High School Sports

Class 3A semifinals preview: Lexington Catholic at Elizabethtown

LexCath’s Jaylen Jones broke a tackle while running against Johnson Central at Lexington Catholic football stadium on Sept. 4.
LexCath’s Jaylen Jones broke a tackle while running against Johnson Central at Lexington Catholic football stadium on Sept. 4. Herald-Leader

For the fifth straight season, the Lexington Catholic football team has reached the state semifinals.

The difference in 2015? The Knights stepped down to Class 3A and are assured of at least one thing: Highlands, which moved to Class 5A, won’t end their year for the fifth straight season.

This time around, the Knights face Elizabethtown, a foe with much less football tradition than the Bluebirds but with two appearances in title games under its belt — as many as LexCath. The Panthers are undefeated and coming off an exhilarating come-from-behind win over Caldwell County in the region finals.

LexCath Coach Mark Perry said that type of determination is a credit to E-town’s team, which is dominated by seniors.

“They have continuously won,” Perry said. “ ... They lost the lead with a minute and change left in the Caldwell game, and they drive down and threw a Hail Mary to win it. You have to have a few of those games to make a run at this thing, this five-game stretch. They’ve done it.”

In 2007, Lexington Catholic defeated Lone Oak 49-7 for its second state championship. The Knights’ season has ended in the quarterfinals or semifinals each year since.

LexCath is coming off a thrilling win itself. Down 13-0 at Central, the Knights put together two scoring drives in the second half and held the Yellowjackets scoreless after the break to escape with their second one-point win of the season.

And it was the defense, not the prolific offense, that showed out last Friday. A blocked extra point at the end of the first half and a blocked field goal with three seconds left were crucial to giving the Knights a fifth straight shot at a trip to Bowling Green.

“Our kids have won the last two playoff games in two different fashions,” said Perry, whose team ran away from Garrard County 59-26 in the second round. “To me, that shows a little character and a little charisma.”

Perry said that being able to put enough points on the board to win against a talented and speedy Central secondary, as well as being put in do-or-die situations on defense and leaving the Yellowjackets empty-handed, was a huge confidence booster for the Knights.

Jaylen Jones, who caught the first score against Central and leads LexCath with 871 rushing yards and 11 TDs this year, couldn’t have been more pleased with how the defense stepped up .

“In a situation where our offense wasn’t clicking in the first half, the defense stepped up the entire game to save us,” Jones said. “ ... They played their butts off.”

Andy Thompson, the point man for LexCath lately, threw the TD to Jones and rushed in for the go-ahead score. Legend Brumbaugh and Kirk Fagot have seen time at quarterback this season too, but Thompson has been on fire: he’s thrown eight TDs, rushed for three and is 21-for-29 over the past three games.

But if he’s moved from under center when the Knights go to Elizabethtown, the senior won’t mind a bit.

“We’ve dropped the egos, and you’ve got three guys who really want to see each other exceed expectations and succeed on the field,” Thompson said. “ ... We have complete faith in everyone that can step in. Next man up. Let’s go roll; let’s go play.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Friday

Lexington Catholic at Elizabethtown

What: Class 3A semifinal

When: 7:30 p.m.

Records: Elizabethtown 13-0, Lexington Catholic 10-3

Live audio broadcast: PrepSpin.com

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