We are excited to have our friends at Kroger on board as we bring you high school football coverage this fall. Each week Kroger will present the KSR High School Game of the Week. We will travel to the featured game each week to bring you the best sights, sounds and incredible moments. Together we’re happy supporters of “KY Proud Products” and the “Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund.”
The first KSR Game of the Week is North Hardin at Frederick Douglass, which takes place Friday, September 11 at Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington. We’ll have plenty of coverage of the game right up until kickoff, but here’s a quick preview.
Several future Cats will be on display in East Lexington when the highly-touted Frederick Douglass Broncos host the North Hardin Trojans to open the football season on September 11. North Hardin made the 6A semifinals last season before falling to mighty Louisville Trinity 54-7.
Frederick Douglass is led by offensive lineman Jager Burton (UK commit), along with wide receivers Dekel Crowdus (UK commit), and Dane Key (UK recruit). The 6’4″ 270-pound Burton is the No. 1 player in the state. He is ranked as the No. 59 player in the nation and the No. 3 offensive guard by 247Sports and recently announced his commitment to Kentucky at KSBar, picking the Cats over Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, and Clemson. Last year he teamed with Walker Parks to form one of the best offensive line duos in state history. Parks is now at Clemson.
Crowdus starred for the Broncos as a sophomore, catching 37 passes for 831 yards and 11 TDs. He played his junior season at IMG Academy in Florida before transferring back to Fredrick Douglass. He is the second-highest ranked player in Kentucky (Rivals) and recently picked the Cats over Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, and a host of other schools.
IMG to the HOUSE!
Dekel Crowdus returns a punt for 92 yards to give the Ascenders a boost ?
— Who's Next (@WhosNextHS) September 14, 2019
Key is the state’s highest-rated junior wideout in the class of 2022. Last year he led the Broncos in receptions (33), receiving yards (545) and receiving TDs (8), including one of the best catches I have ever witnessed in person.
He is being recruited by Kentucky along with several other major schools. His father, Donte Key, played linebacker for the Cats in the 90s.
Another standout junior with UK connections is Ty Bryant. His father, Cisco Bryant, played at UK in the 80s. Ty was second on the team in tackles last year and has several Power 5 offers. Senior RB Darius Neal also returns after leading the Broncos in rushing touchdowns last year with 13. His brother, Devin, graduated last year and is now playing for Baylor. Sophomores Thomas Howard (TE) and Isaiah Kennedy (CB) also received offers from UK. Howard has committed to play baseball at UofL. He caught 5 touchdown passes last season.
North Hardin is led by UK commits Jordan Lovett and La’Vell Wright and Tulane commit Michael Lunz. All are top 10 seniors in the state. Lovett, the top DB prospect in Kentucky, recorded 15 interceptions last season. His matchup with Key or Crowdus will be something to keep an eye on. Wright, who committed to UK on KSR, ran for 1,819 yards and 25 TDs on 259 carries last season. He was also a versatile threat out of the backfield. North Hardin’s pipeline to UK includes current players Octavious Oxendine and Isaiah Beasley and former star QB Andre Woodson, among others.
The talent and star power for Frederick Douglass has been evident the past few seasons, but back-to-back playoff heartbreakers make it seem like they left golden opportunities on the table. In 2018, the Broncos fell at home to district rival Scott County 28-27 in the 2nd round, a few weeks after defeating the Cardinals 28-10 during the regular season. The Broncos couldn’t contain their Wing T running attack. Fans were also left wondering what would have happened had star running back Demarco Fishback got a few more touches in crunch time. He gained 172 yards on only 14 carries but was not utilized as much down the stretch. Trailing 28-27, Douglass opted to go for two with 2:25 remaining and tried an unsuccessful reverse pass instead of handing the ball off to Fishback.
Last season, the Broncos made it all the way to the 5A championship game before falling to Covington Catholic 14-7 at Kroger Field. Despite playing strong defense and getting some timely runs from Devin Neal, the Broncos simply could not get the passing game going. At halftime I expected to see some adjustments made in the passing game, but they failed to find a rhythm. Michael Mayer, now a TE at Notre Dame, was excellent for the Colonels in that contest. He helped will Cov. Cath to victory.
Offensive coordinator Nate McPeek was named the head coach in February. With the Frederick Douglass population growing (how in the world are they not 6A yet?!) and knowing they will one day have to deal with the likes of Trinity and Male, this year seems like the time to strike while the iron is hot and break through for their first state championship.