High School Sports

‘This was for the city, baby!’ Henry Clay leaves no doubt in major upset.

“This was for the city. This was for the city, baby!”

Matt Brixey had good reason to be exuberant after returning to Henry Clay’s campus on Friday night. The senior lineman and his fellow Blue Devils did something no football team at their school had done since 2010: beat Scott County.

And they took no prisoners.

The Blue Devils went to Georgetown and handed Scott County a 51-27 defeat, the Cardinals’ first district loss since 2014 and their biggest loss to a Kentucky opponent since 2011 (a 62-21 loss to Trinity in the state finals). Henry Clay snapped a 10-game losing streak to Scott County, improved to 3-3 and assumed frontrunner status in Class 6A’s 7th District.

Henry Clay, ranked 24th in the state, held No. 5 Scott County scoreless in the second half and ended the game on a 35-0 scoring run to pull off what was arguably the biggest upset in Kentucky high school football this season. The significance wasn’t lost on Blue Devils fans, several of whom met the team at the school as their buses returned.

“One of the reasons we’re excited is because we’ve beaten a team that’s been a good team for a long time, and they’re still a good team,” Henry Clay Coach Sam Simpson said. “ ... If Scott County wasn’t a good team we wouldn’t be singing in the locker room after we win the game. That says something about them and what they’ve done.”

DJ VanHorn rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils (3-3). He was 11-for-20, throwing for 225 yards and two TDs without an interception. Ramond Jackson was a favorite target; he caught six passes for 159 yards and a TD, a 60-yard scorcher that pulled Henry Clay within 20-17 early in the second quarter after he followed it up with a two-point conversion run.

Jackson finished with 305 all-purpose yards. He returned a kickoff 76 yards for a TD in the first half and had two interceptions, returned for a total of 70 yards.

Graham Wald was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts for Henry Clay, including a 36-yarder to pull the Blue Devils within a point at halftime.

Scott County had three rushers go for more than 100 yards — Austin Barnett (188), Bronson Brown (142) and Payton Brown (131) and outgained the Blue Devils 477-236 on the ground but got nothing going through the air. The Cardinals were tagged with 13 penalties for 142 yards during the contest as opposed to 8-for-100 for Henry Clay.

It was the last regular-season district meeting between the two programs for the foreseeable future as Scott County, because of the opening of Great Crossing High School, will move to Class 5A beginning in the 2019 season. Henry Clay will be in a district with Lafayette, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Tates Creek.

Henry Clay’s first two wins were over Tates Creek and Lafayette. The losses were to reigning Class 5A champion Covington Catholic (ranked first statewide), Johnson Central (the Class 4A runner-up) and Southwestern (6-0 through Friday). The CovCath game wasn’t close but the other two games were there for the taking had a couple things went differently.

“We’ve lost to some good teams,” Simpson said. “We haven’t had a light schedule. But the thing about it is, it’s prepared us, I think, and we’ve got a tough schedule to go.”

Lafayette defeated Scott County three times, twice in the playoffs, over the course of the 2015 and 2016 seasons en route to appearances in the state-title game each year. Bryan Station (2014 regular season) is the only other Lexington school with a win over the Cardinals since 2011.

Henry Clay will next turn its attention to Paul Laurence Dunbar, which picked up its first city win since 2016 in a 28-24 decision against Lafayette on Friday. Scott County takes on unbeaten Frederick Douglass, ranked third in the state, on the road.

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