Teams to Watch
Male, District Three- Led by one of Louisville’s top commits, Keion Wakefield, Male is one of the top teams in 6A. Male has reloaded at several key positions, including quarterback. Last year’s QB, Davis Mattingly, is now at UK and Hayden Shelton has taken over under center. Shelton is more athletic than Mattingly, which will play well into how Male will play on offense. With Shelton, Wakefield, and receiver Zackey Smith, the Male offense will put up large amounts of points in a hurry. Shelton will also have a safety valve in his first season with tight end Ethan Britt returning. Britt caught 57 passes last year for ten touchdowns. The only time Male allowed more than 21 points was to Trinity (twice). The defense will look to carry Male past Trinity and win a regional title.
Trinity, District Four- Just like Male, Trinity has reloaded after a successful season. Trinity lost five games last year, but managed to win their 23rd title. Trinity has lots of options in terms of athletes to get the ball to on offense. Rodjay Burns is extremely talented and has committed to Louisville. He will also return punts and play defensive back for the Shamrocks. Jake Woosley will be the starting quarterback for Trinity as a senior. He will be looking towards Burns and Jailen Reed as his main targets. The Trinity defense returns Damon Lowe and Conner Foos from their state championship team.
DuPont Manual, District Three- Yet another team from Louisville-area that will look to compete for a 6A Title is Manual. With games against Male and St. X in district play, Manual will have their work cut out for them yet again. The Crimsons went 8-4 last year and lost to St. X in the second round of the postseason. The tough schedule will be made easier by two key returning players in QB Tim Comstock and RB Reece West. Manual will look to piece together a better season in 2015. They lost heart-breakers to Trinity, Male, and St. X last year. All of those losses could be flipped with the talent Manual has returning. Louisville-commit Derek Dorsey will anchor an experienced defense that looks to get past the second round of the postseason.
McCracken County, District One- Perhaps the best team outside of Louisville, MCHS has plenty of talent to compete in an extremely difficult class. The key for the Mustangs will be dual-threat quarterback Zy’Aire Hughes. While throwing for 1,135 yards last season, Hughes also ran for 585 yards and 11 touchdowns. Along with Hughes, McCracken County returns quarterback Cash Jones. MCHS will at times move Hughes to the receiver position and put Jones under center. Jones threw for 2,289 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore. The Mustangs will look to build around Hughes and Jones through a schedule that appears to have many winnable games before the playoffs.
Players to Watch
Keion Wakefield, Wide Receiver Male- The Lousiville-commit was District Player of the Year last season, and he returns looking to lead his team to a state title. Wakefield has a combined 25 touchdowns and 1,624 yards in the last two seasons. Wakefield is one of the quickest players in the state (4.56 40) and received offers from schools such as Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Purdue before committing to Louisville.
Landon Young, O-Line Lafayette- The consensus top prospect in the state and top commit for UK, Young comes in at 6’7″ and 270 lb. Young will play in the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this year and received offers from some of the biggest schools in the country while being committed to Kentucky. Young is very athletic and has fantastic footwork. Much like Drake Jackson, Young is worth the price of admission.
Zy’Aire Hughes, Athlete McCracken County – I use the term “athlete,” because that’s the only way you can describe UK’s most versatile football commitment in the Class of 2016. He was ranked in the Top 15 of all six class in passing AND receiving last year. It will be amazing to see what kind of numbers he can put up in 2015.
Trey’s Pick- Trinity will find a way to beat Male once again and win their 24th state title.
Nick’s Pick- I really, REALLY don’t want to pick Trinity, but I would rather look competent.
4A and 5A after The Jump…
Teams to Watch
Bowling Green, District Two- The Purples lost in the postseason for the first time in four years last season with a 7-0 defeat to Graves County. There will be a new QB in Bowling Green, with Clark Payne behind center. The Purples return two of the best running backs in the area with Jacob Yates and Jamele Carothers. The stars in the backfield will be protected by WKU-commit Jordan Meredith. Bowling Green is known for having a fantastic defense who can shut down the best teams in the state. Tre Fant will play full time at the cornerback position, and Jake Bush and Andrew Spader will see more playing time as well. The Purples won three straight state titles from 2012-14 and will look to return to that level again in 2015.
Pulaski County, District Seven- Pulaski County has made it to the state finals in back-to-back seasons, winning last year. Somehow, the Maroons return 19 starters from the 2015 state championship team. The two biggest players coming back are quarterback Riley Hall and wide receiver Jake Johnson. I watched Hall when he was a sophomore against Bowling Green, and he is crazy talented. He is a spectacular QB, and Johnson is a great target for him. Hall missed five games last season, but returned to lead the Maroons to a championship. Pulaski County pitched three shutouts last season and allowed only seven points in both the semifinals and finals. Nine starters from that defense return to lead Pulaski County.
Highlands, District Five- A perennial powerhouse in 4A, Highlands has been bumped back up to 5A entering the 2015 season. They enter their first season as one of the favorites to contend for a title. Quarterback Austin Hergott has already committed to Central Michigan, replacing BYU signee Beau Hoge. Hergott has seen limited playing time, but he looks like a perfect fit for the Highlands offense based on his tape. Hergott will be protected by 300 lb lineman Bo Hebel. Running back Nick Kendall saw lots of time in the backfield last year, and Mitchell Cain returns as a target for Hergott.
Christian County, District One- This district is crazy loaded with Owensboro and Graves County competing with Christian County. The Colonels are very athletic and can get up and down the field in a hurry. CCHS is very young, but they will be very competitive in 2015. The big time stars will by junior Keyron Catlett and sophomore Kolbe Langhi on offense. Catlett caught 12 touchdowns as a sophomore and received a scholarship offer from Arkansas State. His quarterback for 2015 will be Langhi, who started as a freshman and will take the reigns once again.
Players to Watch
Riley Hall, Quarterback Pulaski County- As a sophomore, Hall threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. His teammates dubbed him “Riley Football” due to his Johnny Manziel comparisons. Hall ran for 962 yards as a sophomore in 2013 and 252 in an injured 2014 season. He is very elusive and can throw very well on the run. Hall has already set school records in completions, yards, and touchdowns at Pulaski County.
Drake Jackson, Lineman Woodford County- Much like Kash Daniel, Jackson’s is a name that should be familiar with Kentucky fans. The offensive lineman committed to Kentucky following his junior season. He is ranked as the number two player in the state and the number two center in the country. Woodford County may not be a competitor for the 5A State Title, but it will be worth the price of admission just to watch Jackson protect his backfield in 2015.
Trey’s Pick- I may be in the minority, but I like Pulaski County to repeat. Riley Hall is a straight baller and will lead the Maroons to a title despite Highlands being on their side of the bracket.
Nick’s Pick- It’s tough to pick against the BlueBirds, so I won’t. Ft. Thomas will win 5A.
Teams to Watch
South Warren, District Two- The alma mater of Kentucky DT Adrian Middleton, the Spartans are known for being a defensive powerhouse in southern Kentucky. South Warren moved up to 4A after allowing the fewest points in 3A last season and scoring the most. The Spartans were a win away from the state finals, but a 16-14 loss to Central in the semifinals ended their season. On defense, South Warren is led by linebacker Austin McElwain. The three-year starter has excellent vision and can play well in coverage. On offense, quarterback Ryder Litten returns from leading his team to a 13-1 record last year. The Spartans are known for having a versatile offense, and Litten can run just as well as he can throw. South Warren has had a varsity program since 2011, and this will be a big fifth year for the Spartans.
Johnson Central, District Eight- Much like South Warren, Johnson Central went undefeated in the regular season only to lose in the postseason. JCHS was upset by Covington Catholic in the second round of the tournament and finished the season at 11-1. Led by linebacker Geordan Blanton, the Golden Eagles never allowed more than 19 points in a game last season. On offense, Bryce Workman returns at quarterback for an offense that relied on their ground game last season. The top returning rusher is Bryce Skaggs, but Workman will also help carry the rushing attack.
John Hardin, District Three- John Hardin is entering their first year in 4A after being a top team in 5A for the last seven years. Last season got off to a rocky start with four straight losses, but the Bulldogs regrouped and made it to their seventh straight state semifinals appearance. The semifinals streak includes several tough losses to formal 5A rival Bowling Green, so the Bulldogs will be happy to not have to play the Purples again in the postseason. Last year was looked at as a rebuilding year with lots of young talent, and John Hardin managed to win seven games and reach the semifinals. Lots of that talent returns with running backs Antonio Ayers, Korie Cleveland, and Robert Shorter leading the way.
Ashland Blazer, District Eight- Led by Mr. Football candidate and former Kentucky recruit Quinton Baker, Ashland looks primed to compete for a title in 2015. Baker led the team in rushing with 1,719 yards last season, including 239 (!) against Highlands in the playoffs (More on Baker below). Lineman Taylor Broughton and Clay Goble return on the offensive and defensive lines for a team that will look to move past the second round of the state tournament.
Players to Watch
Quinton Baker, RB Ashland Blazer- The Marshall commit has garnered a lot of attention after decommitting from Kentucky last season. The senior running back also plays defensive back for Ashland, but he is being recruited as a running back with six scholarship offers. Baker is crazy fast and ran a 4.47 40-yard dash. Look for Baker is compete for Mr. Football in 2015.
Logan Holbrook, RB Spencer County- Perhaps the second best running back in the class, Holbrook ran for 1,409 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior. For his career, Holbrook has run for over 3,000 yards and totaled 45 touchdowns. Holbrook was named to the All-Metro Team by The Courier Journal after attending the Nike Elite Camp this summer. The talented running back will help Spencer County compete in a difficult district.
Trey’s Pick- John Hardin returns a slew of talent after reaching the semifinals with only seven wins. I’m taking them to get over the hump and win the 2015 4A State Title.
Nick’s Pick- Defense wins Championships and South Warren is stout enough to pull off the fantastic feat.