MI High School Football Preview 2022

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Carrico’s remarkably consistent and productive play impressed many; none more than Aces head coach Jason“PoundMorris.forpound, Vince is the strongest football player I’ve ever coached at Owensboro Catholic,” Morris said. “He has the ability to play every position on the field, including quarterback. He has an even-keeled mindset and possesses some of the best vision and instincts Aces’ sophomore Carrico setting new standards on defense

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

Tackle Master


“I realized I had the size and strength to play at this level, I felt like I had great field vision, and I was able to get to the football with regularity.” — Vince Carrico OCHS Linebacker

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER W 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 observer 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.The5-foot-11, 195-pound Carrico, after some initial growing pains, came on like gangbusters for the Aces, who rallied after an 0-5 start to win seven consecutive games and reach the KHSAA Class 2-A Region 1 championship game. “I realized pretty quickly that playing at the varsity level was a lot different than playing in middle school,” said Carrico, whose older brother, Tut, a junior, is also a star for the Aces. “Everyone is bigger, stronger, more athletic. It’s also a lot more complex overall, and I did struggle with that in the early going. “I kept working at it, though, and with the help of my coaches and my teammates, I felt like got better each week, and the better I got the more confidence I played with — that all sort of goes hand in hand as the season goes along. “I realized I had the size and strength to play at this level, I felt like I had great field vision, and I was able to get to the football withBut,regularity.”still,199tackles from a youngster with a career-best clocking of 4.8 in the 40-yard dash? “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 trying to get to the football on every play, help my team win games and let the numbers fall where they may.”

2022 PREVIEW Friday, August 19, 2022 MEssEngER-InquIRER HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

“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 weightsblocks,troubleupbigger(physically)teamswewentagainst,hadsomefightingoffsoIliftedfivedaysa 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 myandoffootball.goitCatholicculturealwaysaaccomplishment.wouldsophomore,toandImoreI’d“Individually,reallychampionship,stateIdo,”hesaid.Iguessliketomakeeventacklesthanmadelastyear,IwouldlikebeAll-Stateasawhichbeamajor“Otherwise,IfeelresponsibilitytoimproveouratOwensboro—tomakeabetterplacetotoschool,toplayThere’salotgreathistoryhere,Ijustwanttodobesttoaddtoit.”

a Class 6-A program last fall, and despite the loss of superstar QB Joe BrannonPanthersHumphreys,coachMattbelievesthe carryover will help the team succeed again in 2022. Other reasons for optimism include the return of stridessignificanthasatJohnwiththirdnowunit.ingever-improv-lineoffensiveBlue,linemanstartingfour-yearRenfrow,threatreceivingbreakawayBrysonrunningdynamicbackParm,DeckerIssacamassiveandandefensiveApollo,initsseasoncoachEdgethehelm,madewith

Last year’s thatofCarriconotwithstanding,successiswellawareareasinhisgamecanbeimproved.

hile, when Catholic came out of the gate so slow in his first varsity campaign.“Iwasn’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 upper classmen, 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, CatholictraditionalHighpride and mentality kicked in pretty well the second half of the season.”

regard to winning big games over the past two seasons, and the Eagles seem primed to make a statement this fall. Senior quarterback 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 very well for the defense.Owensboro Catholic returns a host of talented players, footballthisintriguetotoCity-County2-Aprogram’satheirto-the-ballTutversatilequarterbackleadershiponwillMorrisatheVincesophomoreincludinglinebackerCarrico,wholedstateintotaltacklesyearago.CoachJasonandtheAcesbecountingheavilytheproductionandofnewstartingBradyAtwell,two-waystandoutCarricoandaquick-defenseinattempttobecomecontenderforthefirst-everClassstatechampionship.Solid?Eachoftheseteamsappearbesolid,whichequatesloadsofanticipation,andexcitementfallforareahighschoolfans.Let’skickthisthingoff.Daviess County Owensboroand Catholic

CARRICO FROM PAGE S1 F ew things in sports are as exciting as the start of a high school football season, and there are a variety of reasons to believe that the excitement held by all four teams in the City-County — Owensboro, Daviess County, CatholicOwensboroandApollo — is justifiably warranted thisEachfall.of these teams has the capability of being very good, indeed. In 2021, in fact, three of these teams — Owensboro, Daviess County and Owensboro Catholic — won at least two postseason games and competed for a regional championship. The Red Devils, of course, accomplished even more, advancing to the KHSAA Class 5-A semifinal round. Also last fall, Owensboro won 12 games, including 10 straight (losing two), Daviess County won 11 games, including nine straight (losing two). Apollo had an uneven season, but still won some big games and finished 6-5; and Owensboro Catholic went 7-6, rallying furiously and impressively after losing its first five games of the season. The WimsattdepartedKaseyreturnschampionshipproud—toRed(0-3).Apollowasunbeatencoveted3,ofstupendousOHS,7-4combined36-15,verymeanwhile,City-Countyrecordcumulativeforteams,wasaimpressivewitharecordofintheplayoffs.byvirtueofa49-42conquestDaviessCountyinWeekwentontowintheCity-Countytitleinfashion(3-0),andfollowedbyDC(2-1),(1-2)andCatholicNotsurprisingly,theDevilswillbefavoredwinbigagainin2022stillinsearchoftheprogram’sfirststatesince1986.CoachJayFallin’steamseniorquarterbackBoone,whoreplacedsuperstarGavinanddirectedthe

— won at least two postseason games and competed for a championship.regional The Red Devils, of accomplishedcourse, even more, advancing to the KHSAA Class 5-A semifinal round. “ Once we got on a roll we were hard to stop — I think that strong, thethekickedandCatholictraditionalHighpridementalityinprettywellsecondhalfofseason.” — 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. DAVID W. BOSWELL 3329 Wathe ns Crossing Owen sboro,Ky. 42301 270-316-3166 david.boswell@ky fb.com Kentuc ky Farm Bureau Insurance YOUR CUSTOMER JUST READ THIS AD. | Advertise in the Messenger-Inquirer | 270-926-0123

team’s long winning streak. Also back is breakaway threat Kenyata Carbon, a trio of talented receivers in toCountythisare—definitionisOwensboroEver-speedystate’sisDrewPlace-kickerSahvonGoodwinXanderasstalwartswithPendleton,andKhalilGoodwin,JeremiahRogersEthanalongdefensivesuchZachClark,Early,andHines.Lanzamongthebest.Solid?theveryofsolidbuttheDevilsnotaloneinregard.Daviesswentanotherlevelas

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I’ve ever seen. “He gets after it on every 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 very 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 wavered,Carricoranks.”nevermeanw

City-County grid teams appear stout JIM PICKENS In 2021, in fact, three of these teams Owensboro,—

Apollo quarterback Christian Combs throws to receivers during practice July 27 at Eagle Stadium. EAGLES’ SCHEDULE DATe OPPOnenT TIMe Aug. 19 Owensboro Catholic 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Owensboro 7 p.m. Sept. 2 Central Hardin 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at North Hardin 7 p.m. Sept. 16 Meade County 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at McCracken County 7 p.m. Oct. 7 Henderson County 7 p.m. Oct. 14 Marshall County 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Daviess County 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Greenwood 7 p.m.

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 havehavelevel,playersreturningwhoknowwhatittakestosucceedatahighandweyounger players who are eager to be part of something special out “Generallyhere.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.”

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“It’slook.pretty simple on momentumandturnoverscreatethingsandfootballto“WeEdgedefense,”said.wantgettothequicklymakehappen,someturntheofthe game our“Weway.have a lot of guys who can play. Once we get our personnel settled, we’re going to be pretty good on that side of the line.”

juniorseniorseniorseniorspotscompetingFront-runnersforstartingonthelineareKaidhynStockdale,KadinHoward,BradynDant,NoahDilbeckand sophomore Carson Carter. “I think we’re going to score a lot of points, I really, I really do,” Edge said. “We’re ready to take the next step and be truly explosive, like some of the (Owensboro Catholic) teams I coached in the past.“We should be very balanced, which will really help us.”

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“He’sfootball.puton25 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 really help him this fall.” Apollo is also set at running back, with the return of senior Donte Dixon (451 yards, 6 TDs in ‘21) and junior Zion Tutt. Sophomore Brock Burger will also carry the ball.Last year’s leading rusher, multifaceted junior Noah Rhinerson, is part of a receiving corps that includes seniors Carter Contratto and Bryson Velotta, along with junior Eli Masterson. Also in the mix are juniors Ethan Berry and Mason Green.

SPECIAL TEAMS Perhaps no team in Kentucky was hit harder via graduation in this area than Apollo, which must find replacements for exceptional place-kicker and punter Harrison Bowman.“I’mnot 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 place-kickinghandlechores, with both Brock and Combs slated to punt. Dixon, Board and Rhinerson provide AHS with breakaway potential in the return game.

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

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

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER D 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“TheEdge.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.”

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Apollo seeks another upward climb Eagles went 6-5 in uneven ‘21 season

Coach John Edge Devon ParmDonte DixonChristian Combs Morgan Eans Noah Rhinerson

threatreceiverSamjuniorGarnerDamarienpowerincludecarryOthersplayer.”whowilltheballseniorbackandspeedsterOberst.DC’stopreturningisseniordeepDeckerRenfrow, 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, 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“We’llNicodemus.bemore 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.”

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER Daviess 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 HighDespiteSchool.itall, 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.”

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. “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.”

Panthers eye another banner year

Daviess won 11 of 13 games last fall

DEFENSE Five players are expected to see action up front in the Panthers’ 3-4 seniorincludingset,juniorSamClark,Boling,seniorElijahMoore,GarnerandNicodemus.LinebackersincludeBlue,Burch,Ball,TyceBeehn and DC’sFloyd.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.”

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 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.“Wehave 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.”

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

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Daviess County’s Tyce Beehn, left, leads teammates over blocking dummies at football practice July 27 at Reid Stadium.Daviess County’s Decker Renfrow catches a pass from the JUGS machine at football practice on July 27 at Reid Stadium. Bryson Parm Decker RenfrowIsaac BlueJack Ball Lake WilsonCoach Matt Brannon 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.

OFFENSE Senior Jack Ball and junior Lake Wilson will handle the quarterback chores and direct the Panthers’ Multiple Pro Style offense.Thekey 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

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.“Wealways 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.”

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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. “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.”

Red Devils are hungry for more

OHS reached 5-A semifinals last fall

DEFENSE Operating out of a multiple 4-2-5 scheme, the Red Devils once again figure to be opportunistic on the defensive side.The line will feature senior end Sahvon Hines, junior end Courtland Howard, junior nose tackle Jacoryan Miller and senior hybrid Goodwin, who led the squad in sacks (13) and tackles for loss (19) a year ago. At linebacker, senior Xander Early and sophomore Ethan Gough figure to be prominent, with sophomores Cole Crews and Dereon Crowe also in the mix.The secondary will feature stat-stuffing strong safety Zach Clark, a senior who last fall led 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.”

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.

The everygoingseniorstrong,Carbon,relentlessDevils’runninggame,meanwhile,willbepacedbyKenyataatough,speedycapableofthedistancetimehetouchestheball.Despitemissingfourgamestoinjurylastfall,

Owensboro’s Kenyata Carbon carries the ball during drills July 27 at Rash Stadium.

SPECIAL TEAMS Senior Drew Lanz returns as one of the state’s most consistent placekickers, and Goodwin is back at punter. The Devils’ always-potent return game will feature a trio of explosive game-breakers — Carbon, Rogers and Winstead. “I feel very good about our special teams unit,” Fallin said. “Both of our kickers are very solid, and we have kick returners who can reach the end zone from any spot on the field — this is a strong group.”

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER A 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 reachinggamesconsecutivewinningfinishingtochoseRedthefoldingUniversity.RutgersInsteadoftheirtents,ever-resilientDevilsinsteadflourish,12-2,10andthesemifinal 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.”

Kenyata Carbon Zach Clark Jeremiah GoodwinKasey Boone Sahvon HinesCoach Jay Fallin 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.

OUTLOOK Still in search of the program’s first state championship since 1986, the Red Devils figure to contend for the title again this fall.“We’ve won 36 games in the past three years, so we’re a senior-laden team that has enjoyed a lot of success,” Fallin said. “Obviously, the expectations are high for our football team, and we have the potential be very good. “The best thing about it is that we have guys, who despite all of that success, are hungry to become better and hungry to take our program to the next level. As long as we maintain that kind of mindset across the board, we’re going to be in pretty good shape. “We’re eager to get started and to see what we can become.”

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DEFENSE The Aces — who will operate out of a 3-3 stack or 4-2-5 — were ferocious on defense down the stretch last fall, led by 5-foot-11, 195-pound linebacker Vince Carrico, one of the commonwealth’s elite tacklers as a freshman (199 tackles, including 16 for loss). His brother, Tut Carrico, and junior Eli Blair should hold down the other linebacker posts, with Lyon, Atwell and sophomore Chris Burns also in the mix. On the line, Lewis, Davis, Lyon and Frey will see action at the end slots, and at nose guard Simone leads a group that includes Hodskins, Bell and junior Noah Girten. A key sub along the line figures to be freshman Barrett Evans. There are a host of contenders to fill roles in the secondary, including Clark, Sims, Will Edge, Roberts, seniors Lincoln Ferguson and Michael Hyland and juniors Carson Lewis and Kaiser Frick.“Any time you’re returning your leading tackler, it’s a good thing, and that help sets the tone and expectations for the entire unit,” Morris said. “We also return our entire secondary, and I expect us to be a stronger, faster and more experienced defense than we were last year. “Once we settle in on this side, we’re going to be tough.”

OUTLOOK Catholic won two KHSAA Class 2-A postseason games last fall and would like to double that production, and then some, this time around. “The expectations here are always high in this program, and that’s the way it should be,” Morris said. “We’re trying to take the next step up the postseason ladder, and I believe we have the type of group to make that happen. “The goals within this program are always lofty. We want to win the 2-A regional championship and put ourselves in position to win the state championship. We’ll always take it a game at a time, of course, but those are our goals.”

Aces hoping to build on late surge Catholic rallied in second half of ‘21

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

OFFENSE Catholic’s dynamic attack will be directed by 6-foot-3, 225-pound athleticismsaid.anyastalentedfall.atouchdownsyardsthe33-of-64Atwell,quarterbacksophomoreBradywhowentthroughairfor379andsixasbackuplast“He’sasakidI’vecoachedatposition,”Morris“Bradyhasthesize,andskilltobe a very special football player.” Stellar sophomore Vince Carrico figures to be a top-tier running back, with senior Jack Terry, junior Eli Blair, and freshman Miles Edge also expected to be impact ball carriers. Catholic must overcome the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Hunter Monroe, who transferred out of the receivingmeanwhile,Juniorprogram.TutCarrico,willleadacorpsthatwill

Owensboro Catholic’s Noah Girten, left, and Tyler Simone go through blocking drills during practice on July 25 at Steele Stadium.

ACES’ SCHEDULE DATe OPPOnenT TIMe Aug. 19 at Apollo 7 p.m. Aug. 26 Daviess County 7 p.m. Sept. 2, at Union County 7 p.m. Sept. 9 Owensboro 7 p.m. Sept. 16, at Christian Academy-Louisville 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at Hancock County 7 p.m. Sept. 30 Todd County Central 7 p.m. Oct. 6. at Butler County 7 p.m. Oct. 21. McLean County 7 p.m. Oct. 28 Elizabethtown 7 p.m. CA T H O L IC

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

SPECIAL TEAMS Senior Dominic Ranallo will handle place-kicking chores, and the kickoff duty is likely to go to freshman Andrew Garvin. Atwell will handle the punting chores, making him a threat to run or throw the football on fourth down. Kick returners are Tut Carrico, Terry, 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 very 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.”

Coach Jason Morris Brady Atwell Eli Blair Jack TerryTutt CarricoLogan Bell

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also include senior Will Edge, senior Tanner Roberts, juniors Deuce Sims and Reid Clark, along with GabeEbelhar.speedstersophomoreWarrynUpfront,Catholicwillbetalentedanddeep,showcasingseniorsLoganBell,ChrisLewis,Davis,Gabe Hodskins and Tyler Simone, juniors Major Pride and Luke Frey and sophomore Michael Lyon.“Ireally love our chemistry on offense,” said Morris, whose unit must also overcome the graduation loss of multifaceted Braden Mundy. “We have the capability of being very balanced and unpredictable, because I see us being able to throw and run the ball with great effectiveness.“Ourlineis very solid, and I see our attack as being tough to defend.”

I 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 “Lookingstretch.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 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 hard-working16seniors 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.”

Hancock loaded at skill positions


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running backs, senior Logan Willis, also returns after gaining 1,197 yards and scoring 11 TDs in 2021. Others who will carry the ball include junior Landon Garrison, senior Jack Duncan and junior AlexSeniorsBasham.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 Ferry 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.“Wefeel 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 seeUpaction.front will be sophomore nose tackle Aiden Embry, Basham andTheWathen.secondary will include freshmanVolocko,Garrison,Ferry,Cooper Jones and sophomore Hayden Shearn.“Ourdefense 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 swarming“Becauseinterceptions.ofthenatureof our personnel, I also think we have an opportunity to win the chain battle and get a lot of sacks in the process.”

Senior-laden Hornets ready to go

Hancock County offensive coordinator Trevor Garrison instructs the line during practice July 28 at Hancock County High School.

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER A s workedseveralofneedlotguysveteranofhavesaid.EubanksBobbyheadHornetsseason,”thispossibilitiesaboutroom,playersoffseasonfall.ClassroundandwinningbusinessteamHancockenior-ladenCountymeansin2022aftersevengamesreachingthesecondoftheKHSAA2-Aplayoffslast“Wehadareallygoodwithmoreintheweightandwe’reexcitedourcoach“Wealottalented,withaofexperience,andwetotakeadvantagethis.“Overthelastyears,we’vereallyhardto re-establish the culture of the program. There’s a lot of quality tradition associated with Hancock County football, and there’s excitementdefinitelyinthe air about this team. We’re ready to go.”


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

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

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 very dependable.” Kick thistenorsaid.specialupfreshmanspeedyGarrison,meanwhile,returners,willincludeVolocko,theJonesandfellowJackRoberts.“Ibelievewe’resetprettygoodwithourteams,”Eubanks“Wecanchangetheofthegamewithgroup.”

Aiden Weatherholt Austin Volocko Cole Dixon Jack Duncan Logan Willis Coach Bobby Eubanks HORNETS’ SCHEDULE DATe OPPOnenT TIMe Aug. 19 at Breckinridge County 7 p.m. Aug. 26 at Muhlenberg County 7 p.m. Sept. 2 Ohio County 7 p.m. Sept. 9 Edmonson County 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at Tell City (Ind.) 7 p.m. Sept. 23 Owensboro Catholic 7 p.m. Sept. 30 Butler County 7 p.m. Oct. 6 at McLean County 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Todd County Central 7 p.m. Oct. 28 Louisville Holy Cross 7 p.m.

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

Cougars hoping to finish stronger

M cLean fadedstartedCountyfastandlateduring an we’veveryourhasandfullplayoffs.theanditswhoseinthatmuch-neededawesameit,becausesome—lastscrimmagethefacesfall.experiencedconsistencybecoachiseasonuncharacteristicfortheCougarsn2021,andheadZachWagnerwilllookingformorefromamoreteamthis“Wehadalotofnewonbothsidesoflineofyearwetooklumpsofbutatthetimegainedlotofexperiencewillserveuswell2022,”saidWagner,4-6clubdroppedfinalfivegamesfailedtoreachKHSAAClass2-A“We’recomingoffawinterofstrengthconditioning,whichbeenahallmarkofprogram.We’vebeenencouragedbywhatseensincethe end of last season; now, we just need for that to translate to success on the field of play.”


SPECIAL TEAMS Senior veteran Jacob Capps will hold down the place-kicking post, with Baldwin slated to be the punter.“Ifeel pretty good about both kickers,” Wagner said. “They do a solid job for us.” Baldwin also figures to be a prominent part of the return game, along with newcomer Bolden.

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. McLean County lineman Ethan Crowe lifts during practice on July 26 at McLean County High School.

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DEFENSE McLean’s 4-2-5 scheme will feature a veteran front, including Taylor, junior Coby Dant, Mauzy and junior Whit Searcy. Clayton and senior Cole Crumbaker are expected to hold down the linebacker spots.Inthe secondary, the Cougars will go with Baldwin, Rice, Ward, 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 side of the ball.”

McLean failed to playoffsreachlast fall

Coach Zach Wagner Drake WalkerLucas Mauzy Will Taylor Zach Clayton Brodie Cline COUGARS’ SCHEDULE DATe OPPOnenT TIMe Aug. 19 at Ohio County 7 p.m. Aug. 26 Breckinridge County 7 p.m. Sept. 2 Grayson County 7 p.m. Sept. 9 at Muhlenberg County 7 p.m. Sept. 16 Todd County Central 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Butler County 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Allen County-Scottsville 7 p.m. Oct. 6 Hancock County 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Owensboro Catholic 7 p.m. Oct. 28 Hopkins County Central 7 p.m.

OFFENSE Running the show for McLean County’s hybrid Wing-T will be junior quarterback Brodie Cline, who passed for 810 yards and four touchdowns last fall.“We feel good about Brodie back there,” Wagner said. “He comes from a football family, and his two brothers played for me. He’s quick and makes goodClinedecisions.”willbebacked up by sophomore Ayden Rice. The Cougars’ running back corps willsophomoresBaldwinjuniorWillwithfullback,ClaytonandLucasseniorsincludeMauzyZachatseniorTaylor,Elijahand Rice and Kamden Walters expected to contribute at wingback.Mauzyand Clayton combined to rush for more than 1,000 yards and score 21 TDs in 2021. Senior Evan Ward, junior Isaiah Algood and senior Landen Goodwin, the team’s tight end, form a strong receivers unit.McLean’s line will feature junior center Anthony Hall, senior tackles Drake Walker, Jace Crawford and Phoenix Stevens, plus senior guards Ethan Crowe and Ethan Todd. “We have a chance to be very versatile out of the hybrid Wing-T,” Wagner said. “We should be improved across the board with more veterans on the offensive side.”

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 overcome the graduation loss of longtime two-way star Brady Dame. “We need to be ready to compete every day in practice, and we need to be ready to play every time we step on the field to play a game. “This appears to be a very hard-working group, and if we continue to work every day, good things will happen for us.”

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

OUTLOOK In addition to simplifying their approaches on both offense and defense, the Mustangs will also be simplifying their team goals.“We didn’t make the 5-A playoffs last season, so our first point of order will be to improve our football team enough to reach postseason play,” Staples said. “To get there, we need to be diligent in developing our young guys and improving as a team on a daily basis. “Beyond this, we want to develop the mindset that will enable us to be competitive in every game and to make a play to win a game when we need“Allto.in all, we’re a little more settled and prepared entering the season, so we’re ready to go.”

OFFENSE Injuries pushed freshman Kanyon Johnson into the starting quarterback role last fall, and he responded with a solid season, completing 81-of-141 passes for 1,270 yards and 15 touchdowns, with only five outstanding,”interceptions.“KanyonwasStaples said, “and he’s a great player for us to be able to build around in the coming years.”Contenders at running back for the Mustangs include juniors Hunter Baker and Gavin Carruba, along with senior Preston McElreath.Widereceiver prospects include juniors Hayes andJonarecandidatesandElisophomoreSheltonandDeArmondLukeandPendley,tightendseniorPutnamsophomore Talan offensiveoverallandTalanMarsala,NoelananchoredspreadCartwright.Upfront,Muhlenberg’ssystemwillbebyseniorsLindseyandDaltonalongwithjuniorsCarver,TravisWellsJulianMartin.“We’relookingformoreproductionontheside,”Staples said. “We’ll open it up and spread things out, try to be as efficient as we can with the football and hopefully put a lot of points on the board.“We’ll be going up against teams with more talent, so we have to take care of the football and not hurt ourselves with turnovers.“Having Kanyon back there at the controls helps. With all the experience he gained last year, he’s coming into the season knowing what to expect.”

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,ayear 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 competitive in (KHSAA Class) 5-A, where nothing comes easy.”

SPECIAL TEAMS Muhlenberg seems set at place-kicker with sophomore Nate Harper. “He’s got a big leg, and he gives us a lot of options,” Staples said. “Nate’s going to score some points for us, and we’re excited about the possibilities here.” At punter, Harper will likely share duties with Johnson and Bivins. Kick returners will include the versatile Carruba, McElreath and sophomore Easton Mefford.“Carubba is a quality football player and will key our return game,” Staples said.


County’s Jon Putnam runs with the ball during a team practice July 28 at the high school in Greenville.

MUSTANGS’ SCHEDULE DATe OPPOnenT TIMe Aug. 19 at Fort Campbell 7 p.m. Aug. 26 Hancock County 7 p.m. Sept. 2 Hopkins County Central 7 p.m. Sept. 9 McLean County 7 p.m. Sept. 16 Ohio County 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Grayson County 7 p.m. Sept. 29 Owensboro 7 p.m. Oct. 14 Breckinridge County 7 p.m. Oct. 21 at Graves County 7 p.m. Oct. 28 at Ballard Memorial 7 p.m. Y0040_GHHHXDFEN21a_BC_C ARE YO UT URNING 65? Call your local licensed Humana sales agent. Lauren Payne 270-313-7486 (T TY:711) Monday –Friday, 8a.m. –5p.m. Facebook.com/laurenpayneky Amorehuman way to healthcare™

Muhlenberg County quarterback Kanyon Johnson hands the ball off to Hunter Baker as head coach Josh Staples looks on during a team practice July 28 at Muhlenberg County HighMuhlenbergSchool.

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER K ey Muhlenbergheavyinjuriesearly-seasontookatollontheCounty

DEFENSE The Mustangs will be looking to shore up a unit that surrendered 348 points last Anchoringfall.the line will be Marsala, linebackerwell-stockedandLindsey,SmithDamianjuniorandthecorpswillfeatureleadingreturning tackler McElreath (49 tackles), senior Kahne Bivins, CarrubaCartwright,andjunior Kayleb cornerbackholdingseniorsafety,KaedanJohnsonDuckett.Inthesecondary,andsophomoreLykinsaresetatwithPendleyandGabrielLittlefielddowntheposts. “We want to be as aggressive as we can be on defense,” Staples said. “We’re not real big, but we’re quick, and we want to dictate the tempo of the game instead of allowing opposing offenses to do that.“Overall, we’re simplifying things so that our guys can just fire off and attack the football. We don’t want to be reactionary. We just want to play hard and play fast until the whistle. If we can do this, and get a few turnovers along the way, we should be improved in this area.”

Mustangs eyeing simplified success

S10 Messenger-InquIrer Friday, August 19, 2022

Noelan LindseyKanyon Johnson Dalton Marsala Hayes DeArmondHunter BakerCoach Josh Staples

OFFENSE The Eagles will operate out of a Pro Set but will employ multiple formations.“Wewillbe more run-oriented, will take some snaps under center, but we’ll also be capable of mixing things up a little bit,” Moeller said. “We need to take care of the football and be as efficient as we can — clock management will be an important part of our offensive philosophy.”

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 juniorincludeNoahRosssophomoreWalker,AbramandjuniorPhelps.ReceiversWalker,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.

“We want to be solid all the way around in our special teams play,” Moeller said OUTLOOK Having won only two of 18 g ames 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 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.”

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.

Moeller begins first season at Ohio helm

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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 fieldThegoal.Eagles have several players who could figure in the return game, including Walker, Smith, Barton and freshman Carson Powers.

Ohio County head football coach Terry Moeller, left, gives instructions during a team practice July 29 at the high school in Hartford.

Coach Terry Moeller Jacob ReiszJake SimmonsBrett HoskinsMatthew SmithJaylen Walker 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.

BY JIM PICKENS MESSENGER-INQUIRER O h io County went 1-9 and failed to reach the KHSAA Class 5-A playoffs a year ago, and first-year head coach Terry Moeller and his staff will first be attempting to transform the program’s mindset — believing this will ultimately translate to success on the whosaidrightthingsgrowthat’saschangeandhasgridiron.“Theprogramstruggled,it’sacultureasmuchanythingelseneededtoandmoveinthedirection,”Moeller,enjoyedprevious 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.”

DEFENSE Ohio County’s multiple defense looks to be greatly improved this fall. “We have been simplifying things as much as we can on the defensive side,” Moeller said. “We want to play fast and furious and fly to the football. We just want to be as solid as we can possibly be and come up with some turnovers along the way.”Up front, the Eagles feature a host of contenders for playing time, including Reisz, Kirkpatrick, Poston, Blacklock andSimilarly,Truschke.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.“Wewant to get after it on every down,” Moeller said. “That’s the way we need to play to have success.”

Eagles seeking to tranform culture

S12 Messenger-InquIrer Friday, August 19, 2022 Because it’s never too early to follow your dreams. TM