Lexington Catholic's football team will gather Thanksgiving evening to practice for its Class 4A region title game at Boyle County on Friday night.
Knights Coach Bill Letton promised to "run the turkey" off his players, "get their blood flowing again, and get their minds back on the game."
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Letton doesn't have to worry about the physical and mental preparedness of two of his players. Will Letton, his son, and Jake Conner aren't about to take a holiday from helping Lexington Catholic get ready for a run at its third state title in four years.
"When you're practicing on Thanksgiving, you know you're on your way to accomplishing what you want to accomplish," said Conner, a senior linebacker.
Letton, a senior receiver/linebacker, said the team will "forget about Thanksgiving for a while because we know why we're practicing. We're working toward our ultimate goal — a state championship."
Unbeaten Boyle County is a major obstacle in the Knights' pursuit of a second consecutive state title.
The Rebels beat Lexington Catholic 14-11 two months ago, a victory that earned them the district title and home-field advantage Friday night.
"I remember that game like it was yesterday," Conner said. "It was hard to swallow because it was the first district loss we ever had."
Letton said he thought the Knights "should've won that game, so that gives us a little fire to win this one."
The Knights did a decent job limiting the damage done by Boyle County running back Rees MacShara and quarterback Phillip Mason in that first meeting, but the Rebels still won.
"If our defense can hold them as well as we did last time, we'll be all right," Conner said, "because our offense has gotten so much better."
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Conner has been a defensive standout for the Knights. He's one of their leading tacklers and has blocked four kicks.
A high-energy guy, Conner said he does "everything I can to get everybody excited and off to a good start."
The 6-3, 215-pound Letton has been a big contributor on both sides of the ball, which explains why he has a scholarship offer from Miami (Ohio) as a linebacker and one from the Air Force as a receiver.
Letton is among the Knights' hardest hitters on defense, and one of the top receivers (19 catches for 271 yards and five touchdowns) on offense.
Lexington Catholic is accustomed to playing tough competition this season. Besides Boyle County, the Knights lost to St. Xavier and Highlands, which are favored to win the 6A and 5A titles, and they beat Scott County, which is still alive in 6A.
All those challenges have helped prepare Lexington Catholic not just for the next game, but a higher goal.
"We've been working to win the state championship," Conner said. "That's everything. That's our main focus. We're looking at the big picture."