High School Football

Motivated LCA will enjoy the ride

Lexington Christian Academy football coach Paul Rains, who's been on a weight-loss kick, rode a bicycle from his home in Richmond to LCA a couple weeks ago, and got caught in a nasty storm.

"It was 32 miles, but felt like 52," he said.

The 47-year-old Rains' pedal performance made an impression on his team.

"It's pretty encouraging," said senior quarterback Lucas Witt. "If our coach gives that much effort, we should be able to give the same."

Not that LCA needs any extra motivation this season.

After a surprising run to a Class A runner-up finish in 2007, the Eagles made it to the semifinals last year before being upset by Hazard.

LCA's talented senior class, including Witt, running back/linebacker Domonique Hayden and receiver Branden Burdette, is determined to make another run at a title.

The Eagles appear to be a championship-caliber team, not only in talent but also in attitude.

"We have to be realistic and know we can't get (to the finals) until December, so we need to make sure we play it game by game," Witt said.

"We feel we have the best leadership we've ever had, we have a lot of starters back, and if we can stay healthy we should be all right."

Rains is optimistic, too.

He considers this one of the best senior classes he's ever coached, and he thinks LCA's offense and defense are both well-stocked.

Witt runs the high-powered offense. He's thrown for 7,000 yards and 78 touchdowns in his career, and used his speed to rush for more than 1,400 yards and 23 TDs.

Hayden is a brute of a runner. The ultra-strong 5-foot-8, 220-pounder has rushed for 4,273 yards and 75 TDs in his career, and also has 1,453 receiving yards and 13 TDs.

Burdette's terrific speed and hands have allowed him to ring up more than 1,700 receiving yards and 24 TDs the last two years.

Even though Witt, Hayden and Burdette are the headliners, they know they aren't solo acts.

"It's not about individuals," Hayden said. "It takes a team to get to the state. We know we've got to work together and come together if we're going to get there."

The o-line will be manned by junior standout Zach West and veterans Evan Jacoby and Beau Baker, along with Chase Fairchild and Nick McSorley.

Baker and Fairchild will also play on the defensive front, flanked by Neal Whitman and Evan Kear at the end spots.

"We're a little thin on the offensive and defensive lines compared to past years," Rains said. "But the ones we've got are good ones."

Hayden will be the main enforcer at linebacker, with Will Thomas Collins and Chad Hall at his side.

Rains said Hayden has devoted himself to being a better defensive player this year. "He realizes for us to be the best team we can, he has to excel on both sides of the ball."

Drew Walls, who has 19 career interceptions, returns to the secondary, along with Scout McCamy and Clay Mossbarger. Burdette will see some action there, too.

As LCA's program has grown the last seven years under Rains, the schedule has gotten considerable tougher.

This year's non-district opponents include Breathitt County, Corbin and Lexington Catholic, all considered state powers.

"We love the competition," Rains said. "It's going to be a challenge, but it's going to make us better in the long run and help prepare us for the playoffs."

Rains is also stressing to his players to enjoy the journey, wherever it takes them.

"We don't want them to always be looking at December and thinking about getting to the finals. If they do, they miss out on the regular season, those non-district games, and a lot of other stuff."

"We want them to enjoy the moment, and I think they're mature enough to do that this year."