In what has become a tradition at KPGFootball, we are going to make a preseason top-10 prognosis. These teams will be ranked according to whom we believe are the top 10 football teams in each classification. Some of these teams are (unfortunately) in the same district. That aside, this is who believe to be Class 4A’s best football teams as we head into the 2019 season.
- Boyle County…I know, I know, how can we not pick Franklin-Simpson to three-peat in Class 4A? Well, this isn’t either 2017’s or 2018’s classification anymore with the addition of Boyle County, Louisville Central, and Corbin (not to mention Lexington Catholic and Kentucky’s best 2020 QB, in UK commit, Beau Allen). It isn’t exactly like Head Coach Chuck Smith is any stranger to title runs either. In 2018, Coach Smith’s charges were 13-1, losing to Corbin in the Semis, and in 2017, Boyle County won it all with a 14-1 worksheet. QB Reed Lanter is back for his senior season after completing 189 of his 286 pass-attempts in 2018 for 2,949 yards and 39 TD passes with only 6 interceptions. Both of the leading rushers return in Tanner Crawford and Landen Bartleson, and leading receiver Reese Smith is a Mr. Football candidate and is committed to play at WVU when his eligibility at Boyle expires. Second leading receiver Reiley Colwick is a 2021, so he will only be a junior in 2019. Basically, Boyle County’s roster looks like a high school all-star team. Franklin-Simpson doesn’t want any of this smoke as kids say these days!
- Johnson Central…You aren’t going to believe this, outside of Paintsville, Kentucky, but people actually grumble about Coach Jim Matney for going 1-3 in State Title games from 2015-2018. Talk about not seeing the forrest for the trees. Hey idiots, he’s been in four consecutive 4A State Championship Games! Johnson Central has always just had their way with their district and region and will be sure semi-finalists again this year? When you have young bigs like sophomore to be Owen LeMaster at guard and grizzled veterans like senior-to-be Andrew Clifton, who is a mauler at both center and DT, and any team is going to be pretty good. The Golden Eagles graduated leading rusher Joe Jackson but two-way star Devin Johnson will pick up much of that slack in the backfield and he is one of Kentucky’s very best football players in the 2020 class, particularly at LB. These guys ground and pound and have the bigs to do it. They are very tough to deal with, especially in the playoffs which is why they are annually punching a ticket to Kroger Field.
- Corbin…When all the 3A teams come up and whip the crap out of their Class 4A counterparts you are going to learn an ugly Kentucky truth. Class 4A, in 2018, was the most winnable classification in Kentucky football with the fewest number of contenders. In 2018, it was Franklin-Simpson, Johnson Central, and (maybe) Madisonville North-Hopkins and the rest of the classification was pedestrian at best. Boy has the realignment fixed this. Corbin, another 3A powerhouse, has come up in class and will be the “class of this class[ification]” like they were in the one below. Justin Haddix has many weapons returning from a 13-2, state finalist squad. Treyveon Longmire is going to be a sophomore and he is already being ballyhooed as one of Kentucky’s very best football players. He made the KPGFootball All-State freshman team a year ago and two-time KPGFootball All-Stater (2017 & 2018) Logan Smith is rounding into one of Kentucky’s finest O-linemen regardless of graduating class. The QB play may start out a little suspect as we saw in “The Best of the West” Passing League tournament in Hopkinsville, Kentucky but the ground game will batter opponents into submission until the passing game finds its wings.
- Madisonville-North Hopkins…Madisonville, last year, lost a nail-biter, 12-10, to eventual champion Franklin-Simpson in the Region Finals. The Maroons, with what is the best group of linemen in the commonwealth (Blake Moody, Jordan Vaughn, and Dru Flener) are a down-hill freight train, with no brakes, behind the running of Jariah Hightower. The Maroons have to get by both Logan County and Hoptown and the Tigers always have a bevy of arrows in the old quiver which can pierce you through the heart on any given night. Logan County High School lost quite a lot when Cade McGinnis took his game to Clarksville, Tennessee to play Division I, college football but Zach Yates (LB), Gary Hardy (RB), and Tyler Ezell (QB) will insure there is plenty of talent left to be quite formidable. Hoptown has one of Kentucky’s finest prospects in the Class of 2021 in WR, Reece Jesse, Jr., who is sporting several D-1 offers to include FBS, Power 5 teams the likes of Missouri and Purdue. Eric “Fat-Daddy” Grubbs and Denarius “Red” Barnes are All-State caliber players. Safety/LB hybrid Jaxon Davis and QB Jay Bland are both solid All-conference caliber guys. As the old saying goes, iron sharpens iron, and Madisonville-North Hopkins should be plenty tough come playoff time after seeing some of the talent, in district, it will face.
- Franklin-Simpson…Franklin-Simpson plays virtually nothing in District Two, sorry. Warren East has been embarrassed the previous two years in the first round hosting two below five-hundred Hoptown teams, ACS can’t get out of the first round, and Warren Central is limping into 2018 after suffering through 35 consecutive marks on the right-side of the W-L column. Franklin-Simpson, which runs the Wing-T and largely leans on the run from scrimmage for offensive production, graduated both Tre Bass and Carlos McKinney. Bass gained over 2,100 yards from scrimmage a year ago with 31 rushing TDs and McKinney gained 1,700 yards with 21 rushing TDs. What are the chances any team can easily absorb the graduation of 3,800 yards rushing and 52 rushing TDs with out a significant drop-off? That would be zero!
- Louisville Central…Central won the Class 3A, State Football Championship in 2018 by one point over Corbin in a game which we watched and thought Corbin was going to win virtually the entire time. Hats off to Coach Dantzler and the Yellow Jackets. That being said, Mykah Williams and QB Malik Goodall were seniors as was Ukrari Baker. So Central lost 1,200 passing yards and 13 passing TDs against only 3 picks together with 1,343 rushing yards and 24 rushing TDs in the loss of Goodall. Central lost 1,782 rushing yards and 23 rushing TDs in the loss of Williams. Central lost 33 receptions for slightly over half of Goodall’s passing yards (601 of the 1,198) and 8 of Goodall’s 13 TD strikes in the loss of Baker. What are the chances any team can easily absorb the graduation of that type of offensive production in every phase of its offense with out a significant drop-off? That would again be zero!
- Moore High School…John Hardin is the heavyweight in the District usually but it was Robert Reader’s Moore Mustangs laying down the law in 2018, going 11-2. Moore was a mere 6 points (losing the Regional Championship to Taylor County 27-22) from punching its ticket to the Semis. There were 18 seniors on the 2018 roster including leading rusher, Larry Johnson, and a DE headed to UK in JJ Weaver. However, Rae Von Vaden, a talented 2020-QB (21 TDs thrown against 5 interceptions), returns in 2019 for new coach Tombe Kose, who served as Reader’s OC in 2018.
- Harrison County…Harrison County was 7-5 a year ago but returns Devin Lewis, who is a Class of 2021 guy. Lewis gained 1,156 yards and scored 9 rushing TDs over his sophomore season. Quenton Pratt graduated but since he played QB and the Thoroughbreds only threw for a whopping 297 yards on the year, that goes in the “Whoopity-do” category. Largely on the strength of the return of Lewis, and the fact District Six is not a very strong one, we expect Harrison County to come out of the new playoff format with a date with someone, probably Central, in the Regional Finals, where they will get killed.
- Anderson County… The Bearcats would be ranked much higher than 9th if they were in a different district. We don’t see them beating Boyle County but, then again, they aren’t alone in that category. Still, Anderson County finished 10-0 in the regular season a year ago in Class 5A, District 6 only to drop its first-round game to Highlands, 14-10. Kentucky’s premier DE, Darrian Dearinger is back for his junior season already sporting FBS offers. However RB, Charles Andrew Collins has transferred back home to the mountains and will take his production with him (In 2018, he had 131 carries for 1,474 yards and 21 rushing TDs; caught 16 passes for 390 yards and 6 TDs receiving; scored 170 points). Getting Zach Labhart back will help and it is expected Labhart will shoulder much of the burden left unattended by Collins’ exodus.
- Logan County…Remember when this team was terrible? It really has been so long ago now, we almost don’t. The Cougars were among the very best in Class 4A in both 2017 and 2018 all season long and were regular entrants on the weekly AP, top-ten polls. They return considerable talent in Yates, Hardy, and Ezell as we laid out in our paragraph above detailing the prowess of the Maroons from Madisonville-North Hopkins. Madisonville can’t afford to slip up playing either Logan County or Hopkinsville as both teams have the talent to play with anyone in the classification. Should Logan overcome the mighty Maroons, their stock will sky-rocket.
There it is folks, the KPGFootball, preseason top-10 football teams in the 4A classification. Join us tomorrow as we publish our top-10 preseason teams in Class 5A.
This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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