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iHigh.com Football Frenzy at Tates Creek

Mercer Co. at Tates Creek

Kickoff: 6 p.m. Friday

Records: Mercer County 0-1 (lost to Breathitt County 58-24 last week); Tates Creek 0-1 (lost to Lafayette 34-19).

Transition time: Bill Mason was promoted from Mercer County assistant to head coach in late June, so he hasn't had much time to put his stamp on this team. Under previous coach Marty Jaggers, the Titans ran the wishbone. Mason wants to employ the wing-T and throw the ball a little more. Mercer County is short on experience. "We've got 13 seniors, and most of them didn't touch the field much last year," Mason said. The Titans' inexperience showed in its blow-out loss to Breathitt County last week.

Silver linings: In its loss to Lafayette, Tates Creek had a few bright spots, including junior QB Dee Christopher, who threw for 120 yards and scrambled for 43. When Richardson was shaken up early in the second quarter, Martrell Berry relieved and, on the first snap, threw a TD pass to Jamison Hardin. The defense was led by Jacob Kadel's seven tackles.

Weekend's city games Kickoffs at 7:30 p.m. unless noted

Key to victory: Two teams trying to establish an identity. Whichever one can get off to a quick start will gain much-needed confidence.

Bryan Station vs. Shelby Co.

Kickoff: 9 p.m. Friday Radio: WVLK-FM 101.5

Records: Bryan Station 1-0 (beat Clark County 56-24); Shelby County 0-0.

Tevin the Terror: In 10 games as junior backup for Bryan Station last year, Tevin McCaden ran for 293 yards and six TDs. He almost reached those numbers in his senior season opener when he rushed for 236 yards and five TDs last week.

Rockets reloaded: Shelby County Coach Todd Shipley has reason to be optimistic. His team returns lots of athletes and a couple of big-time linemen. QB Branden Cresap, who missed most of last season with an injury, is back, along with WR Matt Page. Matt Axline anchors the O-line. "We may be just as good offensively as 2007 when (Alex Matthews) threw for 4,000 yards," Shipley said. "And our defense will be a lot more physical and a little more talented." Nigel Beach will anchor the D-line.

Key to victory: There could be lots of offensive fireworks, which means turnovers could determine the winner.

Central vs. Henry Clay

Kickoff: 3 p.m. Saturday

Records: Central 0-1 (lost to Seneca 44-26); Henry Clay 0-0.

Summer rerun? When these teams met in 7-on-7 summer passing camp, Central won in overtime. "We saw then that they're very talented," Henry Clay Coach Sam Simpson said. Central Coach Ty Scroggins was as impressed with the Blue Devils. "A very good team with lots of speed," he said.

Blue-chippers: Central is led by senior LB Tim Patterson (UK, Louisville and IU have offered), and senior WR Stephan Robinson (Louisville, IU, Illinois). QB Chris King and WR/RB Diaz Bolden also return. But as Scroggins warned in the pre-season, his team must develop linemen, as was evident in last week's loss to Seneca.

Key to victory: Can Henry Clay's speed on defense check the Jackets, and can Devils junior QB Jerry Williams be effective in his first start?

Boone Co. vs. Lafayette

Kickoff: 6 p.m. Saturday

Records: Boone County 0-0; Lafayette 1-0 (beat Tates Creek 34-19)

Double-barrel backs: Boone County's Charles Quainoo led the state in rushing before hurting his ankle late last season. Jordan Oppenheimer filled in ably, including a 46-carry, 188-yard performance against Madison Central. With both running backs returning, Coach Rick Thompson's goal is "to get both of them on the field together and find ways to get both of them the ball a lot." QB Nate Alford, who missed the second half of last season with an injury, returns. The Rebels must replace nine defensive starters.

Let's get physical: Lafayette's opening win featured impressive performances by several skill people, including Eric Shaw and Marlon Johnson. Just as pleasing to Coach Rob Sayre was the Generals' toughness. "I really liked our physicality," he said. "That's something we'll need (against Boone County)."

Key to victory: Lafayette's defense has to keep the Rebels from controlling the clock (and the game) with their ground attack.

Butler vs. Paul Dunbar

Kickoff: 9 p.m. Saturday

Records: Butler 0-0; Dunbar 0-1 (lost to Bullitt East 35-7)

Rebuilding job: In the second year of his second stint at Butler, Scott Carmony is trying to get the Bears back to respectability. They lost their first nine games last year before closing with two victories. "We're making progress," he said. "But we still have a long way to go." Butler needs big years from Deangelo Thomas, who ran for 1,000 yards last season, and QB Zach Lucas. "We gotta be patient and keep the big picture in mind," said Carmony, a Tates Creek assistant from 2002-05.

Bright spots: Dunbar's opening loss wasn't pretty. The Bulldogs gave up 425 yards on the ground. But LB Jordan Perkins had nine solo tackles, RBs Thayer Burgess and John Rose showed promise, and QB Trent Martin played with poise.

Key to victory: Dunbar needs to capitalize on a chance to end a seven-game losing streak and boost its confidence.

Friday's other game

Lexington Christianat Nashville Presbyterian

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Records: LCA 0-0; Presbyterian 0-1 (lost to Fort Campbell 55-26)

Swan song: A talented senior class, led by QB Lucas Witt, RB/LB Domonique Hayden and WR Branden Burdette, begins its last year at LCA aiming at a state title. The Eagles are mature enough to know they can't look that far ahead. In the pre-season, the players said they are focused on the journey, not the destination. If LCA's defense is as strong as its offense, it could be a memorable year.

Passing fancy: LCA's defense better be ready for an air show by CPA QB Luke Roman. In last week's loss to Fort Campbell, Roman completed 33 of 53 passes for 266 yards and two TDs.

Key to victory: This is probably the longest road trip ever by LCA. The Eagles can't let that affect them.

Saturday's other game

Covington Catholic vs. Lexington Catholic

Republic Bank Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. TV: CWKYT-5

Records: CovCath 0-1 (lost to Ryle 34-14); Lexington Catholic 1-0 (beat Whitley County 43-33).

Coach carousel: Dave Wirth, CovCath's fourth coach in six years, hopes to get the Colonels back on track. Since a state title in 2006, they've had back-to-back 5-7 records. They opened last week with a 34-14 loss to Ryle. CovCath's best player is 6-5, 270-pound Kevin Connaughton, one of the top linemen in the state.

Balancing act: LexCath should be tough to defend with its good mix of running and passing, as it showed last week. Greg Raglin ran for 212 yards and three TDs. Nic Ward passed for 181 yards and two scores. And TE Bryce Andrews had six catches for 77 yards. On defense, Lee Ramsey started with eight solo tackles.

Key to victory: LexCath was 12-0 in the first dozen Bluegrass Bowl games before losing to Indianapolis Chatard last year. The Knights don't want to relive that memory.

A debut to remember

Chris Larkey's first game as a head coach couldn't have been better as he guided North Laurel to a stunning 36-33 upset of Pulaski County last Friday.

The winning play came with the Jaguars facing fourth-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Adrian Wardrup, who had run the ball 31 times for 169 yards and two scores, pulled up on a sweep and tossed a touchdown pass to Ronnie Rotundi with 12 seconds left. "I was so glad for the kids and so proud of them," Larkey said. "It meant a lot to win a game when we were such a big underdog."

Among the happy spectators was Chris's father, Tom Larkey, who has 241 career victories as coach at Rockcastle County and Harlan County. His son is now only 240 wins behind him. "I won't be catching him. I don't plan on coaching that long because I'm not that crazy," Chris said with a laugh.

Fast start for Fugate

Channing Fugate is off and running in the race for Mr. Football. The Breathitt County star returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a TD, sparking the Bobcats to a 58-24 victory over Mercer County. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior, who has commited to Tennessee, ran 13 times for 224 yards and three TDs. He also returned a punt 53 yards for a TD. "He put on a pretty big show," Coach Mike Holcomb said.

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