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2005 Class 4A Kentucky High School Football Playoff Preview

The Scribe

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After performing well in their district battles, 32 teams have won the privilege to begin their seasons anew with a clean slate as they enter the playoff quest for the 4A Kentucky State Football Championship. Excitement has reached a fever pitch, as all of the qualified teams realize that all it takes now is a five-game hot streak to claim the championship rings.


While the top positions in the BluegrassPreps.com’s weekly rankings have been fairly stable throughout the season, there have been some surprise teams who have burst upon the scene.


The normal Big 3 Jefferson County schools of Saint Xavier, Male, and Trinity continue to lead the way, and once again must be considered the powerbrokers in this playoff.


DuPont Manual, Henderson County, Henry Clay, and Warren Central were also Preseason BGP Top 10 teams, who managed to overcome the target on their chest and finish the regular season in the Top 10.


Paul Dunbar, Pleasure Ridge Park, and Marshall County were three teams, however, who thrust themselves upward through outstanding effort from the “on the radar” category in preseason to finish in the elite top BGP grouping.


In addition, there is another grouping of teams, who are quite capable of causing the top echelon major headaches. John Hardin, Madison Central, Ballard, Dixie Heights, Lafayette, Ryle, Scott County, and Christian County have all shown high potential when they bring their A game.


Let’s now take an in-depth view of each region to unearth the playoff possibilities:


Region 1


Favorite: Aside from a narrow early season 14-6 loss to 3A #1 Bowling Green, the BGP #4 Dragons of Warren Central have used an impressive blend of team speed and a balanced pass/run attack to conquer their remaining foes.


The Dragons are led by QB Keith Ayres, who has passed for 1,767 yards and 20 touchdowns; WR Lee Owens, who has amassed 765 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns; and the RB duo of Quinten Curry and Chase Goff who have rushed for 921 (8.6 avg.) and 500 yards (9.4 avg.) respectively. Goff and Bret Meuris from the LB spots lead the veteran defense, which has yielded a mere 183 points to the opposition this season.


With the exception of their loss to Bowling Green, Warren Central has shown the ability to win the close games with victories over strong DuPont Manual, Marshall County, and Christian County teams, an important trait for playoff success.


Top Contenders: BGP #6 Henderson County returns with the super passing combination of QB Will Fidler and WR Chris Lamar, plus speedy all-purpose back Antoine Lightfoot.


The Colonels only loss this year was to Ohio power Cincinnati Moeller. However, the preseason loss of star RB/LB Cedric Rainey, small inexperienced lines, and a lack of depth, has caused some to question their ability to repeat as Region champion.


BGP #10 Marshall County has been one of the biggest surprise teams, with the only blotch on their record being a 29-27 loss to Warren Central. Behind the passing (1,556 yards) and running (859 yards) of superb QB Daniel Ard, complimented by 1,000 yard rusher, Alan Williams, the Marshals have been a tough team to stop. Defensively, they have only yielded 124 points to the opposition.


Predicted Regional Game Results: In the opening round, Warren Central and Marshall County should roll to victory over Ohio County and Apollo, while Owensboro and Henderson County are pushed hard before overcoming Graves County and Christian County.


In round 2, Warren County easily sidelines Owensboro, and Henderson County escapes with a late comeback win over Marshall County.


In the final, despite a brilliant effort from Fidler and Lamar, the heavy toll of two narrow victories catches up to Henderson County, as the depth, speed, and defensive prowess of Warren Central proves to be too much to overcome.


Region 2


Favorite: BGP’s #1 ranked and returning 4A State Champion Tigers of Saint Xavier get a narrow endorsement here. Already owning heart-throbbing victories over BGP #2 Male, #5 DuPont Manual, and #9 Pleasure Ridge Park, they find themselves potentially confronting these same teams again in this most difficult of regions.


Coach Mike Glaser will rely upon the passing and running of QB Brent Curley, the speed of super RB Vic Anderson, the quick slashing of RB Mike Mattingly, the pass receiving of WR Colt Totten, and a large experienced OL led by two 300-pound seniors, Derrick Elder and Justin Jeffries, to control the ball and amass points.


Defensively, the Tigers, who only surrendered 121 points, will be led by DL’s Bryan Cardenas and Kent Amshoff; LB’s Chris Dornbrook, Mike Horrell, and Paul Belshoff; and DB’s Nick Schickel and Alex Kramer. Their kicker, Tim Dougherty, is one of the best in the state.


Top Contenders: BGP #2 Male poses major problems to all who cross their path with their abundance of extraordinarily skilled and speedy athletes (QB Brian Anderson, RB/WR Doug Beaumont, RB/WR Brandyn Brown, FB Marcus Hughes, WR Nathan Overall), aligned in a seemingly endless array of formations concocted by Coach Bob Redman.


Even if you prevent the touchdown, K Richard Fangman can bang home a field goal from 45 yards. To all of this add the Bulldogs signature 11-man pressure defense manned by many of these same stars, and you may soon come down with a dizzy spell.


BGP #5 DuPont Manual will use the deception of the wing-t offense to pound you on the ground, and then surprise you with an unexpected long fly pattern. Extremely fast QB Vance Woods, and RB’s Jeveare White and Tim Horton supply most of the offensive fireworks. Defensively, the Crimsons have been known to vary between odd and even sets, combined with a proliferation of blitzes, to confuse the offensive blocking. The defense is led by LB LeVon Carter and giant DT Aundre Henderson.


BGP #9 Pleasure Ridge Park, much like the Crimsons, will use the wing-t incorporated this season by new coach, Chris Wolfe, to pound you into submission. The Panthers have two 1000-yard rushers, speedy Wes Brown and powerful Jherray Smith, to fuel the attack. They also have the size and speed on defense to make you work hard in moving the ball.


Predicted Regional Game Results: In round 1, District 3 (St. X., Male, DuPont Manual, Pleasure Ridge Park) will sweep to victory over District 4 (Central Hardin, North Hardin, Meade County, John Hardin), although the PRP/John Hardin game will be a real nail-biter.


In round 2, St. X. will use strong special teams play and Manual turnovers to edge the Crimsons on a late field goal. Male will confuse Pleasure Ridge Park with their varied attack and roll by 21 points.


In the final, the two teams find themselves once again in a life-and-death struggle, with St. Xavier pulling out a late 7-point victory.

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Region 3


Favorite: At the mid-point of the season, BGP #3 Trinity’s record stood at 3-2 with a narrow 4-point loss to Nashville Montgomery Bell Academy and a blowout 48-16 loss to their big rival #1 Saint Xavier. They had outscored their opponents 174-102, but there were a lot of unhappy faces in St. Matthews.


After the St. X. loss, Trinity Coach Bob Beatty decided to make major adjustments, which included playing more people both ways. Since that time, the Rocks have rolled to 5 straight victories, outscored their opposition 244-62, and have entrenched themselves as the team to beat in the region.


The Rocks confront teams with an explosive passing attack led by QB Nick Petrino throwing to the best receiving group in the state (WR Steve Orndorff, WR Craig Kircher, WR Eric Senn, WR Kyle Flynn, RB Donald Barnett, RB Blayne Donnell). The added threat of the run from Barnett and Donnell, plus the scrambling ability of Petrino, assures that the defense must stay honest.


Defensively Trinity is led by DT Tony Klausing and DB’s Donnell and Senn. Preseason All-State DL candidate, Graham Switzer, is also expected to return for some playoff action after suffering preseason knee ligament damage.


Top Contenders: Having played Trinity close in 2003 and upsetting them on the Rocks’ home field in 2004, the Colonels of Dixie Heights know that victory is not an impossible dream. Sporting a balanced run/pass attack, the youthful rebuilding Colonels are led by the passing of QB Joey Bricking and the running of RB’s Marty Malony and Nick Metzger. Defensively Ryan Atchley anchors the line.

The small but quick Ryle Raiders also stand a chance of making some noise in the region behind QB Brady Jordan and RB’s Scott Gray and Vince Murray. Reid Broadus is the top lineman.


Predicted Regional Game Results: Round 1 should result in a split between the two districts, with Trinity, Ballard, Dixie Heights and Ryle emerging victorious over Simon Kenton, Boone County, Shelby County, and Fern Creek respectively.


Round 2 will see Trinity rolling over Ryle by 28 points, while Dixie Heights ends Ballard’s season with a 7-point victory.


In the final, the Rocks are primed for revenge against the Colonels and cruise to a 24-point victory.


Region 4


Favorite: After rolling to nine consecutive victories against stout opposition, the Blue Devils of Henry Clay inexplicably lost by 16 points to a good, but not great, Lafayette team in their final game.


This was a strange season for the Blue Devils since their new field was under construction, so all their home games were played on strange turf. Nonetheless, having a bye week to regroup and prepare for the playoffs, Henry Clay expects to return to their winning ways behind the passing of QB Salin Simpson (1,780 yards and 19 touchdowns) and the power running of big Rod Johnson, who bulldozed the opposition for 1460 yards and 22 touchdowns.


The Blue Devils have the magic ingredients of size, speed and experience (nine starters back on both sides of the ball) to contend for the big prize.


Top Contenders: BGP #8 Paul Dunbar should be the biggest roadblock standing in Henry Clay’s path. Owning victories over other 4A toughies Pleasure Ridge Park, Madison Central, Scott County, and Lafayette, the Bulldogs are primed to avenge their 7-point loss to the Blue Devils. New coach, David Hensley, has done a marvelous job in resurrecting the Dunbar program utilizing a well-balanced attack. QB Chris Franklin has thrown for almost 1600 yards, while RB Will Wright has accumulated almost 1200 on the ground.


Since I feel that this is the most wide open region of them all, I would be negligent if I didn’t include Madison Central, Lafayette, and last year’s runner-up, Scott County, as also having distinct possibilities of winning this region.


Predicted Regional Game Results: In the opening round, Henry Clay will crush Whitley County; Lafayette will barely survive the South Laurel passing blitz; Paul Dunbar will handle George Rogers Clark by 14; and in a bit of a surprise, Scott County will edge Madison Central.


For Round 2 Henry Clay will get their revenge against Lafayette, while Scott County pulls their second upset by eliminating Paul Dunbar.


In the final, Scott County’s Cinderella run ends as the power running of Henry Clay’s Rod Johnson proves to be too much for their defense, and the Blue Devils win by 20.


Projected West Semifinal


Saint Xavier at Warren Central

The Tigers vividly recall their most recent ventures into Western Kentucky, where it took a last minute goal line stand to defeat Warren Central in 2003, and earlier this year when they were pushed to the hilt before turning away Bowling Green by a 13-7 count.


Behind the passing of Keith Ayres and the running of Quinten Curry the Dragons forge an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter as the jittery Tigers cannot seem to get anywhere against the quick charging Warren Central defense.


In the 2nd quarter when St. X. settles down, Vic Anderson finally breaks loose for a 55-yard touchdown and Tim Dougherty closes out the half with a 30-yard field goal to narrow the margin to 14-10.


In the 2nd half, the Tigers begin to throw the ball more, and the size and depth advantage begin to take a toll on the Dragons. St. X. QB Brent Curley connects for two touchdown passes, one to Anderson and another to Colt Totten. Mike Mattingly scampers in from 5 yards out for the third Tiger touchdown in the half. Dragon FB Chase Goff scores late to reduce the margin, but it is too late for Warren Central.


Prediction: Saint Xavier 31 – Warren Central 21


Projected East Semi-Final


Henry Clay at Trinity:

Two offensive titans take the field in St Matthews, and the fans are in for a thrill. Trinity loves to attack with the Nick Petrino air game supplemented somewhat with an occasional run by Donald Barnett or Blayne Donnell.


Henry Clay loves to pound you with big Rod Johnson running behind a large experienced offensive, supplemented somewhat with the passing of Salin Simpson. Each team’s offensive strength is the other teams defensive weakness.


At halftime the score is deadlocked at 28-28, as neither defense can find the key to success.


In the 3rd quarter, the Blue Devils take the lead behind a Simpson scramble to the end zone, but the Rocks quickly respond with a 93-yard kickoff return by Steve Orndorff. As they reach the mid-point of the 4th quarter, fatigue begins to take a toll on Henry Clay. They can no longer open the rushing holes in the Rocks line, nor can their defensive backs keep up with the flood of Trinity receivers. Petrino hits two late touchdown passes to Craig Kircher to ice the victory for Trinity.


Prediction: Trinity 49 – Henry Clay 35


Championship Game


Saint Xavier vs. Trinity


Hordes file into Papa John’s Stadium to view what promises to be a titanic struggle between two bitter rivals. Although not nearly matching the crowd of 38,500 who watched these same teams compete in late September, the KHSAA is beaming for joy at the new championship record crowd of 24,000 who are in attendance.


Having lost to the Tigers 48-16 earlier in the season, the Rocks are anxious for redemption, especially on defense. Coach Bob Beatty has them playing much more aggressively, as injured starters have returned, and additional size has been added by moving players from the OL to the DL.


For the St. X. team, it is an opportunity to repeat as 4A Champions; a feat which has not been accomplished since Coach Bill Glaser, older brother of current Coach Mike Glaser, turned the trick in 1974 and 1975.


This return battle proves to be a much closer encounter than the earlier game, and comes down to a late field to determine the 2005 4A State Champion. The winning kicker’s name is Tim Dougherty.


Prediction: Saint Xavier 34 – Trinity 31

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