High School Football

Top 10: Central Kentucky football players to watch in 2019

Benny Snell hosts football camp for kids at Lexington Catholic High School

Former Kentucky running back Benny Snell returned to Lexington from his training with the Pittsburgh Steelers to host the Snell Yeah Camp for children at Lexington Catholic High School on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.
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Former Kentucky running back Benny Snell returned to Lexington from his training with the Pittsburgh Steelers to host the Snell Yeah Camp for children at Lexington Catholic High School on Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

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2019 Kentucky high school football preview

The 2019 high school football season kicks off Friday, Aug. 23. New high school sports beat writer Jared Peck is rolling out several stories over the next two weeks in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com previewing the season around the city, region and state and highlighting the top players and games. Click below to read all of his previous stories.

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Central Kentucky boasts a ton of high school football talent.

Even taking Lexington players out of the equation, the Bluegrass region is loaded. So, here, we’ve done just that. (Lexington players will be on another list).

Check out 10 names (listed in alphabetical order) we expect you should be hearing a lot about this season.

Matthew Barber

School: Paris (Class A)

Profile: Barber, a 6-foot, 210-pound senior RB/LB, made this list after a sensational sophomore campaign. His junior year got derailed by injury after gaining 205 yards on 25 carries in just two games. Coach Brian Washington looks to have him back in a two-back attack for 2019 alongside fellow senior Jamaun Clark.

Landen Bartleson

School: Boyle County (Class 4A)

Profile: Bartleson, a 6-1, 182 pound senior RB/DB, committed to Notre Dame this summer after a junior year that saw him gain 768 yards on 109 carries with 12 touchdowns. His size and speed helped him garner offers from 10 colleges as he shot up the recruiting charts as a three-star prospect according to 247Sports.com.

Bronson Brown

School: Scott County (Class 5A)

Profile: Brown, a 5-8, 160-pound senior RB/DB, rushed for 1,494 yards and 21 TDs as the second feature back in the Cardinals’ run to the Class 6A state title game last season. He figures to be an even bigger part of Scott County’s Class 5A title pursuit and has, so far, garnered interest from a number of NAIA schools.

Nick Broyles

School: Franklin County (Class 4A)

Profile: Broyles, a 6-1, 180-pound junior quarterback, had a sophomore campaign that ranked him as one of the top 10 passers in the state and he’s the fourth-best, statistically, coming back with his 202-for-326 for 2,796 yards and 25 TDs. And he also ran for 1,113 yards and 13 scores. With that size and a repeat of those kind of numbers, he’ll be moving up the recruiting charts soon.

Fred Farrier

School: Franklin County (Class 4A)

Profile: Nick Broyles’ favorite target, Farrier, a 6-1, 160-pound junior WR/CB, caught 58 passes for 868 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018 to go along with 225 yards rushing on 26 attempts with another TD. A threat on the fly and in numerous bubble-screen plays, Farrier proved as a sophomore he could break tackles and get into the open field.

Dane Jackson

School: Madison Southern (Class 5A)

Profile: Players in the trenches don’t get a lot of love, unless they have a penchant for making the opposition fall flat on their backs. Jackson, a 6-foot, 275-pound senior C/G, does just that and has already locked down an offer from North Texas. He is the brother of Kentucky center Drake Jackson who came out of Woodford County.

Reed Lanter

School: Boyle County (Class 4A)

Profile: Lanter makes three Boyle County players on this list and, technically, bumps a top 10 to a top 11. But just as the accomplishments and potential of teammates Landen Bartleson and Reese Smith can’t be denied, neither can Lanter’s. The 6-1, 175-pound senior QB threw for 2,949 yards and 39 TDs in 2018.

Austin Taylor

School: Scott County (Class 5A)

Profile: You don’t get to state semifinals and finals without a great offensive line, and Taylor, a 6-3, 260-pound senior guard, helps blow open holes for the Cardinals’ running attack. He has an offer from Morehead State and multiple NAIA schools, according to Coach Jim McKee.

Cain Saucedo

School: Nicholas County (Class A)

Profile: Saucedo, a 5-10, 165-pound running back, who plays basketball and football for the Bluejackets, figures to become the feature back after tallying 698 yards on 119 carries with nine touchdowns as the second option a season ago.

Reese Smith

School: Boyle County (Class 4A)

Profile: When West Virginia head coach Neal Brown made the move from Troy to Morgantown, he made a recruiting trip back home in Boyle County to bring Smith along with him. Smith, a 5-11, 175-pound senior wide-out, caught 53 passes for 1,173 yards and 20 TDs in 2018.

Malachi Yulee

School: Mercer County (Class 3A)

Profile: Yulee, a 5-10, 200-pound senior RB/LB, has a combination of power and speed that earned him the most carries last season in the rush-heavy Titans offense. Yulee rushed 145 times for 1,066 yards and 13 TDs in 2018. On the other side of the ball, he racked up 57 tackles.

Subject area: For the purposes of this list, we’re defining Central Kentucky counties the same way state government does: Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Clark, Estill, Franklin, Garrard, Harrison, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Mercer, Nicholas, Powell, Scott and Woodford minus Fayette.

Miss someone? Putting together a list of top players can be an inexact science. Have someone in mind? Holler at digital sports writer Jared Peck on Twitter @HLpreps.

Jared Peck, the Herald-Leader’s Digital Sports Writer, covers high school athletics and has been with the company as a writer and editor for more than 19 years.
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