Belfry’s big up front. But of course, you already knew that.
By now anyone who knows anything about high school football in Kentucky has heard about Cole Bentley (a 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive guard committed to Louisville), Austin Dotson (a 6-6, 305-pound offensive tackle committed to Kentucky) and Rayquan Horton (a 6-1, 308-pound defensive tackle with offers from Western Kentucky, Toledo, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech). Oh yeah, there’s also all 6-2, 305 pounds of Jordan Scott, who holds an offer from Tennessee Tech.
How did this small Pike County school end up with four Division I linemen in its senior class?
“Size helps,” said Coach Philip Haywood, the only coach in state history to have won 400 games. “You’re not gonna get to where they are unless you’ve got some pretty good size. These are pretty big kids.”
They’ve busted their behinds, too.
“They work as hard or harder than anybody on the team as far as putting in extra time and doing what they need to do to make themselves very effective players,” Haywood said.
Belfry expects to have its full stable of highly touted big men available when Tates Creek goes eastward for the Pike County Bowl on Friday.
Haywood hopes they’ll be able to play at a high level after they’ve all dealt with minor injuries — “bumps, bruises, strains” — in the early part of the year.
“The first part of the season we never set the world on fire anyway and so I feel like we’re actually a little bit behind maybe where we were a year ago with our front guys because they just haven’t been practicing as a unit for any length of time,” Haywood said.
Sophomore linemen Austin Lawson and Justin Barker have gotten increased reps in practice due to injuries and “they’ll see some action as well because we’re always thinking about the following year,” Haywood said. Senior Brayden Preece — Belfry’s center — has been a steady presence on the practice field as well.
At full-strength or handicapped, Belfry has to be ready for a Commodores squad that hung 38 points on its defense this time last year. Thankfully, Haywood said, inflated egos in the locker room haven’t been a problem his staff has had to address when preparing for the opening week of their season.
“Our kids have shown quite a bit of maturity with that,” he said. “I think that’s just something you have to deal with if you’re fortunate enough to have a few guys that may have college potential down the road.
“ ... We try to keep our kids focused and say you can’t worry about what’s written in newspapers or what your mom, dad and uncle Joe say. You’ve gotta keep focused on coming to practice every day and improving because none of that other stuff’s gonna win you a game.”
▪ Covington Holy Cross senior Kyle Schirmann was one of four defensive ends selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Game on Jan. 14 in Jacksonville, Fla. Only 118 players were chosen to play from 6,750 who competed for the opportunity in regional combines this year.
▪ Lexington Christian will recognize its boys’ track and field team — which won the Class A team title in May — during its home opener against Kentucky Country Day on Friday. The school also will honor girls’ runner Kendall Hayes, who won the 3,200-meter race at the state championships.
▪ Hopkinsville will retire the jersey of Curtis Pulley, who went on to play at the University of Kentucky and Florida A&M, during its home game against Christian County on Sept. 16.
▪ Shawnee’s football team was forced to forfeit its game against Moore this weekend because it could only dress 10 players. Shawnee Athletic Director Dwight Bransford told the Courier-Journal that 23 players practiced this week but several haven’t participated in the required number of practices to be eligible to play in games.