High School Sports

Don’t call Henry Clay a ‘rebuilding’ football team

Junior defensive lineman and running back Ray-Karl Irving (48, making tackle) is expected to contribute for Henry Clay this year.
Junior defensive lineman and running back Ray-Karl Irving (48, making tackle) is expected to contribute for Henry Clay this year. palcala@herald-leader.com


Coach: Sam Simpson (24th year)

Last season: 7-5 (lost to Lafayette in second round of Class 6A playoffs)

Outlook: After going nearly a month without a win in the middle of 2015, Henry Clay hit its stride by taking four straight games before succumbing to Lafayette in a second-round thriller. The Blue Devils lost 23 seniors and 17 starters from that unit, including three all-state selections in Joquise Buford, Jordan Forsythe and Davonte Robinson. Fortunately, many of the guys who will fill the void have seen varsity action before. While Henry Clay will be younger offensively than it has been in recent seasons (and led by junior quarterback Greg Couch, nephew of Tim), Simpson said the Blue Devils’ defensive maturity was further ahead during this preseason than years before.

Other expected contributors: Zac Berezowitz (jr. WR/DB), Noah Gann (jr. TE), Amir Gatewood (sr. RB/LB), Langston Jackson (so. RB), Ramond Jackson (so. DB), Ray-Karl Irving (jr. DL/RB), Elijah Miller (sr. RB), Will Preston (sr. LB), Damarcus Tyler (sr. WR), Evans Works (sr. K)

Senior spotlight

Will Preston moves to middle linebacker from the outside spot this season. He was the team’s second-leading tackler last year (Robinson being first on that list). He also wrestles in the offseason, which helps with his positioning on the turf.

“It’s leverage,” Preston said. “You have to stay low ’cause you’re not as big as some lineman. You just have to get lower. Lowest man wins.”

Fun fact: Preston is the fifth “Will Preston” in his family, a name dating to the 1800s.

Coach’s corner

Simpson: “I’ve told ’em, there will be people out there saying that (this will be a rebuilding year). ... People are already making excuses for us not to be successful. I said, ‘I don’t want to hear that. That’s not what we expect, and that’s not what I expect from you.’ We’ve still got a lot of team speed. Heck, we’ve got the fastest kid in the state of Kentucky.” (Langston Jackson, who as a freshman helped Henry Clay to its second straight Class 3A track and field championship and finished third behind two seniors in the 100-meter dash.)

Fightin’ words

Senior Damarcus Tyler: “We’re capable of doing a lot of things this year. We can’t rush everything. Just take it game by game, take it slow.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps


(All times p.m.; home games in capital letters)

Aug. 26: x-Ryle, 6

Sept. 2: at Clark Co., 7:30

Sept. 9: at Tates Creek, 7:30

Sept. 16: KNOX CENT., 7:30

Sept. 23: at Lafayette, 7:30

Sept. 30: PULASKI CO., 7:30

Oct. 7: at Scott Co., 7:30

Oct. 14: PAUL DUNBAR, 7:30

Oct. 21: B. STATION, 7:30

Oct. 28: CAMPBELL CO., 7:30

x-Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic

2016 High school football preview

Read more from the Herald-Leader on Kentucky.com today, follow @hlpreps on Twitter for updates throughout the season, and get scores and statistics here every Friday night.

Cover story: Can Lafayette make it back to Bowling Green?

Interactive: Top story lines to watch around Kentucky

Video: Preseason interviews — the blooper reel

Video: Lexington coaches on what to watch from their teams

Video: A snapshot of the state preseason coaches poll

Sixteen Fridays and a ton of memories to come

Which state champs have best chance of repeating?

Kentucky’s top 50 players, as voted on by coaches

Class 6A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Class 5A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Class 4A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Class 3A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Class 2A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Class A rankings: The preseason Top 10

Eleven must-see small-town games this season

Bryan Station: Looking to maintain success despite turnover

Henry Clay: Don’t call Blue Devils a rebuilding team

Lafayette: Can Generals handle all eyes being on them?

Lexington Catholic: Poised for another run to 3A finals

Lexington Christian: Eagles eager to take next step

Paul Laurence Dunbar: New coach wants opponents to dread Bulldogs

Tates Creek: A speedy defense could lead the way

Central Kentucky: Watch out for Scott Co., Western Hills, Madison Central

Next Cats: Kentucky high schools flush with top recruits

Kentucky’s winningest high school coaches

Kentucky’s winningest high school programs

Which schools have won the most state titles?

Mr. Football: 30 years, 30 winners

Pulaski County receiver poised to break state record

Mark Story: Should the state championships move to Lexington?