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2008 Class 5A Kentucky High School Football Preview


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2008 Class 5A Kentucky High School Football Preview

 

 

 

Anderson County (11-1)

Head coach: Mark Peach

2007: Lost to Oldham County 22-21 in the second round of the playoffs

 

It’s not often you win 11 games and come away disappointed, but that’s the feeling in the Anderson County camp after seeing an 11-game winning streak end to Oldham County in the district title game. The Bearcats had beaten them a month earlier.

 

With six starters back on each side of the football, head coach Mark Peach feels like the Bearcats have some unfinished business in 2008.

 

Anderson County welcomes back most of their skill people from last year’s team that averaged 34 points and 335 yards of offense a game.

 

Two-year starter Jake Russell (6-2, 190, Jr.) returns at quarterback after throwing for 1,594 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He also ran for nine scores.

 

The Bearcats, who averaged 206 rushing yards a game, also return all three of their leading rushers.

 

Fullback Ben Walker (5-10, 195, Jr.) rushed for 627 yards and 14 touchdowns. Kendrick Harvey (5-9, 165, Sr.) rushed for 557 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Jeremy Turpin (5-7, 160, Jr.) added 554 yards and four touchdowns.

 

Peach can also add B.J. Robinson (5-9, 165, Sr.), who ran for 412 yards, into the offensive mix.

 

However, those players will have to work with an offensive line that returns just one starter – Josh Peach (6-0, 260, Jr.).

 

Justin Gregory (6-0, 240, Sr.) could make an immediate impact on the line, according to the Bearcat coach.

 

On defense, Anderson County loses their front line but returns six guys behind them.

 

Linebackers Cody Dixon (6-0, 160, Sr.) and Ricky Baker (5-10, 170, Sr.) anchor a defensive unit that allowed just 68 rushing yards a game.

Walker and Robinson will play the corners, and Turpin (seven interceptions) and Russell (five interceptions) will patrol the secondary.

 

“We feel like our skill positions are a strength for us, but we have to replace some starters up front,” Peach said. “I like our kids, our attitude, and our work ethic. We should have a chance to compete.”

 

 

Ashland Blazer (2-8)

Head coach: Leon Hart

2007: Missed the playoffs

 

Putnam Stadium was eerily quiet in the postseason last year as Ashland Blazer failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1986.

 

With that fire still burning in their belly, the Tomcats feel like they have the right parts returning to get back to the postseason and win a few playoff games.

 

Head coach Leon Hart feels like the strength of the Tomcats lies in the trenches where Ashland has most of their starters back.

 

J.C. Thompson (6-3, 230, Sr.), Nik Kosakowski (6-1, 205, Jr.), Taylor Walker (5-11, 210, Sr.), Trey Keaton (5-9, 190, Sr.), Devin Hale (6-1, 220, Sr.), Josh Salisbury (6-0, 250, Sr.), Justin Pennington (6-3, 280, Sr.), and Evan Holbrook (5-10, 215, Sr.) are the offensive lineman Hart will be looking for big things out of.

 

The big question for Hart will be who will become the offensive leader with the graduation of all-everything Matt Thomas.

 

Drew Royalty (6-1, 175, Jr.) will get the nod at quarterback, with Cody Plank (6-1, 165, Sr.) and Daniel McDavid (6-1, 185, Sr.) his likely targets through the air.

 

“Developing a passing game is one of our top priorities,” Hart said.

 

Rashard Carter (5-10, 170, Jr.) rushed for 483 yards and three touchdowns, and fullback Josh Alber (5-8, 180, Jr.) added 521 yards and seven scores.

 

Another priority for Ashland will be to correct their porous defense that gave up 27 points or more in all but one game.

 

Hart thinks the Ashland front line should drastically reduce the yardage they allowed last year.

 

Thompson, Ryan Bonner (6-4, 230, Sr.), and T.R. Hush (6-0, 180, Sr.) return at defense end, and Keaton, Walker, and Holbrook will see time at the tackle spot.

 

The linebackers will be Alber, Dom DeMartino (5-10, 170, Jr.), Stephen Burns (6-1, 190, Sr.), and Blake McLeod (5-11, 185, Sr.).

 

Plank and McDavid are the corners, and Carter and Josh Miller are the safeties.

 

Hart said the Tomcats should also get some defensive help from Trent Hardy (6-2, 185, Soph.) at end, Proc Robinson (6-0, 215, Jr.) at linebacker, and Andrew Nunley (6-0, 165, Soph.) and Trey Rogers (5-10, 150, Soph.) in the secondary.

 

“We have much more experience and depth going in (to this year),” Hart said. “And we’re going to need it considering how good our district is from top to bottom.”

 

 

Barren County (5-6)

Head coach: Jeff Richey

2007: Lost to Warren Central 59-7 in the first round of the playoffs

 

In his second season as Barren County head coach, Jeff Richey had a modest goal for his team – host a first round playoff game.

 

Of course, that would mean getting past Bowling Green, Grayson County, or Warren Central in a four-team district.

 

While that doesn’t sound like a lofty goal, one has to keep in mind that Barren County hasn’t had a winning season since 2001 and hasn’t won a playoff game since 1992.

 

Richey is hoping the return of most of his running backs and offensive line will help the Trojans reach their goal.

 

Coty Lynn (5-7, 155, Sr.), Tim Sneed (6-0, 165, Jr.), Chris Aquino, and Judd Perkins (5-9, 200, Jr.) return behind an experienced line that includes Zack Burris (6-4, 290, Sr.), Ben Lancaster, Eric Marr (6-1, 245, Soph.), and Landon Stephens.

 

The Trojans must find a replacement for the graduated Blake Crabtree at quarterback. Those candidates include Bart Houchens (5-9, 180, Jr.), Gil Thomas (5-9, 175, Soph.), and Tyler Hughes (5-10, 145, Soph.).

 

On the defensive side of the football, return some experience up front with Burris, Marr, Houchens, Lancaster, and Matt Thibault (5-10, 185, Jr.).

 

Richey is expecting big things from his linebacking corps that includes Sneed, Hughes, Thomas, and Tyler Wilson (5-7, 165, Sr.).

 

“We are making strides to get where we need to be to compete in 5A,” Richey said. “We are not there, but we have a vision of where we are trying to get and a map to get us there.”

 

 

Bowling Green (13-2)

Head coach: Kevin Wallace

2007: Lost to Highlands 28-7 in the Class 5A state championship game

 

By Purple Haze

 

What do you do after graduating many Division-I football players and make three consecutive appearances in state championship games? When you’re Bowling Green head coach Kevin Wallace, you reload and try again. And Coach Wallace would have it no other way.

 

At Bowling Green, the ultimate goal for each season is always a run at a state championship, no matter the amount or quality of players lost.

 

The Purples lost arguably the finest collection of skill players in school history, but the cupboard is hardly bare. BGHS returns five starters on the offensive side of the football.

 

Tevin Barksdale (senior) and Lavance Anderson (junior) should be one of the most exciting tandems of running backs to watch in Kentucky this fall.

 

Dane Hilliard and Taylor Shipley, both seniors, return for leadership roles in the offensive line. These two will likely be joined by freshman center Will West.

 

The fifth offensive starter coming back is senior kicker “Automatic Max” Oldham, as he goes after team and KHSAA records for most consecutive PATs kicked. He was tabbed as a Second Team All-Stater last season.

 

Sam Howard and Wes Cole (both juniors) saw considerable action at receiver last year.

 

The heir apparent at quarterback looks to be junior J.P. Jackson, though sophomore Chandler Sears had an impressive spring.

 

Bowling Green uses a rotation of defensive linemen. However, the one returning starter is an excellent one and could be mentioned for postseason All-State teams in senior Elijah Young. Young is also being mentioned as a possible starter on the offensive line. He became bigger and stronger in the off-season and has already secured a scholarship to Eastern Kentucky.

 

No starting ILB returns for the Purples for 2008, but several players saw considerable action last year. These players include seniors John Austin Sowell and J.P. Wurth, junior David Miller, and Anderson.

 

The outside linebacker position has a real gem returning in junior Alfred Gilbert, and he is being mentioned for possible postseason awards.

 

Another junior, Josh Blaine, appears ready to take over at the other outside linebacker spot.

 

Junior Jay Beard started at cornerback last year, but could be this year’s Jared Carpenter, playing if needed at either linebacker or strong safety for the Purples. He will play where he is needed the most, as Carpenter selflessly did in 2007, and his play earned a scholarship to Northwestern University.

 

Other players vying for playing time are Wurth, fellow senior Jordan Watkins, junior Mookie Clark, and sophomores Tevin Anderson and Jack Miller.

 

In addition to Oldham, junior Zach Williams will try his punting skills.

 

Should the Purples have a lackluster year in 2008, their luck won’t be down for very long at all. The seventh and eighth grade teams were both unbeaten and relatively untested last year. Word has it that they bear a striking resemblance to the last two BGHS teams. But that is not to say that the 2008 Purples will be down on their luck at all. They, after all, are Purples, and they have a tendency to find a way to still be respected on the gridiron.

 

 

Bryan Station (4-7)

Head coach: Oliver Lucas

2007: Lost to Johnson Central 48-27 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Bryan Station lost three main components of their offense to graduation but return enough experience to make a run in their district in 2008.

 

Gone are playmakers Donald Wilhite, Lance Morton, and Terrell Combs, who accounted for most of the scoring from last year’s 4-7 team that lost to Johnson Central in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Players who saw some time in the backfield last year include Patrick Cornett (5-7, 170, Sr.), Tevin McCaden (5-10, 175, Jr.), and fullback Roy Philon (6-3, 270, Sr.).

 

Sophomore Michael Winkler (5-10, 175, Soph.) appears to have the inside track to replace Morton at quarterback.

 

Chaz Mitchell (5-10, 170, Jr.) gives the Defenders a deep threat at receiver.

 

Earl McCann (5-10, 180, Sr.) and Jordan Taylor (5-9, 165, Jr.) are back in the Bryan Station secondary along with Desmond Sutter (5-10, 165, Sr.).

 

Kris Bolton (5-11, 195, Jr.) had a solid sophomore season at linebacker, and Isaiah Davis (6-2, 260, Sr.) looks to anchor a defensive line that must improve in 2008.

 

Nick Cooper (6-5, 315, Sr.) and David Lane (6-3, 275, Sr.) are a couple of starting linemen that return for head coach Oliver Lucas.

 

 

Christian County (6-6)

Head coach: Steve Lovelace

2007: Lost to Owensboro 35-19 in the second round of the playoffs

 

By Scott Brown

WHVO Radio

 

2007 served as a coming out party for several players Christian County will look to in 2008 as they try and advance past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

 

Junior running back VaShun Banks burst onto the scene with an unforgettable 257-yard, five touchdown performance against Trigg County in October. He finished the season with over 1,200 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns and will be the key back in head coach Steve Lovelace’s attack.

 

If Banks is the lightning, then T.J. Grimes (5-8, 270, Jr.) provides the thunder at fullback. Also in the backfield are David Wallace (5-9, 170, Sr.) and Rontez Manning (5-6, 160, Jr.).

 

James Bauer (6-0, 175, Sr.) moved in from Kansas and showed off his ability to both run and pass the football. The senior signal caller threw for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns and added another 622 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

 

Wallace was the Colonels’ leading receiver with 22 catches for 311 yards, but several players will have to step forward to fill some voids there this season.

 

Jordan Williams (5-9, 170, Sr.), a standout catcher on the Colonel baseball team, and Malcolm McDuffen (6-3, 190, Jr.), the backup quarterback, will likely be plugged into the offense to give the mobile Bauer multiple receiving targets.

 

The Colonel offensive line has three starters back in Houston Croney (6-2, 290, Sr.), Jacob Langston (6-6, 285, Sr.), and Mark Payne (5-9, 225, Sr.).

On defense, McDuffen and Manning return in the secondary and should give opposing quarterbacks fits because of their lockdown coverage.

 

Thomas Pool (5-10, 235, Sr.) and Grimes return on the defensive line, and Payton Long (5-10, 170, Jr.) is back at linebacker, a position where the Colonels suffered some big graduations losses.

 

Lovelace is hoping his defense, which he termed as “Jekyl-Hyde” last year, can improve after giving up 20 or more points in 10 of their 12 games.

 

The Colonels also battled the injury bug quite a bit in 2007, which caused several underclassmen to be thrust into starting roles. Lovelace is hoping that can translate into wins in 2008

 

 

Clay County (7-5)

Head coach: Shannon Arnett

2007: Lost to Letcher County Central 48-37 in the second round of the playoffs

 

With Zach Lewis back for his fourth season in charge of the pass-happy Tigers’ offense, scoring probably won’t be a problem for Clay County (7-5).

 

The Tigers, led by the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Lewis at quarterback, averaged just under 40 points a game in 2007 and topped the 30-point mark in 10 of 12 games. Lewis led all 5A schools in Kentucky during last year’s regular season as he completed 195 of 323 passes for over 330 yards per game. He also threw for 30 touchdowns.

 

Lewis returns, but he will be without several of his favorite targets, meaning the Clay defense will have to play a bigger role if the Tigers are to break through for a district championship. Clay lost 48-37 to Letcher Central in last year’s district finals.

 

John Vernon Hooker, a talented sophomore wide receiver, could take over as the Tigers’ top option in the passing game. Juniors Ethan Nolan and Delbert Collins return in the backfield. Sophomore Tanner Gilbert (6-4, 240) will be counted on to anchor the line.

 

Shannon Arnett takes over the top spot at Clay County after Aaron Stepp took the Harrison County job over the summer.

 

 

Covington Catholic (5-7)

Head coach: Dave Brossart

2007: Lost to Highlands 40-0 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Expectations are high in Park Hills after a grueling off-season weight and conditioning program and a year in head coach Dave Brossart’s system.

 

With the system firmly in place and the players meeting Coach Brossart’s expectations, they expect to challenge the defending state champion Highlands and make a run to Louisville.

 

The offense will be built on the broad shoulders of three returning offensive linemen. Seth Tepe (6-3, 260, Sr.), Chad Schadler (6-7, 265, Sr.), and Kevin Connaughton (6-4, 260, Jr.) are huge, strong, and have good feet.

 

Kevin Morrison (6-4, 260, Jr.) and Ben Frish (6-0, 230, Jr.) should complete the front wall of the Colonels.

 

Strong-armed quarterback Zach Isler (6-4, 225, Sr.) also returns after a junior season of growth and learning. He threw for over 1,300 yards as a junior. The three-sport athlete has much confidence and knowledge of the system and will have many weapons surrounding him.

 

The receivers include Craig Furnish (5-11, 160, Sr.), Ryan Voet (6-0, 180, Sr.), Sam Burhans (6-4, 180, Sr.), Michael Robinson (6-1, 180, Jr.), and Pat Vansant (6-3, 195, Sr.).

 

The running backs will be led by the slashing, bruising Will Deters (5-11, 195, Sr.). His physical style should mesh well with the mauling offensive line.

 

Joe Hearn (5-11, 190, Sr.), and Andy Deglow (5-10, 190, Jr.) will also be in the mix.

 

On defense, the line, like the offense, will be the strength.

 

Lee Schatzman (6-2, 225, Sr.), Mack Malloy (6-1, 195, Sr.), David Gray (6-0, 205, Sr.), Casey Wiggins (5-11, 225, Sr.), and Chris Bright (6-0, 195, Sr.) all return. This is the same group who stopped Beechwood on three tries inside the five-yard line and stopped Elder on four tries inside the one.

 

The linebackers are a big, athletic group. They are led by OLB Vansant who will be joined by Andrew Hodge (6-1, 195, Sr.) and Kyle Restle (6-0, 190, Sr.). This smart, active group should complement the defensive line well.

 

The secondary is a fast, talented group led by safety Joe Hearn. Also joining him will be cornerback Furnish and Robinson at safety in addition to Dan Soltys (5-10, 185, Sr.), Neil Martin (5-11, 170, Jr.), Braden Erpenbeck (6-1, 205, Jr.), and Joe Keene (5-9, 160, Jr.).

 

The special teams will again be a very solid group with Isler returning at punter and senior Brent Bessler continuing the long line of strong-legged, accurate kickers at Covington Catholic.

 

As always, the 2008 schedule is a challenging one. It begins in Canton, Ohio versus Ohio Division IV runner-up Youngstown Cardinal Mooney in the Herbstreit Classic.

 

The schedule also includes Class 1A state champion Beechwood, Class 2A state runner-up Newport Central Catholic, perennial state playoff participant Dixie Heights, Class 5A state champion Highlands, Ohio Division I power Elder, and Class 6A state runner-up Louisville St. Xavier.

 

When the playoffs roll around, the Colonels should be seasoned for a run at Louisville and the state championship.

 

 

Dixie Heights (6-5)

Head coach: Tom Spritzky

2007: Lost to Covington Catholic in the first round of the playoffs

 

The rebuilding begins at Dixie Heights where the Colonels lost most of their starters from last year’s team that posted the school’s sixth winning season in their last seven.

 

The Colonels appear in better shape on defense, where four players who started are back in 2008.

 

Linebacker Cody Godsey (5-11, 205, Sr.) led the Colonels with seven sacks and had two fumble recoveries. Across from him, Josh Raleigh (5-11, 175, Jr.) had four interceptions, and Ben Wolfe (5-9, 180, Jr.) is the top returning tackler from last year.

 

On offense, Connor Brock (5-11, 165, Sr.) rushed for 398 yards, including a 101-yard effort against Simon Kenton. Corey Klei (5-7, 165, Jr.) could also see some time in the backfield.

 

Junior Ryan Wilson (5-11, 165) appears to be the front-runner for the starting job at quarterback with the departure of Joey Bricking.

 

Ben Haggarty (5-7, 140, Jr.) caught eight passes for 88 yards last year and, along with Brock, are the most experienced ball catchers returning.

 

On the line, Joel Lubrano (6-0, 230, Jr.), Chris Tolson (6-4, 320, Sr.), and Nick Martin (5-8, 270, Jr.) all return.

 

While Dixie Heights may struggle some this year, don’t expect for them to be down for long with a talented sophomore and junior class rising through the ranks.

 

 

Doss (7-5)

Head coach: LaKunta Farmer

2007: Lost to John Hardin 56-7 in the second round of the playoffs

 

With one of the most exciting players in the Louisville-area on the roster, this has a chance to be a special season for the Doss Dragons.

 

Quarterback Demetric Unseld is a senior who passed for more than 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns and ran for 750 yards and nine more scores as a junior.

 

Cameron Clemons and Vachel Hudson are two top receivers, while JaQuan Persley ran for nearly 1,000 yards last season for the Dragons.

 

Linebacker Tim Taylor and end Kenneth Townsend anchor the defense.

 

 

Grant County (6-4)

Head coach: Mike Davis

2007: Missed the 3A playoffs

 

Grant County notched the school’s first winning season in 2007, but it still wasn’t good enough to make the playoffs as the Braves lost out head-to-head with South Oldham.

 

Head coach Mike Davis does have some key players back as they try to get back to the postseason.

 

Senior quarterback Joe Soden accounted for 1,600 yards of total yards on offense, throwing for 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns.

 

Justin Mertz (6-1, 160, Sr.) caught 24 passes for 265 yards.

 

In the backfield, the Braves return Dillon Pelphrey (5-11, 150, Jr.), who rushed for 388 yards and five touchdowns, and fullback Rex Benson (5-11, 195, Sr.), who scored six touchdowns.

 

K.J. Little (5-10, 210, Sr.) and Cory Beach (5-10, 270, Sr.) return on the line.

 

 

Grayson County (7-4)

Head coach: Ed Smart

2007: Lost to Bowling Green 52-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

After winning five games the previous three seasons, Grayson County broke through with seven wins and made consecutive playoff appearance for the first time in nearly 30 years.

 

A whole bunch of sophomores and juniors saw action last season, and head coach Ed Smart is hoping it pays off on the field in 2008.

 

The Cougars return Jacob Clemons (5-10, 150, Jr.) at quarterback after he took over the starting job midway through last season.

 

Brian Beeler (5-10, 185, Jr.) was moved from the offensive line to the backfield and rushed for 544 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught 13 passes for 196 yards and three more scores.

 

Dustin Thomas (5-11, 185, Jr.), GaRhett Carmine (5-7, 140, Sr.), and Jonathon Higdon (5-8, 155, Sr.) can be used in the offensive attack or in the secondary where Higdon picked off two passes and Thomas recovered a pair of fumbles.

 

Grayson County has seen the numbers in the program swell in recent years, which has led to depth at several positions. The Cougar faithful is hopeful that depth can carry them to their first playoff win in 27 years.

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Highlands (15-0)

Head coach: Dale Mueller

2007: Beat Bowling Green 28-7 to win the Class 5A state championship

 

18...That’s the magic number for the 2008 edition of the Highlands Bluebirds. The Bluebirds will be after their 18th state title, but it won’t be easy as the Birds have a challenging schedule featuring Ohio power Colerain, Kentucky state champions Lexington Catholic and Central, and arch-rival Covington Catholic.

 

But this year’s edition has the talent returning to make a serious run at an encore.

 

At quarterback, Tony Guidugli, (6-2, 190, Sr.) will be ready to step up and lead the team. He didn’t get much time last year but he has that “D-1 Gun” of an arm.

 

Will Bardo, (6-3, 185, Jr.) will be waiting in the wings providing insurance at this vital position.

 

In the backfield, Mr. Football candidate Josh Conner (5-11, 190, Sr.) returns for a third year as feature running back. Clint Crawford (5-10, 175, Sr.) and Oliver Head (5-10, 185, Sr.) should also see time in the Bluebird backfield.

 

There will be lots of targets for the Birds this year. Austin Collinsworth (6-2, 190, Jr.) will stretch the secondary and sure-handed receivers Jake Turner, (6-2, 185, Sr.), Alex Horner, (6-1, 175, Sr.), Ted Abner, (6-0, 185, Sr.), David Hogue, (6-2, 180, Jr.), and Nick Buten, (6-0, 180, Jr.) should reap the benefits underneath.

 

Tight ends Brandon Roller (6-2, 220, Jr.) and Kyle Welz (6-5, 250, Jr.) will be large targets down the middle.

 

On the offensive line, Adam Dempsey, (6-3, 240, Sr.) returns from last year to lead a group of talented, but inexperienced linemen. Coach Scott Turner will try to work the same magic he did last year and form another outstanding unit with Hunter Schlosser (6-0, 235, Jr.), Tyler Combs (6-2, 235, Jr.), Peter Bardgett (6-1, 210, Sr.), Tyler Grubbs (6-4, 260, Jr.) Michael Laber (6-1, 225, Sr.), Cam Dierig (5-9, 185, Jr.), and Ryan Hahn (6-0, 195, So).

 

On defense, returning All State selection Austin Collinsworth headlines a group of fast and hard-hitting players.

 

Clint Crawford, Will Bardo, Josh Conner, Oliver Head, Jake Turner, Nick Buten, and Alex Horner should all see time patrolling the secondary.

 

Another group of outstanding linebackers awaits the opposition this year. Michael Laber, Brandon Roller, and Nick Martin (6-2, 195, Sr.) will be joined by Blake Newman (5-10, 185, Sr.), Travis Alford (6-0, 195, Jr.), Spencer Bankemper (6-0, 185, Jr.), Ted Abner, and Jake Turner in forming a matrix of talents to thwart the opposing offense.

 

On the defensive line, quick, fast, strong, and relentless in pursuit characterizes this group of athletes.

 

Kody Rosenhagen (6-1, 240, Sr.) leads an outstanding rotation including Jarred Frank (6-2, 240, Sr.), Brian Beck (6-2, 205, Jr.), Donnie Brown (5-10, 231, Jr.), Tyler Miller (6-0, 225, Sr.), Bubba Moyer (6-1, 210, Jr.), Adam Dempsey, Hunter Schlosser, Peter Bardgett, and Cam Dierig.

 

If the Birds have any real questions this year, special teams is probably where they reside.

 

The kicking game will need to be totally overhauled. Junior Alex Etienne (5-9, 160) will handle extra points and field goals. Senior Kody Rosenhagen may be used for kickoffs. The punting chores should be capably manned by David Hogue.

 

The Birds are still hungry and itching to defend their Class 5A state title. They also want to keep extending their winning streak, currently at 15 games. They have the tools to be playing for #18 in Louisville on December 12 and possibly go for 30 in a row?

 

 

Holmes (4-6)

Head coach: Stephen Lickert

2007: Missed the playoffs

 

by Dave Pugh

 

Coach Steven Lickert’s first year at the helm of the Bulldogs was a roller coaster, as the Dogs closed with a 4-6 record. There was the high of upsetting Dixie Heights and the low of losing to Scott, which ultimately kept them out of the playoffs.

 

However, the first year of the Lickert Era was all about placing his stamp on the program and setting high expectations and getting the kids to buy into his approach. As the Bulldogs head into their second season under Coach Lickert, they can hope to duplicate the success that Lickert had at Dayton in their second year, where he turned around the Green Devil program.

 

The 2007 Bulldogs didn’t have a full offseason of getting their entire system implemented, particularly the offseason conditioning program, but moving forward things are looking up for the Bulldogs for the 2008 campaign.

 

Enthusiasm is high, as Lickert has brought a championship attitude to the team and instilled a work ethic to match their drive. A demanding offseason program has set that tone, and the staff continues to set high expectations for the team and accepts nothing less than full speed.

 

Typically, the Bulldogs are blessed with athletes at the skill positions, but the Dogs were hit hard by graduation at the skill positions. There is some talent at those positions but they will be young. In addition, there may be a few players playing both ways for this year's Bulldogs.

 

The strength of this year’s team will be on the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line will have five senior starters, and the anchor will be at tackle with Bobby Godowa (6’1, 240), who Lickert called a Division-I caliber player.

 

James Rice (G, 6’0, 235) returns and will likely be a two-way starter. The other linemen will be Assad Tillman, Nyho Buck, and LaDonte Hocker. All started at times last year.

 

This group will look to provide the leadership as the Dogs mature at the skill positions.

 

On offense the Dogs will have to replace James Miller who will be walking on at Louisville. Miller controlled the spread attack from the quarterback position last season.

 

Lickert said senior Cameron Booth, who played soccer last year, could win the starting job at quarterback.

 

“He’s very smart and has good feet, but is learning the game of football. He’s coming along well,” he said of Booth.

 

Tirell Englemon should challenge Booth for the starting job and will start somewhere, Lickert said.

 

With the loss of Miller, Holmes will likely be less reliant on quarterback runs and more reliant on a short passing game.

 

The lone returning skill player for Holmes shows a lot of promise and that is Mike Covington (5'10, 185), a strong runner who hits the hole, and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

 

Junior Carlos Calemeno will share the ball carrying for the Bulldogs.

 

The wide receivers will be inexperienced, particularly without the departed Rashad Palmer, who will be walking on at Kentucky this season.

 

Junior Daniel London (6'3, 180) shows a lot of promise at the wideout position.

 

On defense, the Bulldogs will likely move from a 5-3 to a 3-3 stack in an attempt to get more speed on the field, with emphasis on pressuring the line of scrimmage and being able to attack offenses from every direction.

 

Look for senior Terrel Marshall, Covington, and Carlos Calimeno (Jr.), along with Randy Godowa (Jr.) to be anchoring the defense from the LB position.

 

The defensive backfield will mirror the inexperience at receiver, but Charley Riley, Alex Dailey, and Traerell Freeman could earn starting spots.

 

The defensive line will likely have some crossovers from the offensive line, but senior Mark Jones (5'9, 175) though undersized for DL, is lightning fast and will create match up problems.

 

Rice, Buck, and Lowe will also line up on the D-Line.

 

“Our depth on the defensive line will contribute to our success. We have changed our scheme in order to put more speed on the field,” Lickert said. “Our linebacker core should be our strength. They are very fast, aggressive and strong. I feel our defensive team speed should take care of any mistakes.”

 

Heading into the 2008 campaign, Holmes’s schedule will have the same mirroring opponents they had last year, and the Bulldogs will look to improve upon their previous season’s record and qualify for the 5A playoffs.

 

The offense and defense will look a little different this year, but they will continue to improve as their younger kids gain experience, and they will play fast.

 

Expectations are high in Covington, and with a complete offseason under the Lickert regime, the program looks to be moving in the right direction.

 

 

Hopkinsville (4-7)

Head coach: Dixie Jones

2007: Lost to Christian County 52-38 in the first round of the playoffs

By Scott Brown

WHVO Radio

 

Hopkinsville isn’t accustomed to early exits in the playoffs, but that’s what happened in 2007 as the Tigers suffered through their first losing season since 1998 and failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs in nine years.

 

The Tigers return enough speed at the skill positions to turn things around, but how far they advance in the post season will contingent on how well their offensive line improves.

 

Hoptown quarterbacks found themselves running for their lives in many games last year as quick teams were able to maneuver past the Tiger line and spend most of their night in the Tiger backfield.

 

Senior center Jason Denton (6-1, 235, Sr.) is the lone starter back for the Tigers, who will look to a new unit that saw some time in the lineup towards the end of last season.

 

Deontae Bailey (5-11, 205, Sr.), Shane Poe (5-10, 220, Jr.), Dennis Brandon (6-0, 210, Sr.), and Stetson Humphries (6-0, 230, Jr.) are among the linemen that will face the added pressure of protecting their quarterback and opening the holes for the rushing attack.

 

Quarterback Marshall Stewart (6-1, 175, Sr.) struggled at times last year and was replaced midway through the season. He returns to try and shake off the effects of last year. Jon Cessna (5-10,1 60, Jr.) will be pushing Stewart in practice.

 

The Tigers do have some explosiveness on offense if they can keep them healthy.

 

Joe Harris (5-11, 210, Sr.) was the team’s leading rusher early in the season before nagging injuries limited his playing time toward the end of the season.

 

Deshawn Johnson (5-8, 140, Sr.) could move into the role vacated by the graduation of Cardell McGregor.

 

Victor Moulden (5-11. 170, Sr.) emerged as one of the best receivers in the state and will be joined at receiver by Darrick Dillard (6-3, 180, Sr.)

Kirk Thomas (6-3, 215, Sr.) is a sure-handed tight end that gives Stewart another option in the passing game.

 

Jim Adkins (6-3, 170, Sr.), who set several school kicking records last year, gives the Tigers a solid kicking game on special teams, which should be a strength for the Tigers.

 

On defense, Harris, Dillard, Dee Allen (5-9, 185, Sr.), and Tanner Leavell (5-7, 160, Sr.) return at linebacker, which is usually a strong suit in a Dixie Jones defense.

 

Mouldon, Stewart, Johnson, and Keno Brown (5-11, 160, Jr.) all return in the Tiger secondary.

 

The Tigers should benefit from a strong junior class and will not have another losing season, unless their offensive line play regresses from last year.

 

 

Iroquois (0-11)

Head coach: Jeff Norman

2007: Lost to John Hardin 55-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

After one season at Morgan County, Jeff Norman heads back to Louisville and will try to help Iroquois snap a 19-game losing streak.

 

Norman, a former assistant coach at Rowan County and Western, takes over for Shawn Thompson who went 5-36 in four seasons. Iroquois hasn’t had a winning season since going 9-2 in 1994.

 

And while the numbers are better than they used to be, the Raiders still don’t have a lot of depth and must rely on a lot of young players.

 

 

Jeffersontown (4-7)

Head coach: Gary Weiter

2007: Lost to Oldham County 35-19 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Jeffersontown lost a ton of key players to graduation and the Chargers also had to replace head coach Scott Carmony, who took the job at Butler.

 

So, former Manual assistant coach Gary Weiter takes over.

Weiter played football at Campbellsville University and was an assistant coach at that school and also at Adair County before taking over as the Atherton coach from 1998-99. He was the offensive coordinator at Manual the past seven seasons.

 

Now, he faces a huge challenge at J’town.

 

Domonique Wilson and Delton Kirk both ran for more than 250 yards last season for the Chargers are must be the building blocks.

 

 

John Hardin (11-2)

Head coach: Mark Brown

2007: Lost to Bowling Green 27-23 in the region championship game

 

By JOSH CLAYWELL

The (Elizabethtown) News-Enterprise

The John Hardin Bulldogs have been knocking on the door for quite some time.

 

And after running through the regular season undefeated, the Bulldogs appeared poised to contend for the school’s first-ever region title in football.

 

But John Hardin’s first undefeated regular season came to heartbreaking end with a 27-23 loss to Bowling Green in the quarterfinals of the Class 5-A playoffs.

 

Now, the Bulldogs are ready to beat the door down.

 

“I don’t think any program is where you want it to be unless you have just won the state championship,” veteran John Hardin coach Mark Brown said. “We have been in the regional finals the past two out of three years and lost to both teams by close margins. I think the next step would be to win the region.”

 

And with junior quarterback Alex Dingle and senior fullback and second-leading rusher Elias Camper back to lead the offense, the Bulldogs could take that step this season.

 

Dingle threw for 1,175 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, while Camper rushed for 871 yards and 13 touchdowns.

 

Also back is running back Cameron Parker, who rushed for 478 yards, and wide receiver Tim Marcum, who caught 22 passes for 397 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

Other key offensive returnees include linemen Billy Simmons at guard and Van Ingram at tackle.

 

The Bulldogs only return four starters on defense. William Burford will anchor the line at tackle, while Caleb Mitchell will anchor the linebackers. Marcum and Orland Mouncil return at cornerback.

 

Marcum led John Hardin with three interceptions last season, while Mouncil had one.

 

“Our backfield and receivers should be a strength,” Brown said. “Offensive line, defensive line and linebackers could be a weakness.”

 

The Bulldogs ran roughshod over their competition last season, outscoring their opponents 529-202.

 

But John Hardin couldn’t past the Bowling Green Purples, who lost to eventual state champion Fort Thomas Highlands in the state finals.

 

“I think we should be contenders for the district and regional titles this year,” Brown said. “This is our goal every year, and one of these days we are going to get there.”

 

 

Johnson Central (10-3)

Head coach: Jim Matney

2007: Lost to Lincoln County 43-22 in the region championship game

 

When it comes to building a program, there are bumps along the way and plenty of criticism; so is the world of the Johnson Central Golden Eagles. Jim Matney has effectively transformed a winless team into a program that resides in the Top 10 of the most competitive class in the Commonwealth, but the road has not been easy and detractors abound.

 

Last season, criticisms were flamed when not only did the Golden Eagles fail to follow-up their state semifinal run from the previous year, but also allegations of recruiting and a KHSAA investigation made them the centerpiece of discussions across the state.

 

The end result was a respectable 10-3 season, a district title, and a road loss to Lincoln County in the quarterfinals.

 

Matney has developed a sense of community and school pride like never before at JCHS, but in order to continue to improve towards his ultimate goal improvement will be necessary.

 

The first step is replacing quarterback J.K. Ratliff and running back Shawn Grim, a combo, which accounted for over 3,100 total yards last season and 224 points.

 

The cupboard is far from bare in the backfield as the Eagles return Chase Richardson (5-10, 210, Sr.) and Nathan Dillon (6-1, 180, Jr.), who combined for over 1,600 rushing yards and 22 TD’s.

 

The battle for the quarterback position is still up in the air between Dennis Dillon (6-3, 205, Sr.) and J.K. Hall (6-1, 165, Soph.), but whoever earns the starting spot will be fortunate to have one of the state’s top receivers to throw to in Ian Welch (6-2, 185, Jr.), a 1,000-yard receiver from last season.

 

Defensively, the first issue to address for Johnson Central is the loss of Austin Peay signee Nathaniel Dials at the defensive end spot.

 

The Eagles lost several key ingredients from last year’s squad but expect Nathan Dillon to anchor the squad.

 

In the secondary, Welch not only doubles as a playmaker on offense, but as one of the state’s most prolific defensive backs, entering the season with 25 career picks.

 

Johnson Central shouldn’t miss a beat producing yards and points on offense, but the key to their season will come in their ability to stop their opposition in a district filled with playmakers.

 

Expectations for a Class 5A state title are pretty far fetched, but with the proper cohesion expect JCHS to once again make their mark with a deep playoff run.

 

 

Letcher County Central (11-2)

Head coach: Hillard Howard

2007: Lost to Highlands 52-12 in the region championship game

 

The Cougars made up a lot of ground in only three seasons of football, capturing the District 8 title in Class 5A last year by reeling off 11 straight wins after a season-opening loss to Class A power Hazard.

 

Letcher Central (11-2) fell to Highlands in the regional championship game, but not before gaining a lot of respect from football observers around the state who witnessed a remarkable turnaround.

 

Hillard Howard, the coach who led Pikeville to three state titles in the 1980s, built the Letcher program quickly even though the three schools involved in the merger posted a combined 2-28 record in 2004.

 

Senior quarterback Charlie Banks (6-3, 200) played a big role in the Cougars’ championship season, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns and passing for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.

 

Senior guard Chase Knight (6-0, 250) is the only other starter back on offense, meaning a defense that welcomes back nine starters will have to take on a bigger role in 2008 after giving up over 25 points a game last fall.

 

The Letcher Central defense is led by senior ends Richard Shepherd (6-3, 205) and Nate Adams (6-3, 220), sophomore tackles Justin Garrett (6-0, 290) and Dakota Cornett (6-3, 230), senior linebacker Caleb Frazier (5-11, 225) and junior nose guard Daniel Collins (5-10, 185).

 

 

Lincoln County (11-3)

Head coach: Mike Settles

2007: Lost to Highlands 49-21 in the state semifinals

 

Not everything has changed at Lincoln County. It only looks that way.

After enjoying their best season since 1993 -- the last time they made the state finals -- the Patriots lost most of their key players and their coach.

 

Larry French moved to neighboring Boyle County, and Mike Settles took over in Stanford after a successful run at Bullitt East.

 

Settles acknowledges that both he and his team are starting over, but they're starting from a pretty good place. The biggest stars from last season may be gone, but there is a fair amount of experience on both sides of the ball.

 

Start with the likely starting quarterback, senior Trey Edwards (6-2, 200), who spent most of his time last season at running back. His experience at quarterback is limited, but he has performed well when used there.

 

Edwards' move under center leaves little experience at running back. The top returnee there is junior Skyler Gilbert (6-0, 185), who played only a supporting role last year. He'll likely run with junior Julian Calhoun (5-10, 160), a cousin of 2006 star Trent Calhoun.

 

The receiving corps includes senior tight end Rob Conatser (6-1, 180), and senior Wes Camel (5-9, 165) and newcomer Cody Wills at wide receiver.

 

Settles said the Patriots will be a more run-oriented team than last year, when they had two standout receivers and a veteran quarterback, but he said the pass will still be part of the offense.

 

Lincoln does have a handful of veterans on its lines, including senior center-defensive lineman Chase Marcum (6-2, 245) and seniors Trey Owsley (6-3, 220) and Ben Harris (6-2, 230) at offensive line and defensive end.

 

Other key players on defense will include Gilbert and Conatser at linebacker and Camel in the secondary.

 

No one is expecting Lincoln to match last year's 11-win season, and the Patriots will probably be expected to finish closer to the bottom of District 7 than the top.

 

Settles understands he has some work to do to get the Pats back to the top on a consistent basis.

 

“The program is nowhere near where it needs to be. We have got to develop the lower levels,” Settles said. “Last year, there were no freshman games and only three JV games. It will take about four to five years to get the program where it needs to be.”

 

Once Settles puts his stamp on the program, Lincoln should be able to keep winning consistently.

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Mercer County (5-6)

Head coach: Marty Jaggers

2007: Lost to Lincoln County 34-14 in the first round of the playoffs

After an undefeated season in 2006 and a losing season in 2007, where are the Mercer County Titans likely to finish this fall? Probably somewhere in the middle.

 

Heavy graduation losses after its state championship season two years ago doomed Mercer to its first losing season since 2003 -- and only its second in the last 10 years -- but the Titans have enough key players returning this fall to not only improve their fortunes but also make a serious run at the District 7 title.

 

Many of those players are on the line, where Mercer figures to again be strong. The offensive front is led by three seniors, tackle Ellis Delahousay (6-2, 225), guard Jay Linton (5-9, 230) and center Hunter Robinson (6-1, 240). Junior tackle Devon Majors (6-3, 345) also returns.

 

Behind them, mobile quarterback Trevor Short (5-11, 165) returns for his senior season after throwing for 529 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for another 483 yards as a junior. Meanwhile, junior Tre Dun (6-0, 198) and sophomore Adam Gooch (5-11, 162) have moved up through the ranks and into position to challenge Short.

 

Senior Jordan Yeast (5-9, 195) returns after leading Mercer in rushing last season with 979 yards and seven touchdowns, and senior Matthew McCloud (5-9, 150) also figures to play a larger role in the backfield after rushing for 219 yards last year.

 

The Titans also return last year's top receiver, senior John Linton (5-9, 180), who had 17 catches for 278 yards.

 

There are plenty of starters returning on defense as well, including senior linebackers Nick Reed (6-1, 207) and Tyler Horn (6-3, 198).

 

The secondary should include John Linton and junior Russell Mays (5-6, 150).

 

Mercer's strong schedule means there probably be some losses along the way, but last year's results attest to the fact that the Titans could be in any or all of their games.

 

All of their losses in 2007 were by five points or less except their playoff loss to Lincoln County, so it isn't hard to envision the senior-dominated Titans putting themselves in position to win its district and make a deep playoff run.

 

 

Montgomery County (8-4)

Head coach: Dan Gooch

2007: Lost to Johnson Central 32-14 in the second round of the playoffs

Dan Gooch will be starting his fourth season at the helm of Montgomery County. Montgomery County is coming off their most successful season in ten years and hope to build on back-to-back playoff appearances. The Indians will be a young team but have several seniors in key positions that should give good leadership.

 

On the defensive side of the football, the Indians will be led by cornerback Ryan Hackworth (6-0, 165, Sr.), lineman Grant Darnell (6-1, 210, Sr.), and linebackers Zach Hood (5-6, 180, Jr.) and Tyler Cundiff (5-11, 165, Sr.).

 

Hackworth, a three-year starter at defensive back, had four interceptions and eight pass break-ups as a junior.

 

Darnell led the Indians with 12 sacks and 11 tackles behind the line last year.

 

Hood had 76 tackles and an interception last year in only six games due to an early season injury.

 

The Indian offense will be lead by sophomore quarterback Seth Dotson (5-11, 160), who started the final four games at quarterback after the injury to Kaleb Curtis. He led the Indians to three wins and threw for 357 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Montgomery County hopes to replace several starters on the offensive line with several underclassmen.

 

The offensive line will be anchored by Darnell and Andre McCall (5-10, 230, Jr.), both returning starters.

 

Hackworth will be a versatile back on offense, playing both receiver and running back. He rushed for 493 yards last year.

 

Tyler Murphy (5-10, 160, Jr.) had a great spring and should break into the starting lineup in the backfield.

 

Tyler Hussey (6-2, 290, Sr.), the team’s strongest player, hopes to come back strong for his senior year after a knee injury.

 

Montgomery County hopes to overcome their youthfulness with better overall speed.

 

 

North Laurel (1-9)

Head coach: David Abbott

2007: Missed the playoffs

 

The Jaguars expect to bounce back after struggling last year. North Laurel opened 0-9 before closing with a victory over Leslie County.

 

North Laurel expects to improve on last year’s offensive numbers that produced only 19 points a game with eight starters back, including junior Adrian Wardrup for his third season at quarterback. Senior fullback Steven White will be counted on to handle the bulk of the ball carrying duties. He will be joined in the backfield by either junior Rasheed Houston or sophomore Hughie Wagers at tailback.

 

Four starters are back on the offensive line, including senior tackle Zach Eversole (6-3, 225), senior center Tim Wampler (5-9, 240), senior guard Jake Osborne (6-3, 250) and junior tackle Trent Prewitt (6-4, 225).

 

Senior tackles Jared Hartney (6-3, 300) and Jake Osborne (6-3, 250) lead the defense, along with White at linebacker and Eversole at nose guard.

 

 

Ohio County (4-7)

Head coach: Todd Houston

2007: Lost to Owensboro 49-7 in the first round of the playoffs

 

By Mark Mathis

Owensboro Messenger Inquirer

Todd Houston was hired as head coach in mid-June and was still getting familiar with his personnel.

 

“I’ve been evaluating a lot of film,” said Houston, a former assistant coach at Owensboro High School. “Getting hired this late, we’re going to focus on fundamentals and technique.

 

“We’re going to hammer on stopping mental mistakes seen on film. The kids have been great, they’re working hard. The seniors, we’re going to expect them to take on a leadership role.”

 

Ohio County (4-7) has eight starters back on offense and six on defense.

 

The Eagles will try to run the ball with its good size on the offensive line.

 

“We seem to have some good size,” Houston said. “We’re gong to be a tough, conditioned football club. We don’t want to make mistakes, and play sound ball-control offense.”

 

Ohio County has linebackers and its defensive line returning.

 

Houston has worked for Joe Prince, Dan Gooch and Ricky Wood.

 

“I’ve learned under some great coaches,” Houston said. “I’m looking to implement some of their ideas, as well as my own.”

 

 

Oldham County (5-8)

Head coach: Matt Brown

2007: Lost to Owensboro 14-6 in the region championship game

 

After turning around the program at Atherton in just two seasons, Matt Brown is now trying to coach up his alma mater to a championship level.

 

Brown, a graduate and former assistant at Oldham County, takes over the Colonels program after going 4-17 in two seasons at Atherton. His first team broke a 27-game losing streak and last year the Rebels made the school’s first playoff appearance.

 

The 1997 Oldham County graduate replaces Lonnie Oldham, who went 10-23 in three seasons and didn’t have his contract renewed by the school.

 

Quarterback Chad Dennis (6-2, 210, Sr.), running back Dylan Underwood (5-11, 170, Sr.), and wide receivers Austin Middaugh (6-1, 175, Sr.) and Chase Hamby (5-10, 170, Jr.) are back for the Colonels.

 

Running backs Joel Cuebas (5-10, 175, Sr.) and Kirk Yepko (5-10, 150, Jr.) will also get some carries.

 

Linebacker Ichiro Chiba (6-1, 200, Sr.) and ends Adam Lange (6-3, 230, Sr.) and Nate Prater (6-2, 205, Sr.) are back to lead the defensive side of the ball.

 

 

Owensboro (12-2)

Head coach: Joe Prince

2007: Lost to Bowling Green 35-13 in the state semifinals

 

By Mark Mathis

Owensboro Messenger Inquirer

 

Owensboro High School went 12-2 last season and got to the semifinals of the Class 5-A playoffs last season. The Red Devils were senior-laden, which means they are looking for new players to step up this time.

 

“This is a good year to be a player,” OHS coach Joe Prince said. “We lost 17 starters.”

 

The top names OHS has returning are prominent players. The Red Devils will likely rely on senior running back Yorel Shemwell and wide receiver Yantae Williams.

 

Shemwell (5-8, 180) rushed for more than 1,400 yards last season.

 

“Yorel may be one of the best running backs in the state this year,” Prince said. “He is very strong with great vision and balance.”

 

Khiry Maddox also returns at tight end.

 

OHS may be putting the football in the air more this season, but it will do so with two relatively unproven quarterbacks.

 

Senior Nick Busch played some last season and was effective. Kal Prince, a sophomore, will also be working for the position.

 

OHS was looking at going more shotgun this season.

 

Shemwell (free safety), Williams (cornerback) and Maddox (linebacker) are also strong returnees defensively.

 

They were part of a group that had 59 take-aways and 34 interceptions, which tied a state record.

 

Williams is also a very good special teams player.

 

“Yantae is the best cover defensive back and returner I have ever coached,” Prince said. “He makes big plays when he touches the ball.”

 

Linemen J.P. Stovall, Randall Turner and Tony Davis provide the only real experience up front.

 

“I am concerned with our offensive and defensive lines,” Prince said. “They are very talented, but young.”

 

 

Perry County Central (7-4)

Head coach: Bert Browne

2007: Lost to Clay County 35-14 in the first round of the playoffs

 

After posting only their second winning season in 18 years, the Commodores have high hopes for taking the next step in 2008 and winning a district championship.

 

Offense shouldn’t be a problem for Perry Central (7-4) with six starters back from a unit that put up over 35 points a game last season.

 

Senior tailback Demetri Travis (5-9, 160) and junior quarterback Jordan Amis (5-8, 150) give the Commodores a pair of big-play threats in the backfield.

 

Senior center Jarrod Napier (6-5, 330) is back to anchor the line.

 

Improvement from the defense will be crucial to Perry Central’s success as even the high-powered offense struggled to keep up as the Commodores surrendered almost 38 points a game.

 

The defense will be led by a pair of standout outside linebackers, senior John Yancey Amis (5-10, 190) and sophomore J.R. Robinson (6-3, 180), as well as senior tackle Jordan Nichols (6-6, 270) and junior cornerback Chance Ashworth.

 

Jordan Amis and Travis also play important roles in the secondary.

 

 

Pulaski County (10-2)

Head coach: John Hines

2007: Lost to Lincoln County 22-14 in the second round of the playoffs

 

Pulaski County had one of the state’s biggest turnarounds, going from two wins in 2006 to 10 wins in 2007.

 

With 15 starters back, including eight on defense, the Maroons are looking to exceed last year’s win total and post consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 2002-04.

 

Pulaski County quarterback Chris Muse (6-0, 175, Jr.) is making a case to be the best junior in the state after rushing for 1,973 yards and 19 touchdowns. His 367-yard effort against South Laurel in the playoffs broke the old school record of 356 held by Cole Draughn. Muse averaged a staggering 9.3 yards per carry.

 

Muse also threw for 1,742 yards and 16 touchdowns while completing an impressive 62-percent of his passes.

 

But Muse isn’t the only 1,000-yard rusher returning for the Maroons.

 

Winston Hines (6-1, 180, Sr.) rushed for 1,212 yards and 15 TDs last year.

 

Pulaski County loses its top receiver in Ronnie Claiborne, but Hines caught 30 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns. Brian Barnett (6-0, 175, Jr.) added 16 catches for 226 yards, and R.C. White (5-11, 175, Jr.) also returns.

 

The Maroons return three starters on the offensive line, led by tackle Brakota Smith (6-1, 270, Sr.). Austin Tarter (6-2, 215, Jr.) and center Ryan Denton (5-11, 260, Sr.) are also back.

 

On defense, Smith, Denton, and Lucas Beshear (5-11, 285, Sr.) will head a unit Maroon head coach Johnny Hines admits must get better as the season progresses.

 

Tyler Stone (6-1, 190, Jr.) returns at linebacker where he recorded 102 tackles last year.

 

Sophomores Mikey Shepherd and Ryan Fiene should break into the lineup alongside Stone at linebacker.

 

Hines (114 tackles) headlines a secondary that includes Barnett, Muse, and White. Muse had five interceptions and recovered three fumbles at cornerback last year.

 

Coach Hines says the Maroons aren’t as deep as he would like, but junior class is among the best he has coached.

 

The veteran coach is also excited about the facilities at PCHS, with their stadium to get FieldTurf following the season.

 

The Maroons will open the season Aug. 29 in the Ray Correll Bowl at Somerset.

 

 

Scott (4-7)

Head coach: Dave Campbell

2007: Lost to Highlands 50-0 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Scott graduated 19 seniors from a team that won four games for the first time since 2002.

 

Casey Fisk stepped down after the season, and Dave Campbell is the new coach of the Eagles.

 

It will be a rebuilding effort from the ground up for Campbell, but he does have a few starters back from last year.

 

Cornerback Jacob Reyes (5-10, 180, Sr.) was the team’s leading tackler last year in addition to getting three interceptions, two sacks, and recovering two fumbles.

 

He will be joined in the secondary by David Boyd (5-10, 170, Sr.).

 

Trevor Forrester (5-6, 201, Sr.), and Jon Gaupel (5-7, 150, Jr.) are back at linebacker.

 

On offense, Boyd and Zach Sowder (5-8, 170, Jr.) saw action in the backfield, while Joey Lorenz (5-9, 150, Sr.) and Mike Haney (6-0, 175, Sr.) could battle for the starting quarterback spot.

 

 

South Laurel (6-5)

Head coach: Jason Chappell

2007: Lost to Pulaski County 41-21 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Ricky Bowling put up monster numbers for South Laurel in 2007 and with most of his supporting cast back, the folks at Gilliam Field may do well to have some extra light bulbs for their scoreboard.

 

Bowling, already the school’s all-time leading passer, threw for 3,584 yards and 40 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. His 64-percent completion rate was among the tops in the state.

 

Steve Quillen returns to the backfield and will join several other playmakers on the offense, which also welcomes back four starters on the offensive line.

 

 

South Oldham (3-8)

Head coach: Clay Holbrook

2007: Lost to Anderson County 49-7 in the first round of the 3A playoffs

 

South Oldham coach Clay Holbrook suffered a losing season in his first year as the Dragons’ head coach, but things are looking up.

 

The Dragons should be improved on both sides of the ball this fall and the sophomore class at the school is extremely talented.

 

The offense will have more weapons than the Dragons have possessed in recent seasons. Brandon Kollenberg ran for more than 1,300 yards last season and is one of three starters back on offense.

 

Tight end Cody Malone and wide receiver Kyle Dunn are also back. Corey Goodlett, Jay Gatto and Jake Nichter are capable backs, while Holbrook expects Peyton Meek to win the quarterback position.

 

The offensive line will be new but should be solid as Holbrook looks to find the right combination with Nick Ballard, John Shover, Pat Saracino, Brandon Bramer, John Derringer, Jacob Fuqua, Trafton Holder, Dustin Manders, Adam Brown and Stephen Girdler.

 

The receiver position should be one of the most improved with many sure handed receivers rotating with one another with Cody Malone, R.J. Grazuil, Kyle Dunn, Zach Parker, Cameron Ball and Dakota Deno expected to contribute this year.

 

Holbrook said South Oldham is switching to a 3-3 stack and will be more of a gap attack instead of a gap control defense.

 

The defensive line should be anchored by Evan Jorgensen along with Pat Saracino, Nick Ballard, Dustin Manders, John Derringer, Jacob McKinney and Brandon Bramer. Goodlett and Malone return at linebacker for the Dragons and will lead the defense, along with Kollenberg at cornerback and Kyle Dunn at free safety.

 

 

Southwestern (2-8)

Head coach: Dale Anderson

2007: Missed the playoffs

 

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 11 years, Southwestern doesn’t expect history to repeat itself with nine starters back on both sides of the football.

 

It starts up front where the Warriors return all five linemen, led by tackles Zabe Hurtt (6-3, 320, Sr.) and Lucas Shumaker (6-0, 230, Sr.).

 

Also back are James Schultz (6-2, 275, Jr.), Adam Diamond (6-2, 300, Sr.), and Nick Peppers (6-2, 20, Jr.).

 

Head coach Dale Anderson has most of his offensive weapons back, including quarterback T.T. Wooldridge, who begins his third season under center. Wooldridge (6-3, 190, Sr.) threw for 1,878 yards and 20 touchdowns.

 

His main target through the air is Adam White (6-2, 200, Sr.), who had 816 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Anthony Mitchell (6-1, 190, Sr.) and sophomore Ian Preston also return at receiver.

 

Jake King (6-0, 210, Sr.) should get the bulk of the carries in the backfield.

 

Three linemen – Shumaker, Nathan Kidd (6-4, 235, Jr.), and Zac Fowler (6-2, 222, Soph.) – return for the Warriors and will be counted on to strengthen a defense that allowed 253 yards a night on the ground.

 

Joe Thacker (6-1, 200, Sr.), Harrison Wells (6-1, 290, Sr.), and Jake King should solidify the defense at the linebacker position.

 

The secondary returns Alex Jones (6-1, 161, Jr.), Mitchell, and White, and will get help from sophomore Blake Tuttle and senior Nick Zimmerman.

 

“We will be back on top this year. We feel like we have the speed and ability to be at the top of the district and region this year,” Anderson said.

 

 

Waggener (2-9)

Head coach: Wade Williams

2007: Lost to Doss 21-20 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Things might be looking up for the other school in St. Matthews – Waggener.

 

The Wildcats and coach Wade Williams only won two games last season but have some experience back on both sides of the ball.

 

Jonathon Tidwell (6-0, 160, Jr.) should challenge for the starting quarterback job, while Lamar Jeter (5-7, 140, Jr.), Shazzon Mumphrey (6-1, 170, Soph.), and Wayne Mozee (5-11, 145, Jr.) could fit into the offense at various spots.

 

Lineman Diamon Gerett will be the leader of the team.

 

 

Warren Central (6-6)

Head coach: Bill Cox

2007: Lost to Bowling Green 63-0 in the second round of the playoffs

 

After losing four of their first five games, Warren Central got on track and played their best football at the end of the season despite getting crushed by Bowling Green in the playoffs.

 

Head coach Bill Cox expects the Dragons to once again be in the race for the district title in a district that is improved from top to bottom.

 

While Warren Central graduated their top rusher, Tevon Boards, they due return Tabarus Mitchell (5-11, 165, Sr.), who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards.

 

Senior quarterback Quenton Smith threw for nearly 1,400 yards and 19 touchdowns.

 

One of Smith’s targets through the air will be Shane Adamson (5-8, 150, Sr.).

 

The Dragons are stout up front with the return of Donovan Lightfoot (6-1, 210, Sr.), Justin Meredith (6-2, 240, Sr.), and Michael Boards (5-7, 220, Sr.).

 

Many of those guys will also see time on the defensive side of the football along with linebacker Edin Hadzikadunic (5-10, 175, Jr.).

 

 

Whitley County (2-9)

Head coach: Jim Black

2007: Lost to Letcher County Central 40-26 in the first round of the playoffs

 

The Whitley Colonels will try to improve on last year’s 2-9 record, as they enter the third year of the Jim Black era. It will be a tough order as the Colonels have another challenging schedule will the likes of Bell County, Woodford County, Middlesboro, Newport, Lynn Camp and Rockcastle County on the non-district schedule.

 

The district will once again be very balanced. Whitley will be on the road for Letcher County Central, North Laurel, while Clay County and Perry County Central will visit Colonel Stadium.

 

The Colonels return the core of their defense. Two leading tacklers, Nate Wilson (5-9, 175, Sr.) and Cody Bramlet (5-10, 210, Soph.), return at linebackers, along with defensive ends Jason Powers (6-0, 200, Sr.), Casey Caddell (5-8, 160, Soph.), and senior Chad Breeding.

 

The defensive backfield will be solid with return of Cody Jones (5-11, 200, Sr.), Anthony Rider (5-10, 170, Sr.), Josh Wynn (5-11, 180, Jr.), junior Alex Patrick, Jamie Labaniion (6-2, 200, Jr.), and Cody Bowling (6-0, 190, Soph.).

 

Sophomores Jordan Singleton and Justin Goins are newcomers expected to contribute this season as well.

 

The defensive line returns a few players with experience and a year stronger.

 

Dan Burnett (6-3, 240, Jr.), D.J. Centers (6-3, 230, Jr.), and Nathaniel Davis (6-3, 280, Jr.) will be the mainstay of this group.

 

Newcomers to this position are Josh Richardson (Jr.), Cyle Moses (Jr.), and John Thomas (Soph.).

 

The offense will be headed by junior quarterback Jamie Labaniion, with sophomore Travis Inman backing him up.

 

The Colonels return a stable of good running backs with Jones and Powers being the top ground gainers from last year.

 

Also expected to see a lot of action are Wynn, Bowlin, and Bramlett.

Patrick will see time there, and at receiver along with Rider, the Colonels’ leading receiver. Look for Justin Goins and Singleton to make an impact there along with Cody Goins, who sat most of last season with a leg injury.

 

The offensive line is anchored by three returning starters – Centers, Burnett, and Davis.

 

Newcomers will be senior Chad Lennon at center and senior Jordan Rickett at guard. Rickett sat out last year with an arm injury.

 

This will be the last season for the Colonels at their on-campus stadium as they are building a new stadium just off campus.

 

“The last year in Colonel Stadium will motivate our seniors to leave their mark,” said head coach Jim Black.

 

As far as the schedule goes, Black said “Our non district schedule is one of the most difficult Whitley has ever played. The district is very balanced and should be very competitive. We need to come out every Friday and play well to have a chance at the number one seed, a home playoff game, the district championship, and advancing in the playoffs, which like everyone else, is our goal.”

 

 

Woodford County (8-3)

Head coach: Chris Tracy

2007: Lost to Montgomery County 16-7 in the first round of the playoffs

 

Woodford County has put together back-to-back eight win seasons and with what head coach Chad Tracy has coming back, another eight-win season is likely. However, the Yellowjackets want to make a longer postseason run and erase the memory of last year’s first round loss to fourth-seeded Montgomery County.

 

The player expected to shoulder most of the load is quarterback Steven Duckworth (5-10, 160, Sr.), who threw for 2,324 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also led the team in rushing with 712 yards and 13 touchdowns.

 

Alex Forker (6-1, 185, Sr.) is the most experienced receiver returning, while Jordan Carter (5-10, 190, Sr.) proved to be a dual threat in the backfield. He rushed for 409 yards and four scores and caught 37 passes for 273 yards and two more scores.

 

Nick Nicholson (5-10, 185, Sr.) also returns after rushing for 289 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Up front, Adam Horn (6-2, 240, Sr.) and J.R. Leach (5-11, 250, Sr.) return on the offensive line.

 

Woodford County’s defense pulled down an incredible 25 interceptions last year. Kristian Larsen (6-1, 185, Jr.) had eight of those picks in the secondary, and linebacker David Bland (5-8, 210, Sr.) had four picks.

 

Stan Serdyuk (6-2, 165, Jr.) and Duckworth also return in the secondary.

Colin Smith (6-1, 205, Sr.) and Jordan Carter are back at linebackers.

 

Woodford County feels like they have some unfinished business in a district hit by graduation. And the way the new alignment falls, the Jackets want to finish first or second to avoid a first round trip to either Covington Catholic or defending state champion Highlands.

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