Defending our selections: The Receivers plus one TE

Now these next group of players are the pass catchers on the offensive side of the football, but if you think receptions sum up the responsibilities which come along with playing either out wide, in the slot, or TE on any offense, you are altogether unfamiliar with the game we call football. First of all, the further you go in the playoffs, in either middle school or league play, the more you will encounter teams who throw the Hell out of the football, and effectively. Receivers, whether wide, in the slot, or even at Tight-End, aside from what they contribute to the passing game, still have to do more than merely catch the pigskin. KPGFootball was talking to a college coach one time about a receiver we wanted his school to offer. He asked us directly why should we offer this kid? Naively, we answered because he is fast and has really good hands. This coach smiled and said, This is Division I college football, son, you have just described every single target on our board at the tight-end or receiver position.  What I am asking is why offer your guy over one of the others? We came to learn college coaches looked at way more than running fast and catching balls when evaluating receivers, slots, and/or tight-ends. Do they run just as hard when they aren’t being targeted? Do they block and actively work hard in the run game? What’s his body language like at the line of scrimmage, can you tell whether he is either getting the football this play or thinks he’s getting the football this play? There’s a lot to playing the position or positions we are below detailing. Our selection committee took all of those aspects, or certainly tried to, in selecting the following 4 wide receivers (two wide-outs and two slots) and the one TE. Ladies and gentlemen, here are your KPGFootball, Middle School, All-Staters at the below detailed positions…

South Dixie Spartans, Jakob Dixon, 160 pounds, WR;

Now, if you think it is hard to get information about players who play in middle school in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, you should try to find information about kids playing in one of Louisville’s Youth Leagues. Jakob is a guy who was set to play for Team Kentucky Future Stars this past summer but other commitments, and rolling an ankle, derailed those plans. Dixon plays for the South Dixie Spartans, whom people in Louisville claim to be the top senior youth team in Kentucky. I am not meaning to put a qualifier on the claim. KPGFootball doesn’t cover senior youth football and doesn’t really know what the senior youth division is, so we are in no position to either confirm or deny the claim of several readers that the South Dixie Spartans reign supreme. Perhaps they do. We get asked all the time how that brand of football compares with the KYMSFA teams whom competed across the Commonwealth. For instance, would the South Dixie Spartans be able to play with Johnson County, the reigning, now two-time, KYMSFA, Division I, State Football Champions. The answer to that is, we don’t have a clue. What we do know is that each year the Kentucky Future Stars have numerous roster members from off of those league teams and they are often among the very finest athletes on the field. Dixon is a guy who, if more was known about both league play and its players across Kentucky, might well be considered a top-5 prospect in the Class of 2023. He certainly has the frame and length which schools covet at 6-3 and weighing 160 pounds. He certainly has the speed as he was timed in the 40 yard dash, over a year ago, at 4.6 seconds. Louisville has an open enrollment system so it is unclear where Dixon will play in high school. Dixon’s father has told us when before interviewed that Jakob is interested in attending either Holy Cross, Saint Francis DeSales, or Louisville Male. Any of the three would be delighted, I am sure. In any event, Dixon is a receiver the committee felt sure was worthy of being selected to our inaugural Middle School, All-State Football team.

Knox County Middle School, Brody Wells, 6-2, 160 pounds, WR;

There are probably schools where receivers can get away with not becoming either actively involved with or skilled in blocking for the ground game. I can tell you Knox County Middle isn’t one of those schools. Brody is a guy of whom both second and even third level defenders have to be aware as Wells is particularly adept at, and seems to enjoy, coming down either the field, or the line of scrimmage, and cracking-back on some unsuspecting linebacker or safety whom thinks he’s about to register a tackle. As a target, Wells, like Dixon, has good height and length and gets his hands out in front of his body, using his length to catch footballs safely away from a defense’s effort to either pick off the pass or deflect it away from its intended target.  Wells is a guy for whom there doesn’t appear to be a registered 40 time but who easily gains separation from would-be tacklers once pulling even with them in the defense’s third level. However fast Wells is or isn’t, he easily gains separation and gets open on vertical routes down the field. Wells is an excellent and disciplined route runner who looks like the ball is coming to him every single play and who is comfortable catching balls across the middle of the field where the hardest licks are laid. Whether the intended target or not, Brody’s body language remains the same. The most important thing which can be said about Brody, or really about any young receiver, is he catches the ball in his hands, at the highest point, and not up against his body where the defense can make an easier play on the intended reception.  Brody Wells is a complete receiver who contributes to his team’s offensive success every down, and not just the 3-5 times the team targets him in the down-field passing game. That is exactly why Wells was selected to this Middle School All-State team.

Owensboro Middle School, Kenyata Carbon, 5-7, 115 pounds, Slot;

Kenyata Carbon has been called by Coach Greg Brown at Owensboro Middle School the team’s best offensive player. From the film we have seen, he looks to be one of the better defenders, the most dangerous member of the punt and kick return teams, and the first guy down on the kick-off coverage unit (pictured to the left of this paragraph) too. I have a perfect comparison for Kenyata Carbon for those of you who follow Kentucky Middle and High School football. Kenyata Carbon reminds everyone of All-State, Class of 2020, Imonte Owsley. This lightning fast and quick as a hiccup slot guy is someone a team invents ways to feed the football because what he does with it fits into the thrill a minute category. He’s your jet sweep guy, your reverse guy, your slip or bubble screen guy, the speed out guy, or even a guy you slip down the seem and hit down the field. Kenyata has been selected to the Bret Cooper Junior All-American Football game to be played in late December in Dallas, Texas, one of seven Owensboro Middle School players so honored. All seven Owensboro players selected are good enough to be included on this Middle School All-State team but we omitted three, and picked the very best 4, as we felt more than four from one team would unfairly prejudice worthy players from other areas. Frankly, Owensboro Middle School is the best middle school football team in Kentucky. Their coach telling KPGFootball that Carbon is its best offensive player is enough for inclusion here, at least it was enough for us.

Hopkinsville Middle School, Daisjaun Mercer, 5-7, 145 pounds, Slot;

We don’t even know where to start with Daisjaun Mercer other than to tell you Hopkinsville Middle School opponents got an eye-full of the picture to the left of this paragraph as Mercer pulling away from every member of the opponent’s back four to arrive at the end zone completely alone was a common sight. Is Mercer the best athlete on this team? Well, he might be. Consider this, he is one of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s top-prized basketball prospects in the Class of 2023 even though we would like Mercer to remember that it was KPGFootball, and what he did on the football field, which earned him All-State distinction before anything he did on the hard-wood. The reason we would like that remembered is, upon his entering high school, it will be an all-out war for his services between the basketball and football programs at HHS though it really shouldn’t be…he should just play both.

Mercer hasn’t been out on the camp circuit, he hasn’t played for any of the Team Kentuckys, and he came into 2018 a relative unknown in Commonwealth-wide, football circles. Well, he’s not leaving 8th grade an unknown. Mercer has good hands, runs good routes, and is Kenyata Carbon type fast with tremendous vertical explosion, manifesting itself both when he runs and jumps up to make plays on the football. Mercer plays much taller than his 5-7 inches. The HMS football team made quite an impressive turn around this season exemplified and underscored very well by what it did in the first round of the KYMSFA playoffs when facing off against Franklin-Simpson Middle School. HMS was seeded 6th in Region I and FSMS was seeded 3rd in the game played in Franklin, Kentucky. Mercer, when his team needed him most, and when it was win or go home time, rushed for 201 yards out of the slot, on 14 carries, with 3 rushing TDs. Mercer threw a completed two-point conversion in addition, personally accounting for 20 of the team’s 28 points in a game won by the Tigers 28-8.

Truth is…he did this kind of stuff all year long. KPGFootball got to see him play 4-5 times and he stood out every game we watched. Recruiters say if you have to ask which kid you came to see he isn’t good enough to play for you. The same is true of selecting an All-State team. With Daisjaun Mercer, you never had to ask which one was he. It was obvious, it was completely evident.

Owensboro Middle School, Trey Miller, 6-1, 190 pounds, TE;

Miller, No. 84

Most coaches, at the middle school level, use a tight-end as a sixth offensive lineman. Trey Miller has both the frame and build to fit that particular requirement nicely should that be one’s desire. However, if a team is lucky enough to find a TE who is athletic, runs good routes, catches the ball in his hands away from his body, and who can use his large frame to shield linebackers away from the football, the TE versus LB match-up is one of the most exploitable mis-matches on any offense in football today. Coach Greg Brown likes to exploit the match-up and he throws it quite a bit to the TE which is why Miller led OMS in TD receptions this past season. What Miller adds to a football team can’t be simply measured in TD receptions. Put simply, Trey Miller is the most devastating 2nd and 3rd level blocker in Kentucky Middle School football and maybe in any state touching Kentucky too. Miller, like six other teammates of his, has been selected to play in the Bret Cooper Junior All-American Football game in Dallas, Texas. KPGFootball covers that game, has been on the coaching staff the last two years, and let me assure you of this, he is a starter for the East team at TE the moment he arrives in Dallas. Miller doesn’t block but rather destroys would-be tacklers in the run game. KPGFootball puts him on this team at TE if the kid didn’t catch a pass all year just for what he contributes to running the football. The fact that he led Owensboro in TD receptions, in addition to what he does blocking down-field; well, the phrase too easy comes to mind in reference to his selection to this team.

Well folks, there it is. For the reasons above we believed these five players to be very deserving of this recognition. I am sure these may not be the best five players in middle school football from across Kentucky at their respective positions 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. Join us next time as we continue defending the selections of our All-State offense as we will defend whom we selected to the team at the QB position.

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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About Fletcher Long 1423 Articles
Two-time winner of Kentucky Press Association awards for excellence in writing and reporting news stories while Managing Editor of the Jackson (KY) Times-Voice

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