High School Football

Lexington Catholic aims to bring fast break to the football field

New coach Mark Perry's offense has a solid foundation in a veteran offensive line. From left to right, Woody Lankford, Noah Tubridy, Cameron Bailey, Colin Carpenter and Dominic Castlen. Perry was a backup quarterback at UK under Hal Mumme.
New coach Mark Perry's offense has a solid foundation in a veteran offensive line. From left to right, Woody Lankford, Noah Tubridy, Cameron Bailey, Colin Carpenter and Dominic Castlen. Perry was a backup quarterback at UK under Hal Mumme.

If Lexington Catholic plays up to expectations this season, its fans will be breathless from excitement, and its opponents will be breathless from exhaustion.

The Knights, who have always favored an up-tempo attack, will shift into an even higher gear this year under new coach Mark Perry.

Perry is an Air Raid proponent who first learned the fast-flinging style during his days as a backup quarterback at Kentucky under Hal Mumme. He was also influenced by Mike Leach, Tony Franklin and Chris Hatcher.

"We definitely want to push the pace of the game," said Perry, who used the air attack at Central Hardin the past three seasons. He brought offensive coordinator Jesse Cantrall with him to Lexington Catholic.

"It's really difficult for other teams to prepare for," Perry said. "If we've got 30 guys who can play, and the other team only has 11 or so, hopefully late in the second quarter and late in the game we'll have an advantage of being fresh after their guys have had to run all over the field."

In Reese Ryan, Perry has the perfect quarterback to pilot the offense. The senior has passed for 4,700 yards and 52 touchdowns the past two years.

"This offense is similar to what we've run before, just a little faster and a little more passing," Ryan said. "It'll keep defenses back on their heels and catch them off guard more. I love it."

Ryan will be throwing to new receivers, though. David Bouvier, Noah Mitchell, Marcelis Logan and Justin Brownell graduated, and Sam Letton moved to Georgia. Those five guys combined for 205 catches, 3,262 yards and 37 TDs last season.

Ryan is confident he'll have plenty of capable receivers, including J.J. Ogbogu, Andy Thompson, Donovan Morris and Jordan Hatton.

Running backs Jaylen Jones and Cody Mitchell figure to snag more than a few screen and swing passes.

Jones could be a beast in the backfield. He was sidelined most of the last two years after tearing both Achilles tendons.

"Jaylen's getting better every day," Perry said. "He hasn't played a lot of football the last 18 months, but he's closing in on being full speed."

The offense has a solid foundation with veteran linemen Cameron Bailey, Colin Carpenter, Dominic Castlen and Noah Tubridy.

"Having that core group returning for us is huge," Perry said. "It's so important to have guys up front whether you're running the spread or the wishbone."

Lexington Catholic's defense, led by safeties Braxton Couch and Cody Mitchell, and linebacker Chase Boling is stacked with experience.

"Braxton is so versatile and such a good athlete, we can play him in the box or back on the hash," Perry said. "Cody is a nice combination of speed and aggressiveness, and has a great mentality.

"Chase is the big inside linebacker who can read defenses and communicate."

Castlen will man a defensive end position. Bailey and Tubridy will see some double duty on "D." Cornerback Davis Rowady's six interceptions led the team last year. Joey Griggs is another veteran in the secondary.

A change in coaches always requires a time of adjustment, but Mitchell said it didn't take long for the players and Perry to get comfortable with each other.

"The transition was quick," Mitchell said. "The new offense was simple to learn, and we've got the same defense.

"I think we're ready to roll."

Ryan agreed.

"Everyone has bought in," he said. "I have a lot of faith in these guys, and I think they have a lot of faith in me.

"We're going to try to win a state championship."

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