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BluegrassPreps.com Mr. Football Watchlist (12/6) - Final for 2022


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Egan Fuels The Bullitt Train To Historic Big School Supremacy

In a weekend of coronations, repeats, and three-peats, Bullitt East's comeback and subsequent conquest of 6A stands above all as the defining moment of the 2022 state finals. 

It doesn't happen without the heroics of Travis Egan. It appeared early on that it wouldn't happen at all, following fumbles on his first two possessions and a prompt two score deficit against Male. 

The moment was too big, right? The lights too bright?

Wrong.

With his nerves steadied and his legs under him, Egan began the climb to immortality. 

He brought Bullitt East back from a double digit hole not once, but twice. Both times, the comeback was sealed inside the final minute of the half. The events of the fourth quarter, in particular, will be remembered for generations to come within the borders of Bullitt County and beyond.

After Male seized momentum and a two score cushion early in the final frame, Egan directed two 80 yard scoring drives. The second was his Joe Montana Super Bowl XXIII moment. 

Following a Male field goal and now trailing by seven points, Bullitt East had 80 yards to cover and 1:43 to do it. They only needed :50, with Egan swiftly moving the Chargers down the field while connecting on all five pass attempts. The final throw of his high school career was a beautiful touch pass to Camron Brogan to pull Bullitt East within a point. 

Fortune favors the bold and Keegan Kendrick opted to go for the kill instead of prolonging the festivities. With everyone in the place anticipating Egan's arm or legs deciding the fate of the conversion, it was his hands that came through, as he found himself on the receiving end of a jet sweep turned reverse pass. As he reeled in the throw, half the stadium erupted as history was now at their fingertips. The other half, dejected, in disbelief. 

It was a full day for Egan, one that included 352 yards of total offense, four touchdown passes, a reception for the go-ahead score, and the championship sealing sack. 

You read that right. 

It was Egan who ran down Lucas Cobler on the game's final play, serving as the cherry on top.

He engineered more than just the Bullitt train this season. He also sat at the controls of the "At-Large" crane swinging a wrecking ball at the 6A establishment. 

Mythical titles be damned, the Chargers wanted one they could touch.

And the state championship trophy might not be the only hardware Travis Egan touches before his senior year is up.


 

The Birch Tree Casts A Long Shadow Over 1A

Patience, as the saying goes, is a virtue. If you're Blake Birchfield, it's more of a hindrance. Rather than let the 1A finals come to him, he took the fight to the finals.

Like an overzealous prize fighter, he got the jump on his opponent from the opening bell, landing a haymaker on the first snap of championship weekend. 

The 85 yard jaunt floored Raceland. They beat the count, but were fighting from behind the rest of the afternoon. 

The remainder of the game featured a methodical repetition of body blows from Birchfield that eventually gave way to a finishing combination of touchdown runs to KO the Rams. 

No one ran for more yards (236) or touchdowns (3) over the weekend. 

The final count from the last two years: 

- 4,533 rushing yards and 62 touchdowns

- Back to back state championships 

- Consecutive finals MVPs, earned by running for 419 yards and five touchdowns against the #2 team in the class

- 18-0 against 1A competition

- 23 games of 100+ rushing yards

If there's a silver lining for the rest of 1A following Pikeville's latest triumph, it's that Birchfield's two year reign of terror is at an end.


 

Broncos Buck The Monkey Off Their Back

The narrative that Frederick Douglass can't win the big one has finally been laid to rest. The Broncos can now call themselves state champions, following a three score takedown of Bowling Green.

Ty Bryant came up big on the game's opening drive from his safety spot, picking off Deuce Bailey at the goal line to foil the Purples' threat to take an early lead.

His bid for three straight 100+ yard games came up well short, but he contributed 42 yards rushing and a touchdown to a Douglass running game that produced nearly two hundred yards on the night. Most of his production came during a length of the field drive in the third quarter that culminated with a Bryant touchdown as the Broncos began to impose themselves.

He's got a commitment to UK, the Paul Hornung award, and now the inaugural state title for Frederick Douglass tucked safely in his back pocket. Is it enough to overcome the statistical disadvantage working against him or the significance of Egan's achievement a few hours earlier? Stay tuned.

 

Rebel With A Cause

If championship weekend had a highlight reel, Tommy Ziesmer's game winning touchdown run would be one of the crown jewels. It's a lineman's dream to score a touchdown in any game, let alone a state championship. And in the fourth quarter of a tie game, no less. 

When the opportunity came, he went full "beast mode", à la Marshawn Lynch, shedding three would-be tacklers like a grown man playing backyard football with his adolescent sons. The run put Boyle County up on Corbin for good. No one saw it coming, least of all the Hounds.

Returning to the roles he's more familiar with, Ziesmer recorded the game's only sack minutes after the touchdown to diffuse a Corbin drive that had scratched Boyle County territory. From his right tackle position on the offensive line, he helped provide room for Sage Dawson and Avery Bodner to each gain a hundred yards on the ground. 

He ends his career in "Title Town" having never missed out on the state finals and served as an anchor for the last three 4A state title winning teams. 

He rushes your passer, blocks your pass rusher, and scores touchdowns. If Tommy Ziesmer isn't Mr. Football, he's at least the lineman of the year in Kentucky.


 

Odds And Ends

- For the second straight week, Daniel Swinney's considerable contributions were lost amid the drama and fallout of another unforgettable climax. He ran with authority to collect 119 yards, but Male's quest for revenge was thwarted by Travis Egan and a little Bullitt East razzle dazzle. A full senior season of good health and a different outcome in the finals, and who knows? He could have been right there.

- In the eleventh hour, Gavin Copenhaver made his case. It's a compelling one, but may ultimately prove too little, too late. He was one of the weekend's standout performers, running for 225 yards and two touchdowns, while logging 13 tackles from his linebacker position as CAL completed a dominant season as the unbeaten champions of 3A.



Players Highlighted This Week

Travis Egan (QB, Bullitt East)

2022 Season: 214/324 for 2,935 yards and 35 touchdowns with 5 interceptions | 967 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns | 1 defensive interception | 1 sack

Highlights: Senior Season

 

Blake Birchfield (RB, Pikeville)

2022 Season: 222 carries for 2,031 yards and 35 touchdowns | 2 receiving touchdowns | 1 interception

 

Ty Bryant (ATH, Frederick Douglass)

2022 Season: 64 carries for 498 yards and 12 touchdowns | 3 kick return touchdowns | 22 tackles | 3 TFL | 2 interceptions

 

Tommy Ziesmer (Edge/OL, Boyle County)

2022 Season: 83 tackles | 19 tackles for loss | 10 sacks | 3 forced fumbles | 1 rushing touchdown

 

Daniel Swinney (RB, Male)

2022 Season: 195 rushes for 1,218 yards and 10 touchdowns

 

Gavin Copenhaver (RB/LB, Christian Academy of Louisville)

2022 Season: 123 rushes for 1,232 yards and 19 touchdowns | 15 receptions for 295 yards and 9 touchdowns | 118 tackles | 24 TFL | 3 sacks | 1 interception | 3 fumbles forced | 2 fumbles recovered, including a scoop and score

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Others To Keep In Consideration

Mitchell Berger (RB/LB/K/P, Beechwood)

2022 Season: 121 rushes for 1,119 yards and 21 touchdowns | 19 receptions for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns | 1 forced fumble and 2 recovered | 19/19 on extra points | 1/1 on field goals

The way his senior season was going, you could have convinced someone they named Fort Mitchell after him. He was a front-runner before a knee injury cut his season short after eight games. Excelled at running back, linebacker, kicker, and punter. A generational skill set and a throwback to a bygone era.

 

Chandler Godby (WR, Pulaski County)

2022 Season: 93 receptions for 1,677 yards and 28 touchdowns | 3 interceptions, including 1 pick-six | 2 kick return touchdowns

Highlights: Senior Season

Tied the state record for touchdown receptions in a season and won the receiving triple crown, leading the state in catches, yards, and touchdowns.  

 

Kenyon Goodin (QB/DB, Collins)

2022 Season: 123/226 for 1,725 yards and 22 touchdowns with 4 interceptions | 1,137 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns | 49 tackles | 4 interceptions, including a pick-six | 1 forced fumble and 1 recovered 

Highlights: Senior Season

Spent his freshman and sophomore years catching passes and the last two as one of the state's top dual threat quarterbacks. He's in a very unique club in regards to career statistics.  

- 4,000+ passing yards

- 2,000+ rushing yards

- 1,000+ receiving yards

A top defensive back, as well.

 

Jacob Jones (QB, West Jessamine)

2022 Season: 166/263 for 2,415 yards and 23 touchdowns with 6 interception | 1,741 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns

Highlights: Senior Season

Led the state in total offense (4,156 yards) and was second in total touchdowns (51), despite playing just eleven games. He was also one of the Colts' most impactful defensive players.

 

Lofton Howard (ATH, Greenwood)

2022 Season: 67 rushes for 515 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns | 23 receptions for 389 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns | 1 passing touchdown | 106 tackles  | 16 tackles for loss | 7 sacks | 2 interceptions, including a pick-six | 1 scoop and score

One of the state's elite defenders and most versatile all-around players. He took snaps, threw a touchdown, caught a few, ran for a bunch, covered every inch of the field defensively, played the run, rushed the passer, and excelled in coverage. 

 

Saadiq Clements (DL, Henderson County)

2022 Season: 62 tackles | 10.5 tackles for loss | 21 sacks | 3 forced fumbles 

Highlights: Senior Season

Big, strong, physical, great motor, and a mean streak. The most physically imposing defensive player in the Commonwealth. Second in the state in sacks and made 31.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. 

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On 12/6/2022 at 11:52 AM, DevilMayCare said:

Others To Keep In Consideration

Mitchell Berger (RB/LB/K/P, Beechwood)

2022 Season: 121 rushes for 1,119 yards and 21 touchdowns | 19 receptions for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns | 1 forced fumble and 2 recovered | 19/19 on extra points | 1/1 on field goals

The way his senior season was going, you could have convinced someone they named Fort Mitchell after him. He was a front-runner before a knee injury cut his season short after eight games. Excelled at running back, linebacker, kicker, and punter. A generational skill set and a throwback to a bygone era.

I keep thinking about Mitchell Berger, and as much as I hate it, I think he's just out of luck in terms of contention for the Mr. Football award. He's got too many things going against him...and I think one of the biggest is the fact that so many people were entirely put out over Cam Hergott coming back in 2021 as a super senior after winning a state championship in 2020 and being winner of the KFCA Mr. Football Award and co-winner of the AP Mr. Football Award in 2020.

Berger's season-ending injury in Week 8 of the regular season killed his stats for his senior year, but here's a little to take into account:

- The AP voting does not, and appears to have never stipulated whether the voting should be based on players' senior seasons, alone, or if career stats should be taken into account.

2019:
8 games played out of 14. (I don't believe he was a starter.)
5 rushes for 22 yards and 1 TD. 2.8 yards per carry.
1 reception for 5 yards. 5 yards per reception.
No defensive stats reported - Because Beechwood is annoying like that.

2020:
11 games played out of 12, including a state championship win.
8 rushes for 19 yards and 4 TDs.
1.7 yards rushing per game. 2.4 yards per carry. Goal line running back.
41 receptions for 601 yards and 5 TDs.
54.6 yards receiving per game.  14.7 yards per reception. Beechwood's #1 receiver.
1 interceptions. No other defensive stats reported.

2021:
14 games played out of 15, including a state championship win.
67 rushes for 508 yards and 10 TDs.
33.9 yards rushing per game. 7.6 yards per carry. Beechwood's #2 running back.
29 receptions for 560 yards and 7 TDs.
37.3 yards receiving per game.  19.3 yards per reception. Beechwood's #2 receiver.
1 fumble recovery. No other defensive stats reported.

2022:
8 games played out of 15. Season-ending injury in Week 8.
121 rushes for 1119 yards and 21 TDs.
139.9 yards rushing per game. 9.3 yards per carry. Still finished as Beechwood's #1 running back.
19 receptions for 251 yards and 2 TDs.
31.4 yards receiving per game.  13.2 yards per reception. Still finished as Beechwood's #3 receiver.
1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. No other defensive stats reported.

I realize it's academic, but if you extrapolate Berger's senior season by averages, he was on course to put up 2570 yards between rushing and receiving, and 43 touchdowns. That's first in total yardage among the final watchlist contenders, save Travis Egan who beat that in passing yardage as a quarterback. And Berger was a force on defense as well. He was 0.7 yards shy of averaging a first down every rushing carry this season - and that's over the course of 121 separate carries. In his 3-1/2 seasons of football he put up 1668 yards rushing, 1417 yards receiving, and 50 touchdowns in 41 games. He was averaging 2.6 rushing touchdowns per game this season. If he kept up that pace, that would have had him tied at #8 for single-season rushing touchdowns in the state record book. His average combined 2.875 touchdowns per game would have had him tied at #6 for single-season points scored in the state record book.

Ifs and buts, ifs and buts.

Mitchell Berger, you'd have my vote, man.

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6 hours ago, Colonels_Wear_Blue said:

I keep thinking about Mitchell Berger, and as much as I hate it, I think he's just out of luck in terms of contention for the Mr. Football award. He's got too many things going against him...and I think one of the biggest is the fact that so many people were entirely put out over Cam Hergott coming back in 2021 as a super senior after winning a state championship in 2020 and being winner of the KFCA Mr. Football Award and co-winner of the AP Mr. Football Award in 2020.

Berger's season-ending injury in Week 8 of the regular season killed his stats for his senior year, but here's a little to take into account:

- The AP voting does not, and appears to have never stipulated whether the voting should be based on players' senior seasons, alone, or if career stats should be taken into account.

2019:
8 games played out of 14. (I don't believe he was a starter.)
5 rushes for 22 yards and 1 TD. 2.8 yards per carry.
1 reception for 5 yards. 5 yards per reception.
No defensive stats reported - Because Beechwood is annoying like that.

2020:
11 games played out of 12, including a state championship win.
8 rushes for 19 yards and 4 TDs.
1.7 yards rushing per game. 2.4 yards per carry. Goal line running back.
41 receptions for 601 yards and 5 TDs.
54.6 yards receiving per game.  14.7 yards per reception. Beechwood's #1 receiver.
1 interceptions. No other defensive stats reported.

2021:
14 games played out of 15, including a state championship win.
67 rushes for 508 yards and 10 TDs.
33.9 yards rushing per game. 7.6 yards per carry. Beechwood's #2 running back.
29 receptions for 560 yards and 7 TDs.
37.3 yards receiving per game.  19.3 yards per reception. Beechwood's #2 receiver.
1 fumble recovery. No other defensive stats reported.

2022:
8 games played out of 15. Season-ending injury in Week 8.
121 rushes for 1119 yards and 21 TDs.
139.9 yards rushing per game. 9.3 yards per carry. Still finished as Beechwood's #1 running back.
19 receptions for 251 yards and 2 TDs.
31.4 yards receiving per game.  13.2 yards per reception. Still finished as Beechwood's #3 receiver.
1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries. No other defensive stats reported.

I realize it's academic, but if you extrapolate Berger's senior season by averages, he was on course to put up 2570 yards between rushing and receiving, and 43 touchdowns. That's first in total yardage among the final watchlist contenders, save Travis Egan who beat that in passing yardage as a quarterback. And Berger was a force on defense as well. He was 0.7 yards shy of averaging a first down every rushing carry this season - and that's over the course of 121 separate carries. In his 3-1/2 seasons of football he put up 1668 yards rushing, 1417 yards receiving, and 50 touchdowns in 41 games. He was averaging 2.6 rushing touchdowns per game this season. If he kept up that pace, that would have had him tied at #8 for single-season rushing touchdowns in the state record book. His average combined 2.875 touchdowns per game would have had him tied at #6 for single-season points scored in the state record book.

Ifs and buts, ifs and buts.

Mitchell Berger, you'd have my vote, man.

If I'm putting together a team to play for me, he might be my first pick. He would single handedly fill five roles. No one else can do that, at least not at the level Berger could.

I don't know that there's ever been a season ending injury that bummed me out more. Especially considering I'm not a Beechwood guy. A full season for him would have been an all-timer.

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I'm going to throw a prediction out there...

We'll have a split Mr. Football for the second time in three years. Ty Bryant wins the AP and Travis Egan takes the KFCA.

Nothing more than a gut feeling. I think Bryant's future as a Wildcat gives him the edge with the AP and Egan's season will resonate more with KFCA voters.

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I think your hypothesis is valid, but I'll be honest I didn't really hear Ty Bryant's name mentioned just about anywhere else other than this thread until last week.  When I tried to find a vid capture of his pick in the title game it took me a while to find it.  Right or wrong, that end of the game drive by Egan and Co. I believe will push him over the top.  I hope so anyway.  Nothing against Bryant at all and I'm obviously a Charger homer but I think Egan's twitter impressions for 3 or 4 days after the 5A and 6A title games dwarfed Bryant's.  End of game heroics and the like seem to make a better story.  I think there are several good candidates.  I just like Egan's chances more than I did a couple of weeks ago.  

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