Nothing could go right for Owensboro.
The western Kentucky rivalry was owned by Owensboro Catholic in the first half at Steele Stadium. The Aces picked off a pass, they stuffed the Red Devils on fourth down and perfectly executed a trick play to take an early 7-0 lead in Kroger’s KSR Game of the Week.
Highly-touted quarterback Gavin Wimsatt had completed just 4-of-15 passes when the Red Devils got the ball the ball on their own 22-yard line with 54.7 remaining in the first half. Backed into a corner, Wimsatt never panicked.
“Settle down,” was the message the quarterback shared with his teammates. “We were making too many mental mistakes. We had to settle down, take deep breaths and get comfortable.”
They got comfortable quickly. Less than 40 seconds later the Red Devils tied the ballgame. The incredible drive was the catalyst to a 28-14 Owensboro victory.
Wimsatt, the No. 37 football recruit in the 2022 recruiting class and nation’s second-ranked dual-threat quarterback, connected with Ben Flaherty twice on that impressive drive. One was a beautiful pass down the far sideline that floated right over a defender’s fingertips as Flaherty twisted in midair to haul in the 33-yard reception. A few plays later Wimsatt was asked to put some mustard on the ball, delivering a laser in between the corner and safety to Flaherty, who hung on despite the big hit for a 20-yard score.
“I know he’s going to go up and get it. Out chemistry, I know he’s going to catch mostly everything I throw.” Wimsatt was correct — the senior wide receiver caught just about everything thrown his way. Flaherty finished the night with five receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
The final drive of the first half erased all the good will Owensboro Catholic built up in the first 22 minutes of the game. They let Wimsatt into his zone. From that point forward there was no stopping him.
“It definitely gets me into a zone. I started getting more confident and getting my flow going.”
Starting with the final first half scoring drive, Wimsatt completed 13 of his final 17 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. The Red Devils received the ball to start the second half and got into the end zone in less than two minutes, with Wimsatt finding Flaherty for a 37-yard touchdown.
Owensboro rattled off two more scores — a beautiful catch in the corner of the end zone by Treyvon Tinsley and a powerful rushing score by linebacker Austin Gough — before the Aces would respond, finding the end zone with a minute to play to make it a 28-14 final score. The Red Devils’ victory secured a City-County Championship for the second straight season.
“It’s a big win, definitely,” said Wimsatt. “We haven’t beaten Catholic at their house in four years, so it feels really good.”
Owensboro Catholic came ready to play in the rivalry game. What the 2A school lacked in numbers, they made up for with physical, smart football.
The Red Devils tried to catch the Aces off guard with an onside kick on the opening play of the game. Catholic High recovered to win the early field position battle. They did not score on the ensuing drive — a fake punt pass was destined for six points but under-thrown — but they kept the game in Red Devil territory for most of the first half.
The Aces used a little trickery to get onto the scoreboard. Following a defensive stop, they started a drive near midfield. Wide receiver/running back Braden Mundy took the pitch on a reverse and had three targets streaking wide open down the field. The three-sport star took the most difficult route possible and let it rip toward the end zone, connecting with Reid Clark for a 37-yard touchdown.
Mundy led the Aces in rushing and receiving, with 62 yards on 11 rushing attempts and four receptions for 45 yards. Chris Boarman scored Owensboro Catholic’s fourth quarter touchdown. The two-way star also recorded ten tackles, two for loss.
Owensboro Catholic began the rivalry game punching the Red Devils in the mouth. In order to eventually avenge the season-ending loss to Frederick Douglass in the Class 5A, Owensboro can’t afford anymore slow starts.
“We just came out flat,” said Wimsatt. “When we play like we did in the second half, just catching everything and blocking great, I think we can be really good. We can play to our top potential if we just keep playing that way and practicing hard.”
The Red Devils have the offensive weapons. Defensively, Gough and sophomore line Sahvon Hines have the playmaking ability to slow down opponents, but they are far from a finished product. In order to achieve their ultimate goal, there’s plenty of work to be done.
“Our long-term goal is win state,” said Wimsatt. “We’re working everyday, practicing hard to get to that point where we can win state. One of ours was win City-County, which we just did by beating Catholic, and just get better. We want to play to our full potential by the end of the season. When it gets playoff time we want to start playing more consistent.”