Lexington Catholic Coach Mark Perry says his team is playing its best football of the year. It’s tough to argue as the Knights prepare for their game at Central on Friday night.
LexCath has reeled off six straight wins and is coming off back-to-back games in which it scored 50-plus points, including a season-high 59 against Garrard County last Friday. That performance stood in stark contrast to a 28-16 meeting with the Golden Lions just three weeks before.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” Perry said. “Our guys for the last three weeks have played their best games of the season and had a good week of practice.”
A stout receiving duo of JJ Ogbogu (1,042 yards, 13 TDs) and Donnie Morris (831 yards, 10 TDs) have been big factors all season. Morris has been especially hot, though, with five TDs and more than than 300 yards in the previous two games alone.
They realize this is the regional championship and the most important thing is what happens between the white lines.
Mark Perry, Lexington Catholic football coach
A triumverate of quarterbacks — Legend Brumbaugh, Kirk Fagot and Andy Thompson — have each shown out at points. Most recently it was Thompson who shined; he became the third LexCath signal caller to throw six TDs in a game last Friday while going 10-for-11.
“Andy really threw the ball really well the other night,” said Perry, who noted they were able to capitalize with big plays against some of Garrard’s coverages early. “I hope that some of that can carry over into Friday in terms of the level we’re playing. A lot of the receivers hit a great stride.”
LexCath, ranked first in Class 3A in the Cantrall Ratings, meets a Central defense which Perry described as “very talented and opportunistic.” They’ve came away with 21 interceptions, paced by eight from senior safety Elijah Owens. Five of those picks have turned into TDs, as have six of the Yellowjackets’ 14 fumble recoveries this season.
Central, third in the ratings and winners of 10 straight, picked off Boyle County quarterback Josiah Robbins five times in the Jackets’ 27-14 win over the Rebels. Robbins had thrown just nine interceptions all season before last Friday.
Limiting turnovers and the Jackets’ opportunities to create havoc will be a deciding factor in whether the Knights advance to their fifth straight state semifinal, Perry said.
“We have got to bring our A game and play a good football game in all three phases,” he said.
One thing’s certain: the Knights are ready for the big stage after a schedule stocked with strong higher-class teams and highly rated intradivisional foes.
“They realize this is the regional championship and the most important thing is what happens between the white lines,” Perry said.
Region finals: Scott County vs. Lafayette
When Scott County and Lafayette met on Sept. 18, the two combined to score more than 100 points and the Cardinals left Lexington with a 65-46 victory.
That was the most points scored by Scott County in a game this year. It was also the most it surrendered to a team all year. The Cards have given up 298 points this season; four more than in their entire 2013 title campaign.
“Sometimes you get a bad rap, not just us but other people, for not playing good enough defense,” said Cardinals Coach Jim Mckee with a laugh, “but there’s a whole lot of really good players around here.”
Along with Henry Clay’s Joquise Buford and Bryan Station’s Andre Davis and Devon Key, McKee mentioned two guys his team will face again Friday night: Walker Wood and Mason Alstatt.
McKee has been especially impressed with Wood, Lafayette’s signal caller who recently committed to UK.
“Wood’s an awesome competitor,” McKee said. “I love the way that kid plays.”
More worrisome to McKee than his team’s defense is its accrual of flags at pivotal moments.
“We’ve gotten a few too many penalties in some key games,” McKee said. “So we need to make sure we’re doing a good job playing within the rules and not getting any silly penalties.
A factor in Scott County’s favor is a healthy Keith Guy. The Cardinals senior, hobbled at the end of the regular season after a leg injury suffered against Bryan Station, will be at 100 percent for the Lafayette rematch. He gashed the Generals for 223 yards and four TDs in the first meeting and also picked off Wood once.
“I’m sure that they’ll make some adjustments to get him corralled in and if they do then somebody else has got to step up and play for us,” McKee said. “ ... We can do a lot of things on offense when we’re all clicking and doing what we need to do. And they do too.”
The one thing that can be counted on according to McKee? Nobody’s gonna remember the game from September once this one’s finished.
“Everybody’s going to remember this game,” he said. “I’m sure Lafayette would trade the first game for this game. And we would too.”
46.38Dunbar senior Will Allen’s time in the 400 meters at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals. That’s the all-time fastest time in the event by a Kentucky high schooler.
Second-round stat stuffers
Some more notables from the second round of football playoffs last week:
▪ Drew Koch kicked two field goals — one from 30 yards and another from 33 yards — to make a big difference in South Oldham’s 33-27 win over Fairdale. Keenan John caught the game-winning touchdown for the Dragons with 28 seconds to play.
It was Koch’s second multiple-field goal game. The first came on Sept. 25, when he kicked five field goals in a 35-8 win over rival Oldham County. That mark was one shy of the state record of six, which Craig Stopa (Ballard) achieved in 1981.
▪ Pulaski County kicker Derek Burgett went 9-for-9 on PATs in the Maroons’ 63-0 rout of Lincoln County, giving him 79 consecutive conversions. That’s good for second most in state history. He needs eight more to pass Boyle County’s Will Harris, who made 86 straight PATs in 2010.
Riley Hall tossed six TDs and went for 302 yards in the win.
▪ Breathitt County’s season ended in the first round of the playoffs, but James Fletcher Collins put together quite a season. His 2,119 rushing yards remain the top mark statewide entering Friday. His 30 TDs are fourth most in the state.
Collins is the younger brother of Will Thomas “Taco Meat” Collins, who plays football at UK.
Their father, Jon, was an assistant coach on state title teams at Highlands in 1989 and 1992 and at Lexington Christian in 2009. Betty Geoghegan Collins, their mother, holds the indoor high jump record at EKU.
▪ Highlands advanced to its ninth straight appearance in a region championship game with a 52-21 drubbing of Dixie Heights. Since a 1-5 start — unheard of in Bluebirds land — Highlands has won six straight. Nick Kendall rushed 16 times for 238 yards and two touchdowns in their most recent victory, their third in the last four games by at least 30 points.
▪ Alec Greenwell was 21-for-29 for 280 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in Louisville Holy Cross’s 34-28 win over Kentucky Country Day.
▪ Caldwell County hung 50-plus points on an opponent for the fifth time in its 61-39 win over Adair County. The Tigers are averaging 44 points per game and have hit the 40-point mark in all 10 of their wins (they’ve managed just 21 and 24 in their two losses).
Shane Burns threw for 493 yards and four TDs with an interception in Friday’s win. Two of those TDs went to Elijah Anderson, while Dee Cain (a WKU commitment) and Josh Young each ended with a TD and more than 100 yards receiving.
▪ Jack Wilson threw for 261 yards and three TDs in Elizabethtown’s stirring 42-14 win over Western Kentucky power Paducah Tilghman.
▪ Jackson Caudill’s 15-yard TD pass — only his second completion and fourth pass of the game — gave Franklin-Simpson a 28-21 win in overtime at Hopkinsville.
▪ Zy’Aire Hughes, a University of Kentucky commitment, rushed for 133 yards and three TDs in McCracken County’s 51-13 win over North Hardin.
We can do a lot of things on offense when we’re all clicking and doing what we need to do. And they do too.
Jim McKee, Scott County football coach
Caring Coach of the Year
Henry Clay football coach Sam Simpson was recognized as a “Caring Coach of the Year” by the College Football Hall of Fame and Dove Men+Care in a ceremony at the school on Tuesday.
The award, which recognizes “the most caring youth and high school football coaches around the country,” goes to only four coaches each year.
Simpson was not told about the award before the ceremony and was taken aback by the gleeful assembly of players, faculty and staff on hand to share the moment with him. He had just finished putting away uniforms and shoulder pads the players had turned in that afternoon.
“There’s a lot of people in this world that do so much more than I do,” said Simpson, fighting back tears before a large crowd. “I am overwhelmingly humbled by even the words of what this award says.”
Simpson became just the seventh football coach in Henry Clay history in 1993. He began his career at Marion County in 1988. He was an all-state and all-America linebacker at Scott County before going on to play at UK and Georgetown College.
His career record is 217-124.
▪ Jaren Shelby, an outfielder at Tates Creek, signed with the University of Kentucky on Tuesday.
Shelby’s brother, JaVon, is a junior on the Wildcats roster. Another brother, John, also played at UK.
Jaren batted .368, hit 13 home runs and drove in 45 runs during his junior season.
▪ Will Allen, who finished runner-up with a time of 46.38 seconds in the 400 meters at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in June, signed with Alabama.
Allen, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar, was the anchor leg for the U.S. 4-by-400 relay gold-medal team at the Pan-American Games in Canada this summer.
▪ Four Henry Clay athletes signed letters of intent Monday.
Jaron Brooks, who took first place in the high jump at the New Balance National Indoor and New Balance National Outdoor meets, selected Auburn over offers from Oklahoma and Louisville.
Raven Barleston (volleyball, Ohio Dominican), Madie Herring (tennis, Roanoke College) and Sarah Parsons (softball, Cedarville) also signed.
▪ Lexington Catholic seniors CJ Bush (baseball, Kent State), Carson Coleman (baseball, Cincinnati) and Allison Quammen signed letters of intent Wednesday.
▪ Cynthia Chaney, a softball senior at Franklin-Simpson, signed a scholarship with Georgetown College on Thursday.
Chaney has played on the varsity team since eighth grade. She hit .302 as a junior.
79 Consecutive PATs converted by Pulaski County kicker Derek Burgett. He needs eight more to claim the state record.
▪ Want to see some of the top teams in Kentucky before the high school boys’ basketball season tips off? The preseason Fayette County Hoop-O-Rama will be held Saturday at Paul Laurence Dunbar. Here’s the lineup: Tates Creek vs. Franklin County, 11 a.m.; Bryan Station vs. Lawrence County, 12:45 p.m.; Henry Clay vs. Owensboro, 2:30 p.m.; Lafayette vs. Central, 4:15 p.m.; Dunbar vs. Owen County, 6 p.m.
Dunbar is pegged by the coaches to win the 11th Region and is a Sweet Sixteen favorite. Bryan Station, Henry Clay and Lafayette are all expected to challenge for the 11th Region crown and be Top 25 fixtures. Owen County, an 8th Region contender, features Mr. Basketball candidate and Northern Kentucky signee Carson Williams. Coaches anticipate Central will battle Trinity and Waggener for 7th Region honors. Lawrence County is projected to take the 15th Region over Johnson Central.
▪ Henry Clay’s Aimé Mabika was named Defensive Player of the Year by the Kentucky Soccer Coaches Association. Trinity star Greg Fischer was named its Offensive Player of the Year.
Catherine Fell (Sacred Heart) was named Miss Soccer by the Kentucky High School Girls’ Soccer Coaches Association. The boys’ association does not name a Mr. Soccer.
▪ Kyle Jeffers (North Laurel) and Lauren Hartlage (Elizabethtown) last week were recognized as the Junior Players of the Year by Golf House Kentucky. Jeffers is commited to Western Kentucky while Hartlage will golf for Louisville.
▪ Jessie Clark Middle School defeated Edythe J. Hayes 28-0 for the its third straight city football championship on Nov. 5.
Jessie Clark has advanced to four straight city title games, something Coach Eric Schlarb believes has never been done before (reliable records are not kept for middle school football).
All-City Boys’ Soccer
(As voted on by coaches)
Aimé Mabika, senior, Henry Clay
Collin Rose, senior, Henry Clay
Chris Hunt, senior, Henry Clay
Jimmy Kaindu, senior, Lafayette
Trent Marshall, senior, Lexington Catholic
Colton Tate, senior, Lexington Catholic
Ricky Clemente, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Travis Shuler, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Will Newton, junior, Sayre
Amadi Mubelela, senior, Tates Creek
Cubaka Mutayongwa, senior, Tates Creek
Logan Cox, senior, Henry Clay
Nick Whitehouse, senior, Henry Clay
Cameron Feldman, senior, Lafayette
Trey Paskovics, senior, Lafayette
Tyler Kenney, sophomore, Lexington Catholic
Zach Tussey, junior, Lexington Catholic
Neil Lumm, senior, Lexington Christian
Harrison Grabmayer, junior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Justin Kelly, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Robbie Goodman, junior, Sayre
Sebastian Mbaya, senior, Tates Creek
Thomas Little, senior, Bryan Station
Jaime Trujillo, senior, Bryan Station
Braxton Burton, senior, Henry Clay
Nick SirLouis, junior, Lafayette
Holden Treadway, junior, Lafayette
Liam Hamilton, junior, Lexington Christian
Roman Casper, junior, Lexington Christian
Connor Roberts, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Alex Mitchell, junior, Sayre
Nolan Adams, senior, Tates Creek
Malaunda Mbaya, senior, Tates Creek
All-City Girls’ Soccer
(As voted on by coaches)
Katelyn Gentry, sophomore, Bryan Station
Brett Edwards, senior, Henry Clay
Grace Whalen, senior, Henry Clay
Alana Hughes, senior, Lexington Catholic
Kennedy Tranter, sophomore, Lexington Catholic
Rachel Yeager, senior, Lexington Catholic
Lexi Sheely, sophomore, Lexington Christian
Brooke Tackett, junior, Lexington Christian
Molly Mohr, sophomore, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Maddie Covey, junior, Tates Creek
Mallory Shake, junior, Tates Creek
Emma Hacker, junior, Bryan Station
Emily Cashman, senior, Henry Clay
Ashley Chindo, freshman, Henry Clay
Saydie Matthews, senior, Lafayette
Maddie Haynes, senior, Lexington Catholic
Austin Wahle, junior, Lexington Catholic
Peyton Nagle, senior, Lexington Christian
Maddie Stanback, senior, Lexington Christian
Mimi Floreal, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Nia Simmons-Miller, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Kate Johnson, senior, Sayre
Simone Bibbs, sophomore, Bryan Station
Avery Siria, freshman, Bryan Station
Jessica Daniel, junior, Lafayette
Lindi DeBilzan, freshman, Lafayette
Camille Downing, sophomore, Lexington Christian
Mallory Engelhard, senior, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Audrey Rawls, freshman, Paul Laurence Dunbar
Ellie Alford, junior, Sayre
Bailey McNees, senior, Tates Creek
Makayla Shearer, senior, Tates Creek
Itsy Verones, junior, Tates Creek
We asked you to pick winners in 12 of the 24 football region finals via Twitter. Your lock of the week? Pulaski County over North Laurel. Here are the full results:
Paintsville at Paris: 78% chose Paintsville
Lexington Christian at Danville: 59% chose Danville
Lawrence County at Belfry: 82% chose Belfry
Lexington Catholic at Central: 76% chose LexCath
Johnson Central at Scott: 77% chose Johnson Central
North Laurel at Pulaski County: 87% chose Pulaski County
Bowling Green at Owensboro: 66% chose Bowling Green
Covington Catholic at Highlands: 52% chose Highlands
Trinity at Male: 62% chose Male
Lafayette at Scott County: 58% chose Lafayette
Elizabethtown at Caldwell County: 80% chose Elizabethtown
Hazard at Pikeville: 61% chose Pikeville