MI High School Football Preview 2022

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Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL 2022 PREVIEW

Tackle Master

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC LINEBACKER VINCE CARRICO Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com

Aces’ sophomore Carrico setting new standards on defense BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

hat Vince Carrico was able to do in 2021 as a freshman linebacker at Owensboro Catholic is, quite frankly, mind-boggling to most anyone who has been a longtime obser ver of the high school football scene in Kentucky — generally speaking, it just doesn’t happen. Ah, but Carrico’s accomplishments did happen — among them, a state-best 199 total tackles in 13 games, an eye-popping average of 15.3 tackles per game, which ranked fourth in the state, and eight forced fumbles, which was second in the commonwealth. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Carrico, after some initial growing pains,

came on like gangbusters for “I kept working at it, though, and the Aces, who rallied after an 0-5 with the help of my coaches and my start to win seven teammates, I felt like consecutive games got better each week, and reach the KHSAA and the better I got “I realized I had the Class 2-A Region 1 the more confidence size and strength to championship game. I played with — that “I realized pretty play at this level, I felt all sort of goes hand quickly that playing in hand as the season like I had great field at the varsity level goes along. vision, and I was able was a lot different “I realized I had the to get to the football than playing in middle size and strength to school,” said Carrico, play at this level, I felt with regularity.” whose older brother, like I had great field Tut, a junior, is also — Vince Carrico vision, and I was able a star for the Aces. to get to the football OCHS Linebacker “Ever yone is bigger, with regularity.” stronger, more But, still, 199 tackles athletic. It’s also a lot more complex from a youngster with a career-best overall, and I did struggle with that clocking of 4.8 in the 40-yard dash? in the early going. “I was just going out and playing

the games each week,” Carrico said. “I guess I was a little surprised to make that many tackles, but I really wasn’t keeping up with it. I was just tr ying to get to the football on ever y play, help my team win games and let the numbers fall where they may.” Carrico’s remarkably consistent and productive play impressed many; none more than Aces head coach Jason Morris. “Pound for pound, Vince is the strongest football player I’ve ever coached at Owensboro Catholic,” Morris said. “He has the ability to play ever y position on the field, including quarterback. He has an even-keeled mindset and possesses some of the best vision and instincts SEE CARRICO/PAGE S2


S2 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

City-County grid teams appear stout

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ew things in sports still won some big games are as exciting as the and finished 6-5; and start of a high school Owensboro Catholic went football season, and 7-6, rallying furiously and there are a variety impressively after of reasons to believe losing its first five that the excitement games of the season. held by all four teams The cumulative in the City-County — record for Owensboro, Daviess City-County teams, County, Owensboro meanwhile, was a Catholic and Apollo — ver y impressive is justifiably warranted 36-15, with a JIM this fall. PICKENS combined record of Each of these teams 7-4 in the playoffs. has the capability of OHS, by virtue of a being ver y good, indeed. stupendous 49-42 conquest In 2021, in fact, three of of Daviess County in Week these teams — Owensboro, 3, went on to win the Daviess County and coveted City-County title in Owensboro Catholic — won unbeaten fashion (3-0), and at least two postseason was followed by DC (2-1), games and competed for Apollo (1-2) and Catholic a regional championship. (0-3). The Red Devils, of course, Not surprisingly, the accomplished even more, Red Devils will be favored advancing to the KHSAA to win big again in 2022 Class 5-A semifinal round. — still in search of the Also last fall, Owensboro proud program’s first state won 12 games, including championship since 1986. 10 straight (losing two), Coach Jay Fallin’s team Daviess County won 11 returns senior quarterback games, including nine Kasey Boone, who replaced straight (losing two). Apollo departed superstar Gavin had an uneven season, but Wimsatt and directed the

team’s long winning streak. carr yover will help the Also back is breakaway team succeed again in threat Kenyata Carbon, a 2022. Other reasons for trio of talented receivers optimism include the return in Jeremiah of dynamic Goodwin, running back Khalil Rogers Br yson Parm, In 2021, in fact, and Ethan breakaway three of these Pendleton, along receiving teams — with defensive threat Decker stalwarts such Owensboro, Daviess Renfrow, as Zach Clark, four-year County and Xander Early, Owensboro Catholic starting Goodwin and lineman Issac — won at least two Blue, a massive Sahvon Hines. Place-kicker offensive postseason games Drew Lanz and competed for a line and an is among the ever-improvregional state’s best. ing defensive championship. The Solid? unit. Ever-speedy Apollo, Red Devils, of Owensboro now in its course, is the ver y third season accomplished even definition of solid with coach more, advancing to John Edge — but the Devils the KHSAA Class 5-A at the helm, are not alone in this regard. has made semifinal round. Daviess significant County went strides with to another level as a Class regard to winning big games 6-A program last fall, and over the past two seasons, despite the loss of superstar and the Eagles seem primed QB Joe Humphreys, to make a statement this Panthers coach Matt fall. Senior quarterback Brannon believes the Christian Combs will

lead a balanced offense that figures to put a lot of points on the board. Noah Rhinerson is a multifaceted threat on offense, and the return of linebacker Morgan Eans bodes ver y well for the defense. Owensboro Catholic returns a host of talented players, including sophomore linebacker Vince Carrico, who led the state in total tackles a year ago. Coach Jason Morris and the Aces will be counting heavily on the production and leadership of new starting quarterback Brady Atwell, versatile two-way standout Tut Carrico and a quickto-the-ball defense in their attempt to become a contender for the program’s first-ever Class 2-A state championship. Solid? Each of these City-County teams appear to be solid, which equates to loads of anticipation, intrigue and excitement this fall for area high school football fans. Let’s kick this thing off.

CARRICO

“ Once we got on a roll we were hard to stop — I think that strong, traditional Catholic High pride and mentality kicked in pretty well the second half of the season.”

FROM PAGE S1 I’ve ever seen. “He gets after it on ever y play, and he wants more than anything else to play for the team, to find a way to win the football game. That’s his mindset.” Carrico is quick to give credit to sibling Tut for his development as a player and person. “We’ve always been ver y close,” he said. “We work out together a lot, and we’re always pushing each other to be the best we can be, on the field and off. We’re a great team, really, and I’ve benefitted from him being a year ahead of me. Tut’s always helped me know what to expect as I’ve moved up the ranks.” Carrico never wavered, meanwhile, when Catholic came out of the gate so slow in his first varsity campaign. “I wasn’t worried,” he said. “We weren’t winning for a long stretch there, but my teammates and I could sense that we were getting better each week. “We had good leadership from the

— Vince Carrico OCHS linebacker

Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Owensboro Catholic’s Vince Carrico stretches during a recent practice at Steele Stadium. upperclassmen, and this was a team that just wasn’t going to give in. Once we got on a roll we were hard to stop — I think that strong, traditional Catholic High pride

and mentality kicked in pretty well the second half of the season.” Last year’s success notwithstanding, Carrico is well aware of areas in his game that can be improved.

“My pass defense can improve, for sure, and that’s something I’m really focusing on,” said Carrico, who is also ticketed for serious time at running back this fall.

“Also, I struggled at times against some of the (physically) bigger teams we went up against, had some trouble fighting off blocks, so I lifted weights five days a

week in the offseason, and I’ve become a lot stronger because of it.” Carrico believes the Aces will be a better team in 2022. “I think if we hang together and stay healthy there’s a chance for a state championship, I really do,” he said. “Individually, I guess I’d like to make even more tackles than I made last year, and I would like to be All-State as a sophomore, which would be a major accomplishment. “Other wise, I feel a responsibility to always improve our culture at Owensboro Catholic — to make it a better place to go to school, to play football. There’s a lot of great histor y here, and I just want to do my best to add to it.”

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Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

Apollo head coach John Edge goes over defensive assignments during practice on July 27 at Eagle Stadium.

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Photos by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Apollo seeks another upward climb

Eagles went 6-5 in uneven ‘21 season

EAGLES’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT Aug. 19..................... Owensboro Catholic . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 26 ....................at Owensboro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 2 ......................Central Hardin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 9 ......................at North Hardin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 16 ...................Meade County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 23 ...................at McCracken County. . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 7......................... Henderson County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 14 ......................Marshall County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 21....................... at Daviess County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 28....................... at Greenwood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

espite an uneven 2021 season that featured a 1-2 start, five consecutive victories and a three-game losing streak to close things out, the Apollo High School football team took another significant step in the right direction, according to head coach John Edge. “The needle moved north for us last year, no doubt about it,” said Edge, whose 2020 Eagles went 5-4 and registered City-County wins over arch-rival Daviess County and Owensboro Catholic. “We beat some quality teams, such as Henderson County and McCracken County, and had a winning record in our (KHSAA) Class 6-A district. “We’ve also moved forward as a program since the end of last season. There was great buy-in during the spring, we played well in the 7-on-7 competitions this summer — we’re ready. As a program, we’re beginning to play with confidence, beginning to understand what it takes to win big games.”

OFFENSE

Edge is excited about the return of senior quarterback Christian Combs, who should be better-suited for the physical rigors of 6-A high school football. “He’s put on 25 pounds of muscle,” Edge said of Combs, who completed 145-of-229 aerials for 1,941 yards and 19 touchdowns last fall. “Being bigger will

Coach John Edge

DEFENSE

The Eagles’ 3-4 set will be anchored by junior end Cole Whitledge, senior end Dant, and senior nose tackle Devon Parm. Howard, Green and sophomore Brandon Gardner will also see action up front. Leading returning tackler Morgan Eans, a senior who had 97 stops, including a team-best 20 for loss, leads a linebacker group that includes senior Lucas Shown, junior JT Sanders and sophomore Jamison Brown. Senior Carter Lamb and sophomore Tavius Walker will also play. Apollo will feature a deep secondary that will include sophomore Niles Board, senior Seth Morris, Velotta, junior Bradin Fountain, senior Alex Fry and freshman Ehmad Jai Badger. Junior John Alexander will also get a long look. “It’s pretty simple on defense,” Edge said. “We want to get to the football quickly Apollo quarterback Christian Combs throws to receivers during practice July 27 at and make things happen, Eagle Stadium. create some really help him this fall.” includes seniors Carter sophomore Carson Carter. turnovers Apollo is also set at Contratto and Bryson “I think we’re going and turn the running back, with the Velotta, along with junior to score a lot of points, I momentum of the game return of senior Donte Eli Masterson. Also in really, I really do,” Edge our way. Dixon (451 yards, 6 TDs the mix are juniors Ethan said. “We’re ready to take “We have a lot of guys in ‘21) and junior Zion Berry and Mason Green. the next step and be truly who can play. Once we get Tutt. Sophomore Brock Front-runners explosive, like some of our personnel settled, we’re Burger will also carry the competing for starting the (Owensboro Catholic) going to be pretty good on ball. spots on the line are teams I coached in the that side of the line.” Last year’s leading senior Kaidhyn Stockdale, past. rusher, multifaceted junior senior Kadin Howard, “We should be very SPECIAL TEAMS Noah Rhinerson, is part senior Bradyn Dant, balanced, which will really Perhaps no team in of a receiving corps that junior Noah Dilbeck and help us.” Kentucky was hit harder

Christian Combs

Donte Dixon

Morgan Eans

Devon Parm

TIME 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m.

via graduation in this area than Apollo, which must find replacements for exceptional place-kicker and punter Harrison Bowman. “I’m not going to deny it, losing a great special teams player like Harrison really hurts,” Edge said, “but at the same time we’ve got kids ready to step in and try to fill those roles.” Sophomore Emmitt Brock will handle place-kicking chores, with both Brock and Combs slated to punt. Dixon, Board and Rhinerson provide AHS with breakaway potential in the return game.

OUTLOOK

Edge believes the Eagles are primed to once again move the needle north. “I really think we’re in a position to take another step forward, to move in the right direction,” Edge said. “We have returning players who know what it takes to succeed at a high level, and we have younger players who are eager to be part of something special out here. “Generally speaking, the attitudes are very, very good out here, and the vibe is very positive. We just need to keep working, keep believing and keep coaching these guys up to reach the next level.”

Noah Rhinerson


S4 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

Daviess County’s Tyce Beehn, left, leads teammates over blocking dummies at football practice July 27 at Reid Stadium.

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Panthers eye another banner year

Daviess won 11 of 13 games last fall BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

aviess County lost one of the most dynamic offensive players in the nation to graduation in the form of quarterback Joe Humphreys, who in 2021 passed for a whopping 3,940 yards and 48 touchdowns as the Panthers went 11-2 and reached the Class 6-A Region 1 title game before being knocked out by eventual state champion St. Xavier. Also lost was offensive coordinator Jordan Leach, who accepted a position on the coaching staff at Bowling Green High School. Despite it all, DCHS head coach Matt Brannon believes his team can put together another outstanding season this fall. “We’ll go into the first week of the season with a new look, which will be a good transition for us, with some different ideas,” Brannon said. “It’s forcing us to do things a little differently this year. “We lost a lot of quality production, for sure, but we return a lot of production, too, including running back Bryson Parm, who missed most of last season with (a collarbone) injury.”

OFFENSE

Senior Jack Ball and junior Lake Wilson will handle the quarterback chores and direct the Panthers’ Multiple Pro Style offense. The key figure in that offense will be Parm, a battle-tested senior who rushed for 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns in eight games as a sophomore in 2020. “Bryson is a dynamic football player, and we’re happy to have him back healthy and ready to go,” Brannon said. “He’s a complete back who can run the ball, catch the ball, and block — a true big-play type of player.” Others who will carry the ball include senior power back Damarien Garner and junior speedster Sam Oberst. DC’s top returning receiver is senior deep threat Decker Renfrow, who caught 60 passes for 1,067 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall. Also back is third-down specialist Luke Floyd (7 TDs), a junior, along with senior tight end Cole Burch. Juniors Russ Crowe and Luke Hagedorn are also in the mix. Four-year starter Isaac Blue, a senior center, anchors a massive line that also includes junior right tackle Ryder Cunningham,

PANTHERS’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT TIME Aug. 19 .................................Meade County .........................................................7 p.m. Aug. 26.................................. at Owensboro Catholic .......................................7 p.m. Sept. 2 ...................................at Owensboro ..........................................................7 p.m. Sept. 9 ...................................at Ryle ..........................................................................6 p.m. Sept. 16 ................................Madisonville-North Hopkins .............................7 p.m. Sept. 23 ................................at Marshall County .................................................7 p.m. Sept. 30 ................................McCracken County................................................ 7 p.m. Oct. 14 ...................................at Henderson County ...........................................7 p.m. Oct. 21 ...................................Apollo ..........................................................................7 p.m. Oct. 28 ...................................at Warren East ..........................................................7 p.m.

Coach Matt Brannon

Jack Ball

senior left tackle Preston Crosley, senior left guard Miles Miller and senior right guard Braden Boling. Key subs are senior Jaxon Winkler and junior Gil Nicodemus. “We’ll be more a controlled offense this season,” Brannon said. “We want to slow the game down and take our shots where we can. We’ll run the ball more, which will take some pressure off the quarterback.”

DEFENSE

Five players are expected to see action up front in the Panthers’ 3-4 set, including junior Sam Clark, Boling, senior Elijah Moore, Garner and Nicodemus. Linebackers include Blue, Burch, Ball, senior Tyce Beehn and Floyd. DC’s secondary will feature safeties Renfrow, senior Eli King and junior Connor White, along with cornerbacks Hagedorn and Crowe. “Last season, we leaned on the strength of our secondary and linebacking corps,” Brannon said. “This year, our strength and experience will be our front seven. This will be more slow, more controlling, more smash-mouth football from our big boys up front. “We’re capable of having a big season on the defensive side; it’s just going to be a different style compared to last year’s group.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Daviess appears set with senior veteran Sean Higgs handling the place-kicking duties and Wilson set as punter. Kick returns will be handled by breakaway threats Renfrow and Parm, with Hagedorn and Crowe ticketed to return punts. “I feel good about our special teams personnel,” Brannon said.

Isaac Blue

Daviess County’s Decker Renfrow catches a pass from the JUGS machine at football practice on July 27 at Reid Stadium. “We try to be creative in our kick return game, and it’s proved to be pretty huge for us — we want to dominate this area of the game.”

OUTLOOK

Football participation is booming at DC, which features 52 freshman and over 100 individuals in the program. “We’re really excited about our players, and we

Bryson Parm

Decker Renfrow

are progressing faster than we expected,” Brannon said. “Overall, the excitement that was created last year has carried over, and we certainly want to make the most of the momentum that’s been generated. “We have a strong group of senior leaders and a lot players eager to leave their marks on the program — we have the formula for great success.”

Lake Wilson


Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

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Photos by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com

Owensboro head football coach Jay Fallin coaches his team during a practice July 27 at Rash Stadium.

Red Devils are hungry for more

OHS reached 5-A semifinals last fall BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

funny thing happened to the Owensboro High School football team on their way to oblivion last year, following the early-season decision of Kentucky Mr. Football candidate Gavin Wimsatt to depart OHS and enroll early at Rutgers University. Instead of folding their tents, the ever-resilient Red Devils chose instead to flourish, finishing 12-2, winning 10 consecutive games and reaching the semifinal round of the KHSAA Class 5-A playoffs — a year after finishing runner-up to state champion Bowling Green. “It speaks volumes about how our kids handle their business — and to the culture of this program,” Owensboro head coach Jay Fallin said. “This is why we try to develop the whole team. We had individuals step up and respond to big challenges, our coaching staff continued to work every day, and the run we were able to go on sets an overwhelmingly positive tone for the future.”

OFFENSE

Last fall, no one stepped up more than quarterback Kasey Boone, who stepped out of

Wimsatt’s formidable shadow to complete 92-of-153 passes for 1,430 yards and 23 touchdowns. Now, Boone returns for his senior season. “We always knew he was capable,” Fallin said of Boone. “We were confident he would be ready when called upon, but he exceeded my expectations. The quarterback is the straw that stirs the drink in our offense, and we expect another big season from Kasey.” The Devils’ relentless running game, meanwhile, will be paced by Kenyata Carbon, a tough, strong, speedy senior capable of going the distance every time he touches the ball. Despite missing four games to injury last fall, Carbon rushed for 681 yards on just 69 carries and scored 12 TDs. He also caught six passes for 103 yards and three scores. Sophomore Deion Winstead and freshman Evan Hampton also figure to play major backfield roles. Key receivers include the dynamic senior trio of Jeremiah Goodwin (34 receptions, 586 yards, eight touchdowns), Khalil Rogers (38-532-7) and Ethan Pendleton (28-30-7). Senior Gus Cecil will also make an impact. Up front, OHS will go with junior center Jerrick Williams, senior guard Bronson Miller, sophomore guard Jakoven Curry, junior tackle Jakson Lindsey and senior tackle Troy Miller.

RED DEVILS’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT TIME Aug. 19 .................................at St. Xavier ..........................................................6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 .................................Apollo ..........................................................................7 p.m. Sept. 2 ...................................Daviess County ........................................................7 p.m. Sept. 9 ...................................at Owensboro Catholic ........................................7 p.m. Sep 16.................................... Breckinridge County ............................................7 p.m. Sept. 23 ................................Ohio County .............................................................7 p.m. Sept. 29 ................................at Muhlenberg County........................................ 7 p.m. Oct. 14 ...................................Graves County .........................................................7 p.m. Oct. 21 ...................................at Grayson County .................................................7 p.m. Oct. 28 ...................................at Henderson County ...........................................7 p.m.

Coach Jay Fallin

Kasey Boone

Owensboro’s Kenyata Carbon carries the ball during drills July 27 at Rash Stadium. “We scored a program-record 635 points last year, and at the start of the season the offense will be our strength,” Fallin said. “We have experience and talent across the board, so I expect big things from this group.”

Owensboro with 101 tackles, while intercepting three passes and returning all for touchdowns. Others will be Carbon, senior Kanye Johnson, junior Javion Robinson, sophomore Israel Carter Swanagan, sophomore Jashaun Robinson and junior Taveon Bennett. “We have high expectations — we have a lot of talent all around,” Fallin said of the defensive unit. “We have a lot of experience at most positions, we need some seasoning at others. And, we’re as deep as we’ve been in a long time.”

very solid, and we have kick returners who can reach the end zone from any spot on the field — this is a strong group.”

OUTLOOK

Still in search of the program’s first state championship since DEFENSE 1986, the Red Devils figure to Operating out of a multiple contend for the title again this 4-2-5 scheme, the Red Devils fall. once again figure to be “We’ve won 36 games in opportunistic on the defensive the past three years, so we’re side. a senior-laden team that has The line will feature senior enjoyed a lot of success,” end Sahvon Hines, junior end Fallin said. “Obviously, the Courtland Howard, junior nose expectations are high for our tackle Jacoryan Miller and senior football team, and we have the hybrid Goodwin, who led the SPECIAL TEAMS potential be very good. Senior Drew Lanz returns as squad in sacks (13) and tackles “The best thing about it is one of the state’s most consistent that we have guys, who despite for loss (19) a year ago. placekickers, and Goodwin is At linebacker, senior Xander all of that success, are hungry back at punter. Early and sophomore Ethan to become better and hungry The Devils’ always-potent Gough figure to be prominent, to take our program to the next return game will feature a trio with sophomores Cole Crews level. As long as we maintain of explosive game-breakers — and Dereon Crowe also in the that kind of mindset across Carbon, Rogers and Winstead. mix. the board, we’re going to be in “I feel very good about our The secondary will feature pretty good shape. special teams unit,” Fallin stat-stuffing strong safety Zach “We’re eager to get started said. “Both of our kickers are Clark, a senior who last fall led and to see what we can become.”

Kenyata Carbon

Zach Clark

Jeremiah Goodwin

Sahvon Hines


S6 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

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Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

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Photos by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Owensboro Catholic head coach Jason Morris pitches the football to quarterback Brady Atwell during practice July 25 at Steele Stadium.

Aces hoping to build on late surge

Catholic rallied in second half of ‘21

“Once we settle in on this side, we’re going to be tough.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

Senior Dominic Ranallo will handle place-kicking chores, and the kickoff duty is likely to go to freshman Andrew Gar vin. Atwell will handle the punting chores, making him a threat to run or throw the football on fourth down. Kick returners are Tut Carrico, Terr y, Clark, Will Edge, Miles Edge and Cam James. “Losing a kid like Braden Mundy is a blow to our special teams,” Morris said, “but I feel ver y good about the personnel we have. We put a lot of time in on special teams because we know it can be the difference between winning and losing.”

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t was a tale of two halves with regard to the 2021 football season for Owensboro Catholic, with a remarkable seven-game winning streak — following a 0-5 start — having Aces players, coaches and fans exceedingly optimistic about what can be accomplished this fall. “A lot of people wrote us off midway through the regular season,” Aces head coach Jason Morris said, “but we made no excuses, we believed in each other, we kept the faith, and we developed into a much better football team down the stretch. “Looking ahead, I’d say we’re right there. We feel like the way we finished the 2021 season has put us in a position to be even better this season — a good foundation has been built for us to take the next step. “We have a great environment here, and we’re ready to go.”

OUTLOOK

Catholic won two KHSAA Class 2-A postseason games Owensboro Catholic’s Noah Girten, left, and Tyler Simone go through blocking drills during practice on July last fall and would like to double that production, and 25 at Steele Stadium. then some, this time around. contenders to fill roles in the must overcome the loss of unpredictable, because I “The expectations here are secondar y, including Clark, 1,000-yard rusher Hunter see us being able to throw always high in this program, Sims, Will Edge, Roberts, Monroe, who transferred out and run the ball with great and that’s the way it should seniors Lincoln Ferguson and be,” Morris said. “We’re of the program. effectiveness. Junior Tut Carrico, “Our line is ver y solid, and I Michael Hyland and juniors tr ying to take the next step Carson Lewis and Kaiser meanwhile, will lead a see our attack as being tough up the postseason ladder, and Frick. receiving corps that will also to defend.” I believe we have the type of OFFENSE “Any time you’re returning include senior Will Edge, group to make that happen. Catholic’s dynamic attack your leading tackler, it’s a senior Tanner Roberts, DEFENSE “The goals within this will be directed by 6-foot-3, good thing, and that help sets juniors Deuce Sims and The Aces — who will program are always lofty. We 225-pound sophomore the tone and expectations for Reid Clark, along operate out of a 3-3 stack or want to win the 2-A regional quarterback Brady the entire unit,” Morris said. with sophomore 4-2-5 — were ferocious on championship and put Atwell, who went “We also return our entire speedster Warr yn defense down the stretch last ourselves in position to win 33-of-64 through Ebelhar. fall, led by 5-foot-11, 195-pound secondar y, and I expect us to the state championship. We’ll the air for 379 Up front, Catholic linebacker Vince Carrico, one be a stronger, faster and more always take it a game at a time, yards and six experienced defense than we of the commonwealth’s elite of course, but those are our T H O L I C will be talented touchdowns as A were last year. and deep, tacklers as a freshman (199 goals.” C a backup last showcasing tackles, including 16 for loss). fall. seniors His brother, Tut Carrico, “He’s as Logan Bell, and junior Eli Blair should talented a kid Chris Lewis, hold down the other DATE OPPONENT TIME as I’ve coached at Gabe Davis, Gabe linebacker posts, with L yon, Aug. 19 .................................at Apollo .....................................................................7 p.m. any position,” Morris Hodskins and Tyler Simone, Atwell and sophomore Chris Aug. 26 .................................Daviess County ........................................................7 p.m. said. “Brady has the size, juniors Major Pride and Luke Burns also in the mix. Sept. 2, ..................................at Union County ......................................................7 p.m. athleticism and skill to be a Frey and sophomore Michael On the line, Lewis, Davis, Sept. 9 ...................................Owensboro ...............................................................7 p.m. ver y special football player.” L yon. L yon and Frey will see action Sept. 16, ...............................at Christian Academy-Louisville ................6:30 p.m. Stellar sophomore Vince “I really love our chemistr y at the end slots, and at nose Sept. 23 ................................at Hancock County ................................................7 p.m. Carrico figures to be a on offense,” said Morris, guard Simone leads a group Sept. 30................................. Todd County Central ............................................7 p.m. top-tier running back, with whose unit must also that includes Hodskins, Bell Oct. 6. ....................................at Butler County ......................................................7 p.m. senior Jack Terr y, junior Eli overcome the graduation loss and junior Noah Girten. A key Oct. 21. ..................................McLean County .......................................................7 p.m. Blair, and freshman Miles of multifaceted Braden Mundy. sub along the line figures to be Oct. 28.................................... Elizabethtown .........................................................7 p.m. Edge also expected to be “We have the capability of freshman Barrett Evans. impact ball carriers. Catholic being ver y balanced and There are a host of

ACES’ SCHEDULE

Coach Jason Morris

Brady Atwell

Logan Bell

Eli Blair

Tutt Carrico

Jack Terry


S8 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

Hancock County players work on special teams during practice July 28 at Hancock County High School.

Photos by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

Senior-laden Hornets ready to go

Hancock loaded at skill positions BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

senior-laden Hancock County team means business in 2022 after winning seven games and reaching the second round of the KHSAA Class 2-A playoffs last fall. “We had a really good offseason with more players in the weight room, and we’re excited about our possibilities this season,” Hornets head coach Bobby Eubanks said. “We have a lot of talented, veteran guys with a lot of experience, and we need to take advantage of this. “Over the last several years, we’ve worked really hard to

Coach Bobby Eubanks

re-establish the culture of the program. There’s a lot of quality tradition associated with Hancock County football, and there’s definitely excitement in the air about this team. We’re ready to go.”

OFFENSE

The Hornets’ triple-option attack will be led by senior quarterback Cole Dixon, a dual threat multi-sport athlete who, in eight games, passed for 520 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 222 yards and four scores. “He’s a great leader and competitor,” Eubanks said of Dixon. “He wants to win.” One of western Kentucky’s most potent

Cole Dixon

Jack Duncan

Austin Volocko

Aiden Weatherholt

Logan Willis

Hancock County offensive coordinator Trevor Garrison instructs the line during practice July 28 at Hancock County High School. running backs, senior Logan Willis, also returns after gaining 1,197 yards and scoring 11 TDs in 2021. Others who will carr y the ball include junior Landon Garrison, senior Jack Duncan and junior Alex Basham. Seniors Kaleb Keown and Austin Volocko head the receiver corps. Each made 24 receptions and scored three TDs last fall. Also in the mix will be seniors Evan Ferr y and Braydon Wathen. Up front, Hancock will go with senior Kaleb Swihart, sophomore Aiden Thrasher, senior Aaron Garrett, sophomore Luke Pritchard and freshmen Tristan French, Lawson Ward and Cade Herndon. “We feel really good about our veteran skill people on offense — those guys have been around long enough to know what it takes to win big games,” Eubanks said. “Cole is a veteran quarterback, Logan has been a great back for us, and Keown and Volocko are dynamic receivers. “We’re a little

young on the line, but our freshmen and sophomores don’t play like underclassmen.”

DEFENSE

Hancock’s 3-3 stack will feature a veteran crew of linebackers, led by junior Aiden Weatherholt (134 tackles, 10 sacks) and Duncan (132 tackles), with Willis anchored in the middle. Sophomore Drew Liday and senior Colin Johnson will also see action. Up front will be sophomore nose tackle Aiden Embr y, Basham and Wathen. The secondar y will include Garrison, Volocko, Ferr y, freshman Cooper Jones and sophomore Hayden Shearn. “Our defense is going to be pretty solid — we’ll be difficult to block,” Eubanks said. “We fly around and get to the ball well, and we believe we can win takeaway battles, getting fumbles and interceptions. “Because of the swarming nature of our personnel, I also think we have an opportunity

to win the chain battle and get a lot of sacks in the process.”

SPECIAL TEAMS

The versatile Volocko will handle place-kicking and punting duties. “He’s a solid kicker all the way around,” Eubanks said of Volocko. “He’s ver y dependable.” Kick returners, meanwhile, will include Garrison, Volocko, the speedy Jones and fellow freshman Jack Roberts. “I believe we’re set up pretty good with our special teams,” Eubanks said. “We can change the tenor of the game with this group.”

OUTLOOK

It’s thumbs-up all the way around at Hancock

County, which still must conquer perennial power Owensboro Catholic. “Until somebody beats Catholic when it counts, they’re going to remain the team to beat in our district,” said Eubanks, whose Hornets dropped 47-0 (regular season) and 36-0 (playoffs) decisions to the Aces last fall. “At the same time, I love the look of our football team this season. We have that combination of talent and experience that gives you a chance to make a (postseason) run. “We have 16 hard-working seniors on this team who want to go out the right way, and it’s going to be interesting to see where this season takes us.”

HORNETS’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT Aug. 19 ....................at Breckinridge County . . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 26..................... at Muhlenberg County . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 2 ......................Ohio County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 9....................... Edmonson County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 16 ...................at Tell City (Ind.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 23.................... Owensboro Catholic . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 30 ...................Butler County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 6......................... at McLean County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 21....................... at Todd County Central. . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 28....................... Louisville Holy Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

TIME 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m.


Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

S9

Photos by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com

McLean County’s players warm up under the direction of head coach Zach Wagner with sprints before a weightlifting session on July 26 at McLean County High School.

Cougars hoping to finish stronger

McLean failed to reach playoffs last fall

end of last season; now, we just need for that to translate to success on the field of play.”

COUGARS’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT Aug. 19..................... at Ohio County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 26 ....................Breckinridge County. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 2 ......................Grayson County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 9....................... at Muhlenberg County . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 16 ...................Todd County Central . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 23.................... at Butler County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 30 ...................at Allen County-Scottsville . . . . . . . . Oct. 6 ........................Hancock County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 21 ......................at Owensboro Catholic . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 28 ......................Hopkins County Central . . . . . . . . . . .

OFFENSE

Running the show for McLean County’s hybrid Wing-T will be junior BY JIM PICKENS quarterback Brodie Cline, MESSENGER-INQUIRER who passed for 810 yards cLean County and four touchdowns last started fast and fall. faded late during “We feel good about an uncharacteristic Brodie back there,” season for the Cougars Wagner said. “He comes in 2021, and head from a football family, and coach Zach Wagner will his two brothers played for be looking for more me. He’s quick and makes consistency from a more good decisions.” experienced team this Cline will be backed up fall. by sophomore Ayden Rice. “We had a lot of new The Cougars’ running faces on both sides of back corps will include the line of seniors scrimmage Lucas Mauzy last year and Zach — we took Clayton at some lumps fullback, because of with senior it, but at the Will Taylor, same time junior Elijah we gained Baldwin and a lot of sophomores much-needed experience Rice and Kamden Walters that will ser ve us well expected to contribute at in 2022,” said Wagner, wingback. whose 4-6 club dropped Mauzy and Clayton its final five games combined to rush for and failed to reach more than 1,000 yards the KHSAA Class 2-A and score 21 TDs in 2021. playoffs. Senior Evan Ward, “We’re coming off a junior Isaiah Algood and full winter of strength senior Landen Goodwin, and conditioning, which the team’s tight end, has been a hallmark of form a strong receivers our program. We’ve been unit. ver y encouraged by what McLean’s line will we’ve seen since the feature junior center

M

Algood and Walters, along with freshman Aden Bolden. Clayton was the team’s top tackler last year, registering 70 total stops, including four tackles for loss and two sacks. “We tackled well last season, but we lacked effort getting to the point of attack,” Wagner said. “We need to have the desire to get to the football as quickly as we can on every play — that’s what it takes for us to be successful. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on effort and attitude on the defensive McLean County lineman Ethan Crowe lifts during practice side of the ball.” on July 26 at McLean County High School.

TIME 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m.

“I like our return guys, too,” Wagner noted. “We have the opportunity to have a solid, consistent special teams unit.”

OUTLOOK

It was highly uncommon for McLean County to be left out of the playoff scene in 2021 and Wagner hopes the program can be stronger at the end of the season this time around. “We are in a tough district, facing Owensboro Catholic, Hancock County, Butler County and Todd County Central, but we want to be competitive in every game we play,” said Wagner, whose team must SPECIAL TEAMS overcome the graduation Anthony Hall, senior DEFENSE Senior veteran Jacob loss of longtime two-way tackles Drake Walker, McLean’s 4-2-5 scheme Capps will hold down the star Brady Dame. “We need Jace Crawford and will feature a veteran front, place-kicking post, with to be ready to compete including Taylor, junior Phoenix Stevens, plus Baldwin slated to be the every day in practice, and Coby Dant, Mauzy and senior guards Ethan punter. we need to be ready to play junior Whit Searcy. Crowe and Ethan Todd. “I feel pretty good about every time we step on the Clayton and senior Cole “We have a chance both kickers,” Wagner said. field to play a game. Crumbaker are expected to to be ver y versatile out “They do a solid job for us.” “This appears to be a hold down the linebacker of the hybrid Wing-T,” Baldwin also figures to very hard-working group, spots. Wagner said. “We should be a prominent part of the and if we continue to work In the secondary, the be improved across the return game, along with every day, good things will board with more veterans Cougars will go with happen for us.” newcomer Bolden. Baldwin, Rice, Ward, on the offensive side.”

Coach Zach Wagner

Zach Clayton

Brodie Cline

Lucas Mauzy

Will Taylor

Drake Walker


S10 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

Mustangs eyeing simplified success Muhlenberg led by soph QB Johnson BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

ey early-season injuries took a heavy toll on the Muhlenberg County High School football team last fall, when the Mustangs won only one on-the-field game — a season-ending 64-0 demolition of overmatched Ballard Memorial. Now, a year later, Muhlenberg head coach Josh Staples believes his more seasoned team will be more competitive on the gridiron in 2022. “We’re a junior-laden team, and a lot of our guys gained valuable experience last season,” Staples said. “We’re not what you’d call a veteran team by any stretch, but we are a young team with a lot of individuals who are working very hard to become the best players they can be. “As a coaching staff, we’re trying to instill to the guys that they must work hard every day to be Photos by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com competitive in (KHSAA Muhlenberg County quarterback Kanyon Johnson hands the ball off to Hunter Baker as head coach Josh Staples looks on during a team practice July Class) 5-A, where nothing 28 at Muhlenberg County High School. comes easy.” key our return game,” said. “We’ll open it up and OFFENSE Staples said. spread things out, try to be Injuries pushed as efficient as we can with freshman Kanyon the football and hopefully OUTLOOK Johnson into the starting put a lot of points on the In addition to simplifying quarterback role last fall, board. their approaches on both and he responded with a “We’ll be going up offense and defense, the solid season, completing against teams with more Mustangs will also be 81-of-141 passes for talent, so we have to take simplifying their team 1,270 yards and 15 care of the football and goals. touchdowns, with only five not hurt ourselves with “We didn’t make the 5-A interceptions. turnovers. playoffs last season, so “Kanyon was “Having Kanyon back our first point of order will outstanding,” Staples said, there at the controls helps. be to improve our football “and he’s a great player With all the experience team enough to reach for us to be able to build he gained last year, he’s postseason play,” Staples around in the coming coming into the season said. “To get there, we years.” knowing what to expect.” need to be diligent in Contenders at running developing our young back for the Mustangs DEFENSE guys and improving as a include juniors Hunter The Mustangs will be team on a daily basis. Baker and Gavin Carruba, looking to shore up a “Beyond this, we want along with senior Preston unit that surrendered 348 to develop the mindset McElreath. points last fall. that will enable us to Wide receiver prospects Anchoring the line will be competitive in every include juniors Hayes be Marsala, junior game and to make a play Muhlenberg County’s Jon Putnam runs with the ball during a team practice July 28 at the to win a game when we DeArmond Damian high school in Greenville. and Luke Smith and need to. Shelton and Lindsey, “All in all, we’re a we should be improved in Carruba, McElreath “We want to be as sophomore and the little more settled and aggressive as we can be this area.” and sophomore Easton Eli Pendley, well-stocked prepared entering the on defense,” Staples said. Mefford. and tight end linebacker corps season, so we’re ready “We’re not real big, but “Carubba is a quality SPECIAL TEAMS candidates will feature to go.” we’re quick, and we want football player and will Muhlenberg seems are senior leading to dictate the tempo of the set at place-kicker with Jon Putnam returning game instead of allowing sophomore Nate Harper. MUSTANGS’ SCHEDULE and sophomore Talan tackler McElreath (49 opposing offenses to do “He’s got a big leg, DATE OPPONENT TIME Cartwright. tackles), senior Kahne that. and he gives us a lot of Aug. 19 ....................at Fort Campbell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. Bivins, Cartwright, Up front, Muhlenberg’s “Overall, we’re options,” Staples said. Aug. 26 ....................Hancock County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. Carruba and junior Kayleb simplifying things so that spread system will be “Nate’s going to score Sept. 2 ......................Hopkins County Central . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. Duckett. anchored by seniors our guys can just fire off some points for us, and Sept. 9 ......................McLean County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. In the secondary, and attack the football. Noelan Lindsey and Dalton we’re excited about the Sept. 16 ...................Ohio County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. We don’t want to be Marsala, along with juniors Johnson and sophomore possibilities here.” Sept. 23 ...................at Grayson County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. reactionary. We just want Talan Carver, Travis Wells Kaedan Lykins are set at At punter, Harper will Sept. 29.................... Owensboro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. to play hard and play fast safety, with Pendley and and Julian Martin. likely share duties with Oct. 14 ......................Breckinridge County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. until the whistle. If we “We’re looking for more senior Gabriel Littlefield Johnson and Bivins. Oct. 21 ......................at Graves County . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. can do this, and get a few holding down the overall production on the Kick returners will Oct. 28 ......................at Ballard Memorial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 p.m. turnovers along the way, cornerback posts. offensive side,” Staples include the versatile

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Friday, August 19, 2022 Messenger-Inquirer

S11

Photos by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com

Ohio County quarterback Jake Simmons throws during practice July 29 at the high school in Hartford.

Eagles seeking to tranform culture Moeller begins first season at Ohio helm BY JIM PICKENS

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MESSENGER-INQUIRER

hio County went 1-9 and failed to reach the KHSAA Class 5-A playoffs a year ago, and first-year head coach Terr y Moeller and his staff will first be attempting to transform the program’s mindset — believing this will ultimately translate to success on the gridiron. “The program has struggled, and it’s a culture change as much as anything else that’s needed to grow and move things in the right direction,” said Moeller, who enjoyed previous coaching success in Illinois, in the metropolitan St. Louis area. “Now, this is easier said than done, but everyone here is working hard to improve, to get better. “The attitude and effort of these kids have been very good. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do, and you can’t ask for any more than this.”

Battling it out for the starting quarterback nod are senior Jake Simmons and sophomore Hayden Phelps. Last fall, as a part-time starter, Simmons completed 40-of-88 passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. The running back corps, meanwhile, will be led by senior Matt Smith, who also saw time at quarterback in 2021, when he rushed for a team-best 862 yards and nine TDs. Others in the mix will be senior Jaylen Walker, sophomore Abram Ross and junior Noah Phelps. Receivers include Walker, junior Braden Alsman, senior Logan Littleman, junior RJ Williams and Hayden Phelps. Vying for line positions will be sophomore Joe Goodman, senior Jacob Reisz, junior Brady Ward, junior Dakota Blacklock, senior Kory Kirkpatrick, senior Brylee Poston and junior Michael Truschke.

DEFENSE

Ohio County’s multiple defense looks to be greatly OFFENSE improved this fall. The Eagles will operate out of a “We have been simplifying Pro Set but will employ multiple things as much as we can on formations. the defensive side,” Moeller “We will be more run-oriented, said. “We want to play fast and will take some snaps under furious and fly to the football. center, but we’ll also be capable We just want to be as solid as of mixing things up a little bit,” we can possibly be and come up Moeller said. “We need to take with some turnovers along the care of the football and be as way.” efficient as we can — clock Up front, the Eagles feature management will be an important a host of contenders for part of our offensive philosophy.” playing time, including Reisz,

Coach Terry Moeller

Jaylen Walker

Ohio County head football coach Terry Moeller, left, gives instructions during a team practice July 29 at the high school in Hartford. Kirkpatrick, Poston, Blacklock and Truschke. Similarly, several players will fill the linebacker slots, including Smith, Littleton, Ross, Ward, Noah Phelps and sophomore Cash Hayden. The secondary will feature Williams, Alsman, sophomore Luke Barton and Hayden Phelps. “We want to get after it on every down,” Moeller said. “That’s the way we need to play to have success.”

“We want to be solid all the way around in our special teams play,” Moeller said.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ohio County is set at kicker, with veteran senior Brett Hoskins handling both the place-kicking and punting duties. Last season, Hoskins connected for seven extra-points and one field goal. The Eagles have several players who could figure in the return game, including Walker, Smith, Barton and freshman Carson Powers.

Matthew Smith

OUTLOOK

Having won only two of 18 games over the past two seasons, Ohio County is focused on taking a significant step in the right direction in Moeller’s first year at the helm. “Our expectations this season include playing as hard as we

Brett Hoskins

can on every play, and at the same time playing to the best of our respective abilities,” Moeller said. “If we do this consistently, we will be doing what we need to be doing, and I will be very pleased — for us, it’s a matter of working as hard as we can and becoming better every day. “Our senior class is providing great leadership, and this is a big plus. This group has been outstanding.”

EAGLES’ SCHEDULE DATE OPPONENT TIME Aug. 19..................................McLean County .......................................................7 p.m. Aug. 26 .................................Warren East ...............................................................7 p.m. Sept. 2 ...................................at Hancock County ................................................7 p.m. Sept. 16 ................................at Muhlenberg County ........................................7 p.m. Sept. 23 ................................at Owensboro ..........................................................7 p.m. Sept. 30 ................................Graves County .........................................................7 p.m. Oct. 7 .....................................at Marion County .............................................6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 ...................................Grayson County...................................................... 7 p.m. Oct. 21 ...................................at Breckinridge County ........................................7 p.m. Oct. 28 ...................................Butler County ...........................................................7 p.m.

Jake Simmons

Jacob Reisz


S12 Messenger-Inquirer Friday, August 19, 2022

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