High School Sports

2015 Class of the Commonwealth

The 2015 Class of the Commonwealth squad includes future University of Kentucky players Kash Daniel of Paintsville, Landon Young of Lafayette, and Drake Jackson of Woodford County.
The 2015 Class of the Commonwealth squad includes future University of Kentucky players Kash Daniel of Paintsville, Landon Young of Lafayette, and Drake Jackson of Woodford County. Herald-Leader

Two-way athletes are abundant among the members of the 2015 Class of the Commonwealth, the 24th recognized by the Herald-Leader.

This year 25 seniors — for whom the honor is reserved — are recognized as part of the class, each of whom were selected based on their individual and team successes. Five honorable mentions were also selected based on the same criteria.

Mason Alstatt, Lafayette

Position: Running back/safety

Credentials: Led state finalist Lafayette with 27 total touchdowns, including seven on kickoff or punt returns (including two returns of 90-plus yards for the Generals’ only scores against Trinity early in the season). Was named Lexington Player of the Year by the Herald-Leader and a finalist for Mr. Football. Had 1,558 rushing yards with 17 TDs. Committed to Wofford.

Quinton Baker, Ashland Blazer

Position: Running back

Credentials: Rushed for nearly 2,000 yards before being hobbled by an ankle injury the final three games of the season. Led the Tomcats in rushing for four straight seasons and eclipsed 1,000 yards in all but his freshman year (932). Finished with 72 rushing touchdowns over his career, including 26 in his farewell season. Committed to Western Kentucky after previously pledging to UK then Marshall.

Rodjay Burns, Trinity

Position: Cornerback/wide receiver

Credentials: Among the top prospects in the state and one of the top players at cornerback in the country. Leader on a Shamrocks defense that allowed only 9.1 points a game. Tied for the team lead with three interceptions and led the team with 14 touchdown receptions. Also threw a TD. Earned rings as part of Trinity’s 2012 and 2014 title teams. Committed to Louisville.

Devante Colton, South Warren

Position: Running back/linebacker

Credentials: Leader of a Spartans defense that allowed a state-low 5.9 points per game, which carried the young program to its first championship in any team sport. Had a team-high 96 tackles and returned both of his fumble recoveries for scores. Rushed for three touchdowns on offense. Has an offer from Southern Illinois. Spartans Coach Brandon Smith said, if South Warren had asked it of him, Colton could have been a 1,000-yard running back for the team. “He refused to lose. You would have to kill him to beat him and that came out in his play. ... His best football is ahead of him.”

Kash Daniel, Paintsville

Position: Quarterback/linebacker

Credentials: Went from a relative unknown outside of Johnson County to one of the state’s most talked-about players over the summer. Led the Tigers to a 13-0 start which included double-digit victories in 11 games. Rushed for 22 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards, threw 15 TDs on 73-for-123 passing and finished with 158 tackles on the year. Memorably committed to the University of Kentucky on the Fourth of July.

Tre Fant, Bowling Green

Position: Defensive back/wide receiver

Credentials: Rangy defender came away with nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, and returned two kicks for scores. The nine picks tied the school record. All three of his receptions on the year went for touchdowns. Also rushed for a 75-yard score during the postseason. Against Grayson County became the first Bowling Green player under Coach Kevin Wallace to score a TD on offense, defense and special teams in a single game.

Dalton Frasure, Prestonsburg

Position: Running back/linebacker

Credentials: Finished just shy of 5,000 yards for his career, which was shortened by an injury in the first round of the playoffs. As a senior rushed for 1,430 yards and 16 touchdowns, leading the Blackcats in both categories. Also caught four touchdowns on 13 catches. Recorded 86 tackles and recovered two fumbles on defense. Is committed to Austin Peay as a tight end. A four-year starter who scored a 25 on his ACT. “Never missed a practice or workout that I can remember and that is remarkable in today’s world,” Blackcats Coach John DeRossett said.

Mason Gooch, Montgomery County

Position: Linebacker

Credentials: Finished with 112 tackles from the outside and broke the school record with 29 tackles for loss in a single season, all without being able to hear while he was on the field. Receiving interest from Morehead State and Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf and hard of hearing. Had perhaps the most poignant quote from a high school football player this season: “I'm just like any other person. The only thing I can’t do is hear. But that doesn’t do anything to my ability.”

Riley Hall, Pulaski County

Position: Quarterback

Credentials: Finished with the sixth-most passing yards all-time in state history with 10,526. Four-year starter guided the Maroons, who’d never had much postseason success, to three straight title games from 2013 to 2015, including a championship finish in 2014. Is tied with three others for sixth all-time in career TD passes (112). Threw just three interceptions to 35 TDs in his final season.

Johnny Hernandez, Mayfield

Position: Defensive lineman

Credentials: A three-year starter who won four straight championships as a member of the Cardinals. He was a “d-lineman that teams had to game plan around,” Mayfield Coach Joe Morris said. As a senior he logged snaps at nose guard, nose tackle and defensive end. An all-around defensive leader for Mayfield.

Logan Holbrook, Spencer County

Position: Running back/linebacker

Credentials: An instrumental figure on the best Bears team since the program began a decade ago. Spencer County won its first eight games and got its second (and biggest) playoff win in school history. Led Bears in rushing (1,669 yards, 24 touchdowns), threw and caught a TD, had two interceptions and returned two of his five fumble recoveries for scores. Also recorded 74 tackles on defense. Has an offer to walk on at the University of Kentucky. Also receiving interest from Morehead State and several in-state NAIA programs.

Zy’Aire Hughes, McCracken County

Position: Running back

Credentials: Mustangs’ leader with 1,170 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Also caught four TD passes and threw a TD. Finished with 53 touchdowns in his career, establishing himself as the young school’s all-time leader in scoring. Helped McCracken hand Mayfield its first home loss since 2008 this season and become the first team to defeat the Cardinals in back-to-back years since Caldwell County in 2008 and 2009. Committed to the University of Kentucky.

Drake Jackson, Woodford County

Position: Offensive lineman/defensive lineman

Credentials: Four-star prospect who helped spur the development of teammates Seth Joest (WKU commit) and Saige Young (offers from Ball State, Eastern Kentucky and Troy) into Division I prospects. U.S. Army All-American Bowl participant who’s ranked as one of the top centers in the nation. Natural leader. University of Kentucky commit instrumental in keeping the Cats’ class of 2016 on positive footing.

Jaylen Jones, Lexington Catholic

Position: Running back

Credentials: After starting season with a broken hand, finished with 1,026 yards to become the first LexCath rusher to put together back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Shane Israel from 2005-2007. Ended with 2,917 yards, good for fifth all-time at Catholic, and 32 rushing touchdowns for his career. Receiving interest from multiple schools, including Columbia of the Ivy League.

Devon Key, Bryan Station

Position: Cornerback/wide receiver

Credentials: Tied for team high with three interceptions, including one returned for a state-record 100-yard touchdown. Finished third on the team with 78 tackles despite missing regular-season games down the stretch. Led team in scoring after rushing for eight touchdowns and catching nine. Was the team’s second-leading rusher (713 yards) and receiver (591 yards). Committed to Western Kentucky University.

Jack Kuerzi, Male

Position: Linebacker

Credentials: The leading tackler (82) for a Bulldogs defense that allowed only 6.2 points per game en route to an undefeated run culminating in the program’s first championship since 2000. Also had a fumble recovery and two interceptions during the season. “Jack is a leader on and off the field,” Male Coach Chris Wolfe said in an email. “He was the heart of a remarkable defense that only allowed four rushing TDs in 15 games.” Kuerzi is also a 3.8 student off the field.

Maleek Lawrence, Newport Central Catholic

Position: Defensive tackle

Credentials: Finished with 122 tackles — 33 for loss — on the season, his fourth as a starter. Also recorded 16 sacks. Thoroughbreds Coach Dan Wagner called him “probably the best defensive tackle up here in Northern Kentucky” ahead of their finals game against Mayfield. Was a part of four straight state finalists, including a title team in 2012. Finished as NCC’s career leader with 62 tackles for loss. Said Wagner: “ He was a nightmare for opposing lineman to block, and teams had to resort to double teaming him to try and slow him down.

Steven Nelson, North Laurel

Position: Running back/defensive back

Credentials: Stepped into the lead role with authority, rushing for 2,292 yards and 36 touchdowns, both single-season school records. Key part of the Jaguars’ 9-0 start to the season and first trip to the region finals. Had five interceptions and 50 tackles on defense. Caught a touchdown for North Laurel, which finished with a school-record 11 wins. Jaguars Coach Chris Larkey called him “a work horse” who never worried about how many times he got to touch the ball or score.

Daric Pugh, Pikeville

Position: Running back

Credentials: The bellcow for a Panthers squad which won its first championship since 1989. Aggressive downhill runner who as a senior finished with 2,069 rushing yards and 35 TDs, capped by a 243-yard/two-TD performance in the finals. As a junior rushed for three scores in Pikeville’s 29-20 win over Belfry, its first in 14 years. Rushed for seven TDs — the record for a single game is eight — in a win over Hazard as a junior.

Davonte Robinson, Henry Clay

Position: Defensive back

Credentials: Was a menace in the Blue Devils’ pass coverage, finishing with 91 tackles (75 solo), an interception and a forced fumble. He also blocked a team-high three kicks. On offense, he was Henry Clay’s third-leading rusher with 432 yards and five TDs. He caught seven passes on the year, finishing with 110 yards and two TDs. This season he returned 10 kickoffs for an average of 29.1 yards, including a 91-yard scoring return on the opening kickoff against Tates Creek. Committed to the University of Kentucky.

Brett Slusher, Beechwood

Position: Wide receiver/linebacker

Credentials: Did everything but throw the ball for Beechwood, which reached its second straight Class A championship game. Led Tigers with 1,150 yards on 59 catches, 20 of which resulted in touchdowns. Rushed for 488 yards and 10 touchdowns. Returned two of his three interceptions for scores and two of his four fumble recoveries for TDs. In a 29-second span against Newport he scored on a run, a fumble and an interception. Receiving college interest as a football and baseball player.

Xondre Willis, Belfry

Position: Running back

Credentials: Speedster led the Pirates’ monstrous rushing attack with 1,339 yards and 16 TDs, averaging 103 yards a game. Also caught five of Belfry’s eight TD passes. Was part of three straight Belfry titles and four trips to the state finals. Pirates Coach Philip Haywood said Willis was Belfry’s big play threat and a complete back. “Any time he touched the ball he was capable of scoring. He also blocked well for our other backs.”

Bryce Workman, Johnson Central

Position: Quarterback/defensive back

Credentials: Guided the Golden Eagles to their first appearance in a football championship game. Threww for 1,071 yards and 12 touchdowns on 82 pass attempts. Rushed for 422 yards and eight TDs. Second on the team with three interceptions and recorded 21 tackles on defense. Threw a 30-yard TD pass to Geordan Blanton at Scott as time expired to send Johnson Central to the state semifinals.

Landon Young, Lafayette

Position: Offensive lineman/defensive lineman

Credentials: 247Sports’ top-ranked recruit in Kentucky who was a fixture on Lafayette’s massive frontline. Was a first-team selection on three straight All-City teams. Part of the first Generals squad to reach the state finals since 1985. Began playing on both sides about midway through the season, which helped Lafayette shore up its defensive unit. Signed with the University of Kentucky.

Ray Zuberer, Owensboro Catholic

Position: Quarterback

Credentials: Finished with more than 7,000 yards passing over his final two years as a starter. Threw 102 touchdowns over the past two seasons, including 56 in his junior year, fifth most in a single season. As a junior became the second player in state history to throw eight TDs in a game on three different occassions. Signed with Western Kentucky University to play baseball. Aces Coach John Edge said Zuberer “could very easily of played college in all three sports if schools would allow it, but coaches at that level will not allow three-sport athletes.”

Honorable mention

1. Will Ulmer, Madison Central: An offensive and defensive lineman whom Indians Coach Mark Scenters called an “anchor” for the school. A “very good athlete to go along with great size and work ethic,” Scenters said. “He is also very strong in the classroom, posting a 3.5 GPA in AP coursework and a 24 ACT score.” Scenters says he’s been blessed to coach “a handful” of Division I linemen in his career and thinks Ulmer could develop into one of the best. He’s committed to Marshall.

2. Andy Thompson, Lexington Catholic: Wide receiver who took over under at quarterback late in the season for LexCath and the Knights never looked back en route to their first championship berth since 2007. Threw 12 touchdowns, rushed for five and caught two. Also returned a kick for a TD. Became the third LexCath player and first since 2005 to throw six TDs in a single game, and tied the school record with five in the first half. Broke the school record for return yardage.

3. Clay Bolin, Bourbon County: Quarterback who ed the state in passing average at 273 yards per game, finishing with 3,002 yards on the season. Guided Colonels to region finals in 2014 and to the playoffs in 2015.

4. Noah Hughes, Scott County: Fullback who led Class 6A in rushing with an average of 142 yards of game, finishing with a class-high 1,846 yards to become the first Cardinals running back to rush for that many yards since Ted Sberna in 2004. Shouldered the load for Scott County in the postseason, scoring eight TDs and rushing for 514 yards in three do-or-die games.

5. Dillon Powell, Simon Kenton: Rushed for 1,780 yards and 23 touchdowns, second most in Class 6A. Helped the Pioneers start 13-0 and reach the state semifinals. Also caught a TD. A first-team running back on the Northern Kentucky Football Coaches Association’s Division IA team.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps