All game times 7:30 p.m. unless noted
Anderson Co. at Bryan Station: Defenders' Craig Yeast debuts as head coach.
Last year's records: Anderson County 9-4; Bryan Station 1-10
Mr. All-purpose: Anderson County's Ethan Kelly had a school-record 186 points (31 TDs) last year and did it rushing (1,268 yards), receiving (594 yards) and returning kicks (446 yards). He'll team with veteran QB Seth Carmichael to spark the Bearcats this season.
Yeast of yesteryear: Everybody remembers Craig Yeast, Bryan Station's new coach, as a star at UK. But before that Yeast was a 4.2 speedster at Harrodsburg where as a senior quarterback he ran for 1,600 yards, passed for 700 and had a hand in 38 TDs. In a playoff win over Lexington Catholic, he ran for 248 yards and three TDs, and threw a TD pass.
Henry Clay vs. John Hardin in Don Franklin Bowl at Lindsey Wilson, 8 p.m.: John Hardin has won nine consecutive season openers.
Don Franklin Bowl at Lindsey Wilson, 8 p.m.
Last year's records: Henry Clay 9-3; John Hardin 13-1
Tough openers: Sam Simpson doesn't shy away from challenging his Henry Clay teams from the get-go. Since 2000, the Blue Devils' season openers have included Highlands (twice), Paducah Tilghman (twice), Bowling Green, Belfry, Boone County and Louisville Central.
Bulldogs have bite: John Hardin, which has lost only 5 times in the last four years, returns QB Eli Mitchell, (1,700 yards, 20 TDs passing last year), RBs Jeremy Harness (2,100 yards, 23 TDs rushing and receiving) and Quinsie Brown (840 yards, 12 TDs rushing). Defensive standouts Mark Thompson and Wade Holtsclaw also return.
Lafayette at Mason Co.: Generals get look at Mason County star Josh Harris, who's committed to UK.
Meadowview Regional Kickoff Classic
Last year's records: Lafayette 7-6; Mason County 10-2
Remember when: The last time these teams met was in the 2006 Recreation Bowl, and Lafayette won 21-6. An interesting footnote was that Mason County's Darius Miller, future Mr. Basketball and current UK player, caught two passes for 53 yards.
Who'll catch on? Lafayette should have a reliable rushing game this season with Bubba Johnson (1,143 yards, 16 TDs) returning. But it must find receivers for QB Jeremy Smith to target. The Generals graduated 103 catches and 1,814 yards out of their total of 135 catches and 2,137 yards. Tray Chester, a tall (6-3) junior, could be the new go-to guy.
Lexington Catholic at Bell Co.: In their last meeting, LexCath won in the playoffs on the way to 2007 state title.
Last year's records: LexCath 7-6; Bell County 13-1
Radio: WMJR-AM 1380
Tough enough: Even though LexCath doesn't play Trinity and St. Xavier like last year, Coach Bill Letton thinks this year's schedule may be tougher from top to bottom. The Knights' non-district opponents include Bell County (4A semifinalist last year), John Hardin (5A semifinalist), Lafayette (6A quarterfinalist), Male (6A finalist) and Bowling Green (perennial 5A power). Throw in district rival and defending 4A champ Boyle County, and LexCath will be tested time and again.
New boss: Wayne Mills succeeds Dudley Hilton as Bell County coach. After tying the state record for career wins (345), Hilton left for the University of Pikeville. Mills was at Knox Central the last eight years, but he knows the lay of the land at Bell County from when he was an assistant there. The Bobcats, who drop from 4A to 3A this season, return Cory Davenport, who ran for 1,500 yards and 26 TDs last year.
Lexington Christian at Louisville Christian: LCA won in overtime last year.
Last year's records: LCA 10-4; Lou. Christian 7-5
Radio: WJMM-FM 99.1
QB call: Scott Hiler, a 210-pound sophomore, will start at quarterback for LCA. Coach Ray Graham said it was close competition among Hiler, fellow sophomore Lincoln Henzman and freshman Dima Ballard in the pre-season. Graham said Henzman has moved to running back and will also play some safety. Hiler will get 75 percent of the snaps in practice.
Ex-Card in charge: Former University of Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors is CAL's new coach. In 2004 LeFors led U of L to an 11-1 record and was MVP of the Liberty Bowl. CAL's biggest offensive threats are RB Ivan Talley and QB Andrew Risher.
Tates Creek at East Jessamine in Visitnich.com Bowl, 6:30 p.m.: Commodores must slow East Jessamine's Cameron Thomas. The second game of the bowl has West Jessamine playing Somerset.
Visitnich.com bowl, 6:30 p.m.
Last year's records: Tates Creek 6-5; East Jessamine 8-4
Young 'uns: Tates Creek Coach Mike Harmon said as many as 10 sophomores could be in his lineup, which may mean a few dark clouds for the Commodores early. But it also promises a bright future. Seniors T.D. Jemison, William Hardin, Martrell Berry and Taylor Grimes will light the way this fall.
Jags on the run: East Jessamine hopes to have its ground-hugging offense in high gear again. The Jaguars averaged 386 rushing yards a game last season, which ranks in the top 10 all-time. They return Cameron Thomas, who ran for 2,454 yards last year. On the flip side, East Jessamine averaged only 40 yards passing last year.
TOP STATE GAME
Highlands at Boyle County: Four-time defending 5A champ drops to 4A and opens against two-time defending champ Boyle County and its 30-game winning streak.
AROUND THE STATE
Rocks' rocky road
Bob Beatty, who has coached Trinity to eight state titles in the last 10 years, says his "No. 1 objective every year is to prepare our team for the tournament. To do that, I firmly believe you have to play good competition."
Trinity has taken that philosophy to the extreme this year. Its first five games are against out-of-state powers. It opens at Brentwood Academy in Nashville on Friday. After that, it's home against Montgomery Bell Academy of Nashville, at Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati St. Xavier, then home against Indianapolis Cathedral. Trinity finally faces a Kentucky opponent when it tangles with archrival St. X on Sept. 30, followed by its two other district tests — against Manual and Male. The Rocks close their nine-game regular season at home against Cincinnati Moeller.
Trinity, with a roster loaded with talent, is rated in the top 20 nationally and is an overwhelming pre-season No. 1 in Class 6A in Kentucky.
But don't look for the Rocks in Dave Cantrall's top 25 until October. That's because Cantrall bases his ratings on in-state competition only. Not that Beatty cares. He said he's oblivious to any kind of ratings or hype, or the notion that Trinity is a cinch to win its 21st state title.
"For people to prognosticate, that means they know a lot more about us than we do," he said. "We are a completely different team than a year ago. I'm like every other coach in the nation right now. I'm trying to find out the personality of this team."