News and Notes from the Gridiron…

We have begun featuring, here on KPGFootball, a weekly variety of shorter stories in one combined article about football news from around the coverage area. These articles feature snippets of information for the football enthusiasts which we consider, without a doubt, of interest to the Kentucky high school and middle school football fanatics, such as we. So, without further adieu, here we go with the News and Notes from the Gridiron

Kentucky Players at the Blue-Grey;

One of the most prestigious High School All-American games combined in Hendersonville, Tennessee on the campus of Pope John Paul II High School. The campus is basically 15 minutes up I-65N from downtown Nashville, Tennessee for those of you unfamiliar with the area. There were several Kentuckians there and they acquitted themselves very well, as KPGFootball was covering the event. I have written an in-depth feature about it but want to mention a few snippets. LBs Austin Gough and Denarius Barnes, both AFI-KPG All-Staters showed off power, explosion, quickness, and speed. Gough ran a 4.65 forty yard dash, 4.3 second shuttle, broad jumped 111 inches, and repped 185 on the bench press 17 times. Barnes ran a 4.97 forty, shuttled in 4.5 seconds, and repped 185 pounds on the bench 22 times. William Long, an AFI-KPG All-Stater at offensive line, ran a 5.3 forty, shuttled in 4.71, broad jumped 92 inches, and repped 185 pounds, 29 times. Tanner Crawford from Boyle County, a 2019 prospect at RB, repped 185 pounds 19 times. Crawford, last season for the 14-1 Boyle County Championship team, gained 1,928 yards from scrimmage and found the end zone 25 times. Needless to say, the Kentuckians were impressive.

Missing in action…

There were two Kentucky players who were supposed to make the trek from the mountains to PJPII and one of them was Kentucky’s top center in 2020 Ethan Wolford with the other being his cousin and fellow AFI-KPG All-Stater Grayson Cook, a top Kentucky LB. Wolford and Cook are cousins and both play for Belfry High School in Pike County, Kentucky. Another AFI-KPG All-State football player who was supposed to compete but couldn’t, at the last minute, was QB Javier Bland from Hopkinsville. It is my understanding that Wolford and Cook couldn’t make it down from the mountains owing to a death in the family and Bland had a Prom commitment which the combine would have eaten into. Overall, I have to say, as someone who covers Kentucky football, that I can remember a time in the not-too-distant past where Kentucky football players would not have belonged on the field with the regional prospects who came to Hendersonville. The talent in Kentucky has advanced to the point they not only belong at events such as Blue-Grey; but the evaluators come away from the combine with Kentucky performances foremost on their collective minds.

Team Kentucky Announced…

The very prestigious Team Kentucky was just announced for the annual Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars Classic. KPGFootball was very privileged, this year, to be the exclusive coverage provider to the teams’ roster posting. We would like to thank Ricco Hughes, the Kentucky Director, for that very fine honor. There were a few surprises, like, for instance, at KPGFootball we were surprised that Frankie Knight and Xavier Brown didn’t make the roster. Knight ran the fastest forty time at any of the four combines (4.68) and Xavier Brown is one of the finest, two-sport athletes in Kentucky, also excelling in basketball. Both of the players mentioned were the best two players on Lexington Christian Academy’s, Division 3, State Middle School Football Champion team from this past season. Still, Ricco is the best at these evaluations we have ever seen, so…#GoKentucky!

HMS Football Tradition…

I would like to congratulate a few players close to KPGFootball who did make this year’s Team Kentucky Future Stars. First, congratulations to William Hughes and TreyVon Jefferson from Hopkinsville. Both of these two players played for me at HMS last year. I was on the HMS coaching staff for three years, over which time, the team compiled a 23-8 mark, was the first seed in the Region twice, and played in a State Semi-final, losing 38-36 to the State Champion TK Stone. It was a good run. Over that time frame, I coached nine (9) Team Kentuckians (there are three Team Kentuckys-Future Stars, FBU, and East-West). Those Team Kentuckians were Javier Jay Bland (FS), William Long (FS/E-W/FBU), William Hughes (FS), Seth Henderson (FS), Reece Jesse (E-W), Tahj Manning (E-W), EJ Austin (FS/E-W), Isiah Forrest (FS/E-W), and JeVon Leavell (FS). I also got the privilege of coaching two All-American Guards in William Long (Bret Cooper (twice), 4.0 Sports Media, and Team Edge) and William Hughes (Bret Cooper). I would also be remiss in not mentioning that the head coach for whom I worked at HMS, Reece Jesse, Sr. and I were both included as coaches for the West Kentucky team in the All-State Classic and I have coached at the Bret Cooper All-American game in Dallas the past two years. Like I said…it has been one Hell of a ride!

Now HMS has a new head man in Christopher Carter Southerland who takes the reigns of the program over from Reece Jesse. Jesse has been promoted to the High School staff. As for the old OL coach (me), I am too busy with KPGFootball to be a position coach at the middle school level anymore. Coach Southerland has brought in a six-man, coaching staff and he pledges that his staff and he are going to change the tradition at HMS. I hope he fails in that regard and I don’t mean that in a salty way. I really like Coach Southerland; but being on a staff which won the program’s only Region I Championship in its history, having been the top seeded team in Region I two of the past three years, and having won 23 of 31 games over that period of time while developing nine All-Staters and two All-Americans; leaves me impressed that the tradition, at least recent tradition at HMS, doesn’t need changing. Matter of fact, it will be damn difficult to duplicate.

This is Fletcher Long, reporting for KPGFootball reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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About Fletcher Long 1532 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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