Every year we publish, preseason, which teams we believe will challenge for the title at each of Kentucky’s competitive classifications. No classification is ten teams deep.
This year, the below five (5) teams appear to us to each have a claim on being the best team at this level of play. It will be difficult to unseat Boyle County High and Corbin promises to be very tough, particularly with some offseason additions coming onto what is already a fine roster.
This should be interesting. This is how we see it…
Likely 4A Champion, Boyle County High
People around Boyle County claim this edition of the Rebels will be the best ball club, in Danville, Kentucky, Coach Haddix has had to date. That is pretty scary.
Justin Haddix has won 38 of 41-football games since arriving in “Title Town” and three (3) 4A titles. How much improvement can the program withstand? Are they going to win the SEC in ‘23?
Truth is, there is an abundance of riches dotting the roster at Boyle County High School. Sage Dawson (’24) returns under the center and he has committed to play FBS football at the United States Air Force Academy.
Dawson threw for 1,704-yards and 24-TD’s in ’22 while gaining 623-yards on the ground and scoring five (5)-TD’s rushing. Dawson also competed roughly 66% of his passing attempts.
Avery Bodner (’24) is also returning. Bodner gained 1,136-yards and scored 16-rushing TD’s over the course of his junior year.
Avery Bodner played a little defense too. Bodner had 36-tackles, 5-TFL’s, 2-QB sacks, 1-FF, 2-FR’s, and a pair of INT’s.
Boyle returns the sure-fire “leader in the club-house” for Kentucky’s mythical best football player in ’25’s Montavin Quisenberry. Quisenberry gained over a thousand yards in only 96-carries with 10-TD’s rushing in ‘22. Quisenberry caught 57-footballs for 833-yards receiving and 13-TD’s through the air in addition to his prodigious rushing totals.
Quisenberry scored 174-points for an average of 11.6-per game. Quisenberry scored TD’s receiving (13), rushing (10), on punt returns (3), and on kick-offs (3).
Quisenberry, like Bodner, played defense in addition to what he contributed on offense. Quisenberry had 36-tackles, 3-TFL’s, 2-FF’s, 1-FR, and 3-INT’s.
Jayce Crowe returns for the Rebel stop-squad. The ’24 LB contributed 75-tackles, 15-TFL’s, 3-QB-sacks, 1-FF, and a FR.
Brock Driver looks like a surefire star on the rise. The ’25 DE registered 10-TFL’s, a QB-sack, and 3-FR’s to enhance his reputation as being a Rebel who always seems to be around the football.
Number two (tie), Corbin High
Many people believed Corbin to be the best team in 4A for much of the ’22 season. That was before Jerod and Jacob Smith transferred there this offseason.
The Smith twins are originally from Somerset. Last season they attended Cheshire Academy in Connecticut.
Both players are exceptional four-star prospects. Jerod Smith is a defensive lineman ranked as the No. 250 overall player according to numerous ranking services. Jacob Smith, who’s ranked as an EDGE, is just behind his brother at No. 255.
The Smith twins’ homecoming injects some high-profile talent back into the Kentucky high school ranks and promises to put Corbin in serious 4A title contention. Of course, the Smiths won’t be alone as far as talent on Corbin’s roster goes.
Corbin was 14-1 in ’22 and finished just a TD on the short end of a score which would have given them the 4A crown.
Kade Elam, ’25, had quite a year as a starting QB for the Redounds. Elam threw for 2,455-yards and 33-TD’s against only 3-picks. He completed 158 of his 219-passing attempts for a completion percentage of 72%. Elam also ran for 520-yards with 14-rushing TD’s.
Favorite target Carter Stewart (’24) returns. Stewart caught 53-passes for 1,065-yards and 9-TD’s. PK, Noah Cima (’25) will take the rains from departure Jacob Baker. Cima was 100% on his PAT’s a year ago in limited run.
Zander Curry (’24) braces to assume some of the yoke on defense. Curry had 69-stops in ’22 to go along with 7-INT’s and a FR. This team will challenge for the title and getting to 4-start transfers certainly doesn’t hurt.
Number two (tie), Paducah Tilghman’s “Blue Tornado”
A few quality transfers can transform any Kentucky football team. A pair of (nationally) ranked, 4-stars can alter the trajectory completely.
Ryan Callahan from 247Sports.com reports Martels Carter Jr. (below pictured) has transferred to Paducah Tilghman. Cartels is a 4-star safety who is a top target of Tennessee and many other FBS, Power-5 programs. The 5’11,” 180-pounder played for his father, Martels Carter, Sr., last year at Chattanooga Brainerd High. It is believed Cartels stepped down for health reasons.
Brainerd was 5-6 a year ago.
Jack James, ’25, 160 for 293 for 2,185-yards and 23-TD’s, 10-picks
Demarkus Wilson (’26) was the third leading rusher a year ago and looks to be the primary option in the offensive backfield in ’23.
JoeAvion Starks is back to recover where he led the team in TD’s receiving a year ago. Starks will also be the leading returning scorer.
Xsavier Cleary (’25) led the team in sacks in ’22 and he will be a junior in ’23. Cleary was in the mix for the team lead for TFL’s meaning the hulking DL spends plenty of time running around an opponent’s backfield.
Darionte Ragsdale (’24) will help anchor the deep defensive third. Ragsdale picked 4 of the team’s 8-passes a year ago while forcing and recovering a fumble. Transfer Martels Carter, Jr., a 4-star safety transfer from Chattanooga Brainerd will be heard from this coming season in Paducah. His reported 4.36-second, laser-timed 40-yard dash may make him the fastest preparer in commonwealth history.
Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Brainerd sophomore Martels Carter Jr. already has offers from six SEC football programs and will try to help the Panthers jump to a higher level of success this season.
Number Four, Covington Catholic High
Covington Catholic was 9-3 a year ago, losing to Frederick Douglass in the second round. Of course, Covington Catholic as 5A in ’22 and the team which outed them in round two won the 5A championship and looks likely to repeat.
Evan Pitzer (’24) returns at QB after having thrown for over a thousand yards in ’22 and being the team’s second leading rusher. Pitzer is steady, if not spectacular.
Owen Leen was the top ground gainer for the Colonels. He gained 1,134-yards rushing in 205-carries with 16-TD’s on the ground. Leen was equally adept at swinging out of the backfield. He caught 31-passes a year ago and led the team in scoring with 104-points.
Andrew Weitzel (’25) handles the punting and the place-kicking. Her returns after an effective year, covering over 90% of his PAT’s.
Tate Kruer was only a sophomore last season and still led the Colonels in tackles (72). Kruer registered 8-TFL’s, 1-FF, and 4-INT’s. Been Reeves (’24) will try to fill the shoes of the departed Aiden Jones in the QB-sacks/pressures department. Andrew Bessler (’25) is an accomplished pass-rusher in his own right and a promising young talent.
Number Five (tie), Johnson Central High
The Golden Eagles are a threat to win the 4A title any year it fields a team. Last time we checked, the boys from Johnson County were planning on fielding a team.
Coach Peck’s squad was down by Johnson Central standards a year ago. The Eagles were 10-3 and bowed out of the playoff in the Regional Championship game at Corbin.
Jacob Grimm is back at QB and he is a slick ball-handler who makes the proper reads and really makes the offense run efficiently. Zack McCoart (’25) could be the best running back in his class if there wasn’t a guy at Central named Cortez Stone.
McCoart gained 1,721-yards rushing in ’22 and scored 26-rushing TD’s. He only carried the football 189-times. McCoart was the leading receiving on the ball club too. Get this, 60% of his receptions (3 of 5) went for scores a year ago.
We are looking for big things from Carter Conley this coming season. He has had some really good players ahead of him and it is time for him to show off the type player we believe him to be. Conley is a ’24 kid on a lot of radars.
Ryan Rice looks to be the top defender returning. Rice (’24) registered 70-stops, with 6-TFL’s 2-sacks, 1-FR, and an INT in ’22. Logan Music (’26) seemed to be in perfect pitch patrolling the back-end in ’22. The freshman had a pair of INT’s, led the team in IRNY’s with 60-yards, and scored a pair of pick-sixes.
Number Five (tie), Paul Blazer High (Ashland, Kentucky)
The Tomcats are just a couple years removed from winning a 3A title (’20). They played in the semis in ’22, bowing out to eventual champion Christian Academy-Louisville.
The Tomcats now move up to 4A. The classification will have to excuse the boys from Ashland, Kentucky if they aren’t exactly quaking in their collective boots.
LaBryant Strader returns after a fine sophomore campaign. Strader (’25) would complete 137 of his 230-passing attempts for 2,153-yards and 18-TD’s. Strader would also gain close to 700-yards rushing (670) with 6-TD’s on the ground.
Classmate Braxton Jennings (’25) returns. Never hurts to get back a ground gainer who compiled 1,202-rushing yards and 19-ground scores over 206-carries.
Brandon Houston (’24) caught 39-passes in ’22, 9-of which were for TD’s, and accumulated 920-yards in receiving yards. Asher Adkins (’24) will insure the DB’s don’t overly focus on one side of the field. Adkins caught 38-passes, five of which crossed the goal line, in ’22.
Sawyer Edens (’24) is back to lead the defense. Edens had 111-tackles, 7-TFL’s, and 3-FR’s to prove himself a thorn in the side of opposing offenses.
Atayveon Thomas (’25) remains patrolling the third defensive level. Thomas picked off 3-balls in ’22 to accentuate his 57-tackles, 7-TFL’s, and 2-QB sacks.
There it is folks, the top-5 for 4A. Join us later when we break down the 5A classification.
This is Fletcher W. Long, reporting for KPGFootball, reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!
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