Defending our Selections…The Athletes

There is a saying that has been around football for years the exact origins of which I can’t pinpoint. I know Coach Phillip Fulmer, formerly the HC at the University of Tennessee, used to say it commonly, but I don’t think it originated with him. It really sounds like something Bum Phillips would have coined but can’t say that for sure. The saying is the following…It ain’t the X’s and the O’s, but it’s the Jimmies and the Joes. The saying is universally, in the football world, synonymous for the proposition a Coach has to have athletes to win football games. To be an athlete you had to both excel at your primary position while still being athletic enough to fulfill a variety of rolls for your football team. These are the players who are versatile and able to take over a football game from a variety of different positions on multiple sides of the ball or utilized multiple skills sets on one side of the ball. In a lot of ways being designated an Athlete may be the highest honor we can bestow on you as a publication. You are the players whom can utilize a multitude of skill sets to make any team on which they play better for having them on the roster. We now unveil for you, the selections committee’s Jimmies and Joes. These are our Middle School All-State Football Athletes.

South Oldham Middle School, Ryan Rupp, 5-9, 145 pounds;

Ryan Rupp and the next selection, Jacob Bealle, have quite a bit in common. Like Bealle, Rupp was killing it at at a position other than QB. Rupp was playing FB and MLB and tallying All-State caliber production both places. Like Bealle, Rupp was asked to move to QB to help his team succeed though it would require him to play somewhere he had never before played. Like Bealle he didn’t hesitate for a moment, he just pitched right in and did it! At KPGFootball, we love stories like this…we love players like this. Players whom are willing to trade in personal glory to help the team meet its goals is really all about what football should be. As long as there is a KPGFootball team, we would hope any selection committee we convene would be willing to reward the Ryan Rupps. Ryan performed very well under center for his team and even pitched in at DE where he completely shut down any ability to make plays to his side of the field. Ryan has been compared to a player whom was very celebrated over the course of his middle school career, Hopkinsville’s William Long. While Ryan is as big, strong, or even fast as William Long, he plays the game the same way. Like Long, Rupp is all heart. Required to wear an insulin monitor during the game to be able to play, Rupp was chosen to the MBC All-Conference team as both 7th and 8th grader. One more thing about the player affectionately called Rhyno…he’s a 4.0 student in the classroom. This is a kid whom deserves, in so many ways, to be on this Middle School All-State team.

Hopkinsville Middle School, Jacob Bealle, 5-11, 155 pounds, Hopkinsville;

Jacob Bealle’s father, David, was one of Hoptown High School’s best safeties before matriculating to Murray State University and becoming an All-conference caliber player collegiately. Jacob’s older brother Ben, was the team captain on a 10-2, Hopkinsville Tiger team his senior year. Both of those Bealle’s wore the number 15 for Hoptown. Unfortunately, for Jacob, Ben, and David, that tradition may have to change. In the aftermath of Ben’s playing days, the Tigers elected to retire the number 15 owing to its having been also worn by HHS’ only Mr. Kentucky Football, and college star in his own right, Mr. Curtis Pulley. No matter what number Bealle ends up wearing when he arrives on the varsity roster, which many believe will be as a freshman, what Jacob has inherited (much more valuable than his father and brother’s jersey number) is his father and brother’s ability to play the game of football. As a 7th grader in 2017, Bealle started on the 8th grade team as a TE/Slot guy. He flourished there, starring in that role on the 8th grade team though playing up at the time. In 8th grade, Bealle was moved to QB out of necessity. The Tigers felt he was the best option and that his being a superior athlete, and fantastic football player, outweighed his never having before played there. Bealle ended the year one of the better QBs in all of Kentucky able to beat you either through the air or with his feet and performed sufficiently well to gain selection to the Bret Cooper Junior All-American football team set to play this December in Dallas, Texas.

Jacob is one of the strongest kids on his (or any) middle school team, runs very well, and has a long frame which looks to KPGFootball as if he will get both longer and taller. Bealle has been learning the QB trade from two of the best coaches in the area for QBs in John Faulk (Pulley’s QB Coach in HS) and Blake Ladson. Bealle is a hitter (LB defensively) with a nose for the football who is so athletic he can virtually play anywhere. He was both a spectacular and effective QB for HMS in 2018 and someone whom has already been labeled the high school’s QB of the future. The kid is so good at other positions on the field, he may well find himself deployed elsewhere until the Class of 2020’s Jay Bland moves on to Saturday football. Oh well, that is exactly why he was selected an All-State athlete, and probably why he is also an All-American.

North Pulaski Middle School, Cade Sullivan, 5-10, 160 pounds;

Sullivan, left most part of frame

Cade Sullivan is a player whom we ranked in our top-20 prospects in the Kentucky Class of 2023. While we ranked him 11th, there were fans quite a bit upset he wasn’t ranked in the first ten and even some still whom believed he was the Class’s very top prospect. No ranking system is fool-proof and this kid here could make a solid argument for being the best football player in Kentucky’s 8th grade. Cade is a Team Kentucky fixture having played both Future Stars and FBU multiple times and is one of three or four Kentuckians who garnered an invite to the FBU, Top Gun Elite Showcase. Cade is 5-10 and weighs only 150 pounds but the kid is already squatting more than twice his body weight (315 pounds) and plays both corner and strong safety for Coach G.J. Wooldridge and his State Finalist two straight years, North Pulaski Middle School. In addition to what he brings to the table defensively, the 8th grader, who has consistently covered 40 yards in the 4.7s, also aligns in the backfield with Korbyn Goff and runs the football as well as any running back on this All-State Football team. Cade is the only person on this All-State team who is a two-way, position player while still handling kicks-off duties. We are told Sullivan regularly kicked the ball inside the opposing 5 yard line. KPGFootball also learned that Sullivan made a 38 yard field goal in live game action when in 7th grade. Sullivan is also a stand-out soccer player, which is probably why his weight is only 150 pounds, meaning this is one an opponent will never run out of gas. We have never seen a player anymore accurately described as an Athlete than Cade Sullivan and if KPGFootball award a Middle School Heisman-type Award, Sullivan would be a leading candidate for the overall merit any team finds in his being on the roster. If it were recess and we were picking a football team, Sullivan might well be KPGFootball’s first choice and that is exactly why he is easily on this All-State Football team.

Meece Middle School, Josh Gross, 5-10, 170 pounds;

There is a pattern here of which you may have become aware or maybe it has eluded you. Middle School football teams who don’t have a polished QB, or feel they don’t, just put there best athlete at that position. I mean, why not, they handle the ball every play. That is what Meece Middle School did in entrusting the reigns of the offense to Josh Gross. Gross, who demonstrated all year there wasn’t a damn thing wrong with his ability to play QB, is an athlete whose high school future is probably at safety. All Gross did this year for Coach Max Messamore’s Briar Jumpers is lead them to the KYMSFA, Division 3, State Football Championship. There is something all middle school football players at either the All-American or All-State level share and that is they just don’t look like middle schoolers. Gross fits well into that category as he has the length in his extremities to foretell he isn’t done at 5-10 in growing tall and the build to indicate that, if he hasn’t already found the weight room, just wait to see what he looks like when he does. We could easily see Gross mature into an outside linebacker or even stay at Strong Safety we he was defensively deployed while a middle school player. Gross this year at QB was calm, composed, and was able to use his athleticism to avoid the rush long enough to get the ball down the field to open targets. When the passing game was covered he was able to get outside the tackle box and make defenses sorry the outside rush got too upfield. On the defensive side of the football, he was able to drop into coverage and use his length and speed to get over the top of vertical routes while also capable and willing to come up and get involved in the run game. Josh is a guy whose considerable skill sets make him an incredible asset on any roster at a number of spots with just one of those being QB. Meece doesn’t win the Championship without him, we weren’t having a Middle School All-State Team without him either.

Phelps Junior High School, Cory Turnmire, 5-7, 140 pounds;

Cory, on left

Now, I am not indicting the local journalists in and around the Phelps, Kentucky area for not covering the KPGFootball’s Mountain, All-State Combine performance of Cory Turnmire, Class of 2023, who, at the time, was entering the 8th grade at Phelps Junior High. I can tell you that the performance he turned in while not even yet in 8th grade would have satisfied even the most skeptical that he was looking at an All-State caliber, middle school player.  At the combine, KPGFootball really didn’t invite any of the local press as and KPGFootball were both there and we all felt that to be more than enough. This type of event is right across the middle of the plate of what KPGFootball covers anyway and is the top coverage for football in that area both in print and over various social media platforms. I can tell you that Cory Turnmire was awarded Top Honors at the combine for his performance as an 8th grade RB because his feats of speed, agility, power, explosion, and quickness, all of which were newsworthy to KPGFootball. Cory’s primary position is generally denoted as running back and he ran a 40 yard dash in 5.3 seconds this summer at our combine. That time is not elite speed, at the running back position even in middle school, but it is an upper level 40 time for an 8th grade running back. At the time Cory turned in that time he hadn’t attended a single eighth grade class yet. We don’t have a present time for Turnmire but believe he is certainly faster than 5.3 seconds over 40 yards now. Turnmire’s pro-agility (5-10-5) time of 4.71 seconds shows a spacial quickness and change of direction speed which accounts for why he is so valuable on a football field. Turnmire’s L-cone drill, completed in 8.5 seconds, was an elite time for an athlete, his age, as anything south of 9 seconds is considered upper-level, change of direction, quickness, and speed for a middle school athlete. Turnmire starred for Phelps’s middle school team on both sides of the football and it can be fairly expected this type of production will continue out of him upon hitting the high school roster next season.

Well folks, there it is, our first Kentucky Middle School All-State Football team. We have defended each and every selection to our roster and, while we couldn’t possibly have rewarded every deserving player, every player we rewarded here is very deserving. KPGFootball is quite sure these may not be the best five athletes in middle school football from across Kentucky but we are equally sure they are among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. It shall be fun to follow these guys as they begin to play High School football next Fall. Our guess is you will be hearing plenty from all of them as early as next season.

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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