Preseason look at Class 2A; here are our Top-5 heading into ’21. @minguabeefjerky @PrepSpin @1776Bank @KyHighFootball

Last week we peeked at the 1A classification and projected a top five preseason for that level of play. This week we will do the same for Class 2A and continue on this march on up closer to the ’21 season openers.

Today we give you the 2A Classification. Here is how we see it.

Number One: Lexington Christian Academy…

Beechwood beat Lexington Christian by a single point a season ago in the State Championship game. We are sure this has been right hard with which to live this offseason. LCA has worked tirelessly toward the goal of getting back to Kroger Field and making things right.

Their motto for ’21 is “Leave no doubt.” They have left us with little doubt they have the chess pieces to win a championship.

Tyler Morris

Frankly, we have never seen a 2A roster as loaded as this one. We write about them all the time at KPGFootball and we don’t like them any better than any other team we cover. They just have that many star players.

Drew Nieves is back at QB and has reclassified under SB-128. He will be a junior once more.

All Nieves did in ’20, the first go around as a junior QB, was throw for 2,651-yards on 171 completions in 290 passing attempts with 28 of those completions scoring TDs. He only threw 12-picks.

Nieves has Xavier Brown and Mason Moore back to catch his passes and both of them are either committed to a D-1 programs to play in college (Moore, Miami of Ohio) or being targeted by FBS-Power 5 schools (Brown).

LCA has a couple of college targets up front along its offensive front in Anthony Johns (committed to EKU) and Grant Vaught (offered, Centre College). They may have the best young TE in Kentucky football’s ’24 graduating class in Will Rich.

LCA has two huge offensive weapons added by way of transfer. Jeremiah Riffle (RB, 6-1, 210 from WVa) came in to be the club’s primary ball-carrier and he will be led into holes by J’veontae Emerson (FB/LB 6-1, 230 transfer from West Jessamine). That may prove to be the winning edge in ’21.

Defensively, the best LB in the classification is Tyler Morris, (Navy commit) and Jeffrey Selby (offered/Centre College) would be a headliner anywhere but where he plays. Mattie Lebryk has graduated but even in his absence next season LCA still figures to have the most feared defensive second level in Kentucky high school football. We haven’t even mentioned Frankie Knight, who most people overlook in this star-studded roster, but who may be the fastest third-level defender in all of Kentucky’s Class 2A.

Yessir, this team should win it all. If they don’t, the deficiency won’t be on its roster.

Number Two: Beechwood (Defending State Champions)…

No one in Kentucky got a bigger reclassification than Cameron Hergott coming back to play another year for Beechwood under SB-128. Hergott was Mr. Football a year ago as voted by both the Coaches and the Associated Press.

Hergott led the Tigers in passing (161 for 220, 2,467-yards passing, 26-TDs with only 6-INTs) and rushing (140-carries, 1.078-yards gained, 15-rushing TDs). Avery Courtney, the 2nd leading rusher, also returns.

Hergott, Photo: Northern Kentucky Tribune

Hergott’s top-three targets in the passing game are coming back for another year with him at the helm. Mitchell Berger (also the defense’s top 3rd-level defender) caught 41 balls a year ago for 601-yards with 5-scores. Brady Moore  (32, 527, 5) and Parker Mason (34, 468, 4) return too.

Eight of the 11 defensive starters were underclassmen a year ago, including junior linebacker Michael Hatfield, junior defensive back, Brady Moore, and sophomore defensive back, Mitchell Berger. In the championship game, Hatfield made a team-high 9.5 tackles, Berger had a fumble recovery and pass interception, and Moore blocked a point-after kick, in overtime, that secured Beechwood’s 24-23 win over LCA.

If you are wondering why we have Beechwood second in light of all they have returning, the answer is PK, Colin Graman, graduated. Graman was the best placekicker in Kentucky HS football to a lot of people a year ago.

Graman was 54 of 57 in PATs and 7 for 9 in FGs. Having a kicker like that is how teams win (as opposed to lose) one-point games. Just saying…

Number three: The return of “Mighty Mayfield”…

Mayfield lost in the second round a year ago to a Murray High team which was loaded. Mayfield not making the Regional Championship happens as frequently as Haley’s Comet passes the earth’s atmosphere. Not really, but pretty darn close.

Mayfield starting QB was only a sophomore a year ago. Zane Cartwright was 93 for 175, throwing for 1,133-yards and tossing 13-TDs against his 8-thrown interceptions. His top two targets, Daniel Coles (30, 402, 6) and Ben Gloyd (17, 256, 3) will both make another tour through the Western Kentucky Conference.

Jax Rogers

Superstar running-back Kylan Galbreath elected to reclassify. Galbreath was Mayfield’s leading rusher in ’20 but his ’19 numbers are more indicative of his capabilities. In ’19, the superstar ground-gainer collected nearly 1,600-yards rushing (1,575) with 18-rushing TDs.

Maybe the biggest reason to feel good about Mayfield’s ’21 prospects is the return of ’22 prospect Jax Rogers to the field of play. Rogers was injured pretty much the entirety of ’20 but when we last saw him (2019, 125-tackles) he made the All-State,1st-team, at LB and was considered the best LBer at any classification west of Louisville, Kentucky.

Finally, as people around Kentucky will tell you, Mayfield is….well, Mayfield. They are back at full strength and were young a year ago suffering at least one key injury (Rogers) which made a huge difference in their defensive play. What are the chances they go two years without, at least, a berth in the semi-finals? As the British would say, not bloody likely!

Number four: Owensboro Catholic…

Owensboro Catholic may have the very best coaching staff in the KHSAA. We say this because, especially for a private school, they have been poor in recruiting. This year may have changed all this.

In most years, and in street clothes, you would never trade rosters with the Aces. Historically, they are the team with the offensive line all weighing under 200 who look more like a fraternity getting off the bus than a big-time football team.

Yet, year in and year out, they are fixtures in the KHSAA weekly top-ten polls. They give Owensboro “Senior High” a tough game every time the two teams play (which is yearly) and are regularly in the Regional Championship round, which they were again last season in spite of it being a “down year” by team standards.

Brady Mundy/Photo: Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer;

The coaching staff does more with less. Lets see what they can do with more.

The Aces have lucked into a big-time freshman from district rival Hancock County who moved to Owensboro and promises to be one of Kentucky’s top ’25s. Brady Atwell is 6-2, 225-pounds and can play QB and LB. Look for Atwell to start out on the defensive side of the ball and look for him to be in the night-one, opening lineup.

Catholic also will feature more size in the passing game as they have a 6-7 receiver they have borrowed from the basketball program. JiArius “Ji” Webb is the real deal on the hardwood and there have been lots of examples of guys coming over to the gridiron from the hardwood and having a tremendous impact on a football team, especially in high school.

Owensboro Catholic is betting on Webb having such a pronounced impact. I would hate to bet against either them or him.

Lincoln Clancy returns at QB from a year ago. Clancy was a prime dual-threat guy in the Aces’ offensive attack. Clancy threw for over a thousand yards, completing 11-TD throws as compared to his 8-INTs.

Clancy also rushed the football 52-times for 365-yards and 2-ground scores. He’s not flashy, but he is effective.

Hunter Monroe, in ’20, was among the best freshman football players at the varsity level the commonwealth had the pleasure of watching. Monroe led the team in rushing yards (761) on 109-carries and carried the pigskin across the goal-line 9-times. Braden Mundy may be the team’s best overall player and is a threat on both sides of the football.

Mundy gained 755-yards a year ago with 10-rushing TDs on only 93-carries while being the team’s leading receiver (31, 437, 8). His 8-TD receptions was 8 of the ball club’s 13 TD receptions on the year. That is a tremendous contribution from only one player.

Mundy was also the team’s leading scorer a year ago. Defensively, Mundy tied for the lead in interceptions and fumble recoveries. That is pitching-in about everywhere a single player is capable.

We don’t know if these guys can get through Mayfield or not. However, the two teams appear destined to meet on down the road in the ’21 playoffs. These two teams are two trains headed one for the other full throttle.

Number five: Breathitt County Bobcats…

Those of you surprised with this pick must have been living under a rock the last several years. Breathitt has won 27 of its last 31-football games.

Breathitt only lost 6-seniors from off of last year’s team. Sure the loss of the District Player of the Year in Lane Weedle, signed to the University of the Cumberlands to play football, and AP All-State First-teamer, William Long, who made First-team in ’20 as both an OL and a DL (signed to Centre College) will hurt; but there is ample young talent on The Riverbank to make this coming season interesting.

Jaylen Turner, Photo: Credited on the image

QB Jaylen Turner returns and the 6-4, 220-pounder is a college prospect being recruited at three positions. College’s like him as both a receiver and safety in addition to QB.

Last year, Turner threw for 1,167-yards in 8-games with 16-thrown TDs against only 4-picks. He gained 449-yards with 9-rushing TDs to be the ball club’s top returning rusher. Turner had 36-tackles, 3-INTs, a pick-six, and forced a fumble on defense.

Turner will work this year behind a “Big Blue Wave” only replacing its offensive center. Evan Miller, 6-3, 305-pounds, will get first dibs there and he has the length (83-inch wingspan), athleticism (21-inch vertical), and frame to make a go of it if he can sink his hips consistently, move his feet, and play at the pad-level needed to stem the inside bull-rush he is sure to see from opposing interior defenders.

Miller will be flanked by Michael Hudson (6-0, 240) and superstar, Jason Perry, at guard. Perry is a 6-2, 275-pound weight room monster and football phenom. You will hear quite a bit about him over these next three seasons.

Teegan Smith (6-1, 296) and Connor Deaton (6-8, ?) will hold down the tackle posts. Smith is Breathitt’s best lineman on both sides of the scrimmage line and Deaton is 6-8, surprisingly athletic player who moves well for a kid his size. The Bobcats aren’t sure what Deaton actually weighs.

The Holcomb Field House scale doesn’t register weights over 350-pounds. Breathitt doesn’t know what Deaton weighs, but they know whatever that may be exceeds 350-pounds. Anyone got a livestock scale Breathitt can borrow?

Breathitt has Cade Bowling back at RB after starting much of his freshman year. Look for incoming freshman, Kory Combs, to be used at the blocking back position, leading plays and getting some inside carries.

Opponents better beware of little Isaac “Wheels” Turner with the ball in his hands in space. They don’t call him “Wheels” for nothing. He is quick as a hiccup and dangerous in the open field.

When Jaylen Turner looks down the field to throw the football, he will have some interesting targets from which to choose. Leading receiver in ’20, Austin Sperry, caught 33-balls for 538-receiving yards with 6-TD receptions a year ago as a freshman. Guess what? He has reclassified and is a freshman once more.

Rising senior, Blake Ritchie is steady and has good back-end, separation speed. Ritchie has been a fixture both at receiver and corner for the Bobcats over the previous two seasons.

Big Bryce Hoskins (6-6, 260-pound TE) is the second leading returning receiver. He aligns usually in the slot. Look for Christian Collins, 6-8, 220-pound transfer from Buckhorn, to come out and play football.

Collins is one of Kentucky finest low-post presences in high school basketball. Collins is vertically explosive and perpetually plays “above the rim” on the hardwood. He would give the Bobcats three of the longest, lengthiest, and more dangerous passing targets in 2A football.

Class of ’21 Ethan Gibson has reclassified. He had an eye-popping 4 FRs a year ago.

The Bobcat defensive second level should be one of the more improved areas of the defense in ’21. Freshman, Kory Combs is one of Kentucky’s finest and more physical players in the Class of ’25 at MLB (6-0, 210-pounds) and Dalton Little gives the team the most size inside it has had in quite a while. Little is 6-3, 255-pounds and runs well enough to double as a TE.

Outside, look for Brady Tincher and Tyler Bryant to nail down those slots. Tincher is 6-2, 195-pounds and was a big surprise last season with 46-tackles in 8-games. Bryant came on late to give the Bobcats a bolt at the end of the year and is built similarly to Tincher. Both of these players have “get to the boundary” speed.

Up front, defensively, the Bobcats will feature two-way players Teegan Smith and Michael Hudson. Hudson is a 240-pound player you will need to keep an eye on as he has a penchant for making big plays in the opponent’s backfield. Teegan Smith is a 6-1, 296-pound immovable brute who is quicker and faster than teams expect.

Long will be replaced at NG by Gabe Fugate. Long led the team a season ago in TFLs and QB-sacks and his will be big shoes to fill. However, Fugate has many of Long’s characteristics in that he is obscenely strong, can play at an incredibly low pad-level, and is quick into and through the gap with a powerful club, rip, and leg-kick through the gap.

Fugate is a future star. You better write that name down and keep it somewhere.

Overall Breathitt has a walk to the third round (with the exception of Middlesboro). The Bobcats have a very good passing game with a QB who can hurt you running the ball.

Defensively, they should be much better in the run-box than a year ago and will be solid on the defensive back-end. If Breathitt had a very good to big-time RB, they would be getting ranked much higher than 5th.

Honorable Mention: Newport Central Catholic, West Carter, Danville, Middlesboro

This is HB Lyon reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you that WE’RE JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT! 

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