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2008 Class 2A Kentucky High School Football Preview


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Class 2A Kentucky High School Football Preview

 

 

Bardstown (6-7)

Head coach: David Clark

2007: Lost to Fort Campbell 28-20 in the region championship game

 

By Peter W. Zubaty

The Kentucky Standard

 

David Clark won’t have the luxury of an obvious go-to running back in his second year at the helm of one of the state’s most storied football programs.

 

Graduated is 1,500-yard rusher Kelvin “Kebbie” Scott, and the Tigers have glaring holes along the line, with four of five starters gone.

 

So Clark said Tiger fans may see a bit more air under the ball than they’re used to.

 

“We’ve got some experienced receivers coming back, so we look to throw the ball more this year,” Clark said.

 

Seniors Jordan Hickman (6-3, 170) and Demarco Phillips (6-5, 180) give Bardstown outstanding size and athleticism at the wideout spot, and there is depth behind the duo with J.P. Willett, Sean Edelen, Damian Edelen and Quentez Cissell as athletic targets.

 

Who will be throwing to the receivers has not been settled, however, as quarterback Alex Smith also departs.

 

Keaton Hall (5-10, 170), a junior, performed well in 7-on-7 drills during the summer, and if Clark is serious about transforming the Tiger offense, Hall may be the drop-back passer with whom to do it. Senior T.J. Downs also has played well during the summer, and brings a run-pass threat to the table. Neither had managed to separate himself from the other

 

“It’s still up in the air,” Clark said. “We probably won’t decide on a quarterback until week one.”

 

If Hall wins the job, Downs will see time in a crowded backfield. Deangelo Poynter got the most carries of any returning halfback, and D.J. Keene is healthy again after being hurt much of last year. Trey Cochran, Deangelo Phillips and Ricky Harper are also options.

 

Fullback Rashaun Phillips (6-3, 230) returns, and may get more carries than any of them, however.

 

“We hope to pound it up the middle more,” Clark said.

 

The senior battering ram also will lead the defense from the middle linebacker position. Deangelo Phillips will move to linebacker after playing defensive back last year.

 

Junior Dominique McMakin is the most experienced returning lineman.

 

 

Bath County (7-4)

Head coach: Reed Fields

2007: Lost to Shelby Valley 23-12 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Bath County put together consecutive winning seasons for the first time in 15 years in 2007. Not bad for a program on the brink of extinction less than 10 years ago.

 

While all-everything Brandon Clemons has graduated, the Wildcats return running back Zak Metz (6-0, 190, Sr.), who threw for 449 yards and seven touchdowns and rushed for 512 yards and eight touchdowns.

 

Metz moves into the backfield, and Josh Terry (5-8, 160, Jr.) takes over at quarterback.

 

Aaron Ashby-Boyd (5-10, 165, Jr.) expects to get the lion’s share of the carries this year after a sophomore campaign that saw him rush for 690 yards and nine touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 162 yards.

 

Austin McNabb (5-5, 155, Sr.), Caleb Baber (5-10, 145, Sr.) and Zach Thompson (5-9, 205, Soph.) could also factor into the Bath County offense.

 

 

Caldwell County (7-4)

Head coach: David Barnes

2007: Lost to Heath 20-7 in the first round of the playoffs

 

By Todd Griffin

Princeton Times-Leader

 

Just a few short years ago Caldwell County finished off back-to-back uninspiring 4-6 seasons with less than 30 players in uniform.

 

This summer, the Tigers have had over 60 players taking part in off-season drills, thanks in large part to head coach David Barnes and the Tony Franklin Offense he brought with him two years ago.

 

Barnes, a former standout running back at Caldwell in the 1970s, returned to his alma mater after a lengthy stint as head coach at Daviess County and quickly installed excitement in a program that had been to the playoffs just once in the previous three seasons.

 

The spread offense, which literally spreads the ball around to several players, has produced 30 points a game and records of 10-2 and 7-4 the last two years.

 

That offense figures to be just as effective this season, with senior signal-caller Will Barnes, the coach's son, returning for his third season under center.

 

In two years the younger Barnes has already set virtually all of Caldwell's passing records.

 

He holds career marks for passing yards (4,053) and touchdowns (43). He has thrown (544) and completed (332) more passes than any other QB in 53 years of football at CCHS.

 

And he's done all that while being picked off just 14 times.

 

Caldwell's passing game has sent three players to college in the past two years. Jake Pepper and Matt Tittle from last year's team are headed to Kentucky Wesleyan while Cameron Williams, the district player of the year two seasons ago, will be a redshirt freshman at Missouri S&T (formerly Missouri-Rolla) this fall.

 

Despite the losses, the Tigers still return their leading receiver from a year in senior Eric Faughn. As a junior, Faughn topped the squad with 38 receptions for 523 yards - nearly 14 yards a catch.

 

Also back is sophomore Brandon Sigler, who figures to have a prominent role in this year's offense. One of western Kentucky's top freshmen last season, Sigler is the leading returning rusher from last season after toting the ball 65 times for 349 yards (5.4 per attempt) and three touchdowns. He also caught 14 passes for 194 yards and two scores.

 

Despite his youth, Sigler could emerge as Caldwell's "go-to" player on offense and will likely be counted on heavily on special teams as a punter and return man.

 

He also led the defensive unit with three interceptions at cornerback, returning one for a touchdown.

 

Up front, the Tigers return three players on the offensive line – junior center Nate Dyer and seniors Tanner Flynn and Kyle Proffitt. Caldwell likely won't be big, but should be able to move up front.

 

The same thing could be said on the defensive side of the football, where Caldwell returns seven starters from a year ago.

 

Up front, tackles Tron Gray, a junior, and Bubba Cain, a senior, are penetrators. Gray recorded eight sacks last season and was second on the squad with 91 tackles.

 

Junior Daniel Faughn returns at an end.

 

Caldwell lost its leading tackler, Ben Dillingham (107 stops), from the linebacking corps, but returns senior Jonathon Beavers, who was third in 2007 with 87 tackles and will be a third-year starter.

 

The Tigers have back most of their secondary, which is expected to include Sigler along with seniors Marcus Wimbleduff, John Paul Boitnott and Kody McGregor.

 

Caldwell has finished on top of the district regular-season standings each of the past two years but would like to put together a longer post-season run this time around.

 

The Tigers were stopped by Trigg County in the second round two years ago and were upset by Heath in the first round last season.

 

Caldwell figures to be in the hunt for district supremacy again this season, although most observers favor Trigg County, which could make the Tigers' visit to Cadiz on Oct. 24 for the district championship.

 

 

Carroll County (2-9)

Head coach: Mark Weedman

2007: Lost to Christian Academy-Louisville 31-20 in the first round of the 1A playoffs

 

Mark Weedman gives Carroll County something they haven’t had in four years – someone who is returning to the sidelines for consecutive seasons.

 

The numbers aren’t great for Weedman – a starting roster of 27 players. However, he does have several starters back from last year.

 

Quarterback Casey Cable (6-1, 160, Sr.) threw for 695 yards last year but must cut down on his interception total.

 

Sophomore Zach Wise (6-1, 160) appears likely to get most of the carries in the backfield after seeing limited time last year.

 

D.C. Craig (6-0, 195, Jr.) and Ryan Goff (5-9, 210, Sr.) return on defense.

 

 

Christian Academy-Louisville (8-4)

Head coach: Dan English

2007: Lost to DeSales 24-14 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Christian Academy had one of its best seasons in school history last fall, but that will be hard to repeat this season. Only two starters return to the fold for the Centurions, who will field a young team with only five seniors in the program.

 

But the good thing is that one of the returning players has the capability of playing at the college level – receiver David Risher.

 

The Centurions will need to find some depth on the lines and some of the younger players must come through for the team to be successful.

 

 

Corbin (11-2)

Head coach: Steve Jewell

2007: Lost to Newport Central Catholic 28-16 in the region title game

 

After four seasons under the direction of quarterback Clint Cashen, the Corbin offense will return to a ground-oriented attack in 2008 with a star-studded backfield that includes junior halfbacks Caleb Watkins and Ryan Fritts and senior fullback Michael Campbell (6-0, 225).

 

Corbin (11-2 overall, 3-0 district) will enter the season as the district favorite coming off a 2007 campaign during which the Hounds won 11 straight games after opening with a loss to Belfry. Corbin extended its district win streak to 32 before falling to Newport Central Catholic in the regional finals.

 

Senior tackles Jesse Haydon (6-1, 310) and Dakota Taylor (6-2, 238) will anchor a traditionally strong offensive line and are among the five starters back on offense. Filling out the remainder of the offensive front could be a crucial factor in how far the Hounds advance this season.

 

The defense has four starters back, including senior Cory Sewell at cornerback, senior Lance Freeman at safety, Watkins at outside linebacker and Campbell (6-0, 225) at end.

 

Cornerback Casey Crawford and end Kevin French are also back after playing important roles in the success of a defense that allowed just under 17 points a game last year.

 

Freeman was expected to compete with freshman Travis Smith to replace Cashen at quarterback, but off-season surgery is expected to sideline Smith.

 

 

Danville (9-3)

Coach: Sam Harp

2007: Lost to Bardstown 23-13 in the second round of the playoffs

 

The 2007 season ended much too early for Danville's liking.

 

A team accustomed to long stays in the playoffs is aiming for another one after getting in only two postseason games last year. It isn't a given, though, as the Admirals have unquestionable talent in some areas and unanswered questions in others.

 

Some of Danville's best teams have been built around speed in the offensive backfield, and that will be one of this team's best assets as well.

The top speed threat at running back is senior Antwoine Simon (5-10, 195), who rushed for 979 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. No one else returns who played a major role at running back, meaning there's room for players such as seniors Brandon Webster and Adrian Bates and sophomore Devin Lynn to step up.

 

Trae Gray (5-9, 190) returns for his senior season at quarterback after throwing for 1,627 yards and 20 touchdowns. Sophomore Will Dunn, Grey's backup and heir apparent, could also be worked into more series this season.

 

Danville's top receiver in 2007, Leonard Macon, transferred to Taylor County last winter, but the Admirals return another talented pass catcher in senior Derrick Henderson (6-1, 190), who had more yards (507) than Macon on fewer catches and who has the speed to get downfield in a hurry.

 

Senior Kruz Warner (5-11, 165) is another top receiving threat and also returns to the Danville secondary along with Henderson.

 

The Admirals' defensive strength is at linebacker, where senior Zach Dawson (5-10, 190), sophomore Tevin Raines (5-9, 175) and Bates are back.

 

Their question marks both on offense and defense are up front, where the Admirals are still young in some spots and must get stronger and tougher to contend for championships. The top returnees are seniors Evan Hester (6-1, 205), Dexter Brand (5-9, 245) and Jamar Taylor (6-1, 205).

 

The Danville-Bardstown battle will almost certainly decide who wins District 4 once again, but that's just one of the hurdles the Ads have to clear if they have designs on playing in December.

 

 

DeSales (8-6)

Head coach: Mark Sander

2007: Lost to Newport Central Catholic 31-3 in the state semifinals

 

Veteran coach Mark Sander likes the spot his DeSales program is in after last year’s realignment. Sander thinks the Colts can contend for a state title – every season.

 

And he’s probably right on.

 

DeSales lost to Newport Central Catholic in the semifinals last season and has plenty of talent returning to make another bid for the title.

 

Sander will be looking for some big-yardage ball carriers but has a leader on the offense in quarterback Ryan Johnson. He threw for almost 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns as the starter last season during his sophomore campaign.

 

Doug Crawford is a top target, while the line is loaded with talent including Division I prospect Justin Powell (6-3, 240), Nathan Riley and Michael Ray.

Nick Bohn and Andrew Beeler both had over 400 yards rushing last season and will get a lot of opportunities to carry the ball.

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Fort Campbell (13-2)

Head coach: Shawn Berner

2007: Beat Newport Central Catholic 21-7 to win the Class 2A state title

 

By Scott Brown

WHVO Radio

 

Things fell into place nicely for the Fort Campbell Falcons on their way to their first state football title in 27 years.

 

After giving up a ton of points in two straight losses to open the season, the Falcons adjusted well and showed their defensive muscle in beating Newport Central Catholic for the championship.

 

However, they return just four starters from that unit that allowed just 14.7 points a game last year. However, head coach Shawn Berner is confident that many of the reserves of the departed players will step into starting roles. Just about all of them saw considerable time in mop-up duty last year.

 

The player generating the most interest is senior linebacker Josh Carter (6-2, 220), who shined in the state title game against NewCath.

 

Carter also plays on the offensive line.

 

Casey Miller (6-0, 210, Jr.) and Stayce Whipple (6-2, 205, Sr.) also return on the defensive line for the Falcons, who may put more speed on the field on defense this year than last.

 

Raquan Durrante (6-3, 190. Sr.) led the Falcons with five interceptions last year in the secondary and is the lone returning starter there.

 

Martinez Davis (5-8, 150, Jr.), Derrious Brown (5-8, 160, Jr.), and Antonio Andrews (6-1, 185, Jr.) should compete for time in the secondary as starters this year.

 

On offense, Andrews will take over the reins as the starting quarterback. He has shown a strong arm, and his quickness in the pocket makes him a dual threat with the football.

 

However, Chris Allen (43 rec., 506 yards, 4 TDs) is the lone starter back at receiver.

 

Durrante could see double-duty at receiver, and Tre Powell, who rushed for 545 yards with a staggering 11.6 yards per carry average, may also see some time in the slot.

 

Powell could also team with junior Troy Turner (5-10, 190) to form one of the fastest backfields in the state. Turner rushed for 1,688 yards and 21 touchdowns, despite not playing a full game in many of the Falcons’ wins.

 

Breeon Moreno (5-7, 160, Jr.) could also see some time in the Falcon backfield.

 

The Falcons appear solid on the offensive line with the return of Miller, Carter, MacArthur Moser (6-1, 240, Jr.), and Anthony Topps (6-3, 260, Jr.).

 

Berner is never 100-percent certain who will be coming or going due to military transfers. But if the returning core of last year’s team stays in place, the Falcons could very well make a return trip to Louisville this year.

 

 

Fort Knox (0-11)

Head coach: Brandon Combs

2007: Lost to Danville 48-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

By JOSH CLAYWELL

The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise

 

Under first-year coach Brandon Combs, the Fort Knox Eagles have to take baby steps to get better.

 

And Combs, who replaced former coach Tom Jaco, is ready for that task.

 

“It’s a situation where you need to baby-step things,” said Combs, who is 3-17 in two years as head coach at Lewis County. “I have high expectations for this team and they know that, but we’ve got to celebrate the small things along the way.”

 

Celebrating the little accomplishments will go a long way for a team that hasn’t won a game since 2005. The Eagles have gone 1-30 in the last three seasons and 29-76 since 1998.

 

Fort Knox’s last winning season came in 2002, in which the Eagles went 8-4.

 

“You’ve got to change the mentality,” Combs said. “In order to do that you’ve got to change work ethics. If you’re lazy during practice, you’ll be lazy on game night.”

 

Fort Knox returns linebackers Fadore Bing, William Cooper and Jaron Decker. Outside of that trio, the Eagles don’t have much experience back from last year.

 

“We’re trying to keep things simple for them,” Combs said. “The only thing they’ll have to do is use their athletic ability they’ve been given and give me all they’ve got.”

 

And instead of focusing on the last few years, Combs wants his team to embrace its past.

 

Fort Knox has won three championships – 1983, 1988 and 1990 – under legendary coach Joe Jaggers.

 

“There’s a lot of tradition here,” Combs said. “There’s a lot to embrace.”

Being a Department of Defense school, Combs said Fort Knox could expect anywhere from five to 20 newcomers in the next month as military reassignments take place.

 

But there’s also the possibility of Fort Knox losing a few players.

 

“As of this time, I really have very little knowledge of newcomers,” Combs said. “We could have between five to 20 newcomers by July 14, but we could also lose a number of players.”

 

Combs’ coaching staff will consist of defensive coordinator Mike Marksbury, defensive/offensive line coach Harry Fass and running backs/freshman coach Conrad Garcia.

 

Combs will call the plays on offense and plans to utilize the passing game to spread the field out.

 

“That’s twice as many (assistants) as I had last year,” Combs said. “I had assistant coaches that were from the area at Lewis County. They didn’t have tradition there. They haven’t had a winning season since 1988. I had guys from that community on board.

 

“I had huge expectations and they didn’t want to work to get there. They didn’t want to work toward it.”

 

Prior to his stint at Lewis County, Combs served as an assistant at Nelson County for four years. He was a graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University and spent half a season at the University of Kentucky.

 

Before taking the job at Nelson County, Combs coached for a year at Bath County and Betsy Layne.

 

 

Glasgow (8-3)

Head coach: Billy Lindsey

2007: Lost to Metcalfe County 42-13 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Glasgow went from eight losses in 2006 to eight wins in 2007, which is what the Scotties are more accustomed to.

 

With an experienced senior class that could total 15, the Scotties could challenge for the district title and make a long playoff run.

 

Blake Perkins (5-11, 225, Sr.) and Lamar Howard (5-11, 200, Sr.) comprise a two-pronged rushing attack for Glasgow after combining for 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns last year.

 

Senior quarterback Tyler Lindsey (6-0, 190) threw for over 700 yards and eight touchdowns. He has a couple of targets back in John Furlong (5-11, 190, Sr.) and Jordan York (6-2, 190, Sr.).

 

Michael Bradley (6-2, 190, Soph.) should fit into the offense somewhere.

Up front, Wes Gosnell (6-2, 230, Sr.) and Jeremy Leon Wood (6-0, 225, Sr.) are slated to return.

 

In a very even district, Glasgow could hold a slight edge with two of their three district games at home.

 

 

Green County (11-1)

Head coach: Mike Griffiths

2007: Lost to Metcalfe County 41-14 in the second round of the playoffs

 

By JOSH CLAYWELL

The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise

 

The Green County Dragons have had some of their best years under veteran coach Mike Griffiths.

 

Griffiths, who coached Green County from 1997-2002 and returned in the 2006 season, two Dragon teams to undefeated regular seasons (2000 and 2007) and to the brink of a possible state championship.

 

But each time, Green County fell short in its quest for a title, falling to Metcalfe County, 41-14 in the second round last season and Corbin, 48-19, in 2000.

 

With nine starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Dragons are eyeing the school’s first state championship. In order to do that, Green County will have to avoid the Class 2-A powers-that-be in Danville and Bardstown in the first round.

 

“I feel everyone is capable of coming out on top and that will be important,” Griffiths said. “No one wants to travel to Danville or Bardstown in the first round.”

 

To better prepare his team, Griffiths beefed up Green County’s schedule by playing Hazard in the Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic in Week 1.

“We have strengthened our schedule by adding Hazard,” Griffiths said. “And we were already playing up against Taylor County (3-A) and Marion County (5-A).”

 

Senior quarterback Justin Pendleton and senior running back Zeth Rogers are back to help the Dragons erase memories of last season.

 

Pendleton completed 55-of-105 passes for 1,188 yards and 13 touchdowns and also rushed for 754 yards and 14 touchdowns on 103 carries through 11 games. Rogers rushed for 1,235 yards and 19 touchdowns on 155 carries.

 

Also back is senior tight end Seth Jones, senior wide receivers David Goldsmith and Benton Calhoun, senior left guard Jordan Tucker, senior center R.J. Dunagan, junior left tackle Keith Bryant and junior right tackle Jacob Herbert.

 

On defense, Green County returns five seniors (defensive end Luke Sode, inside linebackers Wes Jaggers and Cameron Newby and cornerbacks Mathew Taylor and Jason Morgan) and four juniors (defensive tackles Cole Tucker and Rocky Garrett, outside linebacker Jordan York and free safety John Stone).

 

“Our strengths are out strength and speed on both sides of the ball,” Griffiths said. “Our weakness will be playing up to our potential all of the time.”

 

 

Hancock County (4-7)

Head coach: Chris Morris

2007: Lost to Owensboro Catholic 29-6 in the first round of the playoffs

 

By Mark Mathis

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

 

Hancock County has been in a rebuilding mode the last couple of years, and depth could still cause some problems for the Hornets. They finished 4-7 last year.

 

“We won the games we thought we could win last year,” Hancock County coach Chris Morris said. “The numbers were down, and the injury bug hit us pretty good. We only dressed 28 at the end.”

 

Zach Wettstain returns at quarterback after throwing for just over 1,000 yards last season.

 

Ian Middleburg is also back at running back. He finished with 500 yards on the ground and another 400 receiving. Josh Newton will also return at fullback.

 

Wettstain and Newton will also be at linebacker for the Class 2-A Hornets.

Bryce Duncan set the school record for tackles with 185. Middleburg had seven interceptions in the last four games of 2007.

 

“I think we could be better, but our schedule will still be the same,” Morris said.

 

Hancock County is in the same district with defending Class 2-A state champion Fort Campbell and perennial power Owensboro Catholic.

 

“We could be improved and still not pick up anything in the win column,” Morris said.

 

 

Heath (5-7)

Head coach: Corey Tilford

2007: Lost to Trigg County 23-13 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Gone is the veer offense that’s been the staple of Heath’s football program since the 1970s.

 

In its place is the Franklin system, implemented by a new coach. Former assistant Cory Tilford, elevated to the top spot last spring, promises a new era of football in Pirate territory, but this team is sorely lacking in experience — Heath has just seven seniors.

 

Only three offensive starters return from a team that went 5-7 and posted the school’s first playoff win since 1994, and only one of the figures to be in the same position come the season opener.

 

“We’re adapting to the offense pretty well, faster than I would have expected,” Tilford said. “We’re not the Heath of old with the big linemen, and this fits what we have coming up.”

 

The new quarterback is junior Tra Tharp (5-11, 160), a starting receiver last season who brings plenty of speed and athleticism to his new role.

 

“We want him to touch the ball a lot, and the best chance to win is with him and (sophomore tailback) Jacob Lynn in the backfield,” Tilford said. “Tra throws the ball well and he has a strong arm, but he’s had a few growing pains, too.”

 

Tharp and Lynn (5-9, 170), a sophomore, will be the primary ballcarriers. Tight end William Walden (6-3, 190) is back, and the hope is that a couple of reliable receivers will emerge from a a group that includes Kyle Vannerson (5-7, 140), Condillard Howard (6-3, 175) and another potential playmaker in junior Garrick Whatley (5-9, 160).

 

Tyler Bowland (5-11, 210) is the only returning starter on the offensive line and will move from center to guard.

 

“We’ll average about 210-215 across the front, and they have good feet and move well,” Tilford said. “That’s what we need in this system.”

 

Lynn is back at linebacker, with Vannerson, Walden and Howard all having experience at defensive end. Tharp will move from cornerback to safety and Bowland will switch from tackle to linebacker.

 

“We’re still trying to figure out who can play where on defense,” said Tilford, who will overhaul the defense and go with a 4-4 alignment.

 

“I understand that most people will pick us fourth in the district, but I think we will be competitive with the top teams in our district.”

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Holy Cross (6-6)

Head coach: Bruce Kozerski

2007: Lost to Newport Central Catholic 28-0 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Holy Cross returns a team full of talent but much of it is unproven. They lost nine seniors but could return 22 seniors along with 23 juniors.

 

The unclear positions as far as who will start are at quarterback, running back and the secondary.

 

The guy in line for the starting quarterback nod appears to be junior Markel Walker (6-2, 185), who some might remember as a receiver last year. He has the talent to be one of the best in the area if last year's JV quarterback Conrad Easton (5-11, 185, Sr.) doesn't win the job because of Walker's lack of experience.

 

In the backfield, the starter will be junior Andy Roenker (6-0, 200), who is also an all-area performer on defense.

 

Behind him should be a solid group of backups in senior Brad Cooper, junior Brayson Smith, and senior Aaron Fritch. If Roenker is needed to play defense full-time, look for Cooper to step in very nicely.

 

Chad Thornberry (5-10, 210, Jr.) should win the fullback job.

 

At receiver, it looks like the two guys will be juniors Jordan Norris (6-3, 170) and Rob Ziegler (6-3, 170) look to fill the voids quite nicely. Junior Corey Bailey (6-0, 185) and senior Aaron Fritch (5-10, 155) may also see some considerable time.

 

At tight end, senior Mike Sullivan (6-2, 220) is a returning starter who looks to ready to have a breakout year.

 

On the line, the tackles look to include Donnie Stowers (6-1, 210, Jr.), Andy Merrit (6-3, 245, Jr.), and Mark Nie (6-2, 260, Jr.). The rest should be a mix of junior Mark Mancyk, senior Bernie Gripsover, and senior Justin Lewis.

 

On defense, the interior line should be a mix of junior Nick Hamilton (6-1, 250), senior Bernie Gripsover (6-1, 300), and junior Mark Nie (6-2, 260).

The end position returns both starters in Sullivan and Adam Mitchell (6-6, 220).

 

The Indians return one of northern Kentucky’s leading tacklers in middle linebacker Brad Herald (5-9, 200, Sr.). Easton will most likely be an outside linebacker with senior Jordan Gross (6-0, 190) on the other side.

 

Seniors Zach Mills and Shawn Butts, and junior Chad Thornberry should also see playing time there.

 

At safety, returning starter Andy Roenker (6-0, 200, Jr.) should have another monster year after picking off five passes and forcing two fumbles last year.

 

Junior Markel Walker (6-2, 185) and Brad Cooper (5-7, 155, Sr.) return on the other side.

 

Paul Rafezideh (5-9, 140, Jr.) and Jordan Norris (6-3, 170, Jr.) should get the starting nods at corner.

 

The Indians should benefit from the new playoff format that sees them play teams from the other district in the first two rounds should they advance that far.

 

 

Knott Central (2-9)

Head coach: Joe Beder

2007: Lost to Corbin 57-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

The Patriots broke through for a playoff appearance last fall after moving to a four-team district but couldn’t compete with district heavyweights Corbin and Middlesboro in posting a 2-9 mark.

 

Brighter days could be ahead for Knott with eight starters back on offense, including 6-2, 185-pound junior quarterback Braxton Ratliff, who rushed for approximately 700 yards last season. Senior Jason Carmody (6-0, 220) and junior Anthony Newhouse (5-10, 175) will be counted on to provide a power complement in the running game as they split time at fullback.

 

Knott won’t be short on size up front as senior tackle Jason Green (6-3, 300) and senior center Ron Christian (6-1, 350) anchor the line.

The defense will feature Green at tackle and Carmody and Newhouse at the linebackers.

 

 

Leslie County (2-9)

Head coach: Tim Koogler

2007: Lost to Middlesboro 48-6 in the first round of the playoffs

 

After posting several strong seasons earlier in the decade, the Eagles’ slide continued last year with a 2-9 mark that included a first-round playoff loss to Middlesboro. Leslie struggled to score with just over 14 points a game and had even more trouble stopping anyone as opponents put up just under 40 a night.

 

The Eagles hope to begin the climb back to respectability with an improved defense that returns nine starters, including junior linebackers Lance Coots and Matt Asher and junior tackle Randon Collett (6-0, 240).

 

Jimmie Joe Morgan will run the Leslie offense for a third straight season after passing for over 1,875 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago. Ashton Lewis is back after wide receiver after hauling in 55 catches last year for 800 yards and eight touchdowns.

 

Finding a consistent running threat will be a key for a more balanced offense, as the Eagles were unable to overcome the graduation loss of Ryan Howard last year.

 

 

Lloyd Memorial (3-8)

Head coach: Roy Lucas

2007: Lost to Holy Cross 32-30 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Roy Lucas returns as head coach of Lloyd Memorial, after serving as an assistant coach to Mike Yeagle last year and then interim coach after Yeagle resigned in midseason.

 

The Juggernauts return more on offense than defense, which may not bode well for a team that gave up 31 points a game last year.

 

Defensive backs Sean Russell (5-7, 165, Sr.) and Seydrick Walker (5-7, 160, Sr.) return for Lloyd, along with lineman Zack Casey (5-11, 210, Sr.), who can also play linebacker.

 

Several other offensive players will likely have to play both ways for Lucas.

 

On offense, the Juggernauts have several key people back, including Walker in the backfield after a junior season that saw him rush for 334 yards and four touchdowns.

 

Seth Chappie (5-8, 160, Jr.) rushed for 362 yards and should join Walker in the backfield.

 

Lloyd also returns their quarterback and leading receiver from a year ago.

 

Brendon Gregory (6-4, 195, Sr.) threw for over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. His favorite target was Roger Herthel (5-11,170, Sr.), who hauled in 63 passes for 737 yards and seven scores.

 

The Juggernauts could also get an unexpected offense boost from running back Michael O’Brien (6-1, 185, Sr.), who missed last season with an injury, and receiver Jake Kramer (6-2, 170).

 

Up front, Lloyd returns Dan Burgheim (5-10, 210, Sr.), Alex Drifmeyer (5-11, 225, Jr.), and Phil Taliaferro (6-1, 220, Sr.).

 

One of Lucas’ first task back as coach is to replenish a roster that lost 14 seniors to graduation off a 45-man roster

 

 

Metcalfe County (11-3)

Head coach: Larry Harbison

2007: Lost to Fort Campbell 24-15 in the state semifinals

 

2008 was a landmark season for Metcalfe County and the community of Edmonton. The Hornets won the school’s first-ever regional football title and took eventual state champion Fort Campbell to the wire before losing by nine.

 

Long-time Metcalfe County head coach Larry Harbison is faced with the task of replacing perhaps the best senior class in the school’s history. But the cupboard isn’t exactly bare.

 

Senior running back Daniel DeLeon (5-11, 180, Sr.) rushed for 1,240 yards and 20 touchdowns, helping the Hornets average 37 points of offense last year. DeLeon averaged nearly nine yards a carry.

 

However, much of his supporting cast from last year has graduated.

 

Sophomore Zach Morgan takes over at quarterback, and he’ll have a new cast of receivers to throw to. Matt Blyth (6-2, 160, Soph.) and Kyle Holley (6-1, 180, Jr.) are expected to compete for starting jobs along with Colton Satterly (5-7, 150, Jr.).

 

“We graduated some really good skill people, but we have Daniel back, and we’re looking for him to have another great year,” Harbison said.

 

Jordan Buys (5-11, 210, Sr.) and Steven Lambert (5-10, 225, Sr.) are returning starters on an undersized offensive line.

 

Harbison thinks his mixture of size and speed on the defensive line will be a positive early in the season, but he will have to replace three graduated seniors at the linebacker position.

 

“We will lack varsity experience, but in time we hope to be competitive and playing our best football at playoff time,” he said.

 

 

Middlesboro (8-4)

Head coach: Ken Roark

2007: Lost to Corbin 28-13 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Key graduation losses, especially in the backfield, could make Kenny Roark’s job tougher than usual this fall, but the Jackets are again expected to compete with long-time rival Corbin for the district crown after posting an 8-4 mark last season, including a loss to the Hounds in the district finals.

 

Roark won’t have to worry about quarterback though as senior Hunter Adams (6-1, 185) is one of eastern Kentucky’s best athletes. Adams, whose father, Vic, played at the University of the Kentucky in the 1980s is being recruited by several Division I schools.

 

Senior Eddie Gilbert (5-11, 175) provides a big-play threat at wide receiver, and senior Brandon Witherspoon (5-11, 170) is being counted on to step into a larger role at halfback.

 

Six starters return to the Middlesboro defense, including tackle Bobby Partin (6-0, 270, Sr.), safety Shay Patterson (5-10, 160, Jr.), Gilbert at cornerback and Adams at linebacker.

 

The Jackets also have six starters returning on offense, led by Adams, Gilbert and senior left tackle John Strunk (6-4, 280).

 

 

Monroe County (2-9)

Head coach: John Petett

2007: Lost to Green County 48-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Things did not go the way John Petett had hoped in 2007.

 

A solid group of underclassmen was expected to lead the Falcons to a winning season at worst. However, other teams in the district were underestimated which left the Falcons in fourth place in a four team district.

 

In 2008, the district again appears to be even, but Monroe County should be right in the thick of things.

 

With just six seniors gone from last year’s 2-9 team, the Falcons are expecting a banner season.

 

Sheldon Hamilton (5-10, Sr.) rushed for over 500 yards and six touchdowns last year, while Justin Harlan (6-2, Sr.) saw more snaps at quarterback as the season progressed. He appears to have the starting nod when practice begins.

 

Neil Wilson (6-2, Jr.), Garrett Lyon (6-2, 190, Sr.), and Caleb Maxey (5-8, 170, Sr.) return in the backfield and could be joined by Tanner Kendall (6-0, Soph.).

 

On defense, Wilson anchors the linebackers, while Jake Proctor (5-9, 170, Jr.) returns at defensive end.

 

The Falcons may have the deepest line in the district with Clint Bybee (6-0, 220, Sr.) and Clint Jenkins (5-11, 250, Sr.) back.

 

 

Morgan County (1-10)

Head coach: Jake Purnell

2007: Lost to Prestonsburg 70-6 in the first round of the playoffs

 

The 2008 Morgan County Cougar football is more than anxious to get started once again. After a dismal 2007 campaign that saw the Cougars get butchered defensively by giving up just shy of 50 points per contest and an anemic offense that yielded less than seven points per game (6.8 to be precise), the Cougars do return some talented players and they will take the field with a new head football coach in Jake Purnell.

 

Coach Purnell comes to West Liberty via Yorktown, Virginia and was an assistant at Tabb High School in Yorktown. He will look to incorporate a sound offensive philosophy with the Wing-T and look for an improved squad on the defensive side of the football as well.

 

Back for the Cougars is quarterback Jared Curd (5-9, 160), a sophomore who gained valuable experience last season before a season-ending finger fracture cut his freshman year short.

 

Curd is an intelligent quarterback and is a legitimate throwing threat with an accurate and strong arm.

 

Curd should have a steady stable of backs as well in 6-1 senior Brandon Ward, sophomore Brandon Havens, and potentially Kyle Havens, who is recovering from off-season surgery. Havens also played quarterback last season for the Cougars as well. An incoming freshman class is also highly regarded.

 

Defensively, the Cougars return Hunter Fraley (6-1, 200, Soph.) and Nathan Cantrell (6-2, 275, Sr.), who is a four-year starter.

 

Ryan Flannery (6-3, 200, Soph.) has potentially the most talent on the Cougar roster. Flannery saw time in the backfield but was solid at defensive end during his freshman season.

 

Fraley, Cantrell, and Flannery should be the defensive leaders in 2008.

 

As is the case for this season, which players participate will make the Cougars stock go up or down. Nearly 30 players have begun summer workouts, and the Cougars will be young, but not short on young talented players.

 

Look for the offensive line to be a strength for the Cougars and potentially the linebacker corps as this could help make the Cougars better all around.

 

 

Murray (5-6)

Head coach: Steve Duncan

2007: Lost to Trigg County 42-15 in the first round of the playoffs

 

A third consecutive losing season has the Murray faithful a little on edge this year as they welcome a new head coach.

 

Steve Duncan, the defensive coordinator at Lone Oak last year and former Elizabethtown assistant, takes over for Lee Edwards, who became the secondary coach at Harding University.

 

Duncan inherits a senior heavy team that is high on talent but has underachieved at the varsity level.

 

Edwards implemented a spread offense at Murray, and Duncan looks to run a similar offense, as have the schools at his previous two stops.

 

Duncan will have a wealth of skill players returning, making Murray a serious threat to unseat Trigg County atop the district.

 

Senior Jamie King (5-9, 175) rushed for 1,893 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, making him the primary focus of the opposing defenses. He also showed his versatility by hauling in 38 passes for 371 yards and an Abe Lincoln (four scores).

 

Murray rotated Jordan Garland (6-2, 175, Sr.) and John Therrell at quarterback last year before settling on Garland and moving Therrell to receiver to take advantage of his athleticism.

 

However, Therrell has moved to Las Vegas with his father, who is the defensive coordinator at UNLV.

 

Garland threw for 1,465 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing right at 50-percent of his passes.

 

Roman Kelly (6-2, 170, Sr.) is also back at receiver.

 

Shickill Davis (5-8, 170, Soph.) may also see some more carries this year.

 

The Tigers, known for producing solid kickers, have another one in Jordan Benton (5-8, 130), who connected for 34 PATs and a field goal last year.

 

Duncan’s primary concern will be in the trenches where Murray graduated most of their starting linemen and lost another one (O.B. Payne) to a traffic crash earlier this year.

 

If the Tigers show they can win the blocking game up front, they could be a team that makes a run at Fort Campbell for the region title.

 

 

Newport (1-10)

Head coach: Jim Hyder

2007: Lost to Newport Central Catholic 45-12 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Jim Hyder’s first season as Newport head coach did not go the way he had hoped, with only a win over Bishop Brossart keeping the Wildcats out of the winless category for the year.

 

Newport again will field a young and mostly inexperienced team, especially on the offensive side of the football.

 

The big question for the Wildcats will be who will Hyder start at quarterback.

 

Defections, transfers, and graduation have left Newport without an experienced signal caller for 2008.

 

Should Marsean Oden (5-6, 160, Sr.) return to the backfield, the Wildcats will have a decent offensive weapon behind the new quarterback.

 

Willie Price (5-9, 160, Sr.) rushed for 250 yards and three touchdowns, and Andrew Thomas (5-9, 165, Sr.) added 156 yards and two scores.

 

Jeff Smith (6-2, 210, Sr.), and David Barger (5-8, 155, Sr.) will likely line up at receiver.

 

Smith, Nate Webb (5-9, 180, Sr.), and Cody Short (5-7, 155, Jr.) are back at linebackers, and Barger, Price, and Daniel Kim (5-6, 160, Sr.) return in the secondary.

 

Sam Schwalbach (5-10, 200, Sr.), Dominic Lewis (5-10, 230, Sr.), and Justin Lewis (6-0, 200, Jr.) are scheduled back on the line.

 

In a four-team district, Newport is guaranteed another playoff berth regardless of their record. However, they will avoid Newport Central Catholic and an improved Holy Cross team in the first round.

 

The key question for Hyder will be how well his upperclassmen perform and lead the squad this year.

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Newport Central Catholic (13-2)

Head coach: Bob Schneider

2007: Lost to Fort Campbell 21-7 in the Class 2A state championship game

 

Newport Central Catholic had no trouble making the move from Class 1A to 2A, advancing to the state title game for the third straight year.

 

However, an athletic Fort Campbell team nixed their bid for a third consecutive state title.

 

If the Thoroughbreds are to advance to Louisville for a fourth straight time, they will have to overcome a defensive overhaul that sees just one regular starter back.

 

Solid play from the NCC defensive line and the linebacking corps resulted in five shutouts and opponents scoring just over 10 points a game.

 

But safety Mario Escalante (6-3, 170, Sr.) is the lone starter returning on defense.

 

Greg Willett (6-0, 190, Sr.) could move into a linebacker spot along with Matthew Johnson (6-0, 200, Sr.).

 

Nate Rawe (5-7, 140, Sr.) will join Escalante in the secondary.

 

Offensively, the ‘Breds are in a little better shape with the return of quarterback Rob Kues and running back Mark Kelly.

 

Kues (6-1, 165, Sr.) threw for 2,365 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also added 764 yards on the ground with ten more touchdowns, making it tough for defenses to defend against his scrambling ability.

 

Kelly (5-10, 180, Sr.) burst onto the scene last year as the primary NCC offensive weapon, rushing for 1,298 yards and 19 touchdowns.

 

The addition of Chris Kelly (5-10, 180, Soph.) to the backfield could give NCC one of the most potent rushing attacks in Class 2A.

 

However, they must replace all of their starting receivers.

 

Escalante and Johnson could be viable candidates to become targets for Kues through the air.

 

Up front, the ‘Breds must replace their entire defensive line and all but two on the offense.

 

Joe Cox (6-4, 250, Sr.) and Jake Smith (6-1, 220, Jr.) are returning starters and should get help from Steffen Roll (6-2, 230, Sr.) and Brad Futcher (6-2, 235, Sr.).

 

The special teams should be solid with the return of kicker and punter Chris Grosser (5-11, 170, Sr.).

 

Head coach Bob Schneider has shown the acute ability to plug holes created by graduation with a steady influx of players from the junior varsity team. He will once again rely on first-time starters to get the ‘Breds back to the championship game.

 

 

Owen County (1-10)

Head coach: Adam Fowler

2007: Lost to DeSales 52-6 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Owen County goes back to the drawing board with the hire of Adam Fowler as head coach.

 

The Rebels opened last season with a win over first-year program Bishop Brossart then lost 10 straight to end the season.

 

One of Fowler’s first tasks will be to get the program’s numbers up after 17 seniors graduated last year.

 

Among the players returning for Owen County are quarterback Jordan Cox (5-10, 165, Sr.), receivers Tyler Williams (5-8, 140, Sr.), Daniel Dauwe (5-11, 170, Jr.), and Zach McDonald (6-1, 165, Sr.), and running back Matt Harris (5-9, 160, Sr.).

 

Linemen Derek Ellis (5-11, 210, Jr.) and Keith Arutoff (6-2, 290, Sr.) are back on the line.

 

Fowler is also expecting contributions from cornerbacks Justin Stephens (5-7, 140, Sr.) and Brandon Stephens (5-5, 135, Jr.) and linebacker Chris Rivera (5-7, 200, Sr.), who is recovering from a knee injury.

 

“Our program is not where we want it to be yet, but increasing our numbers and consistency will help us reach our goals,” Fowler said.

 

Heading the Owen County offense will be Hilton Isable, former Kentucky State quarterback and college assistant.

 

 

Owensboro Catholic (6-6)

Head coach: John Edge

2007: Lost to Fort Campbell 26-0 in the second round of the playoffs

 

By Mark Mathis

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer

 

Owensboro Catholic finished .500 (6-6) last season and lost in the second round of the Class 2-A playoffs to Fort Campbell.

 

The only consolation in that for the Aces was that Fort Campbell was the eventual state champion.

 

That is how much Catholic’s program has grown in the last 10 years. The Aces have played in a pair of 2-A state championship games, and are considered a consistent threat to get there.

 

“It’s expected, and we’ve got a good chance of that this year,” Catholic coach John Edge said of the Aces being a district and regional contender. “I would say that after the Madisonville game last year, there were questions, but it was too late to say you’ve got to change this and that.”

 

Injuries hampered the Aces significantly. Starting quarterback Evan Walker never fully recovered from a shoulder injury he got late in 2006. Then top receiver Bryan McGraw was lost for the second half of the season, further limiting what the Aces could do through the air.

 

Edge liked what he saw during 7-on-7 camps early in the summer out of Walker (6-3, 190) and the skill players.

 

“I’m very optimistic of our chances,” Edge said. “We’ve got a quarterback with a lot of experience in Evan Walker. He’s got more zip on it than he had last year. His deep ball has gotten better. At least we can stretch the field. Last year we couldn’t stretch anybody, which hurt our screen game, then that hurt our run game.”

 

Seth Todd and Evan Harvey could be used in a quarterback rotation if Edge likes that look.

 

McGraw (6-1, 172) returns with Aaron Marks (6-2, 175) at receiver.

 

Johnathan McNulty, Chris Ward and Spencer Hayden also return to the running back rotation.

 

“We’ve got a good group of backs,” Edge said. “The only thing that concerns me is the offensive line. We don’t want to use too many linemen going both ways.”

 

Only Mason Nofsinger returns with any real starting experience, and that was only a couple of games.

 

Aaron Wathen (5-11, 185) is a top defensive player back at linebacker. Nick Murphy is also a solid linebacker.

 

Ward and McNulty are back to anchor the defensive backfield.

 

“On our sked, Fort Campbell is a team we have to beat, you want home field advantage through playoffs.

 

 

Prestonsburg (9-4)

Head coach: John Derossett

2007: Lost to DeSales 33-20 in the region title game

 

If a documentary was made about the Prestonsburg Blackcats football program, it is fairly certain that it would be a tragedy: an epic story of being so close, only to come up short in the end.

 

Prestonsburg has been one of the elite programs in Eastern Kentucky for years now, but all they have to show for it is a couple state runner-ups and numerous deep playoff runs falling short of the ultimate prize.

 

In 2008, Prestonsburg is looking to change all that in Class 2A with one of the most experienced and deepest squads in the school’s recent history.

 

It all starts on offense where the Blackcats return one of the most potent 1-2 punches in the state of Kentucky. Halfback Allen Craynon lit up the stat sheets last year rushing and catching nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards and 25 touchdowns.

 

Making Craynon’s life easier is UK recruit Seth Setser, who ran for 800 yards himself last season and added 10 scores from the fullback position. He also doubles as a dominant linebacker on defense.

 

It was an unfortunate time last season when Prestonsburg lost experienced quarterback Bobby Hughes to a leg injury, but the bright side was Michael Burchett emerged as a more than capable backup and gained valuable playing time heading into this season.

 

Helping the transition will be the return of two dangerous pass catchers in Austin Gearhart and Clay Jamerson.

 

Defensively, P-burg returns eight starters led by Setser, Gearhart, and Jamerson. Expect quality minutes from ball-hawks Justin McKinney and Matt Sword as well.

 

The typical Blackcat defense is hard hitting and forces a lot of turnovers, with the experience returning that trend should not change this season.

 

All in all, the experience and skill level of the returning Blackcat team has expectations running at an all-time high. The telling signs on whether Prestonsburg is a contender or a pretender for the State 2A crown will come early. The Blackcats renew an old rivalry with Breathitt County on September 5th, and they also must travel to 1A powerhouse Beechwood on October 11th.

 

 

Reidland (1-9)

Head coach: Jeff Sturm

2007: Missed the playoffs

Reidland coach Jeff Sturm, whose team was down to less than 20 players at the end of last season because of injuries and suspensions, thinks he has the numbers built back up to respectability. Still, the Greyhounds will try to shake off the effects of last season, when they were 1-9 and the only Class 2A team to miss the playoffs.

 

Ryan Heinrich (5-9, 180, Sr.) was the quarterback in the second half of the season and will also see action at linebacker. Peyton Gourieux (6-0, 205, Sr.) was expected to be an impact player last season but he missed most of the year with injuries.

 

Josh Foreman (6-0, 250, Sr.), Steven Watwood (5-11, 170, Jr.) and Teaven Meredith (6-0, 220, Jr.) anchor the offensive line, which Sturm thinks will be one of the Greyhounds’ strengths.

 

“We’re going to spread it out more, but we should be able to run the ball,” Sturm said. “We don’t have a lot of size, and our guards are small, but I think we can move it.”

 

Kenny Turner saw time at fullback and linebacker in 2006, but didn’t play last year. Devon Forbus and Carlos Rayburn, who is moving from running back to receiver, could be Heinrich’s primary targets.

 

 

Shelby Valley (6-6)

Head coach: Kevin Saunders

2007: Lost to Prestonsburg 38-0 in the second round of the playoffs

 

The 2007 season brought new heights to the Shelby Valley Wildcats. Not only did the Wildcats host their first home playoff game in the new Millennium, they earned their first playoff victory in school history by defeating Bath County 23-12.

 

Head coach Kevin Saunders promised when he took over the SV football program that he would build the program into respectability, and last season the Wildcats took a major step toward reaching that goal.

 

In fact, looking at the Shelby Valley program since Saunder’s hiring reveals a laundry list of achievements and facility upgrades. Now that Shelby Valley has made the step forward, it is time to sustain forward movement and no season will be more vital than the 2008 campaign. The path to repeating last year’s success is steep.

 

First and foremost, the agenda in Robinson Creek requires replacing the Wildcat’s two top yardage producers in bruising running back Jonah Justice and quarterback Tyler Johnson. Helping to take the load off will be halfback Cody Mitchell who was second on the team in rushing last season. Logan Bryant and Nathan Mullins also bring veteran leadership to both sides of the ball.

 

Prestonsburg will be the hands down pick to win the district, but the Shelby Valley/Bath County matchups looms as one of the more intriguing games in East Kentucky next season.

 

 

Todd County (1-10)

Head coach: Randy Thomas

2007: Lost to Fort Campbell 54-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Todd County struggled mightily with turnovers last year in an offensive attack that mustered just 14 points a game.

 

Senior quarterback Aaron Power returns along with several other offensive weapons. They include De’Andre Mensah (6-2, 180, Sr.) and Ethan Boley (5-10, 220, Sr.), who started the season on the line but saw some time in the backfield late in the season.

 

Power and Dustin Johnson (5-7, 140, Jr.) return to a Rebel unit that allowed 41 points a game.

 

 

Trigg County (9-4)

Head coach: Shannon Burcham

2007: Lost to Metcalfe County 47-13 in the region title game

 

By Scott Brown

WKDZ Radio

 

2007 was a bizarre season for Shannon Burcham in his first season as Trigg County head coach.

 

The Wildcats opened the season with their first-ever win over Hopkinsville and proceeded to win the next five straight.

 

However, the wheels came off in a hurry as Trigg lost consecutive games to Christian County, Caldwell County, and Fort Campbell by a combined total of 149-49.

 

Trigg was able to right the ship in time to win the district for a second straight year before getting pummeled by Metcalfe County in the region title game.

 

The Wildcats have enough experience back to make them the favorite to repeat as district champs, but how far they can advance in the playoffs depends on how much the defense improves this year.

 

The Wildcats return seven starters from last year’s unit that was Jekyl-Hyde at best. Trigg allowed 15 or fewer points in five games, while allowing 30 or more in five other games.

 

Their strength should be their linebacking unit with the return of Dustin Calhoun (5-10, 225, Sr.), Will Stagner (5-10, 145, Sr.), Antonio Grubbs (5-11, 205, Sr.), and Donald Bush (5-10, 200, Sr.).

 

The Wildcats return some speed in the secondary. Dustin White (6-1, 180, Sr.) and Mitch Rogers (6-3, 165, Jr.) were starters last year.

 

Shelton Burress (5-9, 155, Sr.), the point guard on the basketball, is playing football for the first time and has looked solid on defense in summer drills.

 

The defensive line had its share of adversity last year, with Tavaras Poindexter (6-0, 230, Jr.), Timmy McGee (5-11, 260, Sr.), and Andre Wright (6-0, 205, Jr.) back.

 

The Wildcats appear set on the offensive side of the football.

 

Quarterback Donald Bush threw for 1,230 yards and 16 touchdowns with just five interceptions.

 

Two of his main targets are also back. Dustin White (6-1, 180, Sr.) played in only three games after suffering a broken arm. He had a breakout sophomore season and will be a deep threat for the Wildcats.

 

Sure-handed Will Stagner (5-11, 150, Sr.) caught 17 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns.

 

Trigg is set on the ground with the return of senior Brandon Bridges (5-10, 180), who ran for 1,054 yards and 11 touchdowns.

 

Dustin Calhoun (5-10, 225, Sr.), Antonio Grubbs (5-11, 205, Sr.), and Zack White (6-0, 210, Soph.) could also get some carries in the backfield. Trigg averaged 219 rushing yards a game last year.

 

Senior John Reinick kicked four extra points and 50 PATs in his first season last year and returns.

 

Trigg County’s postseason run will be determined by how well their line plays and whether their defense can avoid the big play they were prone to allowing in their losses last year.

 

 

Washington County (4-7)

Head coach: Mark Perry

2007: Lost to Bardstown 43-13 in the first round of the playoffs

 

By JOSH CLAYWELL

The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise

 

After finishing last year on a sour note, the Washington County Commanders are looking to get their offense back on track in the 2008 season.

 

In their final four games, the Commanders were held to less than 14 points in losses to Danville (35-6), Elizabethtown (41-7), Spencer County (28-14) and Bardstown (43-14).

 

“Our strength this year should be in our passing game,” Washington County coach Mark Perry said. “Our quarterback understands our system much better this year and has a better group of wide receivers to throw to.”

 

And it starts with do-everything senior Joe Joe Simms, who split time with Tyler Centers last year in Washington County’s two-quarterback platoon.

 

Also back for the Commanders are sophomore running back Trampas Montgomery, junior two-way lineman Jordan Settles and senior running back/outside linebacker Stewart Jones.

 

Along with Centers, Washington County also lost running back Justin Railey, fullback Ryan Pretzer, kicker Mark McDaniel, wide receiver John Barber and tight end Matthew Smith.

 

But the Commanders have a solid freshman class coming from St. Dominic’s Catholic School, and Perry hopes some might be able to contribute this season.

 

“We have several incoming freshman with a lot of talent, especially from our St. Dominic’s school,” said Perry, who is 22-21 in five years at Washington County.

 

The Commanders will use a pro-style offense and could utilize a spread offense at times. On defense, Washington County uses the 4-2 (four linemen, two linebackers) set.

 

“Most of all our kids have been around the system for several years and know of our expectations with our offense as well as our defense,” Perry said.

 

Washington County opens the season Aug. 29 at Lincoln County in the PBK Death Valley Bowl.

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