High School Football

Record crowd shows up for Lexington’s first state football final in four decades

See the first high school touchdown in Kroger Field history

Beechwood running back James Davis scored the first high school touchdown in the history of Kroger Field on Friday, December 1, 2017. It was the first time the KHSAA championship games were held in Lexington since 1976.
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Beechwood running back James Davis scored the first high school touchdown in the history of Kroger Field on Friday, December 1, 2017. It was the first time the KHSAA championship games were held in Lexington since 1976.

The first high school football championship game played in Lexington since 1976 was a rout, but a lot of people were there to see it.

Beechwood defeated Raceland, 41-0, in the Class A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl championship game Friday afternoon at Kroger Field.

BOX SCORE: BEECHWOOD 41, RACELAND 0

Beechwood (12-2) won its second straight state title and its 13th overall. For at least a day it will be alone for the third-most championships in state history; both Mayfield (Saturday vs. Danville) and St. Xavier (Sunday vs. Trinity) will have opportunities to swell their title counts from 12 to 13 this weekend.

The Tigers improved to 13-5 in all-time finals appearances. They’ve played for the Class A title in each of the three seasons.

Beechwood Coach Noel Rash won his fourth title with the program, but he didn’t take it for granted.

“Are you kidding me? Look at this moment. These moments, they are rare,” said Rash, who’s in his 12th year leading the program. “They haven’t been rare for three years but they can be taken away from you at any moment. This is the most special moment in these kids’ lives and my life.”

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Beechwood's Daniel Mescher (8) runs the ball past Raceland's Trevor Thornsberry (40) during the Class A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl championship game at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Friday. Dec.1, 2017. Beechwood beat Raceland 41-0. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Daniel Mescher had 12 catches for 118 yards and one touchdown en route to MVP honors. He also kicked two field goals and five extra points for the Tigers.

“They were over-playing the run game and that opened it up for Mescher,” Rash said. “You better believe it, Daniel Mescher took advantage of what they gave us. I’m extremely proud of all of them, but especially that kid.”

Beechwood’s only losses this season were to Covington Catholic, which will play for the Class 5A championship on Saturday, and Simon Kenton, a Class 6A power that finished 11-2 after losing to Trinity in the region finals.

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Beechwood's James Davis (23) celebrates a touchdown with teammate Blake Soete (57) during the Class A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl championship game against Raceland at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky., Friday. Dec.1, 2017. Beechwood beat Raceland 41-0. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

The Tigers recorded their fifth shutout of the season and their second shutout in a championship game. Beechwood held Raceland to 27 yards of offense.

“We put a goose egg on the board in the state championship, so that speaks to how well they’ve prepared during the season,” Rash said. “They believed in the game plan this week and it paid off.”

James Davis rushed 24 times for 88 yards and three TDs, including Beechwood’s opening score in the first quarter.

Dalton Adkins had a game-high 12 tackles for the Rams (10-5). It was Raceland’s first apperance in the state finals.

The game had a reported crowd of 7,103, making it the most well-attended Class A championship since 2000, when Danville and Newport Central Catholic played for the small-school state title in Louisville. Friday’s crowd was the highest for a Class A game in the six-class era, which began in 2007.

Hungry for more high school football? Click here to watch “Opening Drive,” the Herald-Leader’s mini-series documenting the inaugural season for one of Kentucky’s newest high school football programs.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Opening Drive documents the first season of Frederick Douglass football from summer to the final game at Scott County.

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