Colonels feel they have a strong team entering ’22
We traveled to Danville, Kentucky and watched the Colonels intra-squad scrimmage. We came away impressed, especially with the defense. Heading into the Mount Saint Joseph’s scrimmage in Cincinnati, Ohio, this is what we saw…KPGFootball Editorial Staff
Opponent: Mount Saint Joseph Lions. The Lions are members of the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference which is a conference with which the Colonels are familiar. We open with Hanover College, whom we play regularly, and Hanover is a conference member.
Head Coach:Tyler Hopperton
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Home Field: Schuyler Field, 2,400 person seating capacity, Turf surface
2021 season record overall 6-4, 5-2 in conference
Last season, the Lions beat Hanover College on November 6, 2021 at home, 23-6. The Mount lost to Trine 31-30, against whom Centre narrowly escaped at home a year ago.
Why this game is very important: Mount Saint Joseph is in the Cincinnati metropolitan area and recruits Northern Kentucky both well and hard. Centre has extensive recruiting ties in Ohio and regularly signs prospects from our neighbor to the north. We don’t need the Mount picking off prospects from Northern Kentucky we should be signing at Centre College though.
MSJ’s Football tradition: Over the past two years, the Lions have won 11 of its previous 16-games and 18 of its previous 26 going back three seasons. These guys know a little something about playing winning football. Rose-Human, Hanover and the Mount are the class of the Heartland Conference.
The Lions were 5-1 at home a year ago. Centre will be invading Schuyler Field which is a tough place to play.
MSJ’s History and enrollment: Founded in 1920, the Catholic school has an enrollment of 1,000 full time undergraduate students.
What they did last season: MSJ scored 27.6 points per game a season ago while surrendering 21.80. The Lions rushed for 1,797 yards while allowing 1,525. They passed for 2,058-yards while allowing 1,550.
MSJ was 45.21% on third down a season ago while the opponents were 31.62%. MSJ converted 45.45% of its 4th-down tries and its opponents converted on 47.37%.
MSJ was 28 for 35 in the “red zone” with 21 of those scores being TDs. Opponents were 25 of 27 in the “red zone” scoring a TD 24 of those 25-times.
QB, Josh Taylor returns from a very productive sophomore campaign and will be a junior in ’22. Taylor is a 6’0,” 200-pounder from Mt. Orab, Ohio who prepped at Western Brown High.
Taylor gained 571-yards rushing last season to be the ball club’s leading returning rusher. Taylor completed 55.69% of his passing attempts in averaging 200.17-yards passing per outing. He only started in 5-games a year ago and the fortunes of the Lions went “way up” with him under center.
Owensboro, Kentucky’s Mariano McKenzie (Apollo High) is back in the backfield to lead the ground game from the traditional RB post. Mariano will be a senior this coming season.
Senior, Austin Brock led the receivers a year ago but has fallen prey to graduation so his services are no longer available. Rising Junior, Joey Newton from Cincinnati’s Anderson High returns and the hometown boy was the team’s second leading receiver a year ago and will be the team’s leading “returning” member of the receiver corp this upcoming season.
Decklan Brophy, from Knoxville, TN, led the team in sacks a year ago (5) and the DL looks to capitalize on that effort this coming season. Brophy is an undersized guy who relies on his “quicks” to get by unbending, bigger, OL.
Junior linebacker, Anthony Wright, from Nashville, Tennessee’s Father Ryan High (Catholic private school) will be the ball club’s leading returning tackler, with the departure of the top-two tacklers a year ago. The 6’0,” 215-pounder registered 58-tackles a year ago, logged an INT, had 3 FFs, recovering one of those.
Leading INT producers, Troy Spearman and Noah Able have exhausted eligibility. However, the leading CB and a guy who registered 3-picks a year ago returns. Look out for No. 3, DeShawn Starks. Starks prepped at Bryan Station in Lexington, KY and will be a senior in ’22.
Punter Ryan Murray has departed meaning the Lions will have to replace last year’s punter. On the good news side, Kyle Farfsing, PK, is back for one last tour around the Heartland. The Harrison, Ohio native who attended Harrison High made seven of his 11-FG attempts last season and handed the kickoff duties along with Murray.
When the Colonels punt, expect rising sophomore, Zykeem Hunley to drift back and receive it. Hunley was a pleasant surprise out of Cincinnati’s St. Bernard High a year ago as only a freshman. Hunley led the team in average punt return yards with 16.44 (which is phenomenal).
Leading kick returner, Austin Price returns. Price will be a junior and the product of West Clermont High out of Batavia, OH had himself a year last season. Price averaged 28.13 yards per kick-return with a long of 43.
Centre College by the Numbers
We all expect Sophomore Will McDaniel to be the starting RB when he comes off injury. Till then, Conner Lee, a sophomore from Ryle and Keaton Martin, a junior from Pee Wee Valley, have a chance to showcase what they can do. Of course, there are some newcomers to the running back room bucking for opportunities.
Zachary Shofner (freshman, Shepherdsville, Kentucky) rushed the ball 290-times his senior year for 2,184-yards and 39-rushing TDs. He also caught 17-passes out of the backfield out of the wing-T, which is quite good if we are being honest working from that particular alignment. Shofner averaged 21.7 points scored a game for the 5A, Kentucky High School.
Freshman Gabriel Walker from Stewarts Creek High in Tennessee (5’10,” 190-pounds) gained over a thousand yards and averaged 6.7-yards a carry and 132.9 yards a game his senior year. Walker certainly passes the eye test but is coming off ACL and Meniscus injuries.
Christian Billiter at WR 6’0” 190 pound senior from Pikeville High is a guy we have featured since his high school playing days. We thought Billiter, coming out of high school was the best WR in Kentucky. He gives Centre “stretch the field” type speed. Watch out for Scotty Brown. The 5’11,” 182-pounder from Bowling Green does things in practice (we hear) which astounds onlookers. Cort Marbaugh (Columbus, OH) at 6’3,” 200-pounds is the type of target QBs have a hard time missing and with which DBs have a hard time matching.
Sam Murray is a fifth year Senior from Independence, KY. We all know the weapon he both is and can be. Murray seems always to be open and catches everything thrown to him. Camp is raving about Princeton, Kentucky’s splendid sophomore, Trip Branch. Branch at 6’3,” 215-pounds is like Marbaugh, a hard target to miss.
Branch may also be the best basketball player on the campus, including the members of the varsity basketball team. Branch scored 46-points in a high school game playing for Caldwell County back in his high school days. Wow!
Nick Osterman and Beau Buchanan are locked in quite a battle at the QB slot and both are bringing a lot to the table. Beau (Senior, Bowing Green Senior High) is the more traditionally built of the two at 6’3,” and 220-pounds while Nick Osterman (Senior, Monroe High in Ohio), at 6’1,” 200-pounds, is a guy who can break down defenses with either his arm or feet.
These QBs will have the benefit of playing behind an OL anchored by Zach Reiners. Reiners is an all-SAA selection from a year ago and the 6’4,” 285-pound tackle has been preseason selected among the very best players in the country at his position. Andrew Jones is back to man the center slot and the 6’1,” 274-pounder from Hamilton, Ohio puts the “uff” in “tough.”
Defensively, Centre boasts two of the better D-Linemen in the SAA. Kirsci Vincent, 6’4,” 260 looks the part in every conceivable way. Oliver Hunter, a fifth year (like Murray), may be the best Defensive Lineman in the college game, nation-wide, at his level of play.
Hunter is 6’3,” 264-pounds and was an all region selection a year ago, led the team with over 10-sacks, and has been picked by collegefootball.com as the 3rd best Defensive lineman playing Division 3 football from across the country. Watch out for Kam “Bam-Bam” Hendrick, 6’1,” Centre College’s 366-pound NG. He is a deceptively athletic presence in the middle of the line of scrimmage defensively.
KPGFootball has been informed Bam-Bam is one of the better pick-up, black-top basketball players on the football roster. We also hear Bam is a fabulous dancer, exhibiting fine rhythm and moves which belie his being a superior athlete. One thing is for sure, you aren’t digging him out of an “A-gap” anytime soon.
The linebacker corp should be among the strengths of the defense. Armon Wells, the fifth year from Louisville’s Fern Creek High, was the leading tackler a year ago, an All-SAA selection, and a real playmaker.
Ethan Humphries, the 5’11,” 234-pounder from Gibbs High in East Tennessee can lift a house. Keep your eye on newcomer Austin Gough (6’1,” 220), transfer from UK, was one of UK’s most decorated members of last year’s “Scout Team.” He has an impressive array of skills he brings with him to Danville.
You should also look out for Evan Elder, a 6’0,” 210-pound sophomore from Louisville’s Trinity High. Elder can play the game and if he is 100% this coming year, Gough and he will be hard to keep off the field.
The defensive third-level has more length and bodies than in year’s past and could shine as the season progresses. Senior, Nick German, from Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy (5’11,” 193) has really good length and a skill-set which allows him to come up in the box and lay the wood. John Walker Phelps (Jr., 5’11,” 168, Paintsville) demonstrates Centre’s defense certainly has a “type” when it comes to the back end as German and he have similar skill sets and tendencies.
Justin Gainey, (5’9,” 170, Louisville’s Male High) provides a lot of deep coverage with his excellent speed and “quicks.” Joseph Becherer (5’11,” 176, Elizabethtown High) may be the toughest hombre on the entire team at any size. Becherer thinks (and plays) like he’s a LBer. We won’t tell him if you don’t.
Jack Colosimo (5’11,” 183) is a senior from Hickory, N.C. and he is showing the way for some young sophomores pushing for PT. Dylan Bracken (6’1,” 195, Lexington’s Catholic High) and Parker Guilaume (6’1,” 183, Louisville’s St. Xavier High) are two examples of the excellent back-end length and athleticism which threatens to seat some upperclassmen. Junior Nick Grant (5’11,” 175, Madisonville North-Hopkins) is a steady performer who knows exactly what is expected of him along the third level.
The kicking game seems in solid hands. Place kicker, Cam Tegge (sophomore) proved himself a year ago to be a real weapon. Tegge gives the Colonels a real third-phase advantage over many teams at the Division-3 level.
There is plenty more we could write. We think it better to get a scout from this scrimmage before we turn our attention to the trip to Hanover College.
This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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