KPG’s way too early, preseason Class 6A, top 5 football poll

Well, it is time to rank the big boys. This is the poll which ranks how we see Kentucky’s largest football classification. To rule in Class 6A, you have to be one of the best High School football teams in America. If you consult the USA Today High School football poll, you will see this reflected as last year’s champion in 6A, Louisville Trinity, finished ranked number 32 nationally. Now there are those in football circles who claim Trinity should play as a prep school. In fact, one of my readers suggested the 6A top five, preseason poll should be 1. Trinity, 2. Trinity Junior Varsity, 3. Saint X, 4. Trinity Frosh, and 5. Scott County. Many contend no team in Kentucky belongs on the field with Trinity’s Varsity. To that I say, Poppycock and Balderdash! I can name at least three teams who can give Trinity all the game they want…The University of Kentucky, The University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. While I don’t believe Trinity JV and Frosh should make the Top 5 (though they both might make the top 10), here’s how I do see Class 6A this upcoming season…

Louisville Trinity High School, No. 1;

It would be easy to say that Trinity has lost too much to repeat, as I did with every other defending champion in every other classification of football. I mean, they had 19 seniors on last year’s teams. Among the seniors was a quarterback, in Nick Bohn, who completed 242 of his 302 passing attempts for 3,135 yards and 37 TDs against only 5 interceptions; a receiver in Rondale Moore who had 99 receptions for 1,347 yards and 15 scores; another receiver in  Nick Strothman who caught 60 balls for 694 yards and 23 TD receptions, and that is just on offense. The defense lost AJ McDuffie at End; OLB, Ethan Hull; LB, Nick Cardozi; Nose Guard, Cody Auxier; and Safety, Santana Jones, just to name a few. Now, the Varsity defense should benefit from an influx of talent from its rising sophomore ranks as the Shamrocks will add AFI-KPG Freshman All-Staters Alton Jefferson, who should seamlessly plug into Auxier’s NG slot, with All-Staters Christopher Forehand Jr. and Roman White plugging into the back four. In addition to the new influx of talent, Jacob Dingle is back at safety for the Shamrocks next year. Dingle is widely considered the No. 1 Safety in Kentucky and has numerous D-1, Power 5 offers. Word out of Louisville is he is a heavy Purdue lean. Dingle’s dad played in the NFL so the apple didn’t fall far from the tree here.

Last year, Trinity scored 622 points and only allowed 141 on its way to a 15-0 record and a Championship. For them to get back, they have to find someone to trigger the offense in the absence of Bohn. Into that role steps rising junior, Seth Jutz. Jutz is a bone fide superstar of whom you haven’t heard much, buried behind Nick Bohn, but the kid is fantastic. Although Jutz, as a sophomore, was only 1-2 for 36 yards and 1 score in little, to almost no, varsity run, Jutz was a three year member of Team Kentucky Future Stars and beat out Beau Allen for the starting QB slot in the 2016 Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars, 8th grade game played at WKU. Beau Allen is an AFI-KPG Sophomore All-Stater at QB for Lexington Catholic and has already been offered by UK, so, be rest assured, starting over Beau Allen was a significant accomplishment. Director of Kentucky Future Stars, and professional sports agent, Ricco Hughes, said about Jutz that…Jutz’s knowledge of the game is exceptional and his toughness is off the charts. Jutz is very mobile and has a next-level frame and skill set at the QB position. There is literally no one in Kentucky better able to make that assessment than Ricco Hughes.

Jutz returns a full accoutrement of runners behind him as Trinity’s top ground gainers all return in Luke McGuire and Gereimah Smith. McGuire and Smith scored 19 rushing TDs between them last season. Jutz will also have a reliable target returning in rising junior, Ryan Miller. As a sophomore, last year, Miller caught 31 passes for 515 yards and 4 scores. The fact he played at Trinity, at all, as a sophomore, should tell you he is good. The fact he caught 31 footballs for 515 receiving yards and 4 TDs should tell you he is great. It’s not like Trinity’s QBs, last season, lacked targets. Departing seniors, Rondale Moore and Nick Strothman, caught 159 footballs, between the two, for over 2,000 yards receiving and 37 TDs. Like I above said, Trinity re-loads, not re-builds. They will defend their State Championship in this classification.

Louisville Saint Xavier, No. 2; 

Saint X hired, this offseason, David Wallace out of Bowling Green High School to coach its football team. As I understand it, he was brought in to implement a more modern passing attack and to solve the Trinity riddle. The riddle being….how to beat them. Saint X was State Runner-up and finished the year 12-3, with two of its losses being to Trinity. QB, Jack Albers has exhausted his eligibility and that is a shame. Last season, Albers passed for 1,848 yards while picking up another 656 on the ground. He threw 15 aerial scores against 4 interceptions and ran for 14 TDs on the ground. He scored 120 points himself over the course of the season. That is a lot of production out of one position to have to replace.

In steps the best QB in Kentucky of whom you probably haven’t heard. Welcome to the party, Keegan Sullivan. Sullivan, as a Junior, only completed 17 of 26 passes for 246 yards and 5 scores while throwing one pick. However, I am told he threw 37 TD passes on the JV squad, two years ago, and many around Saint X believed he should have been starting over Albers. I got to talk to Sullivan’s Sevens coach (7 on 7), Glenn Bednarczyk, and he told me…He’s the best QB I’ve ever seen in reading through his progressions. He’s the top 2019 QB in the Commonwealth. Bednarczyk added that…I know there are a few 2020 QB’s that would have a say about who’s, ultimately #1, but Keegan is the best QB in his class, particularly for an unknown.

You might wonder, if he is so good, why did it take him till his senior year to see the field? That isn’t uncommon at places like Saint X and Trinity, to be honest with you. That’s the nature of the beast. Saint X lost both its leading receivers in William Crum and Benjamin Mueller and three of its top four point scorers in Albers, Benjamin Mueller, and Dominic Allgeier. However, leading rusher Anthony Moretti is back (140 carries for 937 yards and 14 rushing TDs) and so are the 78 points he put on the board for his team last season.

Top pass defenders William Carlin (3 interceptions) and Samuel Boarman (2 picks) both return along with two of Saint X’s top four tacklers in Quinn Owen (91 stops) and Samuel Boarman (56 stops). If Keegan is as advertised, Trinity and Saint X will replay in 2018, the 2017, Class 6A, Championship Game.

Scott County High School, No. 3; 

Scott County, last season, finished the year 11-3 and lost in the State Semi-finals to Saint X (48-35) in a close game with not much defense played. Last year, Scott County had the most potent ground game in all of Kentucky, gaining 4,389 yards. Don’t you just love a team who can pound the rock? I sure do. Now, Brice Fryman who gained 1,692 yards in 142 carries and scored 15 rushing TDs is gone. In high school football, that type of production is hard to replace. However, Fryman might not have been the best RB on the team last season.

Austin Barnett returns next season and, over his junior year, he gained 1,310 yards in 212 carries with a whopping 22 rushing TDs. Combine Barnett with the return of Payton Brown’s 552 yards in 69 carries and 8 scores and throw-in Bronson Brown, who gained 179 yards in 13 carries with 2 scores, and Scott County, losing Fryman, still returns 2,041 yards and 32 rushing TDs. Lots of teams would love that amount of ground production.

With the loss of Josh Davis, and his 1,578 yards passing and 15 passing TDs, there is some concern at the QB position. Cade McKee will hope to fill that role but his body of work as a sophomore, 2-5 for 13 yards, leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Should he be able to throw it, however, rising Senior, Glen Covington, who plays on both sides of the ball (3 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries) can surely catch it as he showed us his junior season (48 receptions for 852 yards and 9 TD catches). Top point talliers, Barnett (126), P. Brown (48), and Covington (62) are all back for another go around the ball park as well as the defense’s top four tacklers (Berk Watts 100, Bryan Hudson 45, and Matt Fannin 38, and Bronson Brown 35). Bottom line…this team played 14 games, last year, for a reason; they were legitimate contenders. They will be again in 2018.

Simon Kenton High School, No. 4; 

Simon Kenton lost last year to Trinity in the Regional Finals (State Quarters) 49-17. They ran for 2,538 yards, from scrimmage last year, and return the leading rusher, who, last season, was only a sophomore in Austin Hammack. Hammack gained 804 yards with 10 scores. Jon Sargent added 481 yards on the ground with an additional 10 scores. Matt Shearer and his 2,532 passing yards and 33 aerial TDs with 7 picks will be difficult production to replace. If that weren’t true, Simon Kenton might have ranked even higher, preseason, than where I have them. Simon Kenton is excited about Caleb Farfsing and believe he can fit the bill, in spite of his only completing 10 of 18 passes, last season, for 80 yards and one score. I don’t know to whom Farfsing will throw the ball, as all three leading receivers from a year ago departed in Fisher Hayden, Sam Murray, and Calvin Rump.

So why the optimism? Well, like I have said over the course of breaking down the different classifications many times before, a great running back hides a lot of ailments. We believe the return of Austin Hammack, who will be a junior, and the chance he improves on the 66 points he produced for last year’s offense is reason enough for optimism. We also believe the defense will be sufficiently stingy. Simon Kenton returns four rising seniors, JJ Courtney, Brady Nipper, Bryson Pernell, and Justin Sabie, who each contributed two recovered fumbles last season earning, for the offense, 8 additional possessions. Add all of that with the return of three of its top four tacklers (Bryson Pernell 95, Clay Cogswell 75, and JJ Courtney 82) and the mix seems to insure Simon Kenton will be able to shorten games, control clock, and come out on top the vast majority of the time.

Hey, Simon Kenton didn’t win 11 of 13 of its games last season for nothing. They will be very formidable again this coming year.

Butler Traditional High School, No. 5; 

Butler did something it had never before done in its school history last season in football. Butler beat Louisville Male in the 2nd round of the Class 6A playoffs 14-6. Butler went on to lose to Saint X the next week in the State Quarters, but, hey, baby steps! We, here at Kentucky Prep Gridiron predict Butler will take another step. Butler returns leading rushers Eric Jackson and Jalen Ward next season. Jackson gained 897 yards rushing with 13 scores and Ward gained another 485 yards with 6 scores of his own.

Passing the football, Butler returns one of the more exciting QB prospects in Louisville. Last season, as a sophomore, Chaz Burks, competed 139 of 231 passing attempts for 1,975 yards and 22 passing TDs against 12 picks. I can tell you that when the AFI-KPG Sophomore All-State selection committee was picking it’s quarterbacks, Burks’ name shot around the room more than once. Two of Burks’ favorite targets return in Demontae Crumes and Frank Caldwell. Crumes caught 30 passes for 770 yards and 14 TDs while Caldwell caught 32 passes for 444 yards and 5 TDs. Between Crumes and Caldwell, the two of them accounted for 158 of the teams 307 total points scored and that is more than half. The top two tacklers from last year are gone in Kyron Anderson and Desmond Miller, but other than that, Butler is as good as Butler may have ever been, to include its possibly being better next year than its 2011 team. That team won for Butler both its District and Region. We believe Butler is a top 5 team and further believe they will show you before it is said and done.

Outside looking in…Louisville Male went 9-3 last year and has all but three player returning. They have some young ballers coming from off the freshman squad like Jaylin Bross and Nick Coates. They easily could have been Top 5. I just don’t think they can play with the 5 above, but I could be completely wrong. Louisville Ballard has some of the best young talent in Kentucky including AFI-KPG All-State and Freshman MaxPreps All-American LB Justice Thompson. Ballard will be much better this year than 6-6.

This is how we see it at KPG. Take it for whatever you may find it is worth. This has been Fletcher Long reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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