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2005 Class 2A Kentucky High School Football Preview


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1.Fort Campbell Falcons (10-2)

 

When you arguably have the front runner for Mr. Football, a lot people tend to place a high ranking upon your team.

 

Expectations are high at the Army post this year after last year’s 10-2 campaign ended with a bitter 36-28 overtime loss to Glasgow in the second round of the playoffs.

 

Micah Johnson, one of the most sought-after football players in the program’s history, will again lead the team on both sides of the football.

 

Johnson, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound senior, is getting college looks from across the nation after rushing for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns last year. He is the son of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who played wide receiver at a college in Texas, and has an older brother who is a lineman at Kentucky.

 

As a linebacker on defense, he anchored a unit that allowed just 91 rushing yards a game and gave up more than 13 points just twice during the season.

 

Among the schools who have Johnson on their wish list are Kentucky, Florida, West Virginia, Florida State, Virginia, and Southern California.

 

Johnson is such a high-profile recruit that he was asked to have his verbal commitment announcement televised live on FOX Sports South's Countdown to Signing Day – a recruiting show that highlights the nation's top athletes.

 

While Johnson is getting most of the attention, Berner is quick to point out that the Falcons are not a one-man show.

 

“We are expecting a lot out of Micah. We think he has the ability to be a great leader, and he is a very good football player,” Berner said. “But it will be a whole TEAM effort to have a successful season.”

 

In addition to Johnson, the Falcons are set to return four starters on offense and six on defense.

 

Leonard Gordon, who led an athletic secondary last year with four interceptions, will make the shift to quarterback to lead the Falcon offense.

 

Gordon, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, features 4.5 speed and will give Berner a dual threat under center.

 

Yule Wimbush (5-10, 175, Sr.), LaDarius Davis (5-8, 155, Sr.), and Larry Robinson (6-3, 185, Sr.) could provide speedy targets for Gordon through the air.

 

On the line, the Falcons return their best lineman, Orlando Misaafelua, a six-foot, 200-pound senior, who won the team’s offensive line award last year.

 

“He’s one of the best pass blockers I’ve ever coached,” Berner said, adding that he recorded 147 tackles from the outside linebacker position last year.

 

However, Berner must craft some new linemen around Misaafelua.

 

“We have some gaps to fill up front. We have a hard working group that will not have a lot of experience,” Berner said.

 

Salvadore Frazier (5-10, 215, Jr.), Jesse Jerkins (6-0, 240, Jr.), and Zack Rinestine (6-2, 230, Soph.) are among the players that could break into the starting lineup.

 

One area where the Falcons will have a decided advantage over their opponents is in special teams.

 

In addition to the athletes who can return kicks, the Falcons feature one of the best kickers in the state in senior Nate Johnson.

 

Fort Campbell has put together a tough non-district schedule that includes hosting Paducah Tilghman in the season opener.

 

Because of the inexperience on the Falcon line, Berner knows their development holds the key to the season and how far they go in the playoffs.

 

“I think the high ranking puts some pressure on the team, and we are going to have to work awful hard to live up to those kinds of expectations,” he said. “I think the district and region are going to be very tough. Trigg County will have a good football team, and

there are some other teams that will make the region tough again this season.”

 

If the line does develop quickly, the Falcons could be in line for their first region title in ten years.

 

2. Russell Red Devils (13-1)

 

After advancing to the semifinals in 2004 for the second time in three seasons, Ivan McGlone’s Red Devils have some question marks entering the new season.

 

First and foremost among these is how to replace all-everything RB/DB/P Josh Gross. Accepting the fact you can't replace a kid of his talent and ability; the Devils' cupboard may not be as bare as one might think.

 

First, we have all heard that defense wins championships, and Russell returns eight players who were at least part time starters last year.

 

Combine this with some up and coming talent, and this side of the ball would seem to be in pretty good shape.

 

The top priority will be to fill the gaps left by the graduation of leading tackler, linebacker Jeremiah Nunley and third leading tackler Casey Menshouse.

 

The leading returnees are linebacker Derek Timberlake, defensive back Jacob Sizemore and defensive end Chad Edwards.

 

Also back on defense is defensive backs Kasey Clark and Michael Horn, linemen Tim Smith and Cameron Perry, and linebacker Josh Wills.

 

Those pushing for time will be Justin Potter, who will return after missing most of last season to a knee injury suffered against Boyd County in the third game of the year.

 

Other names to watch for are Drew Mell, Bryson Perry, Nick Lewis, Daryl Wells, Marcus Frazier, Michael Schafer, and Ethan Gullett .

 

Also, look for contributions from Alan Sparkman as he returns following a non-football related knee injury suffered during the 2004 pre-season.

 

Sophomores who may figure in the mix are Tyler Jones and Caleb Patterson.

The offense is where the Devils would appear to have the biggest holes to fill.

 

Losing Josh Gross, who owns every rushing record in the RHS books, and two-year starting quarterback Elijah Mullins will certainly be felt. As a result, some offensive struggles may be expected early on as the replacements gain experience.

 

Only having one returning starter in the backfield will prove to be the biggest obstacle to Russell’s success this season.

 

Kasey Clark will be expected to pick up much of the slack, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem after gaining over 1,100 yards as a sophomore. Of course, many of his opportunities came with defenses keying on Gross so someone else will have to step up to keep teams from gearing up to stop Clark.

 

Look for more carries for Michael Horn, the team’s second leading returning rusher, and Justin Potter to help Russell’s Wing-T attack continue rolling along.

 

Other names to watch for as Clark’s possible backfield mates are Chad Edwards, Nick Lewis and Derek Timberlake. With the potential in this group, expect nothing to change as far as what Coach Ivan McGlone will try to do on offense…run, run and run some more.

 

The job of replacing Mullins at quarterback will probably fall to Tommy Brown, who served as the back up for the last two years and had the opportunity to take over the starting role as Mullins sat with a shoulder injury to start the 2004 season.

 

Elijah regained his position due to Brown’s lack of consistency but as a senior, he must step forward if this team expects to go as far as they have become accustom.

 

Brown definitely has the talent to more than fill in as he has an advantage over Mullins with a stronger arm and more speed on the bootleg runs, which are a staple of McGlone’s Wing-T offense.

 

If Brown has his head together to start the year, the Red Devils offense will have even more weapons than a typical Russell team as his talent could enable them to more effectively spread the defense out with passing and a dangerous runner handling the ball on every snap.

 

Along the line, the coaches’ main concern will be replacing the center and end positions.

Look for many variations early on before the staff settles on the most reliable performers in their estimations.

 

Jacob Sizemore returns at one end position, and Cameron Perry has experience there as well.

 

Finally, on special teams, Russell looks to replace both punter and kicker with returning kickers Jared Simpson and Dwayne Evans looking to assume these roles vacated by Dan Meko and Gross.

 

While it appears, at least on paper, that Russell may be in a rebuilding process, many in the area might say the Devils don’t rebuild, they just reload. Coach McGlone’s willingness to put young players into game situations throughout the year, with JV players seeing many quarters of varsity action, always helps ease the losses felt at graduation.

 

Combine that with an improving offseason program, and you see results similar to what the program has produced the last three years in compiling a 34-7 record.

 

Considering the players lost by other teams around the district, look for the Red Devils to add to their collection of district championships and play long into the post-season yet again.

 

If you are interested in more information concerning Russell High School, check out our website at http://www.reddevilsports.com.

 

3. Belfry Pirates (14-1)

 

Making the transition from one season into the next is one of the things that make high school football so exciting and interesting for all involved.

 

The annual changes to a team’s roster create hope and anxiety for last year’s backups, headaches for the coaching staff, and lots of conversation for the fans. All of that is certainly true for Belfry as they enter the 2005 season.

 

The Pirates are fresh off of their second consecutive Class AA State Championship.

 

They are moving into a new school, complete with a state of the art football facility.

 

They return with one of the winningest head coaches in state history. And they are widely considered one of the top teams in their class. The Pirates hope to take all that excitement, building on their recent success, and turn it into a third consecutive Championship come December.

 

In order to do that, the Pirates will have a lot of work to do, as they have several holes to fill on their starting lineups for 2005. They return five starters on offense and five on defense, plus a few part-time players on each side of the ball who are expected to contribute. Of particular concern, especially in the tough early season part of the schedule, is the fact that a few of those positions will likely be filled with sophomore bodies.

 

Most fans close to the team are expecting to see a few signs of growing pains early on as the young guys learn how to play at the varsity level. This will be nothing new to the Pond Creekers, as Belfry has been typically a slow starting club. As any devoted Pirate fan can tell you, Coach Haywood’s philosophy has always been to “get a little better each day” and peak at the right time. That has been evident with the last couple of Pirate teams where they played their best ball of the season in the last 2-3 games. With that in mind, given some game experience and good coaching, there is no doubt this young group will be in the hunt late in the year when it matters most.

 

OFFENSE:

 

Something old, something new. When Belfry takes the field, look for the same old wishbone attack being run by a bunch of new faces in the backfield. Belfry used variations of this attack to lead the state with 5380 yards rushing last season, 526 of which came in the championship game against Owensboro Catholic. Unfortunately, that entire backfield unit, the best in Belfry history, just graduated, leaving the door wide open for one of the young backs to step in and take over for Howard, Jones, Childers and Warren.

 

At halfback, look for some heavy competition for a starting job. Dustin May (5’11, 175, Soph.), and Corey Chapman (5’10, 155, Jr.) are the likely front runners. Both have shown good skills in their prior varsity experience and much will be expected of them come August. Also looking for playing time in the backfield will be Heath Varney (5’8, 160, Soph.), Philip Hickman (5’10, 155, Soph.), Tommy Church (5’9, 175, Sr.) and Jared Testerman (5’8, 135, Jr.). The fullback position will likely be filled with one of those backs.

 

In 2004, Belfry was searching for a quarterback at the start of the season and played three different signal-callers in the first three games before settling on Adam Warren. They seem to be in the same boat heading into 2005, as another QB battle will be waged in the early going. Returning backups are Jordan Phillips (6’2, 165, Sr.), Devin Kohari (5’11, 160, Jr.) and Ryan Preston (5’9, 160, Soph.). They all look to compete for the starting job along with junior Nick Bowe, who will be in a Pirate uniform for the first time this season.

 

The offensive line will be a strong point for Belfry in 2005, as four of the five returning offensive starters come from the offensive line. Interior linemen, Justin “Goose” Gooslin (5’11, 205, Sr.) and Derek McCoy (5’11, 215, Jr.) return along with tight ends Chad Steele (6’3, 185, Jr.) and Aaron Chapman (6’2, 190, Sr.). Other players expected to compete for playing position will be linemen Ronnie Edwards (6’1, 235, Sr.), Aaron Warren (6’1, 230, Jr.), Cullen Younger (5’7, 200, Sr.), Richard Harris (5’5, 190, Sr.), Dwayne Cooper (6’2, 320, Soph.), and Matt Dotson (6’0, 350, Sr.), as well as tight ends Adam Bowens (5’10, 165, Soph.) and Tommy Church.

 

Matt Maynard (5’10 150, Sr.) is the lone returning starter at wideout. Joining him at that position will possibly be Devin Kohari and Gerald Epling (5’4, 125, Jr.) among others.

 

DEFENSE:

 

With such a young offense on the field, Belfry will likely rely heavily on it’s defense early on. Tough, hard-hitting defense has long been something the players and coaches who wear the red and white take great pride in. The “Angry Red” D routinely ranks among the leaders statewide in several team defensive categories, proof of the major contribution that defense has played in the Pirate success of the past. Coach Mickey’s defense returns 5 starters from 2004 and will also see a few fresh faces when the whistle blows for the first time this fall.

 

Returning up front will be defensive ends, Aaron Chapman and Justin “Goose” Gooslin. These guys will anchor the Belfry D and play a major role. Also seeing playing time at end will likely be Adam Bowens and Phillip Hickman.

 

On the interior line, Tommy Church is the lone returning starter at one tackle. Also returning are several players who saw limited defensive time last season, Ronnie Edwards, Dwayne Cooper and Matt Dotson. Playing time should also be available for some younger guys who are ready to get down and dirty in the trenches.

 

The linebacker crew is a question mark at this point, and a place where nobody with playing experience returns. Whether the Pirates pull somebody from a DE or SS spot to make a linebacker out of them or somebody new steps up into that position remains to be seen. Tommy Church and Aaron Chapman have both shown ability to play that spot in the past, but they are both pretty solid at their respective defensive positions. Possible linebackers from the up and comers list includes Dustin May, Chad Steele and Shawn Huddle (5’7, 160, Jr.).

 

Belfry’s secondary will return more experience than any other position on the field, as well as a lot of depth. Matt Maynard and Devin Kohari both started on last years state championship team and will provide some much needed experience and leadership at the DB position. Looking to join them will be Gerald Epling, Dustin May, Heath Varney, Nick Bowe, Jared Testerman, Philip Hickman, John Young (5’7, 135, Soph.), and Ryan Preston.

 

FAREWELL TO VIPPERMAN:

 

Even though the excitement level is at an all time high, and nearly everyone is looking forward to our new home, there is a certain amount of sadness that comes with saying farewell to Vipperman Stadium. Home to many, many great battles over the years, Vipperman is a very special place in the hearts of all Pirate fans. As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it surely holds just the opposite sentiment to many of our past opponents and visiting fans.

 

In fitting fashion, Vipperman’s final chapter played out like it was right out of a Hollywood script. Belfry was an incredible 9-0 at home in 2004, winning four playoff games on their way to their second consecutive state championship. Particularly pleasing was the last two playoff wins, a regional championship victory over long time foe, and district rival Prestonsburg, followed by the final game against old rival from yesteryear, the Russell Red Devils. It was perfect.

 

Then, after the game, it was time to say goodbye to an old friend. In a fitting tribute, Coach Mickey stood with his hand on the switch as the team gathered at midfield and the fans surrounded them all. The countdown progressed from 10 to 1, and with the memory of 80 years of Belfry Football in mind, the switch was thrown and the lights went out for the last time.

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4. Prestonsburg Blackcats (10-3)

 

Over the past four years, this long-term member of 2A’s elite has put together an unusual streak: Prestonsburg has been eliminated in each year’s playoffs by the team that went on to become the eventual State 2A Champion, and, all of these championship teams began with the letter “B”.

 

As unlucky as this may sound to many, Blackcat fans see it as a mark of pride that no team, other than the respective state champ, has bested the squad in the playoffs over that span. Very few high school football programs enjoy the level of support the Prestonsburg community and its surrounding areas bring.

 

Last year’s team graduated a group of very good athletes that will be very difficult to replace this year. These losses included two-year starters at quarterback, running back, both tight ends, a receiver, linebacker, and defensive backs. Without a doubt, this will cause the ‘Cats some pains early in the season as newly minted varsity players step into these slots.

 

As severe as these losses are however, Coach John Derossett gets a nice crutch on which to lean until the new skill players catch on. He’ll have the benefit of a veteran line on both sides of the ball. Prestonsburg returns all its varsity linemen except two - one on offense, and one on defense.

 

Veterans to watch: Brandon Peters (6’1” 175 WR, RB, DB), Sr.; David Shaffer (6’3” 210 QB, DE), Sr.; Tyler Hamilton (6’3” 300 DT), Sr.; Brenton Hamilton (6’1” 230 FB, LB), Sr.; Darrick Williams (6’4” 250 OL, DL), Sr., Tyler Layne (5’10’ 230 OL, DL), Jr.; Seth Moore (6’0” 165 K).

 

New faces to watch: Charles Robinson (5’11” 200, projected at RB, LB), Sr.; Lincoln Slone (5’11” 190, projected at RB, LB), Jr.; Mason Vance (6’1” 205, projected at TE, LB), Jr.; Daulton Taylor (5’9” 165, projected at WR, DB), So.; Bobby Hughes (5’11” 170, projected at QB, DB), So.; Taylor Clark (5’9” 155, projected at WR, DB), So.; Nathaniel Stephens (6’2” 190, projected at TE, LB), So.; Doug Weil (6’4” 270, projected at OL, DL), So.; Seth Setser (5’11” 175, projected at RB, DB), Fr..

 

Inside view: Overall, Prestonsburg has outstanding size, above average speed, but below average experience. On offense, look for this team to use an uncomplicated smash-mouth style, especially early. With so many changes in the skill positions, the passing game will need time to develop.

 

On the defensive side, the line will need to be the glue that holds this unit together until the linebackers and secondary develops. This defensive backfield has a lot of good athletes, but must have time to adjust to the varsity-level speed of the game.

 

5. Owensboro Catholic Aces (10-5)

 

Owensboro Catholic lost their coach and a truck load of starters last year and still made it to Louisville before falling to Belfry in the 2A title game.

 

If you believe in the stair-step method of improvement, this should be Catholic’s year to bring home the 2A title.

 

Head coach John Edge returns 11 starters from last year’s 10-5 squad that started slow but carried an eight-game winning streak into Louisville.

 

While Edge will have to replace record-setting quarterback Zach Bernard, the task shouldn’t be as tough with four starting linemen returning.

 

“Our line will be our most experienced positions on the field along with the running backs and linebackers. We had a lot of kids get some looks early in the season and throughout the year,” Edge said.

 

The Aces’ offensive line should average 240 pounds across, anchored by 6-foot-4, 310-pound junior Paul Millay.

 

Also expected to start on the line are Jordan Allison (6-4, 260, Sr.), Chad Thompson (6-1, 215, Sr.), John McBride (6-0, 185, Sr.), and Kevin Buntin (6-0, 230, Soph.).

 

Edge said Allison is getting some college looks from Marshall among others.

 

The experienced line should make the transition of David Woodward into the starting quarterback role a little smoother.

 

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior will take over for Barnard, who threw for 4,660 yards and 52 touchdowns last season under the direction of hired-gun Tony Franklin, who was brought in to call the Aces’ offense early in the season.

 

Edge expects Woodward to be more of a multiple threat than the pocket-passer Barnard.

“Zach could do a lot of great things and so can David. He can take off and run, and ran a 4.7 40 at a combine. David can run which makes it hard on a defense.”

 

The Catholic passing attack will have to carry on without Franklin, Barnard, and their top three receivers from last year.

 

Neil Holland (5-11, 160, Jr.) and Jared Johnson (5-9, 145, Sr.) will have some big shoes to fill at the receiver position.

 

However, the Aces do return two of their top three rushers from last year.

 

Houston Kamuf (5-10, 170, Sr.) rushed for 1,088 yards and 11 touchdowns last year, while Stewart Ijames (6-1, 195, Jr.), a standout baseball player for OCHS, ran for 275 yards and three scores.

 

Defensively, the Aces return linebackers David Jarboe (5-10, 210, Sr.), who recovered three fumbles last year, and Adam McBride (6-0, 180, Sr.) in the middle.

 

Tackles Logan Bell (6-2, 307, Jr.) and Kevin Buntin (5-10, 217, Soph.) also return.

Since 2000, the Aces have advanced one game farther in the playoffs each year. To keep that pattern intact, they’ll have to shock the state

 

“Every year it gets harder and harder to get to the state championship. In doing so, you have to work harder, and we as coaches have to work harder,” Edge said. “For an encore, there is only one thing left to do and that is to win the state championship. We will take one game at a time to get there. I tell the players to dream about it, but make it a reality by getting there.”

 

6. Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts (6-5)

 

Despite losing 19 seniors, Lloyd Memorial appears stoked to challenge Russell and Fleming County for the Region III title.

 

Roy Lucas’ Juggernauts return 15 starters from last year’s 6-5 team that dropped three of their final four games and lost to Fleming County in the first round of the playoffs.

 

The Juggs will have the luxury of having one of the region’s best players returning in Dara Webb (5-11, 175, Sr.), who rushed for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.

 

Senior fullback Zack Woodward (6-0, 205) also returns after rushing for 500 yards and five scores.

 

Quarterback Jeremy Addington (6-2, 210, Sr.) took over the reins at quarterback last year and responded with 900 yards and ten touchdowns.

 

The potential balance on offense has Lucas excited, especially after a 2004 season that saw the Juggs average over 330 yards of offense.

 

“I expect our passing game to be back up to a level with our running game, which will give us the balance we have had in the past,” Lucas said.

 

Lloyd will have some size up front, which is welcome for Lucas in a region that features some hefty lines.

 

Avery Benken (6-5, 290, Sr.) is attracting college looks from Kentucky, Auburn, Purdue, Wake Forest, Ole Miss, and West Virginia, according to Lucas.

 

William Krebs (5-9, 220, Sr.) and Alex Gilbert (5-10, 270, Sr.) will also provide some help up front.

 

“I think we can be a contender. It will depend a lot on how much depth we are able to develop. We need to get a lot better on defense to have a real shot, but I think we have the players to make a good run,” Lucas said. “I would like to think that we still see ourselves as the team to beat in our district. I don't know if others feel that way, but we have only lost one district game in the last four years.”

 

7. Glasgow Scotties (9-4)

 

Glasgow enters the 2005 season with seven straight seasons of eight or more wins and have won five district titles and three region championships since 1996.

 

However, a new era begins in Glasgow as Jerry Eubank stepped down after 12 years as Scotties head coach.

 

Former Barren County skipper Billy Lindsey, who has been a Glasgow assistant the past couple of years, takes over the Scotties’ program.

 

While getting back to the eight-win mark should be attainable this year, Lindsey will have to plug some holes after graduating 12 seniors if Glasgow is to add to their championship total.

 

The Scotties were 9-4 last year, upsetting Fort Campbell in the second round of the playoffs before losing to Owensboro Catholic 28-14 in the region title game.

 

Glasgow must replace their quarterback and two-thirds of their backfield from last year.

 

B.J. Barbour, a 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior, will likely get the bulk of the carries in 2005, while fullback Zack Miller (6-1, 195, Sr.) can also pick up bulk yardage when needed.

 

While the quarterback position could be in the air, the starter will have some trusted hands to throw to in Lank Graves (6-3, 180, Sr.) and C.J. Buford (5-10, 140, Sr.), although Graves is the likely candidate to start the season under center.

 

Miller and Graves will also be the leaders on defense. Miller is a linebacker and Graves a safety.

 

J.W. Hampton (6-2, 250, Sr.) and Andrew Moloko (5-10, 220, Jr.) give the Scotties some size up front but some smaller underclassmen will have to improve on the fly.

 

Glasgow is always a factor come postseason-time, and 2005 shouldn’t be any different.

 

8. Larue County Hawks (6-5)

 

Larue County posted five straight seasons of ten wins or more from 1998-2002 but have dropped to 9-13 over the past two seasons.

 

Last year, Rodney Armes’ Hawks were 6-5, and Larue returns several key players who could return them to the ten-win mark in 2005.

 

Quarterback Alex Watts’ accomplishments haven’t received much notice in the state the past two years, but the senior has put together a pair of seasons that have the people in Hodgenville excited about their chances.

 

Watts (6-2, 170) threw for 1,402 yards and 14 touchdowns while completing 50-percent of his passes last year.

 

Junior running back Justin Thurman had a breakout season last year, rushing for 854 yards and seven touchdowns.

 

Sophomores Chris Singleton and Evan Smith and junior Bobby Hunt are expected to be the main targets for Watts

 

The Hawks defense looked good at times last year, giving up just 17 points a game and allowing more than 21 points just twice.

 

Injuries to several starters last year allowed Armes a chance to give some underclassmen some experience, which he hopes pays off this year.

 

Those who saw time on defense last year were seniors Matt Davis and Matt Farmer at defensive tackle and junior Joe Embree at defensive end.

 

Junior Onnie Embree saw plenty of action at middle linebacker in the second half of the season.

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9. Middlesboro Yellowjackets (7-5)

 

At times in 2004, Middlesboro was an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

 

The Yellow Jackets posted a 7-5 record last year, but suffered blowout losses to Campbellsville (36-15), Bell County (56-6), Corbin (63-7), Breathitt County (48-7), and 49-7 to Belfry in the second round of the playoffs.

 

It was Middlesboro’s first five-loss season since 1993.

 

This year, the Jackets are hoping for less mystery and more misery for their opponents.

Ken Roark’s squad is set to return all but five starters, which includes moving Trevor Hoskins from receiver to quarterback.

 

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior earned All-State honorable mention last year as the primary target for Blake Bowling, who is walking on at Kentucky this year.

 

Hoskins should fit right into a Middlesboro passing scheme that threw for 1,291 yards last year.

 

With Hoskins moving to quarterback, the receiving corps features some inexperience with Andrew Breeding (6-2, 210, Jr.) expected to move from tight end to receiver and either Dan Crawford or Levi Turner to move to tight end.

 

Freshman Eddie Gilbert is another possibility at receiver.

 

Middlesboro returns most of their backfield, with juniors C. G. Ford (5-9, 175) and Casey Earls (5-11, 190) back in the mix. Earls rushed for 669 yards and nine touchdowns last year, while Ford added 491 yards and six scores.

 

Sophomore Shawn Russell (5-10, 190) is also expected to get some touches in the backfield.

 

As usual, the Middlesboro line will be talented but thin.

 

Senior Smoky Miller (5-11, 260) returns along with sophomores A. J. Jones (5-10, 260) and Matt Ausmus (5-10, 210). Also returning is Nick Reynolds (5-9, 210).

 

On defense, Breeding and Russell should be the best linebacker duo in the Mountains - they're both very explosive, quick, strong and agile. That combination helps given Middlesboro’s woes on defense at times last year against the run.

 

Hoskins, Earls, and Ford should be one of the fastest defensive backfields around.

 

Middlesboro will be improved in 2005, but so will the rest of Region Four. How far they improve will, of course, determine how far their playoff ride lasts.

 

10. Breathitt County Bobcats (11-1)

 

In past years, a Breathitt County rebuilding season still meant a trip deep into the playoffs.

 

That may not be the case in 2005.

 

Head coach Mike Holcomb has just seven starters returning from last year’s 11-1 team that rolled through the regular season but lost to Prestonsburg 40-29 in the second round of the playoffs.

 

It was the fourth time in five years that Breathitt failed to advance past the second round of the playoffs, with the unbeaten 2002 state championship team the only exception.

 

Sophomore Chris Jackson was expected to take many of the snaps over the summer, but a knee injury in the spring has seen sophomore Colby Fugate step in.

 

As always, the QB position is an important piece to the Bobcat puzzle, and it will be interesting to see how Holcomb’s next-in-line performs.

 

The Bobcats have spent a lot of practice time working on the wishbone this off-season.

 

However, that doesn’t mean they will be abandoning the shotgun, but perhaps just seeking better balance from the offense…something they have lacked in past years.

 

“We’ll be more balanced this year. We’ll still do five wides and formations like we’ve always done, but we may use three backs in the red zone,” Holcomb said.

 

At the skill positions they return running back Todd Robinson, an explosive runner and big play threat when he has the ball. He is the their best returning weapon on offense.

 

They will also have Beckum Herald and Shelby Stacy returning with some experience in the backfield.

 

Wide Receiver will be a huge question mark for the Bobcats. They were expecting to have Eli Warren back after he caught 29 passes for 672 yards and ten touchdowns. But he has reportedly transferred to Letcher Central.

 

His loss leaves the team with a brand new group of receivers with little to no varsity experience. This is perhaps another reason for the emphasis on running the ball in the off-season. The Offensive Line must also break in some new starters as they lost most of last year’s unit.

 

Since the offense will be fielding a lot of fresh faces, it’s a good thing for this team that a good hunk of the defense remains in tact.

 

The strength of the defense is its overall quickness starting with the D-line. While a bit undersized, they are very active and disruptive group led by senior Jared Hays.

 

The linebackers are anchored by Todd Robinson and Shelby Stacy. Don’t be surprised if you see Robinson playing DB this year because of his speed.

 

Beckum Herald will probably be starting at one corner. He didn’t start last year, but saw some playing time at the position.

 

Holcomb, 191-67 in 22 years at the helm of the Bobcats, needs just nine wins to reach 200 wins for his career that includes three state championships.

 

Overall, Bobcat players and fans have high hopes as usual. The team lost some great performers, but they still feel like they have a strong nucleus returning. And if the new starters develop as hoped, they could be a team to reckon with by season’s end. They will rely heavily on the defense early in the season until the offense can hit its stride.

 

With a district schedule including an experienced Leslie County and always dangerous Middlesboro, they better hope they find it pretty quick. They should be in the mix for another district title, but the returning depth of Middlesboro, Belfry, Leslie County, and Prestonsburg will make it hard for the Bobcats to end their recent second-round playoff blues.

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Previews of other Class 2A Teams

 

Betsy Layne

 

Betsy Layne will not be competing in district play again this year, but the Bobcats are showing signs of improvement.

 

After winning just three games in the previous six seasons, Glen Ripkoski, a U.S. Marines sergeant major and the school’s JROTC instructor, coached the Bobcats to a 4-6 record in his first season as head coach.

 

Betsy Layne is expected to return four starters on offense, including senior fullback Bill Collins, whom Ripkoski expects to have a big year.

 

Butler County

 

After graduating the best two classes of seniors to come through the Butler County football program, including 18 seniors last year, Robert Tuck finds himself rebuilding the Bear program once again.

 

Butler County advanced to the playoffs three straight years for the first time in school history.

 

Making it a fourth time may be a little tougher.

 

The Bears return just five starters from last year’s 7-4 team that lost to Trigg County in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Butler County offers different looks on offense, running some wing-T formations or putting three backs in the backfield in a triangle look to confuse their opponents.

 

Junior tackle Nick Wilkerson (6-4, 275) is only returning lineman on up front.

 

Senior fullback Dakota Tyree (6-1, 225) is expected to provide experience to both the offense and defense.

 

Jack Jackson will look to replace the graduated Tad Phelps in running the offense at quarterback. Phelps has moved on to Kentucky Weslyean College.

 

“He has a strong arm and good speed,” Tuck said of the junior.

 

Senior Dustin Coots, junior Jacob Greathouse, and Tyree will lead the linebacker core on defense.

 

Junior Alex Foster will be looked upon to lead the secondary for the Bears, who gave up less than 100 rushing yards a game in the regular season last year.

 

Other than that, it will likely be a free-for-all for the starting positions once practice starts.

 

“Spring practice allowed us a chance to start evaluating personnel and filling spots. But we might not know the final lineup until after first few games. We just want to make sure we have the best team on the field once district play starts,” Tuck said. “This team will have to gel early and continue to get better as the season goes on in order to compete for a district title.”

 

Caldwell County

 

A familiar face will greet some familiar faces when Caldwell County begins practice for the 2005 football season.

 

Pat Gates, who coached the Tigers for 17 seasons from 1986-2002, is returning to the

 

Tiger sideline after a two-year absence and inherits an experienced team that was 4-6 last year.

 

Gates coached the Tigers to the 1998 2A state title, but Caldwell has only made the playoffs twice since.

 

He takes over for Anthony Hatchell, who was 8-12 in two seasons and left in June to take the Mayfield High principal’s job.

 

Also leaving with his father was senior fullback and linebacker Josh Hatchell, who was expected to anchor an improved Tiger defense in 2005.

 

Despite the losses, the Tigers are expected to return eight starters on both sides of the football, including senior running back Allen Wadlington, who rushed for 938 yards and 13 touchdowns last year.

 

Wadlington now finds himself without the blocking services of Hatchell, although Marcus Holland (6-0, 200, Sr.) could step into that role.

 

One of three seniors to graduate last year was quarterback Donovan Dame. Junior Cameron Williams (5-11, 160) will likely get the starting nod at quarterback.

 

The Tigers will have some bulk up front, averaging nearly 260 pounds from tackle to tackle.

 

Junior Matt Wilson (5-9, 290), senior John Lundstrom (6-0, 220), junior Tyler Williams (6-2, 260), senior Jeremy Dalton (6-2, 240), and junior Bradley Woford (6-1, 290) give Gates some beef to work with and Edwards some time in the pocket.

 

Adam Bretz (6-2, 170, Sr.) and Ben Hudson (5-11, 160, Jr.) will give Williams good targets to throw to, while Cory Jordan (6-2, 205, Sr.) could return at tight end.

Gates, who has a career record of 110-81, needs just eight wins to pass Fred Clayton and become Caldwell County’s career wins leader. However, 2005 will be his only shot to achieve the mark. He has stated that he is coaching the Tigers this year because of the late start in finding a replacement for Hatchell.

 

Casey County

 

Casey County has clinched a playoff berth without having played a game.

 

That’s because the Rebels are in a four-team district with the exodus of Russell County to 3A.

 

However, a playoff game at the end of the season isn’t enough for head coach Andy Stephens and his Rebels.

 

“We would like to be able to host a district game. Our school has never been able to host a district playoff game,” Stephens said. “We tell our kids that anything can happen in the playoffs.”

 

The Rebels won seven games in 2002 but have won just five in the two years since, including a 1-9 mark last year.

 

Casey County returns 13 starters, including senior tailback Ricky Marrapodi, who rushed for 604 yards and five touchdowns last year.

 

Senior Brad Baldock also got some carries in the spring and will add backfield depth.

 

Senior Marcus Patterson caught 18 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns last year and could be one of the best players in the district.

 

Stephens feels like Casey County’s strength will be up front.

 

“We feel like our offensive and defensive lines should be one of our strengths. On the defensive line, Kyle Allen should be one of our leaders, and on the offensive line Aaron Burton, Blake Wesley, Cade Shackleford and Phillip Andrews should all be very solid for us.”

 

Cawood

 

Cawood lost their first three games and five of their first six before rebounding to win three of their last four games and make the playoffs.

 

It wasn’t quite the season head coach Frank Smith had hoped for coming off a 7-4 season in 2003 and returning 13 seniors.

 

The Trojans return five starters on both sides of the football in 2005, but have some major holes to fill at the skill positions.

 

Junior Mikey White rushed for 1,034 yards and 12 touchdowns but is the lone starting skill player returning.

 

Cawood must replace quarterback Andrew Brock, who threw for 1,047 yards, and receiver Shawn Ealy, who caught 34 passes for 596 yards and eight touchdowns in Smith’s Wing-T offense.

 

Junior Mike Hensley or freshman Josh Caldwell will get the starting nod at quarterback. If Caldwell ends up with the QB job Hensley will join Mike White in the backfield for the Trojans.

 

Senior guard Alex Stanton (5-7, 155) is the top returning lineman and is expected to be joined by senior tackle William Stewart (6-1, 225), junior Kevin Bruce (5-9, 240), and junior Adam Branson (5-8, 220).

 

White and Stewart will be expected to lead a defense that gave up a staggering 31 points and 323 yards per game last year.

 

“We only have five seniors on this year’s team, and only two of them are returning starters,” Smith said. “The leadership will have to come from our juniors, and you’ll see many of them in crucial roles for our team.”

 

Christian Academy-Louisville

 

By Centurion

 

Christian Academy of Louisville is lead by first year head coach Dennis Stafford, a former assistant, as the Centurions made the move into the AA classification.

 

Last season CAL went 7-5, advancing into the second round of the playoffs. They hope to advance to the playoffs for the sixth time in a row this year.

 

CAL lost seven seniors starters to graduation.

 

Their most valuable senior player is arguably Daniel Weedman. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound Weedman is putting up big numbers on squat, bench, and dead lift, and in the process, drawing attention from scouts.

 

Weedman will likely be the center and play either tackle or linebacker on defense.

 

Bradley Stafford, a senior, is another very physically strong player who can fly. He runs a 4.7 40 yard dash, plays tailback and is a defensive guard.

 

Logan Hatfield, another senior, offers valuable experience that will help the defense as he returns for his third consecutive year starting at linebacker for varsity. Hatfield saw some action at tight end last year.

 

Senior Adam Ringo is a tall lineman who has quickness and skill on both the defensive and offensive lines.

 

Andrew Jones is a hard hitting wide out and defensive end, who will be the only senior to letter all four years of his high school career.

 

Joe Derry, is another senior strength who is a speed demon on the track and out of the backfield. He also plays corner back.

 

Eric Cevallos is big lineman who will use his first year playing experience last year to help secure the lines.

 

Junior Chaz Vitittow is tall and strong, bringing speed to both wide out and corner back positions.

 

Junior Chris Parks, a key returnee on the line, helped anchor the offensive line last year.

 

Jared Stafford started every game at tight end last year and was also the backup quarterback.

 

With the graduation of Carpenter, a three year starter, Jared looks to be a likely option to fill the void.

 

CAL will be playing a very competitive schedule. The first three games are against private Class A schools Kentucky Country Day, Lexington Christian Academy, and Holy Cross.

 

CAL’s greatest obstacle before the district play begins will be traveling to Louisville Holy Cross, their cross-town rival.

 

The quarterback position and line look to be key factors for CAL in the upcoming season.

 

Seniors who have played since their freshman year will be playing for their third different head coach.

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Corbin

 

Corbin is facing a rebuilding season after losing 15 seniors plus last years leading rusher Josh Ware, who moved out of state.

 

Corbin returns senior Eric Blackwood, who will more than likely move to the running back spot after playing receiver last year. He was the leading receiver in 2004 with 45 catches for 773 yards.

 

Blackwood is a very dangerous kick returner and will also start again this year as a defensive back.

 

Sophomore Clint Cashen returns at quarterback after a stellar freshman season that saw him throw for 2,136 yards with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

 

Corbin has only one offensive lineman returning in guard Andy Millard, who will also have to be one of the leaders on the defensive side as a linebacker.

 

Lucas Henson is the only other returning starter for the Hounds. He started as a linebacker and also played some tight end last year, although he may line up in the backfield some this year as a fullback.

 

Corbin faces a tough early season schedule and will probably get off to a rough start with so many new faces having to play varsity for the first time, but they may gel by district and playoff time to become a factor in the 2A race.

 

DeSales

 

DeSales ran their way to an 8-4 record last year – their best season since 1998.

 

Now, Mark Sanders’ Colts are looking for the program’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1990-91.

 

DeSales will again have the services of senior fullback Jarrod Zinser, who rushed for 700 yards and six touchdowns last year and running back Zach Harrett, who added 619 yards and eight touchdowns.

 

Senior quarterback Garrett Reed threw for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns last year as the Colts averaged 27 points and 292 yards of offense a game.

 

“Garrett’s junior season was valuable to him and the team. He now knows our offense and what we want to accomplish,” Sander said.

 

The leading returning receiver is big tight end Kenny Hillerich. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound senior caught 14 passes for 152 yards and five touchdowns last year. He also helps lead the defense from his defensive end position.

 

Senior Josh Patterson and Jordan Paddock will also see time at receiver.

 

Ryan French, Tim Maupin, and Daniel Benton will also fight for starting positions on the line for DeSales’ Wing-T attack.

 

East Carter

 

The Raiders have pieced together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1993-94.

 

Head coach Don Damron lost 12 seniors from last year’s 6-5 squad that lost to Newport 40-13 in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Senior Tandy Colley (5-9, 140) is expected to move into the starting quarterback role in 2005 after throwing for 186 yards in limited time last year.

 

The Raiders do return leading receiver Lafe Flaugher (6-3, 170, Sr.), who hauled in 18 passes for 322 yards and two scores a year ago.

 

Damron does have some size to work with on the line, with players expected to return to include Justin Rogers (6-1, 240, Sr.), Brandon Kelley (6-2, 230, Sr.), and Daniel Geyer (6-2, 310, Sr.).

 

Bryan Rogers (6-0, 190, Sr.) and Jared Adams (5-10, 200, Sr.) also return for the Raiders at the linebacker position.

 

The Raiders haven’t put together three straight winning seasons since the Gary McDowell era of the early 1980s.

 

If Justin Perry (6-0, 190, Sr.) and Daniel Pfau (5-11, 180, Sr.) develop into a speedy tandem in the backfield and Damron can cultivate a young line, East Carter may very well make it a three-peat in 2005.

 

East Ridge

 

Funny how things come full-circle.

 

Erik Ratliff coached the Warriors to a 4-6 record in the program’s first year in 2002.

 

He was rewarded with a pink slip.

 

Now, Ratliff returns to the East Ridge sidelines to replace Mike Davis, who left for Grant County.

 

East Ridge has a few more players in their program than when it began under Ratliff three years ago, but the Warriors must replace quarterback Paul Deese, who rushed and ran for over 1,000 yards last year.

 

Receiver Kyle Fletcher and linebacker/running back David Ratliff are among those expected to return for the Warriors.

 

Edmonson County

 

Edmonson County won ten games in 1998 but hasn’t won more than four in a season since.

 

Kyle Pierce played on that 1998 team that was 10-2 and lost to Caldwell County in the second round of the playoffs.

 

Now, the 25-year-old head coach enters his second season with intentions on taking the school to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

 

The Wildcats return six starters on both sides of the football, including senior quarterback Kyle Culbreath, senior receiver Josh Roof, and junior running back Brandon Poteet.

 

“We should be more competitive this year. We've had a year in the weightroom and have gotten a little quicker. If we can stay healthy early on, we should be OK,” Pierce said.

 

Elizabethtown

 

There will be a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Elizabethtown during the first part of the 2005 football season.

 

The Panthers lost four key members of their 11-2 season and their head coach.

Brett Burnett took a job as head coach and athletic director in Pelham, Alabama after turning around the E-town program. Burnett was 44-28 in six years on the Panther sidelines, reaching the 2A title game in 2003.

 

To replace Burnett, Elizabethtown hired North Hardin graduate and former Bellevue head coach Paul Gray.

 

Gray compiled a 10-10 record and had no playoff appearances in two seasons at Bellevue.

 

Before becoming a head coach, Gray worked for three years at Lloyd Memorial, including the final one where he was the defensive coordinator. He also was an assistant at Boone County for six years, including helping the Rebels to two 4-A championship game appearances.

 

Gray played quarterback at Hanover College, where he still holds several NAIA records. He is expected to bring a different passing style offense to E-town, who graduated record-setting quarterback Chris Todd. The Texas Tech signee threw for 3,182 yards and 38 touchdowns last year.

 

The Panthers must also replace several other starters, including running back Jonathan Rusher, receiver A.J. French, tight end Zipp Duncan, and offensive tackle Brandon Deaderick.

 

Steve Milesko (5-10, 175, Sr.) should see his carries increase in the Panther backfield, but finding a suitable replacement for Todd will be Gray’s first chore.

 

Gray should again have the services of Andrew Moats (6-1, 230, Sr.) on the offensive line and linebacker Cory Spiers (5-11, 205, Sr.), has led the Panthers in tackles the past two seasons.

 

Estill County

 

Estill County must replace a pair of 1,000-yard rushers from the 2004 season that saw them go 3-7.

 

Head coach Mike Jones returns for his fourth season heading the Engineers, who were 8-3 just two seasons ago.

 

Jones has five starters returning on each side of the football, with quarterback Adam Clem expected to be the signal caller in 2005.

 

Bob Chaney and Derek Tipton will try and replace R.B. Browning and Logan Benedict in the backfield. The latter rushed for 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.

 

Jones will have some issues up front with most of Estill’s line lost to graduation, including two-way starter Michael Davidson.

 

Fleming County

 

Fleming County had a perfect 2004 football season if not for Russell.

 

The Red Devils accounted for the both of Panther losses in their 11-2 season – the second 11-win season in four years.

 

Fleming County does return senior quarterback Jordan Fritz, who completed 55-percent of his passes for 3,362 yards and 36 touchdowns.

 

Fritz, who carries a 3.9 GPA in the classroom, was also the Panthers’ leading with 821 yards on 124 carries and 11 touchdowns.

 

Trey Rosser will likely be converted from receiver to running back to compensate for the loss of Robbelle Rogers, who along with lineman Tristan Jones transferred to George Rogers Clark.

 

Senior Adam Donovan will be the starting fullback.

 

Nick Edwards, tight end Zack Roth, and Rosser will also split time as wideouts in the wide open Panther offense.

 

Helping give Fritz time to find his receivers will be the returning nucleus of the line that includes tackle Brandon Pollack, guards Andy Plank and Will Darnall, and tackle Richie Gray.

 

The Panthers return two starters on their defensive line – Gray, and Pollack.

 

Three other starters are expected to return in the linebacking core and the secondary, including Donovan and senior Brad Story.

 

The Panthers will field a senior-laden team expected to challenge Russell and Lloyd Memorial for the district title and bring home the school’s first region football title in over 25 years.

 

Garrard County

 

After graduating perhaps the best player in the history of the school in Spencer Crutchfield and losing several other key contributors from last season's 9-3 squad, Garrard County hopes to build on a more "team-oriented" approach with numerous contributors this season.

 

Garrard County returns nine starters and 20 seniors with size and skill. The major question facing fifth year coach Steve Stonebraker is who will run the offense.

 

The top two contenders to replace three-year starter Crutchfield are senior Bruce Williams and junior Jared Prewitt. Williams quarterbacked the Lions after Crutchfield succumbed to injury at the end of the 2003 season and led Garrard to a first round win over DeSales.

 

With Williams expected to get the nod at quarterback, Prewitt, who caught more than 300 yards last year, will be Williams’ main target through the air.

 

The running game should be anchored by Eric Quisenberry and Cameron McCane, both of which have seen only limited action.

 

In addition to Prewitt, the wide-open receiver core that Stonebraker favors will be led by Kevin Preston, David Hall, Joey Day and others.

 

The offensive line could be the strong point of this unit. Senior lineman Robert Record has drawn interest from Kentucky, Louisville, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as many small schools throughout the state.

 

“Robert will definitely have to step his game up for us to be successful. He has the size (6'4, 284) and strength (315 lb. bench) to dominate as a senior,” Stonebraker said.

 

Record will anchor a line that also includes Kendall Young, Jordan Murphy, Jeremy Prater and Josh Gibson.

 

The defensive unit made tremendous strides under coach Chris Cooper last season, especially toward the end of the season when the focus seemed to shift toward a smaller, quicker unit. That could be the format again this season. Many of the key offensive contributors will play major roles on defense as well. Look for Williams to be a force at linebacker and also expect big things from junior Josh Owens, who came on really strong on the defensive line late in the season.

 

The schedule seems primed for success. After a tough opener at Glasgow, the Lions will travel to Paris and Lincoln County before hosting Harrodsburg and Clark County. Garrard then travels to Mercer County and Grant County before wrapping up the season with district games against Casey County, Wayne County and Corbin.

 

While the offense has been predicated around throwing the football the last couple seasons, look forward perhaps a quicker running game this time around. Don't, however, look for Stonebraker to abandon his wholesale substitution pattern.

 

And while this Golden Lion team will likely be overlooked at the beginning of the season (and perhaps rightfully so), don’t be surprised if the coaching staff has this team making some noise in Class AA by the end of the regular season.

 

Hart County

 

The Raiders’ 6-5 season last year was Hart County’s first winning season in eight years.

 

Head coach Tim Nichols must now replace the bulk of his offense with five returning starters and some unproven underclassmen.

 

Anthony Thomas threw for 2,272 yards and 22 touchdowns last year and has moved on to Kentucky Wesylean. He will be replaced at quarterback by John Thomas Hodges.

 

“Anthony will be very hard to replace. He was the backbone of our spread offense. John Thomas is actually a better passer but will not be a run threat,” Nichols said.

 

Richard Rosa, who rushed for 587 yards and three touchdowns last year, and Michael Paul will get most of the carries out of the backfield.

 

Wide receiver Chaz Thompson returns after catching 49 passes for 855 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago.

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Heath

 

Football games are usually won and lost at the line of scrimmage. No team in western Kentucky proved the point as well as Heath last season.

 

The Pirates fielded one of Class 2A’s fastest ballclubs, but the inability to match up with quality teams in the trenches led to a disappointing early exit in the playoffs. Heath went 7-3 and finished fourth in the District 1 standings before being blitzed by eventual state runner-up Owensboro Catholic in the first round of the playoffs.

 

Coach Butch Edwards thinks the Pirates will be better up front this season -- they will have to be to make up for the loss of a couple of explosive skill-position players.

 

”We’ll have more size and be more physical,” Edwards said. “We can put three guys on the line in the 240-250 range, the kind of size we didn’t have before. We were just so little the last couple of years, and it was tough to match up with teams like Fort Campbell and Trigg County, especially defensively.”

 

Edwards sees the Pirates, with six starters back on offense and seven on defense, in a potential battle with Caldwell County for the third and fourth spots in the district race.

 

Quarterback Clint Tilford (6-3, 190) is back, with speedy Jayce Long as his top receiver. Long will draw more attention this season without receiver Brandon Austin, a state champion sprinter, lining up on the other side. Tilford, who threw for 1,715 yards and 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions last season, is a good passer with the ability to move around in the pocket and throw on the run. Long caught 25 passes, 11 for touchdowns. Zach Harris and Ben Wyatt will also see time at receiver.

 

Chris McKinney will give Heath a 265-pound fullback who can block for and share some of the running load in the I-formation with tailback Chad Wright, a sophomore who will replace his brother Brock in the backfield. Wright (5-9, 160) has the speed of his brother, but is smaller and isn’t the same kind of workhorse back.

 

Zach Bohannon can play in the backfield or line up as a second tight end and receiver on occasion, and Heath will go with Chad Hampton as its primary tight end.

 

McKinney may move from the defensive line to linebacker alongside Bohannon, with Rhoden McCoy and Brandon Fondaw seeing time at tackle and Hampton at defensive end. Long is a standout cornerback, with Harris manning the other corner and Tilford at safety.

 

Henry County

 

Henry County reeled off their first winning season in six years with a 7-4 campaign last year.

 

Now, head coach Billy Martin enters his fourth season with 15 seniors and an experienced line in hopes of winning the school’s first playoff game in 19 years.

Martin was further encouraged when 24 players showed up for spring practice – the most he’s ever had to work with.

 

Senior Johnny Doll will likely move into the quarterback position, while senior Daniel Moody will move to fullback.

 

They will work behind an experienced and big line led by seniors Ryan Marshall, Billy Vaughn, and Richard Jaehnigen.

 

Martin’s team will also be bolstered by the return of senior Harley Ward, who returns to the team after a two-year layoff due to injury. He is expected to play receiver and defensive back.

 

Martin will also have the services of first-year players Roby Foree, Michael Gregory, and Aaron Curtsinger who all ran for the Henry County track team and should add some needed speed to the Wildcat attack.

 

Knott County Central

 

Joe Beder takes over a Patriot program that has not had a winning season since 1996.

 

Beder, who coached Tim Couch for a season at Leslie County before moving on to Hazard, will inherit several starters from last year’s 2-8 team.

 

Junior Michael Lindon (6-3, 185) should take over the quarterbacking duties for the Patriots, while T.J. Collins and fullback Bobby Owens also return.

 

Roy Johnson (6-4, 305) and David Tuttle (6-0, 290) will provide the beef up front in Beder’s power-I offense that will also spread four receivers out at times.

 

While the new coach will implement a new system in Hindman, it doesn’t appear likely that the Patriots’ recent history of losing seasons will end this year.

 

Leslie County

 

There hasn’t been this much buzz in Hyden about football since Tim Couch was burning up the state record book a decade ago.

 

With the Eagles returning 19 starters from last year’s 6-5 team, many are pointing to Leslie County as a team that can advance far in the playoffs.

 

Tim Koogler’s squad does return quarterback Quentin Morgan, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns last year.

 

And Morgan will see plenty of familiar faces at either end of the line to throw to.

 

Junior Brian Hubbard hauled in 35 passes for 470 yards and five touchdowns last year, while Riley Hendrix added 28 catches for 420 yards and seven scores. Hendrix should be ready to go after suffering a leg injury in basketball season.

 

Daniel Day is another target for Morgan after catching 25 passes for 430 yards and five touchdowns last year.

 

Junior Ryan Howard rushed for over 800 yards last year in Koogler’s pass-happy offense and scored six touchdowns.

 

Junior fullback Timmy Baker also returns.

 

Koogler is especially high on Leslie County’s line, with four starters returning from last year.

 

Tackle Jerry Caudill (265), guard John Horton (300), center Jared Turner (265), and guard David Smith (255) make up an Eagle line that will average nearly 260 pounds across.

 

While the Eagles appear to have everything intact on the offensive side of the football, their defense will need to improve if they are to make some noise in Region Four.

 

Leslie County gave up just 10.1 points in their six wins last year, but allowed 33.4 points in their five losses.

 

The Eagles will have a pair of good middle linebackers returning in Caudill and Baker.

 

With the amount of talent Leslie County has returning, Eagle fans are clamoring for the school’s first region championship since Couch and Co. led them to back-to-back titles in 1994-95.

 

However, Leslie County must get past the fact that the current senior class has only beaten one team (Perry County Central in 2002) that finished the season with a winning record.

 

The same class has also never advanced past the first round of the playoffs.

 

Given that the none of the six teams Leslie County beat last year won more than four games, Koogler has upgraded the Eagle schedule in hopes to better prepare his team for the postseason.

 

Lynn Camp (8-3), North Laurel (6-5), Harlan (9-3), and Bell County (12-2) all appear on the 2005 Leslie County schedule.

 

If the Eagles can overcome their playoff inexperience, they could become a major player in the region race in November.

 

Lewis County

 

Lewis County dropped to 2-8 after a .500 season two years ago.

 

Head coach Corky Prater must replace all-district quarterback Tyler Liles, who threw for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns.

 

Jared Lewis could get a look at quarterback for the Lions, who have not won more than five games in a season in over 16 years.

 

Lone Oak

 

Lone Oak got energized about football last season, with veteran coach Jack Haskins producing a 6-5 record -- the school’s second winning season in 20 years -- and a surprising third-place finish in the district.

 

An encore will be difficult, especially with the loss of a solid senior class. The Purple Flash returns just four starters on offense and five on defense and few upperclassmen with extensive varsity experience. Several members of a 22-player sophomore class will be counted on to start and contribute.

 

“The old coach’s saying is that for every sophomore you start, you can count a loss,” Haskins said. “I’ve always felt that way, too, because a lot of sophomores aren’t ready for the varsity level yet. But we’ll have to put several in there and see how it works out. I think a playoff spot is reachable for this team.”

 

Lone Oak can put some speed on the field with receiver Matt Hopper, tailback Kory Stiles and Mark Hall seeing some time in the backfield after playing almost exclusively on defense last fall. Brandon Phillips is a reliable receiver.

 

But the rest of the offense will be young. Sophomores Corey Robinson and Austin Clark will battle for the quarterback job and the offensive line could start at least three sophomores along with returning senior Alex Riley.

 

”All of our size is young,” Haskins said. “Whichever guy doesn’t play quarterback will be on the field somewhere because they’re both good athletes.”

 

Hall is a big hitter at free safety, Hopper starts at cornerback and Stiles is a tough, undersized linebacker and will start alongside Michael Leigh. Haskins is high on Travis Abbott, who didn’t play last season but is projected as a starter at tight end and linebacker, and speedy sophomore P.K. Owens.

 

”We’re still trying to build a program here,” said Haskins, who has had success performing similar work at Heath, Calloway County and Ballard Memorial in a 30-year coaching career. “These sophomores have a chance to be good down the road, but it’s going to take some time.”

 

Magoffin County

 

Gerald Howard takes over a Magoffin County football program that hasn’t had a winning record in ten years.

 

Howard could have a large senior class in 2005, led by running back Brandon Shepherd who rushed for 716 yards and caught 30 passes for 423 yards.

 

Junior Clay Fletcher was the team’s third-leading receiver with 11 catches for 211 yards.

 

Mercer County

 

Marty Jaggers says it isn’t the water.

 

Mercer County’s new coach has checked it out, and he said that’s not what separates his players from those who have won championships just a few miles down the road at Danville and Mercer County.

 

“Our water at the Mercer County schools comes from the same water system as the water comes from for Boyle County and Danville,” Jaggers said. “I told our players there wasn’t anything different about those kids.”

 

But Mercer hasn’t won a playoff game since 1988, and Boyle and Danville have combined to win 12 state championships since then. So the first job for Jaggers, who spent the last eight years as an assistant at Danville after six years as head coach at Lincoln County, is to convince the Scotties that they’re capable of success, too.

 

He said that begins by getting the numbers up and getting the school’s best athletes interested in football.

 

“A school that size has got to have the best athletes,” Jaggers said. “We’ve got four or five that look as good as anything we had at Danville or Lincoln County. We’ve just got to get more of them.

 

“I think we’ve got few that didn’t play in past who are going to play hopefully, and if they do they’re going to help us.”

 

Down the road, there are big plans for Mercer. A spacious new fieldhouse will be ready by next season, and a few years later a new school and a new field are expected to be in place.

 

But Jaggers has short-term plans, too, beginning with the end of Mercer’s nine-game playoff losing streak.

 

“That’s our first goal, to get in the playoffs and make some noise,” he said.

Jaggers didn’t see as much improvement in the Scotties as he would have liked in spring practice. Most of the top skill players were busy on the baseball or track teams, leaving primarily linemen for the football workouts.

 

But Jaggers said Mercer has the makings of a good line, led by 310-pound senior Brandon Sallee, whom he described as “a big kid who can move.”

 

Seniors Josh Hardman and Brandon Wilson also return to the offensive and defensive lines.

 

“Up front, I think we have the potential to be pretty good,” Jaggers said.

 

Mercer must replace record-setting running back Andrew McCloud, and the task falls to senior Brandon Scheller, who played baseball and ran track in the spring, then spent his summer traveling to a number of football camps and showcases.

 

Junior Donald Walker will also see some action in the backfield after gaining 20 pounds to increase to 175.

 

Another of the team’s top athletes is senior Michael Bottoms, who shined as the Scotties’ primary receiver last year after moving from quarterback.

 

The quarterback spot was up for grabs when practice began because the top contenders for the job weren’t in spring practice. Jaggers said one possibility is junior Chris Lewis, whom he said could also play a number of other positions from fullback and tight end to linebacker and defensive end.

 

Jaggers said one of the most important members of his team is county schools superintendent Bruce Johnson, who had the same job at Lincoln when Jaggers was there. Jaggers went 49-27 in six years at Lincoln, leading the Patriots to the Class AAA finals in 1993.

 

Jaggers said his relationship with Johnson is a big reason why he came to Mercer.

“I’ve got the best superintendent in the world,” Jaggers said. “One of the big reasons we had success (at Lincoln) was because of him. With the support you’ve got from the administration, that’s half the battle right there.”

 

Jaggers has retained some of the coaches who worked for previous coach Duane Hammons -- who led Mercer to the playoffs in each of his five seasons and is now the defensive coordinator at Anderson County -- including Bart Bredar, Gary Moore and Joe Bill Fister. Additions to the staff include two players Jaggers coached at Danville, Jason Bryant and Brian Rowland.

 

Jaggers, who directed the offense for Danville teams that won 91 games and three state titles in his eight years there, accepted the Mercer job in January.

 

In April, he met with a search committee at Hopkinsville, less than 20 miles from where he grew up in Trigg County, but he withdrew from consideration for that job and said he was never formally interviewed by the school.

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Monroe County

 

After missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years, Monroe County’s rebuilding job continues after a 3-7 season that saw the Falcons score less than ten points a game.

 

Second-year head coach John Petett has ten starters returning, including most of his running backs and receivers.

 

Seniors Miles Tooley and Logan Williams both return to a backfield that averaged only 90 yards last year on the ground. That figure should increase with the expected return of starting linemen Barton Wilson and Chad Arms (both seniors) and juniors Billy Murphy and Chase Kendall.

 

Sophomore Parker Petett is expected to replace Rusty Hawkins at quarterback and will have some experienced receivers to throw to such as senior Clifton Hamilton, junior Seth Graves, and senior tight end Landon Williams.

 

The folks in Tompkinsville are high on the underclassmen at MCHS, which have put up some gaudy numbers at the middle school and freshman level. Petett is hoping the combination of their talent and experience gained both last year and this will translate into some wins for the Falcons.

 

Moore

 

Moore staggered through their fourth winless season the past 12 years, losing all ten games and their coach Jay Fulmer, who resigned in September.

 

Bob Johnson takes over a team that scored just 60 points and were shut out four times last year.

 

Morgan County

 

The Morgan County Cougars are coming off their best season in the school’s history.

 

First-year head coach Randy Wood took over the helm and had a magical season that included heading back to the playoffs for the third time in school history (and first since 1991), and notching the first playoff win over Mercer County and advancing to the second round.

 

While Morgan County did lose one of the school’s most prolific athletes in Andy Lewis, who guided the Cougars at quarterback while being injured much of the season, Wood will have a wealth of talent at key positions in 2005.

 

Alex Collins, who played the fullback position for Coach Wood’s triple option offense will move under center.

 

Zeke Hall had an outstanding junior season for the Cougars on both sides of the football and should be a prime offensive weapon this fall in West Liberty.

 

Nathaniel Peyton, Devan Adkins, and Derrik Young are also offensive threats this season from the receiver position and possible fullback position. Adkins and Young will make their first football appearances in a couple of years and should provide immediate athletic depth and talent for Morgan County.

 

Brandon Allen will anchor the defense at middle linebacker along with Wes Montgomery. Allen is a ferocious hitter from the defensive side and could easily lead the team in tackles this season.

 

Montgomery has unlimited potential at outside linebacker. He has recovered from a knee injury from their last regular season game against East Carter in which he was not available for the Cougars’ two playoff games.

 

The Cougars will have to replace all-area performer Cortney Barker from the defensive line position as well as some key positions on the offensive line. However, the Cougars do return several linemen with starting experience. The Cougars were excellent last season at blocking downfield with their receivers, which is key in the triple attack. Their athleticism also allowed for a passing game that was efficient at key times last year and should again be utilized this season to make the Cougars multidimensional and more of an offensive threat.

 

Overall, the Cougars could have a very quick defensive unit with a potentially solid linebacking corps and defensive backfield, especially with the newcomers to the football team this fall. But for the Cougars to repeat last year’s exceptional year, they must meet the challenge in the trenches this season.

 

Muhlenberg South

 

Matt Mueller coached the Suns to a 4-6 record in his first season at Muhlenberg South but saw 12 seniors graduate off a 32-man roster.

 

Corey Civils, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound junior, rushed for 885 yards and seven touchdowns last year, but he is one of the few skill people returning for the Suns.

 

The line will be anchored by Justin Rager, a 6-foot-3, 308-pound senior, who will get help from Nathan Arnold (5-11, 241, Soph.) and Michael Gaines (5-9, 218, Sr.).

 

Newport

 

This year, Newport will be led by a new head coach, John Schlarman, who comes over from Campbell County.

 

The Wildcats finished 9-3 last season and were 4-1 in the district before losing to Fleming County 40-32 in the playoffs.

 

This year’s team will be loaded with seven offensive starters, and eight defensive starters returning.

 

Junior quarterback J.J. Hesch returns after throwing for 1,961 yards and 24 touchdowns last year.

 

Hesch will have to find some new targets to throw to, with junior Steven Taylor and senior James Thomas the likely successors at wide receiver.

 

Senior tight end Matt Atkins will also see some throws come his way.

 

The Wildcats also return 1,000-yard rusher James Glenn, who scored 11 touchdowns as a junior.

 

They will all be the beneficiary of a line that returns three starters.

 

Senior Dan Runion (6-4, 250), senior Glen Young (6-6, 298), and junior Kyle Southwood (5-10, 240) helped block for a Wildcat offense that rang up 35 points and 400 yards of offense a game.

 

Atkins, Runion, and Young will also anchor the defensive line, while junior Chase Barger (6-0, 175) returns at linebacker.

 

Glenn and Thomas will see considerably more time in the defensive secondary for Newport.

 

Schlarman’s first task is to improve a defense that gave up 27 points a game and almost 300 yards of offense.

 

If the defense improves under Schlarman, the Wildcats could find themselves hosting a playoff game in November.

 

North Oldham

 

Head coach Peter Williams enters his second season at the helm of North Oldham with four starters returning on both sides of the football.

 

The Mustangs have won three games each of their first three years of existence, even making the playoffs two years ago.

 

Sophomore Dylan Grandon (6-1, 160) took over the starting job at quarterback midway through last year and responded with over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns.

 

Williams looks for Grandon to have a breakout year in the Mustangs’ option offense.

Junior Ryan Smart (6-0, 180) will become the go-to guy in the backfield

 

The offensive line returns 6-foot-4, 235-pound tackle Tyler Gooch, a senior, who getting some looks from some regional colleges.

 

Braden Goss (5-8, 200, Sr.) and Eric Ford (5-11, 175, Sr.) also return on the line for Williams.

 

Linebacker Brage Bunton (6-2, 200, Sr.) anchors North Oldham’s 4-4 defense that must improve in 2005. Eastern Kentucky and Miami, Ohio are looking at Bunton, who runs a 4.7 in the 40.

 

Pike County Central

 

Chris McNamee begins his second stint as Pike Central head coach with one of the top running backs in the region.

 

Junior Gordon Varney rushed for 1,742 yards and 20 touchdowns last year as the Hawks finished with a 5-6 record.

 

Quirvon Merchant is another running back that McNamee is high on this year.

 

This is McNamee's third stint at PCC. He was an assistant when the school opened in 1993 and was the Hawks’ head coach from 1996-98, posting a 14-17 record and the school’s first winning season in 1998.

 

After leaving Pike Central in 1999, McNamee went to Pikeville and was 47-18 there, leading the Panthers to a pair of region titles.

 

“Pike Central is a school I am familiar with, having been there previously,” McNamee said. “I feel the new administration wants a successful football program and is willing to do the things necessary for the program to improve.”

 

Powell County

 

The outlook appears brighter at Powell County, where their 4-6 record last year was the second-best in school history.

 

Head coach Bruce Jones took over the reins of the Pirates just a few weeks before the season started and helped guide them to the program’s most wins in five years.

 

While Jones will have to replace Ryon Stewart and Steve Ashley, who both signed with Union College, the Pirates are slated to return 13 starters.

 

The Pirates will have to replace two graduated seniors in the backfield that combined to rush for 1,100 yards and 18 touchdowns.

 

Josh Stewart played several positions last year, including quarterback and receiver.

 

Also returning are Derrick Blackford and Daniel Taylor, who Jones says is receiving some college interest.

 

With the numbers Jones has returning, the Pirates are hoping to make a push for the school’s first winning season since the football program began in 1991.

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Reidland

 

Reidland advanced to the Region I title game in 2000 but have won just 11 games since and haven’t been back to the playoffs.

 

While a playoff trip may appear unlikely for the Greyhounds, head coach Jeff Sturm should put an improved product on the field in 2005.

 

Reidland’s offense goes through fullback John Boaz (6-2, 205, Sr.) and junior quarterback Matt Cornwell (5-11, 160).

 

Wingback Jeremy Styers (5-10, 170, Sr.) and split end Alfonso Vasquez (5-11, 155, Sr.) are Cornwell’s favorite targets.

 

Up front, the Greyhounds feature some size with Nick Bloodworth (6-1, 320, Sr.), who may see some time with the offensive unit this year, center Jeremy Spencer (5-11, 235, Jr.), and senior tackle Joseph Barbarito (6-1, 235, Sr.), who transferred in from West Virginia last year.

 

Shawnee

 

Students at Shawnee High School can earn their pilot’s license through the school’s Aviation Flight Training Magnet Program.

 

But one thing that hasn’t taken flight yet is their football program.

 

The Eagles have not had a winning season since 1970 and have never appeared in the football playoffs.

 

Neither is likely to change this year, although their 3-7 record last year was their best season in four years.

 

The Eagles do return senior running back Deshawn Flanagan, who rushed for 1,007 yards and eight touchdowns last year.

 

Shelby Valley

 

First-year head coach Ben Howard has nothing but high expectations for his veteran Shelby Valley football team in 2005.

 

The son of legendary Pikeville skipper Hillard Howard returns 18 starters from last years 5-6 team, many of which have been starters for three years.

 

The line should be the strong point of this team, returning all but two starters.

 

Key players on the o-line are all seniors and include center Joshua Damron (6-2, 265), tackle Adam Ratliff (6-1, 285), guards Adam Ratliff (5-11, 240), and Justin White (6-1, 245).

 

The other tackle is John Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound junior that has started for Valley since his freshman year.

 

“Alabama, Kentucky, Northwestern, and Western Kentucky have all showed interest in John. He is going to be something special over the next couple of years,” Howard said.

 

“He has gotten a lot bigger over the last year, but has gotten faster too.”

 

Another junior, Tyler Cable (5-10, 240), may see O-line duties as well as being the nose guard on the defensive side of the ball. Pound for pound, Cable is one of the strongest kids on the team.

 

The backfield also includes two returning starters in 1,000-yard rusher Larry May (6-0, 205) and Zack Mullins (6-0, 185), who not only blocks very well, but has been consistently timed in the 4.6 range.

 

Mullins, who rushed for 780 yards last year, is also the strongest kid on the team, setting a school record with a 265 pound clean.

 

Sharing ball carrying duties with May and Mullins will be senior John McPeek (5-10, 180), who could see some time at receiver.

 

The biggest question about this team will be' can they play the style of football that Howard wants them to play – an even mixture of pass and run.

 

After losing three-year starter Timmy Griffith at quarterback, sophomore Tyler Johnson should get first crack at the position.

 

Junior Colby Newsom (6-1, 170) should be one of his main targets, along with senior Ricky Adkins (6-0, 175) and newcomer Jacob Newsom (5-11, 170), who impressed the coaches in spring practice.

 

“We like to spread the field and throw the ball,” Howard said. “If the other team tries to drop 7-8 people, then of course we will run it. This offense is based on how the defense lines up.”

 

The key for Shelby Valley will be improving a defense that gave up 36.5 points a game last year, including 40 or more five times.

 

The Wildcats return all but two starters in Howard’s rebuilding task on defense.

 

“On defense, we will attack people. We are not going to sit back and read hats. Our players will have gaps, and they will shoot those gaps most of the time,” Howard said.

 

The linebacking corps consisting of MLB Cris Tackett (5-11, 205, Jr.), OLB John McPeek, and OLB Zack Mullins should be the backbone of this veteran group.

 

The D-Line looks very solid with seasoned players Ratliff, Johnson, Cable, and defensive end Timmy Adams.

 

Manual Newsom and Steven Harper (6-0,275) will also give the D-Line added depth.

In the secondary, the Wildcats return only one starter – Colby Newsom.

 

Defensive coordinator Anthony Hampton will be expecting his new style of defense to be a good fit for his personnel, given he’s going to put his best 11 athletes on the field and come at you like crazy.

 

Howard had simple words for his squad at their first team meeting.

 

“Numbers don’t impress me. We’ll take the field this year with 16 players if we have too, but those 16 will run through a brick wall if asked to do so,” Howard said. “The new Wildcats aren’t going to settle for playing one game in November then turning in the pads. We want to still be playing in early December, and the only way that we can make that happen is to outwork every other class 2A team in the state.”

 

Sheldon Clark

 

Sheldon Clark hasn’t had consecutive losing seasons since 1988-89. After a 2-8 season last year, second-year head coach Shawn Hager returns several players that could keep that streak alive.

 

The Cardinals return four players on their offensive line – Danny Hinkle (6-3, 270, Jr.), Jon Wells (5-11, 270, Sr.), Josh Schmidt (6-1, 285, Sr.), and Jon Allen (6-3, 220, Sr.).

Seniors Adam Davis and Jessie Stevens return in the backfield for SCHS, and sophomore Damen Hensley will get the nod at quarterback.

 

Spencer County

 

Spencer County enters its first season of district competition with head coach Doug Schneider at the helm.

 

The Bears were 4-2 last year in their first varsity season, but defeated Trimble County, Evangel Christian, and Beth Haven twice.

 

It could be a long season for the Bears.

 

Todd County Central

 

Todd County Central doubled their win total from two in 2003 to four last year.

 

For 2005, head coach Randy Thomas would like to see the Rebels return to the playoffs for the first time since 1998.

 

Todd County returns 11 starters from last year’s 4-6 squad including their starting backfield.

 

Josh Phillips averaged nearly eight yards a carry last year, while sophomore Travis Shanklin ran for 513 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Transfer T.J. Linton has moved into the starting position at quarterback.

 

“We still have a lot of work to do, and I hope we can build an improved program by commitment,” Thomas said. “4-6 is a good beginning.”

 

Trigg County

 

The mystery team in Region I may very well be Trigg County.

 

Curtis Higgins’ Wildcats returns one of the better defensive units in the state, led by 6-foot-8, 310-pound Jeffery Adams, who has already received offers from Tennessee, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Kentucky. Other schools such as Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Auburn, and Georgia are also expressing interest in Adams, who has said he will likely decide on a college after the season.

 

The senior lineman was part of a defense last year that recorded 36 quarterback sacks and allowed just 99 rushing yards a game.

 

Joining Adams will be tackle Taylor McGee (6-1, 295, Sr.), who could also shift around on the line in certain formations. McGee, who bench pressed 405 pounds at the state powerlifting meet in the spring, is the strongest player in the school’s history and will need to have a strong season if the Wildcats are to unseat Fort Campbell as district champions.

 

Trigg County graduated several defensive linemen, but bring back five linebackers and defensive backs.

 

Rick Woods (5-10, 180, Sr.) offers speed and strength at one linebacker spot, while John David Fourqurean (5-11, 175, Jr.) worked his way into the starting lineup last year and was among the team leaders in tackles.

 

Trigg County will feature an improved secondary after giving up 112 yards and 12 touchdowns through the air last year.

 

Greg Acree (6-0, 150, Sr.) had four of Trigg County’s 17 interceptions last year, while Devin Tejada (5-11, 170, Sr.) and Jamaal Boyd (6-2, 210, Sr.) also return in the secondary. Boyd has also seen time at linebacker during the spring.

 

The Wildcats have several more questions of offense, although Higgins does have the luxury of returning his quarterback and wide receivers from last year.

 

Quarterback Tommy Woodall (6-0, 170, Sr.) threw for 1,373 yards and 15 touchdowns last year in his first season as a starter. Woodall is also a threat to run, rushing for 359 yards and ten touchdowns.

 

However, Woodall missed all of the team’s summer workouts when he suffered a broken wrist in Trigg’s first day of seven-on-seven drills. He is expected to begin practice in early August.

 

Dylan Sonnek (6-0, 200, Sr.) guided the team during their seven-on-seven camps, helping lead the Wildcats to a second place finish at the Western Kentucky camp.

 

Boyd (26 catches, 623 yards, 9 TDs) and Tejada (17 catches, 326 yards) both return to provide targets for Woodall. Acree will likely move into the other receiving role.

Trigg isn’t as set on the line and in their backfield.

 

Adams was a part-time starter on the line last year but will likely see more time out of necessity in 2005.

 

Josh Strauch (5-11, 170, Sr.) was a pleasant surprise on the line last year, and Devin Herndon (5-11, 205, Jr.) also saw considerable time.

 

Ben Koenig (6-1, 240, Soph.) will likely move into a starter’s role, but the Wildcats appear more thin and undersized on their line than recent years.

 

Higgins also finds his running back corps thinner than he has ever had.

 

The Wildcats lost leading rushers Steven Wadlington (1,507 yards, 12 TDs) and Frank Russell to graduation and saw junior Jon Wilson transfer to Murray.

 

McGee rushed for 431 yards and six touchdowns last year and could see time in the backfield at both the tailback and fullback positions.

 

Coaches are high on sophomore Scotty Mayes (5-8, 145), who qualified for the Class A track meet in the 200-yard dash and was a member of the school’s state champion relay teams in the 100 and 200 meters.

 

Woods, who was a standout rusher in middle school before being shuffled to back of Trigg’s deep deck of running backs, will also see time in the backfield.

 

The Wildcats have some obvious holes to fill up front but have the athletes to challenge Fort Campbell for the district title.

 

A tough early schedule that includes games with 3A Madisonville, Bowling Green, and Hopkins Central should prepare them for district play, where they have either first or second four of the last five years.

 

Washington County

 

Mark Perry guided the Commanders to a 4-6 record in his first season as head coach.

 

The former J.V. quarterback at Kentucky under Hal Mumme debuted a wide-open passing attack that was Jekyl-Hyde at best.

 

Washington County scored 25 points in their wins and 10 points a game in the their losses.

 

Wayne County

 

Ryan Steele threw for 904 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior for Wayne County, who must replace 1,890 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns (both school records) from the graduated Matt Goff.

 

While it is unlikely the Cardinals will duplicate last year’s school record 32.7 points per game on offense, Steele might be able to utilize some weapons and make the Cardinals a tough first round playoff opponent.

 

Webster County

 

Webster County suffered through many injuries in 2004, and as a result, struggled to a 1-9 record in Andy Corbin’s first season as head coach.

 

The Trojans do return some key players that could see them fight for the district’s final playoff spot.

 

Sophomore quarterback Steven Turner threw for 356 yards in three games and then saw his season ended with a broken collarbone.

 

Junior Ben Boone (6-0, 155) took over for Turner and threw for 156 yards the rest of the season.

 

Fullback Brian Pinkston (5-11, 190, Jr.) is the team’s top returning rusher and could find some holes to run through behind the blocking of 280-pound senior Corey Hobgood and 230-pound senior Matthew Wright.

 

The Trojans can’t help but get better on defense after allowing 350 yards and 43 points a game last year.

 

Western

 

Western must replace the school’s all-time leading rusher in Corey Goodson but has no shortage of athletes for head coach Brian Wright heading into 2005.

 

While the Warriors return just six starters from last year’s 7-4 team that produced the school’s first back-to-back winning seasons since 1994-95, they do return three main cogs on offense.

 

Junior Justin Collins offers size and strength for Wright, able to run a 4.4 40-yard dash and bench press 300 pounds. He can also carry the football, rushing for 959 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

 

6-foot-4 quarterback Charlie Patterson returns for his second season under center, having thrown for 560 yards last year.

 

His main target will be senior Jimoriss Johnson, a 5-foot-4, 190-pound senior, who is drawing looks from Louisville, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

 

“They love his size and speed,” Wright said.

 

Dwight Patterson also gives the Warriors speed and depth in the backfield and defensive secondary.

 

“We have only seven seniors, but we have 50 players on the roster that will have two years to get ready for their senior season,” Wright said. “We have a lot of speed. If our young line improves, we could be pretty good.”

 

Western will find out early just how good they are with Harrison County, Indiana, Breathitt County, and Butler on their pre-district schedule.

 

West Carter

 

Kevin Brown has high hopes for his West Carter Comets in 2005 with the return of 12 starters from last year’s 6-6 team.

 

WCHS won four of their first five games before entering district play and posting a 1-6 record and missing the playoffs for a tenth straight year.

 

The Comets have some beef up front with the return of junior tackle Luke Carroll, whose 6-foot-3, 295-pound frame is attracting some attention from state colleges.

 

Carroll, along with Matt McGlone (6-2, 240, Sr.), should provide time for junior quarterback Daniel Barker to operate.

 

Barker threw for 1,087 yards and eight touchdowns last year, but must improve upon his 40-percent completion rate.

 

Something else that must improve in a powder keg district that includes Russell, Fleming County, and Lloyd Memorial is the Comet defense that allowed 29 points and 284 yards a game last year.

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