LCA football counting on its defense this year

Few offensive stars return from title run

mfields@herald-leader.comAugust 17, 2010 

  • This is the sixth in a series of stories looking at high school football in Lexington and around Kentucky leading up to the opening of the season on Friday. Coming Wednesday: Paul Laurence Dunbar

  • Coach: Ray Graham (first year; 196-122 overall record)

    Last year: 14-1 (won 1A state title)

    Top returnees: Zach West (OL/DL); Chad Hall (OL/LB); Sam Maybriar (RB/LB); Clay Mossbarger (RB/DB); Scout McCamy (QB); Neil Whitman (OL/DL); Max Barjuca (LB); Evan Grant (OL/LB); Ben Farhat (OL/DB); Chad Snyder (WR).

    Key losses: Lucas Witt (QB); Domonique Hayden (RB/LB); Branden Burdette (WR); Beau Baker (OL/DL); Adam Baker (LB); Evan Jacoby (OL/DL); Drew Walls (DB); Nick McSorley (OL).

  • Eagles' schedule

    Aug. 27CHRIST PRESBY, Tenn.

    Sept. 3at Lynn Camp

    Sept. 10LOUISVILLE CHRISTIAN

    Sept. 17at Breathitt County

    Sept. 24at Lexington Catholic

    Oct. 1NICHOLAS COUNTY

    Oct. 8at Paris

    Oct. 15at Raceland

    Oct. 22FAIRVIEW

    Oct. 29at Corbin

    Note: All games at 7:30 p.m. Home games in capital letters.

Lexington Christian Academy's football program has undergone major changes since the Eagles won the Class A championship last fall.

LCA graduated 17 seniors, including playmaking stars Lucas Witt (quarterback), Domonique Hayden (running back) and Branden Burdette (wide receiver).

Will Thomas Collins, who figured to be a two-way standout this season, transferred to Breathitt County.

Then, less than two months ago, Paul Rains resigned after seven years as coach.

Where does all this upheaval leave LCA?

The Eagles are still rated among the best Class A teams in Kentucky and considered contenders to return to Bowling Green for this year's state finals.

"We know we have a shot at getting back there," said Coach Ray Graham, an assistant to Rains the past two years. "Our defense should be good enough to hold other teams down and give us a chance to win."

That LCA's trump card will be its defense indicates that Graham will be dealing from a different deck this season.

Yes, the Eagles played efficient defense in recent years, but it was their high-powered, high-scoring offense that got everybody's attention. (LCA averaged 49 points last season and beat Mayfield 55-19 in the state title game.)

The Eagles' defense, with seven returning starters, will carry the load this fall.

"I think we're going to have a completely different way of playing this year," senior defensive end Neil Whitman said. "The last few years the spotlight was on our offense, with Lucas, Domonique and Branden. But it's going to be on the defense now."

LCA's veterans on "D" include free safety Clay Mossbarger; linebackers Sam Maybriar, Chad Hall, Evan Grant, Max Barjuca and Ben Farhat; and cornerback Adam Hilton.

Zach West, one of the top offensive linemen in the state, will also see action on the defensive line.

"Our defense is going to carry us until our offense finds its chemistry and gets in a flow," Graham said.

Scout McCamy, Witt's backup at quarterback last season, will take over the reins on offense.

"Scout can do anything we ask," Graham said. "His strong suit is the sprint-out, roll-out, and he can make all the throws. He's got good speed and can run, but we don't want to run him a lot."

Maybriar, a sophomore, will be one of the featured running backs. Mossbarger, a junior, will run the ball and be used as a slot receiver.

Chad Snyder and Christian Fielden, along with newcomer Kelby Hickey, are among the receivers McCamy will target.

West, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior who is considered one of the top college prospects in the state, anchors the offensive line. Joining him up front will be Whitman, Hall, Farhat, Grant, Jared Brooks, and Zach West's brother Josh.

"We've got a lot of holes to fill, but we still have a lot of talented guys," Zach said.

"I think some people will overlook us, but we all feel we can do it again."

McCamy agreed.

"We have some big shoes to fill, and it's going to take a lot more teamwork and team effort, but I definitely think we've got a shot.

"We've just got to come together, learn about each other, keep improving and get in a groove."

While winning its district is a primary goal, LCA hopes to prepare for the playoffs with non-district road games at Breathitt County, Lexington Catholic and Corbin.

But to Graham, who was a longtime head coach at Harrison County, winning and losing has never been the most important bottom line.

"We know a state championship is out there, and we'd love to win it again," he said. "But I want these kids to learn that you can be a champion every day, in life and in relationships. That's a whole lot more important."

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