The buzz around Lexington Catholic's football program is louder than a swarm of cicadas this pre-season.
The Knights, stocked with talent, experience, and depth, should be a strong contender for the Class 4A state title. They have a Mr. Football candidate in senior quarterback Kyle Bolin. And in a couple of weeks they will play in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.
Bolin, who has committed to Louisville, doesn't try to sidestep the hype.
"We have so much athletic ability, and tons and tons of speed. I can't wait to see this team on the field," he said.
"I honestly believe if we don't come out on top this season, it won't be a factor of whether a team beats us; it'll be whether we beat ourselves. We have so much confidence in each other and believe in each other, we feel this is the year."
Coach Bill Letton admits he's dealing from a stacked deck, saying the Knights have "more depth than we've had in a long, long time, and more experience than we've had in a really long time."
Bolin, who has passed for 5,482 yards and 49 touchdowns, and ran for 924 yards and 18 TDs in his career, is the triggerman on offense. The 6-foot-3, 195 pounder has strengthened his arm and sharpened his QB skills.
"We want him to get a lot of people involved on offense, make good decisions and continue to up his game," Letton said.
Bolin is surrounded by playmakers, including veteran running backs Amoh Kumengisa, Marcelis Logan and Noah Mitchell, who combined for 1,328 yards and 16 TDs rushing last year.
The receiving corp is headed by wideouts David Bouvier and Casey Nash, who had 74 receptions for 1,314 yards and 11 TDs between them last season. Malik Guidry, and Reese Ryan also figure to catch passes, as do tight ends Nathan Burke and Anthony Kersey.
The offensive line has experienced blockers in Alex Buckles, Whit Jennings and Ridge Jackson (who might miss the first couple games with a foot injury). Trey Mattingly, a veteran defensive lineman, will play center. Cameron Bailey and Zack Orwick will also beef up the line.
Lexington Catholic's defense will be led by three-year starters Kersey and Alex Nash at safety, Josh Mesmer and Mike Lynch at linebacker, and Mattingly up front.
Letton is pleased by Kairon Snowden's development in the secondary. He expects Derek Hayden, Guidry and Kumengisa to also contribute back there.
Alex Nash, who led the team with 100 tackles last year, said the strength of the defense is "our speed. We really fly to the ball."
While Letton is upbeat with the way his team is looking, he'd like to see something more. "Although we have a lot of experience, these guys haven't been thrown into that leadership role. When we get that part figured out, I think we have a chance to be pretty solid."
Letton saw some of that leadership develop at a national 7-on-7 tournament in Alabama last month. The Knights didn't fare very well against the elite competition, but they learned the importance of playing as one.
They'll need to remember that lesson as they try to win the school's third state title.
One of the top games on Lexington Catholic's schedule is a showdown with national power Ensworth, Tenn., in the Bluegrass Bowl on Aug. 25. It will be televised on ESPNU.
Boyle County is rated as the Knights' top district rival, and five-time defending state champion Highlands figures to be an eventual obstacle.
But Nash and his fellow seniors think this is their time.
"We've been playing together since middle school and we've all been looking forward to this year," Nash said. "It's kind of like our last hurrah. I think it's going to be a fun year."