Three-peaters, back-to-backers and a triple record-breaker head the Herald-Leader's 18th annual Class of the Commonwealth.
Austin Collinsworth and Brandon Roller, who sparked Highlands to three state championships in a row, are included in our 2009 tribute to 22 of the top high school football seniors in Kentucky.
Antonio Andrews, who was 29-0 as a starting quarterback in leading Fort Campbell to state titles the last two years, also won Mr. Football honors.
Tim Patterson and Stephan Robinson, key players on Central's title teams in 2007 and 2008, also made the All-Star squad.
Domonique Hayden of Lexington Christian Academy earned a spot by setting state career records for total touchdowns (138), rushing TDs (120) and total points (837).
LCA quarterback Lucas Witt also was honored, along with Lafayette's Eric Shaw, one of the most versatile and athletic players in the state.
Only a few Class of the Commonwealth players have made a college choice, including Christian County's Malcolm McDuffen (Kentucky), Apollo's Harris Bivin (Louisville), Central's Robinson (Louisville) and Ryle's Tate Nichols (Stanford).
Players were chosen for the All-Star squad based primarily on individual accomplishments, their teams' accomplishments, and college potential.
QB/DB, Perry Central
Height, weight: 5-10, 160
Credentials: Commodores Coach Bert Browne says he had the best QB in the state in Amis, whom he also considered a game-changer on defense. Amis was a threat as a passer and runner. This season he threw for 1,778 yards and 23 TDs, and ran for 982 yards and 12 TDs. In his career, he totaled 5,492 yards and 59 TDs passing and 2,798 yards and 37 TDs rushing. He was also an impact player on defense, with 70 solo tackles. Browne said EKU and several smaller schools are interested in Amis, whose size has discouraged bigger colleges.
QB, Fort Campbell
Height, weight: 6-0, 190
Credentials: The Falcons went 29-0 and won two state titles with Andrews starting at QB. The 2009 Mr. Football did it with his feet and his arm, putting up almost identical statistics running and passing. This season he rushed for 1,597 yards and 29 TDs and threw for 1,667 yards and 28 TDs. His two-year totals as a dual threat: 3,368 yards and 56 TDs rushing; 3,365 yards and 50 TDs passing. He was also Mr. Clutch in the biggest games. A terrific athlete, he could play offense or defense in college. WKU, Air Force, Army, Tennessee-Martin, Appalachian State, Murray State, Austin Peay, Furman and Tennessee Tech are among the schools interested.
Height, weight: 6-3, 300
Credentials: Considered perhaps the best lineman in the state, Bivin has the size, strength and footwork to excel on the next level on either side of the ball. He earned notice as a terrific center the last three years. Apollo Coach Paul Bates said Bivin made line calls for blocking assignments and "had maybe three bad snaps in three years" in the shotgun. Bivin came on strong as a defensive lineman this season. "He was a beast," Bates said. "Fans may not see it, but coaches know teams are trying to run away from him." Bivin has committed to Louisville, where new Coach Charlie Strong has already been in touch to make sure the Apollo big man still wants to sign with the Cardinals.
Height, weight: 6-3, 200
Credentials: Burchett was probably the best quarterback who flew under the radar this season. After throwing for 1,647 yards and 18 TDs as a junior, he doubled those numbers this year. Burchett passed for 3,142 yards and 39 TDs and was picked off only six times. He directed the Blackcats to a 24-3 record as a starting QB over the last two years. Burchett, also a basketball standout, is a star in the classroom, too. He scored a 31 on the ACT. He's made unofficial visits to Purdue, Miami (Ohio) and UK. Vanderbilt is interested. Burchett would consider walking on at a big school.
Height, weight: 6-1, 195
Credentials: A key contributor to three state titles in three years playing three positions is a testament to Collinsworth's talent, strength, speed and versatility. The son of former Cincinnati Bengals star and current TV analyst Cris Collinsworth, he played safety as a sophomore, receiver and safety as a junior, and running back as a senior while helping Highlands win 44 of 45 games. After catching 46 passes for 840 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, he moved to the backfield and ran for 1,500 yards and 23 TDs this fall. He won the Paul Hornung Award as the top player in the state. He committed to Notre Dame on Friday after also receiving scholarship offers from Kentucky, Cincinnati, Louisville, Stanford and Vanderbilt.Channing Fugate
RB/DB, Breathitt County
Height, weight: 6-2, 230
Credentials: Fugate burst onto the state-wide scene as a junior when he led Breathitt County to a runner-up finish in 3A. He rushed for 3,052 yards and 36 TDs, added 314 yards and two TDs receiving and led the Bobcats' defense in tackles. After committing to Tennessee this summer, he had an up-and-down senior season, at least compared with the his banner junior year. He was nicked by injuries, missed two games, and ran for 1,332 yards and 17 TDs. He finished his career with 6,358 yards and 102 TDs. He plans to graduate this month and enroll at UT in January.
RB, Lexington Christian
Height, weight: 5-9, 220
Credentials: Hayden capped his four-year career by helping LCA win the Class A state title and, along the way, set state records for touchdowns (138), rushing TDs (120) and total points (837). A powerful, low-to-the-ground runner, Hayden rushed for 7,039 yards and averaged almost eight yards a carry. He also had 132 career receptions for 1,736 yards and 18 TDs. His size has given big colleges pause, but Hayden is getting looks from lower-rung Division I schools.
RB/DB, Boyle County
Height, weight: 5-9, 170
Credentials: MacShara had a big junior season when he ran for 1,552 yards and 28 TDs in helping the Rebels to a 13-1 record. He blew those numbers away this year while leading Boyle County to an unbeaten state title. MacShara rushed for 3,073 yards and 43 TDs and led the Rebels in receiving with 450 yards and five TDs. He was at his best in big games. In this year's state finals, he carried 31 times for 190 yards and a TD and had three catches for 100 yards, including a 70-yard TD. MacShara has speed (4.5), cut-back instincts and vision, but his size will probably keep Division I colleges from pursuing him.
DE/LB/QB, Christian County
Height, weight: 6-3, 205
Credentials: An exceptional athlete, McDuffen started at QB early in the season but made his mark as a defensive player. He shined as a linebacker and defensive end. He had 58 solo tackles and 10 sacks. He has the size, speed and strength needed to make it on the college level. He has committed to UK. McDuffen is also a standout basketball player and helped Christian County reach the Sweet Sixteen last season.
Height, weight: 6-7, 260
Credentials: Raiders Coach Bryson Warner said Nichols' modest receiving numbers — 28 catches, 455 yards, three TDs — disguise his game-changing ability on offense. "He's a devastating blocker, a guy who can literally take out the whole side of a defensive line," Warner said. "His stats don't look that good because he was double- and triple-teamed almost every play." That opened things up for Ryle's other receivers and running backs. And Nichols was a standout on defense, where he was also double- and triple-teamed. Nichols, who scored 31 on the ACT, has committed to Stanford, where he will be an offensive lineman.
Height, weight: 6-3, 175
Credentials: He didn't get much state-wide exposure at Class A Williamsburg, but Moses deserved notice with his accomplishments. This year, he threw for 2,757 yards and 20 TDs and ran for 871 yards and 18 TDs. In his career, he passed for 8,978 yards and 92 TDs and rushed for 2,191 yards and 33 TDs. A straight-A student who scored a 30 on the ACT, Moses is drawing interest from Ivy League schools Brown, Cornell and Yale. He's also considering Wofford.
Height, weight: 6-5, 220
Credentials: Part of Central's back-to-back Class 3A title teams as a sophomore and junior, Patterson suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first round of this year's playoffs. His absence might have cost the Yellowjackets a third consecutive trip to the finals. Big, strong and aggressive, Patterson had a team-leading 76 solo tackles and 16 assists this season. He also had 210 receiving yards while seeing limited action at tight end. Patterson showcased his athletic ability in basketball by averaging eight points and eight rebounds for Central's Sweet Sixteen runner-up team last season. He has football offers from UK, Louisville, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue.
Height, weight: 5-9, 165
Credentials: As a sophomore and junior, Robinson was a big playmaker on Central's two Class 3A championship teams. He totaled 62 catches for 1,218 yards and 17 TDs those two years as a standout for the talent-rich Yellowjackets. Speed, acceleration and athleticism helped him make up for a lack of size. Central made it to the state semifinals this season despite being hampered by injuries to key players down the stretch. Robinson finished the year with 33 catches for 673 yards and 6 TDs. He has committed to Louisville, where he will be a receiver and kick returner.
Height, weight: 6-2, 225
Credentials: The defensive star on three state title teams at Highlands, Roller is Mr. Nice Guy off the field but a tough-as-nails leader and linebacker on it. He and teammate Austin Collinsworth lost only one game in their high school careers. Roller was probably the Bluebirds' best defender the last three seasons. He was the district player of the year as a junior. He also was a part-time tight end last season and caught 28 passes for 516 yards and three TDs. Highlands went to a two-platoon system this year, and Roller played only defense. Army and Air Force are among his most ardent recruiters. "If he goes there, I'll feel a whole lot safer," Coach Dale Mueller said with a laugh.
QB, Anderson County
Height, weight: 6-4, 220
Credentials: Russell is a vanishing breed — a three-sport (football, basketball, baseball) standout. Football is his future in college. Big, strong and athletic, Russell passed for 2,249 yards and 20 TDs this season and ran for 386 yards and 14 scores. In his career, he threw for 6,733 yards and 65 TDs and ran for 923 yards and 38 scores. EKU, WKU, UT-Martin and Murray State are among the schools talking to him. Russell recently had a triple-double (27 points, 20 rebounds, 10 assists) for Anderson County's defending 8th Region champ basketball team.
Height, weight: 6-0, 190
Credentials: Exceptionally athletic and versatile, Shaw was fast and forceful on both sides of the ball for Lafayette. He started as a freshman on defense, then became a two-way contributor as a sophomore. He had almost 1,300 all-purpose yards running, receiving and returning kicks as a junior and led the Generals in tackles. As a senior, he had almost 2,000 all-purpose yards, including more than 1,000 rushing. He again led the team in tackles and was one of the hardest hitters in town. He could play any number of positions in college. Eastern Kentucky might be the front-runner in his recruitment.
Height, weight: 6-2, 175
Credentials: Stretching the field was Shelton's specialty, and he did it with size, speed (4.42), acceleration and sure hands. As a junior, he had 51 catches for 802 yards and seven TDs, then had a sensational senior season in helping Mayfield to a state runner-up finish. Shelton had 68 catches for 1,438 yards and 21 TDs. In the state title game against Lexington Christian, he had eight catches for 174 yards and two TDs. Murray State, EKU, Memphis and junior colleges are interested in the Cardinals' standout, who is also one of the top basketball players in the 1st Region.
RB/S, Simon Kenton
Height, weight: 6-2, 190
Credentials: Simpson's accomplishments have led him to be compared to Northern Kentucky icon Shaun Alexander, the former Boone County, Alabama and NFL MVP. Simpson had sensational junior and senior seasons. After rushing for 2,309 yards and scoring 41 TDs last year while leading Simon Kenton to a runner-up finish in 6A, he almost duplicated those numbers by rushing for 2,227 yards and 41 TDs while helping the Pioneers go 11-2 this season. Simpson, who made an official visit to UK a few weeks ago, also has offers from Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana, Purdue, Troy and Western Kentucky.
Height, weight: 6-1, 210
Credentials: Big, strong, fast and tough, Watkins maximized his assets as a running back and linebacker. After rushing for 1,192 yards and 13 TDs as a junior, he rolled up more than 1,600 yards and scored 32 TDs this season. (He also had more than 400 yards and five TDs receiving the last two years). All this while sharing run duties with Ryan Fritts in Corbin's ground-oriented offense. Watkins was a prototype linebacker, and was among the team's top tacklers the last two seasons. He has an offer from Wofford and has been invited for official visits to Harvard and Cornell. UK is also showing some interest.
Height, weight: 6-3, 190
Credentials: One of the best dual-threat QBs in the state the last three years, West was the catalyst for Conner. This season, he passed for 2,602 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 1,068 yards and 20 TDs. In the Cougars' playoff loss to Manual, he threw for 447 yards and three scores. In his career, West passed for 6,237 yards and 59 TDs and ran for 1,886 yards and 34 TDs. EKU, Murray State, Tennessee-Martin, Dayton and Morehead State are among colleges showing interest.
WR/DB, Monroe County
Height, weight: 6-2, 190
Credentials: Monroe County Coach John Petett describes Wilson as a "super athlete" who did a lot of everything for the Falcons. He was a standout at receiver, making 41 catches for 766 yards and 13 TDs this season, pushing his career totals to 94 receptions for 1,726 yards and 25 TDs. He also rushed for 692 yards and seven TDs this year and was a threat as a kick returner. He had 2,144 all-purpose yards this season and 4,332 in his career. On defense this year, he had 64 solo tackles and five interceptions. Wilson, a 4.0 student, is just now starting to look into the recruiting process. He is hoping to get a chance to play Division I football.
QB, Lexington Christian
Height, weight: 6-1, 185
Credentials: Witt has signed to play baseball at Kentucky, but he could have been a college quarterback. He took the QB reins at LCA early in his freshman year, and there was no stopping him as a passer or a runner. He was the triggerman for one of the most explosive offenses in the state. The Eagles' ability to score was the prime reason they were state runners-up in 2007 and champs this season. As a senior, Witt threw for 2,318 yards and 34 TDs and ran for 584 yards and nine TDs. For his career, he passed for 9,312 yards (ninth on the state's all-time list) and 112 TDs (ninth all-time).