-7 a season ago.

2. Johnson Central (2019: 15-0, State Champions) – The Golden Eagles could count to 15-0, pulling ahead of Boyle County in the third quarter of the title game and holding on for the narrow 21-20 win, capturing their first state title since 2016.  Dylan Preston is the leading returning rusher for the powerful Johnson Central ground attack, running for 588 yards on 77 attempts last season, and also led the team in solo tackles on the defensive side.  Mason Lemaster (132 total tackles) also returns for an always stout Johnson Central defense.  The Golden Eagles have made five title games in a row, and that trend doesn’t figure to slow down this year.

3. Franklin County (2019: 11-1, Second Round) – The Flyers opened the year 11-0, but their lone close win in that stretch proved to be a harbinger.  After squeezing by Central 14-12 on the road during the regular season, they fell 18-7 in the playoffs.  Franklin County averaged almost 41 points per game last year, and should have little difficulty exceeding that with the weapons returning.  None are more important than Nick Broyles, who threw for a stunning 32 touchdowns against just 4 interceptions last year.  He was the team’s leading rusher as well, with 959 yards.  His #1 target, Fred Farrier, is back as well, after hauling in 11 TDs with 794 yards last year.  Sophomore Peyton Ledford leads the defensive effort, with 64 solo tackles in 2019.

 4. Central (2019: 8-6, State Semifinalists) – It was a rough start for the 2018 3A champions, starting 1-4 against a tough schedule, but the Yellow Jackets rounded into their usual champion form, winning their district by avenging a two point loss to Franklin County and jumping out to a surprise lead against Boyle County before falling by what was then Boyle County’s closest margin of the year 31-14. QB Vernon Duncan returns for his junior campaign to lead the Yellow Jacket offense, but it should be the defense that leads the way as usual for Central.  They held eight opponents to single digits a year ago, including four shutouts. Malachi Williams (45 solo tackles) and Von Johnson (3 interceptions) should be defensive leaders.

5. Wayne County (2019: 10-2, Second Round) – The Cardinals averaged 45 points per game last year, and will probably still exceed that lofty amount this year.  RB Braedon Sloan was phenomenal in 2019, posting 2,804 yards and a mind-numbing 48 rushing scores last season, while averaging over 10 YPC.  He added six touchdowns and 461 yards receiving for an added headache for defenses.  Throwing for those scores was Brody Weaver, who returns for his fourth year as the trigger-man for Wayne County. He had an efficient 1,822 yards and 20 passing scores a season ago.  Their October 23rd matchup with Corbin should build on two classics from last year, and decided homefield in the playoffs for the district.

6. Corbin (2019: 6-5, Region Runners-Up) – The record wasn’t the prettiest, but the 2019 Redhounds were as tough as ever.  Three of their five losses came by a combined four points.  Tom Greer takes over for Justin Haddix, and will be aided in his efforts by a strong, young corps.  Sophomore Cameron Combs returns as starter at quarterback.   In his freshman campaign, he threw for 16 touchdowns against just five interceptions for 1,876 yards, averaging almost 10 yards per attempt. Fellow sophomore Dakota Patterson is his top returning target, with 565 yards on 33 receptions in 2019.  RB Treyveon Longmire should continue his progression, averaging 6.76 YPC on 75 attempts last season.  Corbin starts with Beechwood, who dealt them their largest loss by a 26-10 margin last year.

7. Lexington Catholic (2019: 7-5, Second Round) – No team may face a taller task than Lexington Catholic has in replacing Beau Allen.  Allen was the driving force behind over 4,000 yards of offense for the Knights, and their ability to replace him will define their season.  They return a pair of 1,000 yard receivers in Jackson Corbett (72 receptions, 1,139 yards, 11 touchdowns) and Blake Busson (56 receptions, 1,098 yards, 12 touchdowns).  Who will be throwing the ball will be a question, as Jack Gohmann and Joshua Brownell combined for just 17 attempts a year ago.  No player returns that rushed for more than 100 yards a season ago as well.  Defensively the returning outlook is brighter, with several returning starters led by Kimwanga Mafuta, who led the team with 40 solo tackles a year ago.

8. Hopkinsville (2019: 8-4, Second Round) – After several years of bumping against the ceiling in District 1, this may finally be the year the Tigers surge to the top.  Last year it was Madisonville in the way, denying Hoptown in two matchups by a combined nine points.  Hopkinsville was not immune to graduation losses, losing QB Javier Bland and his 2,408 yards passing, but they lost less than the rest of the group.  Likely district POY Reece Jesse returns, who put up 1,184 yards on 67 receptions last year, with 15 of those going for touchdowns.  Jayden Dillard is back for his junior year at the RB position, with 763 yards and seven scores last year. 

9. Holmes (2019: 8-4, Second Round) – Only seven seniors depart for a Bulldog squad that captured the top seed in District 6 before falling against Scott in the playoffs.  The Calloways will lead the way again, headlined by Tayquan Calloway, who ran for 1,268 yards and 15 scores last year.  QB Quantez Calloway was the second leading rusher, with 310 yards and 11 touchdowns, and going 62/129 for 1,061 yards and 9 touchdown passes through the air.  Tayquan Calloway and Keyandre Larry return to headline the secondary, with five interceptions apiece last year.  Holmes will open with Louisville Holy Cross, looking to avenge a 21-14 loss last year.

 

10. Logan County (2019: 8-3, First Round) – For the first time since their renaissance in the program, the Cougars are going to be without Tyler Ezell and Gary Hardy, their leading passer and rusher in school history, respectively.  Both Braxton Baptiste and Corbin Rayno had some experience behind Ezell a season ago, with Baptiste serving as the primary backup, and the more likely candidate to open the year as starter.  Anthony Woodard returns as the primary receiving weapon for whoever does gain the starting job, with 818 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.  Zach Yates should anchor the defense from the middle linebacker position, with 70 tackles a year ago, including two sacks.  Crosstown rival Russellville will be the first to take on the new look Cougars.

The Next Five to Watch (Alphabetically):

Franklin-Simpson
Harlan County
Madisonville-North Hopkins
Scott
Waggener

 

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Very good job, thank you for the rankings. Let’s play some football.

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@DragonFire  I'm curious of your take on this season's Franklin Simpson team.

I realize they are down a little bit from the State Finals teams, but how much would you say?

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23 hours ago, Purple88 said:

@DragonFire  I'm curious of your take on this season's Franklin Simpson team.

I realize they are down a little bit from the State Finals teams, but how much would you say?

It's tough to truly evaluate a lot without scrimmages, but I'd say they're not far off of where they finished last year, so long as guys like Omar Harrison and Malik Carter develop.  Richardson is a stabilizing presence at QB, but they don't throw often.  The new coach says they are going to look to try to balance more there, so we'll see what that develops.  My gut says they'll still throw just enough to keep the other team honest. I'm interested to see what the transition from Preston to Chaney is like at the HC job too. 

The local beat actually picked Franklin-Simpson third in the district, but I'm not ready for that extreme yet, to be honest.

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Third in district does see pretty extreme to me as well.

It was going to be tough to replace Preston anyway but add

Covid on top of it and that's alot.  

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