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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.
Male upset the Class 6A apple cart last season, denying the Trinity juggernaut a three-peat on its way to its eighth state title.
The Shamrocks will look to put their universe back in order as they come in as the No. 1 team for 2019, according to the @HLpreps preseason survey of coaches.
Here are the preseason top 10 teams in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Class 6A as voted on by coaches in the division.
Head coach: Bob Beatty (20th season)
Last year: 7-7. Lost 27-20 in the semifinals to eventual champion Male.
Quick look: The 25-time state champ won’t play an in-state opponent until it takes on No. 2 Male on Sept. 20. The Bulldogs swept the Rocks in their two 2018 meetings. Trinity has nine starters back, six of them on defense, including Tyler Roberson, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound three-star senior defensive end, and Charlie Ely, a 6-2, 220-pound junior inside linebacker. Nathan McElroy, a 6-2 190-pound junior, looks to be the new starter at quarterback after an impressive scrimmage against Frederick Douglass last week. Armon Tucker, a 5-10, 165-pound sophomore running back, took his first handoff 45 yards for a touchdown in that practice.
Head coach: Chris Wolfe (10th season)
Last year: 14-1. Won the state championship 37-20 over Scott County.
Quick look: The Bulldogs have Kentucky commit Izayah Cummings, a 6-3, 212-pound senior wide-out who caught 41 balls for 597 yards and 11 TDs last season. Also returning is senior running back Quantrell Wright, second on the team in rushing in 2018 with 590 yards and six TDs. Sophomore wide-out Vinny Anthony broke out in a huge way in last year’s championship game with two rushing touchdowns. Tight-end Briceson Rodgers, a 6-3 205-pound senior, ranks as a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports.com.
3. St. Xavier
Head coach: Kevin Wallace (second season)
Last year: 9-4. Lost 20-10 in the third round to Male.
Quick look: A massive roster that includes 56 seniors has seven starters back, five on offense. Also back is senior quarterback Douglas Bodhaine, who tore his ACL in a non-contact drill two days before the regional finals last year, the second ACL tear of his career. He passed for 917 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 386 and eight more scores in 10 games last year. The Tigers believe sophomore Mekhi Smith, a 5-11, 175 pound wide-out, will become a key playmaker.
Head coach: Gary Wheeler (seventh season)
Last year: 8-4. Lost 35-20 in the second round to St. Xavier.
Quick look: Jordan Watkins, a 6-0, 180-pound senior wide-out, committed to Kentucky this summer. He’ll be a favorite of senior QB Chaz Burks, who threw for 2,144 yards and 31 TDs in 2018. Air Force commit Darius Jones leads a defense that allowed only 956 yards in the air last year. Junior defensive end Hosea Knifely led the team in sacks and tackles for a loss and has eight Division I offers.
5. Simon Kenton
Head coach: Jeff Marksberry (20th season)
Last year: 10-3. Lost 56-28 in the third round to Scott County.
Quick look: Austin Hammack, a 5-11, 190-pound senior, steps into the lead back role after gaining 667 yards and scoring four TDs in 2018 behind two thousand-yard graduates. Senior receivers Erik Brown and Evan Mulberry combined for more than 700 yards of offense and six TDs. The defense looks in good shape with Vuk Sajlovic, a 6-2, 250-pound lineman among the leading tacklers. He had 12 sacks last year and has been offered by UT Chattanooga.
Head coach: Adrian Morton (third season)
Last year: 8-5. Lost 50-0 in the third round to Trinity.
Quick look: Ballard brings back Louisville commit Josh Minkins, a 6-3, 185-pound senior who also plays basketball and runs track. Minkins was offered by 22 schools. He totaled 259 yards and six TDs receiving in 2018 and picked off three passes on the other side. Senior running back Jayden Farmer ran for 838 yards and 11 TDs. Team captain Justice Thompson, a 6-0, 215-pound junior linebacker, led the team with 121 tackles (25.5 for a loss) and eight sacks.
7. North Hardin
Head coach: Brent Thompson (eighth season)
Last year: 9-3. Lost 40-16 in the second round to Male.
Quick look: Kentucky is listed among 12 schools offering a scholarship to 6-2, 308-pound senior defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine, who logged 86 tackles (17 for a loss) and four sacks in 2018. The Trojans also bring back three-star running back Lavell Wright, a 6-0, 204-pound junior, who carried for 1,316 yards and 17 TDs. Josh Moore, a 6-3, 175-pound wide-out, registered 1,224 receiving yards and 15 TDs.
Head coach: Scott Carmony (fourth season)
Last year: 6-5. Lost 14-0 in the first round to North Hardin.
Quick look: For comparison, note District 3 rival St. X has 56 seniors. Manual has 67 total players on its KHSAA roster. Fourteen of those are seniors, including quarterback Zach Recktenwald who returns after missing a season due to injury and should help Manual improve dramatically on its 155 yards passing for the entire year. (He threw for 854 and four TDs as a sophomore). Manual also returns three of its top four rushers in DeAaron Robinson, Jawaun Northington and Ramont Townsend.
9. Madison Central
Head coach: Mark Scenters (sixth season)
Last year: 10-4. Lost 40-6 in the semifinals to Scott County.
Quick look: The Indians graduated 26 seniors and most of their offensive production, so a new group takes the reins. Coach’s son Canon Scenters, a 6-2, 235 pound junior who certainly has the first name for the position, saw some action last year with two touchdown tosses. Running back Joe Burton showed promise in a limited role gaining better than 4.6 yards per carry. Senior linebacker Sawyer Cruse is the team’s leading returning tackler.
10. Henry Clay
Head coach: Sam Simpson (27th season)
Last year: 6-6. Lost 25-7 in the second round to Simon Kenton.
Quick look: After breaking his leg in the eighth game last season, senior D.J. Van Horn returns as a dual-threat quarterback with some big targets at his disposal. Among them are 6-4, 210-pound tight end Ashton Foos and 6-3, 195-pound wide-out Jakobi Godfrey. Senior linebacker Chris Dabney is the team’s leading returning tackler and had two forced fumbles and an interception last year. The Blue Devils also boast all-state kicker Graham Wald.
Others receiving votes
(Listed in order of votes received)
Central Hardin, Fern Creek, Ryle, McCracken County, Tates Creek, Clark County, Meade County and Apollo.
Teams participating in Class 5A top-10 vote: Apollo, Ballard, Butler, Central Hardin, Eastern, Fern Creek, Henry Clay, Madison Central, Male, Manual, McCracken County, North Hardin, Oldham County, Simon Kenton, Southern and St. Xavier.
Survey method: Every Class 6A coach was given the opportunity to participate in the @HLpreps annual survey, emailed to their address listed on KHSAA.org. Multiple attempts were made to contact every coach.
High school football 2019
The 2019 high school football season kicks off Friday night. New high school sports beat writer Jared Peck has been rolling out several stories over the past 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. Visit Kentucky.com to catch up on any stories you’ve missed.