This is the fifth in a series of stories previewing high school football teams in Lexington before the start of the 2017 season on Aug. 18:
Coach: Mark Perry (fourth year)
Last season: 7-6 (lost to Central in the quarterfinals of Class 3A playoffs)
Outlook: After winning double-digit games in each of the previous five seasons, Lexington Catholic entered last year with high hopes. However, the Knights played a tough schedule and started the year 1-5.
But Catholic then reeled off six straight wins before falling in the playoffs. One of the key differences in the second half of the season was the quarterback situation. Freshman Beau Allen started the final six games and threw for 1,155 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. This season, big things are expected of Allen, a University of Kentucky recruit.
“Beau is getting better every day. His footwork is getting better, his reads are becoming crisper and he continues to work on his leadership and field command,” Perry said.
Allen will be assisted in the backfield by another potent threat: running back Dameon Jones. Last season, Jones accounted for 19 touchdowns from scrimmage and 1,113 rushing yards.
“He’s got good vision, he’s got good balance, he runs the ball extremely hard,” Perry said of Jones. “First contact is not something that brings him down very often. He catches the ball well out of the backfield.”
The Knights offense will also benefit from an experienced line featuring four returning starters. Wide receiver Gavin Cameron called the big boys in the trenches the “heart of our team” and Allen said, “there’s nobody more excited to play football than about every single one of them.”
Defensively, Catholic returns six starters and Perry is especially excited about the experience he has in the secondary.
The Knights are ranked No. 3 in Class 3A in the Herald-Leader’s coaches’ preseason poll.
Other expected contributors: Jacob Ballard (sr. OL), Kevin Brown (sr. LB), Carson Brownell (sr. DB), Gavin Cameron (sr. TE/WR), Dylan Coulter (jr. DL), Thomas Gerhardstein (sr. OL), Marc Rumpke (sr. OL), Nathan Schurr (jr. WR)
Left tackle Gerhardstein will be integral in protecting Allen’s blindside and as a leader on the offensive line. Gerhardstein has seen significant varsity time since his sophomore season, but Perry especially noticed how influential he has been in summer practice.
“He’s gotten bigger, faster, stronger, but he’s also taken on a more active leadership role,” Perry said.
Gerhardstein knows the intricacies of every position on the line and is always eager to assist younger guys in developing into smart and capable blockers. When he is on the line, Gerhardstein keeps his philosophy pretty simple.
“This guy’s across from me — I’m sure he’s a great guy — but I gotta take him where I wanna take him,” Gerhardstein said.
Perry: “I hope (we’re) a team that plays unbelievably hard. I hope (opponents) walk off the field and say, ‘Man, that team will hit you. They play with unbelievable effort. They’re a disciplined team that you’ve got to defend the whole field and also defends the whole field.’”
Senior receiver Gavin Cameron: “We all know what is expected here at Catholic. And we all have the same common goal in mind and that’s to get to state.”
(All times p.m.; home games in capital letters)
Aug. 19: x-Madison Central, 8
Aug. 25: y-COV. CATHOLIC, 8:45
Sept. 1: LAFAYETTE, 7:30
Sept. 8: At Lex. Christian, 7:30
Sept. 15: At Highlands, 7:30
Sept. 22: DESALES, 7:30
Oct. 6: WESTERN HILLS, 7:30
Oct. 13: At Boyle Co., 7:30
Oct. 20: GARRARD CO., 7:30
Oct. 27: At Southwestern, 7:30
x-Roy Kidd Bowl at Madison Central; y-Bluegrass Bowl