High School Football

Hurricane rains won’t keep eastern Kentucky’s best from visiting Lexington this week

Belfry head coach Philip Haywood directs his team in the first half. The Lexington Catholic Knights played the Belfry Pirates in the KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl, Class 3A Championship, Sunday, Dec. 06, 2015 at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.
Belfry head coach Philip Haywood directs his team in the first half. The Lexington Catholic Knights played the Belfry Pirates in the KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl, Class 3A Championship, Sunday, Dec. 06, 2015 at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green.

Eastern Kentucky’s football elite will be in Lexington this weekend. One of them will be visiting a little sooner than anticipated.

Belfry and Johnson Central, the reigning Class 3A and Class 4A champions respectively, come to town to take on some Class 6A competition.

The Pirates are at Bryan Station on Friday. Johnson Central was originally scheduled to play at Henry Clay on Friday but that game was moved to Thursday out of concern regarding severe weather stemming from Hurricane Harvey that will move into the area on Friday night. Henry Clay’s girls’ soccer team was supposed to play Scott County at home Thursday afternoon but moved that contest to 6 p.m. Thursday at Frederick Douglass, whose field was available at that time.

Both mountain teams opened their seasons against high-level West Virginia foes last week. Belfry led Huntington by 20 points in the second quarter but eventually fell, 45-34, in part due to three second-half turnovers; it was the Pirates’ first home loss since Nov. 1, 2013.

Johnson Central defeated Capital, 31-20, and got an all-around performance from senior Blake Gamble — 108 yards rushing with two touchdowns, 48 yards receiving with a TD and two interceptions on defense — akin to what it used to get from Geordon Blanton (now playing baseball at Marshall University).

Golden Eagles Coach Jim Matney enjoys coming to Lexington. Johnson Central used to be in a district with Bryan Station and recently had a series going with Lexington Catholic.

“I feel like we’re a good fit,” said Matney. “We’re only about an hour and half, hour and 45 minutes away. We would like to schedule a lot of Lexington teams. It would be good for them to get out and see our culture, and it’s good for us.”

Matney expressed depth as a constant concern for a program coming off its first state title, but depth appears to be an issue for Henry Clay this year, too. A look at the Blue Devils’ roster filed with the KHSAA shows 74 varsity players, 53 of whom aren’t freshman; Johnson Central’s roster also lists 53 players, none freshmen.

Henry Clay had 1,232 boys enrolled in its school at the start of the 2016-17 school year. Johnson Central had 543.

“We’re a typical rural county team. We’ll probably end up in the season dressing 55 kids. That’s the way it is,” Matney said. “When you’re out here in these counties, you’re just not gonna have 70, 80, 90 kids. You’re just not gonna have ’em.”

▪  As of Wednesday afternoon Bryan Station had not planned on moving its game against Belfry because it would have complicated schedules for the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams. The Station girls host Harrison County on Thursday night while the boys host Pleasure Ridge Park on Saturday afternoon.

▪  Lexington Catholic planned to move forward with hosting Lafayette on Friday because of soccer considerations as well. “We have home soccer games on Thursday, so we are going to roll on as of now for Friday night,” Coach Mark Perry wrote in a text message to the Herald-Leader.

▪  Tates Creek was still scheduled to visit Harlan County on Friday night. The same goes for Lexington Christian, which was traveling to Vincennes Lincoln in Indiana.

▪  More than 50 games were rescheduled due to inclement weather in the forecast as of Wednesday afternoon. Among the more notable changes was the Harrison County-Montgomery County game originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Harrison County; it will now be held 6 p.m. Saturday at Montgomery County.

▪  Four of the week’s biggest matchups were moved from Friday because of the forecast. Boyle County at Danville and Highlands at Scott County will be played on Thursday night while St. Xavier at Bowling Green and Archbishop Moeller (Ohio) at Trinity are now set for Saturday afternoon.

▪  For a complete list of affected games, visit bit.ly/2vKgNLs.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

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