High School Sports

LexCath, Boyle set to renew football playoff tradition

LexCath starting quarterback Reese Ryan looked for an open receiver against Bryan Station at on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.
LexCath starting quarterback Reese Ryan looked for an open receiver against Bryan Station at on Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. Herald-Leader

It's a November tradition, like Election Day, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Call it Big Game Day.

Boyle County and Lexington Catholic meet in the Class 4A region football finals for the seventh time in eight years Friday night.

Lexington Catholic beat the Rebels 26-17 in their district showdown six weeks ago, so it has home-field advantage in the rematch.

The Knights also have history on their side. Since 1998, these teams have met nine times in the playoffs, and each time the regular-season winner has prevailed in the postseason, too.

Boyle County used playoff victories over the Knights as stepping stones to state championships in 2010, 2009, 2000 and 1999.

"It's always fun to play in the regional championship game," said Chuck Smith, who returned as the Rebels coach this season after nine years away. "It's something the coaches and kids set as goals. It's a great opportunity."

Lexington Catholic used a playoff win over the Rebels as a springboard to a state title in 2007.

"Rivalries are a big part of what makes high school football special, and this is one of the good ones," said Knights first-year coach Mark Perry.

This rivalry couldn't be much closer. In 22 games since 1997, Boyle County has a 12-10 edge. Lexington Catholic has averaged 22.4 points to Boyle County's 22.0.

The Knights' victory over Boyle County on Oct. 3 was built on a balanced offense and an aggressive defense.

Reese Ryan completed 17 of 23 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns (to J.J. Ogbogu, Jordan Hatton and Andy Thompson). Jaylen Jones rushed for 184 yards.

"We were real physical, our line played great, Jaylen ran like a wild man, and we kept executing on third and fourth downs," Ryan said.

Chase Boling led Lexington Catholic's defense with 10.5 tackles and an interception.

"It was a hard-fought game, and closer than the score indicated," Perry said.

Smith disagreed.

"I don't think it was a close game at all," he said. "We never really did stop them. They only punted one time.

"They stayed after us pretty good, and we never responded like we needed to respond. Their players made plays; our players didn't."

Boyle County's Josiah Robbins and Aidan Stewart-Hoskins combined to rush for 169 yards and a TD. Robbins was 7-for-20 passing for 92 yards and a TD.

This rivalry didn't have a region rematch last year because Boyle County, which beat the Knights in the regular season, lost to Mercer County in the second round.

"We were kind of upset we didn't get to play them in the playoffs last year," Lexington Catholic senior Cody Mitchell said. "They beat us in the regular season, so we wanted to get back at them."

Braxton Couch agreed.

"It was disappointing when we didn't get to play them," he said, "Boyle County is the game of the year for us. It's the game that definitely gets our juices going."

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader