The All-State Football 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. We now unveil for you, the selections committee’s Jimmies and Joes. These are the Freshman and Sophomore All-State Football Athletes. We will begin, as we have done through out the series of articles, with the Freshmen…

Class of 2021

Seth Mounts, 6’2” 185, Belfry High School

One of the first times Kentucky Prep Gridiron featured Seth was in an article, dated April 2, 2017, and entitled, Seth Mounts…Some Articles Just Write Themselves. Our first four articles, which launched this very successful site, were published March 30, 2017. So that’s how long it took us to get to get to Pike County, Kentucky (a place I have never personally visited) and learn about one of the best pure football players in his class. In that article I wrote that…Seth Mounts is one of the more decorated players in the Commonwealth of Kentucky Class of 2021 and he plays QB/LB for the Belfry Buccaneers but Kentucky Prep Gridiron sees him on the Defensive side of the ball in HS and beyond. Not bragging, but how right I was! Seth is 6’2″ and weighs 185 pounds and spent some time on the injury list this year but, when he got healthy, played lights out for the Buccaneers Varsity Football team. On the year, Mounts had 53 tackles while only playing in 10 of Belfry’s 13 games. Without injury, Mounts anchors down a spot at LB for an 11-2 powerhouse in Class 3A, District 6, all year as a freshman. On October 12, 2017, in an article entitled Seth Mounts from Belfry High School is coming into his own, I told you that…Seth Mounts, and (Sophomore All-Stater) Greyson Cook, (2020), who started at DE last year as a freshman, are the first freshman to start for Belfry since 2002 when Cole Bentley, Cameron Catron, and Ray Horton accomplished the feat. So, Mounts didn’t play for Kentucky’s winningest football coach and for, perennially, the best program in Kentucky’s 3A Classification because Belfry lacked players. Seth would have started practically anywhere as a freshman. Seth, in Middle School, made the B2C All-American Team and was selected to the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Academy.  Seth possesses excellent frame, length, explosion, and good speed and is able to contain the edge while still able to make plays in space from his OLB position. In the passing game, Seth is able to close out on the flat in coverage. In addition, he is a fine quarterback prospect who could conceivably find himself at that position for Belfry going forward.  Seth was a multiple selection to Team Kentucky FBU. Mounts, the son of football coach, Daniel Mounts, is easily one of the best athletes in his class in all of Kentucky.

LaVell Wright, 6’0″ 185, North Hardin High School

I love this kid. Fantastic athlete and football player is an understatement. Here’s a player, who in only 9 games, playing in Kentucky’s 6A Classification in District 2, rushed for 377 yards in 121 carries with 3 rushing TDs as a freshman. That’s not all he did. He also caught 13 passes for 142 yards with a yards per reception average of 15.8 and a receiving TD, to boot. Way back in April of 2017, I wrote an article about LaVell entitled, LaVell Makes All the “Wright” Moves. I called him one of the best athletes in his class and, in an article published in May of this year, listed him as one of the top 4 players in the Class of 2021. See, Kentucky’s 2021, Fantastic Four! May 13, 2017. LaVell (whom I love like a son but whose inclusion on this All-State team just can’t be intellectually debated) and I have gone back and forth about where he and I see his football position going forward in his athletic career, which is only beginning. I believe he will be either a college receiver or SS/OLB type depending on how thick he gets. LaVell wants desperately to be a RB. He may be the only kid in Kentucky who is afraid he will grow too tall. The fear for LaVell is he doesn’t want to be too tall to be considered a conventional RB prospect. LaVell has great hands, really long arms, runs well, is incredibly strong, particularly for his age, and is the type of downfield target CBs have fits containing in coverage.  At the Louisville Future Stars Combine, 7 on 7 portion, LaVell dropped into coverage from a FS position and became a back end nightmare for the QBs trying to fit balls into vertical routes. LaVell, in coverage, easily picked off deep throws numerous times during the session. LaVell has played OLB for Team Kentucky in FBU season and has plenty of speed and length to contain the sweep, and cover routes run in the flat.  Kentucky Prep Gridiron easily sees LaVell at the next level and collegiately using those same attributes to play Centerfielder for some lucky Defense’s back 4. As far as a kid who can be utilized in a variety of ways, LaVell is football’s version of a one-man band. He’s a RB, Safety, WR, and OLB. I say we throw him a clip board and find out if he can coach. There’s nothing else in football he can’t do. This is a kid whose progression, going forward, is one which should be monitored. Clear All-State football player in the minds of the selection committee and a testament to the RBs in the Class of 2021 that he isn’t listed there. In some ways, relegating him to only one position would have seemed insulting.

Isaac Dixon, 5’10” 170, Belfry High School

We go back to Pike County, Kentucky for athlete Isaac Dixon. The Buccaneers thought they might let Dixon try his hand at rushing the football this year, being as he played, as a freshman, in all 13 of the Belfry’s Varsity contests. So they handed the ball to Dixon 13 times in the three games he was at running back, just to see what he might do. What he did was gain 197 yards for a yards per carry average of 15.15 and some change. Oh yeah, almost slipped my mind, he had 4 rushing TDs in those 3 games at RB. Dixon, 0n defense, from his Safety position, registered 16 tackles. I remember when I took JeVon Leavell to the Team Kentucky Future Star tryouts, two years ago, and he made the team as a kick returner. Leavell, by the way, has made our All-State Sophomore Football Team this year at Corner and is the nephew of NFL Corner, Keith Tandy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Well, I guess for giggles, Coach Farmer, the Team Kentucky 8th grade Future Stars’ Coach, decided to let Leavell carry the ball against Team Tennessee and JeVon gained 61 yards in 5 carries. Kentucky Future Stars’ Director, Ricco Hughes, told me, after the game, Maybe we should have fed Leavell the football more at RB, to which I responded, You think? Not being smart, but the similarities are numerous. Belfry and Tampa Bay have the same mascot for one, but more importantly, just like Ricco said about needing to feed Leavell the ball more on offense, I am sure Coach Haywood probably is kicking himself, just a little, he didn’t give Dixon the ball more this year at RB. Dixon is a guy who could have made this team, most years, as a freshman RB, if the RB class didn’t have guys like Mills and Babin putting up ridiculous rushing and TD totals for High School freshmen. In most years, Dixon could have made this team at Safety too if not for the tremendous, and equally ridiculous, freshman numbers of Safeties, Elijah Austin (23 tackles, 16 solo and 3 Interceptions in only 5 games) and Frank Turner (93 tackles with 58 being solo tackles for Class 4A Franklin County). Good thing Dixon is the kind of player you align anywhere and find ways to feed the ball. Isaac Dixon puts the lete in athlete! What a weapon both Mounts and he will be for Belfry for years to come. Bad news for the remainder of Class 3A.

Class of 2020

Imonte Owsley, 5’8″ 150, Owensboro Senior High School

In Owensboro, they call him Monte. Everywhere else, they call him a nightmare, particularly, if one is trying to contain him on a football field. Monty ran the ball, this year, for the Red Devils, in the 5A Classification, 58 times gaining 685 yards with 11 rushing TDs. That is averaging nearly 12 yards a carry, scoring a rushing TD every 5.27 times the ball is handed to you. Monte caught 13 passes for 301 yards receiving for over 23 yards per reception with 5 receiving TDs. Owsley intercepted a pass on defense, recovered a fumble, and recorded 19 tackles. Owsley has a registered 40 yard dash of 4.4 seconds though I am unclear as to when that was timed. That may have been a middle school time and I will lay out for you the source of my confusion, just in case you are inclined to disbelieve Monte’s 40 time as being accurate. When Owsley was a freshman, at the SIU HS Boys Indoor Invitational, he turned in a 7.12 60 meter time participating for Owensboro’s Track Team. According to KYTracXC, the 60 meter to 40 yard conversion is to take the 60m time and multiply by .6096 to identify the time it would take to run 40 yards. Under the accepted formula, Owsley’s forty time, last year as a freshman, was 4.34. So, in light of that, I would say, if the time is recent, then Owsley’s self-reporting his 40 yard dash time at merely 4.4 seconds was pretty modest of him. If recent, Owsley must have ran the 40 in sand or his 60 meter time was run with a strong wind at his back, I don’t know. I suspect the time is an old time and Owsley hasn’t updated his Hudl profile in a while. I also noticed the reported back squat of 210 is way lighter than I would expect from a player who can motor like the official timer at the SIU HS Boys Indoor Invitational indicates. For our purposes, as a selection committee, and, for the sake of argument on this site and for this feature article, the matter can be simply settled by proclaiming (I believe quite justly) that Monte Owsley is one of the fastest football players in Kentucky. I have heard that, as a rule, athletes jump and run well. If that is so, than Owsley is the very picture of athletic. The Red Devils had a tough year, this year, but with players like the ones that have made our All-State teams, I would not anticipate their struggling next year.

Jordan Watkins, 6’1″ 180 St. Francis DeSales High School

Photo: Courier-Journal

If you are smart, (I just know you are or why would you be reading this site?) you are probably noticing a trend here. The people whom this selection committee tended to recognize as our All-State Athletes are versatile, able to play multiple positions or have a variety of skill sets on either one or both sides of the ball, and have filthy, filthy speed. Jordan Watkins is no different. Watkins runs the 100 meter in 11 seconds flat. According to Reddit NFL, what is accepted by NFL scouts attempting to verify a reported 40 time, an athlete, who registers a time in the 100 meters between 10.95 and 11.21, runs the 40 yard dash between 4.5 and 4.6 seconds. Therefore, an 11 flat 100 meter equates roughly to the 40 yard dash time reported by Watkins of 4.5.  As a committee, we felt the reported 4.5 forty was sufficiently corroborated by his 100 meter time to lend it evidentiary weight, at least to us. On the football side, production wise, as this isn’t always about a track meet, Watkins, playing for one of the premier Class 2A programs in Kentucky in St. Francis DeSales, according to the statistics on MaxPreps.com, gained 751 yards rushing and averaged 8.2 yards per carry. Watkins scored 12 rushing TDs and caught another 3 TD receptions for 15 total TDs scored for the Sophomore. Watkins caught 10 passes for 165 yards in receptions for 16.5 yards per catch. Watkins exhibited one of the key criteria for which we looked in the Athletes we believed to be the best in their Class, and, therefore, worthy All-Staters, and that is multiple offensive skill sets of being able to both run and catch the football and an ability to find the end zone via both avenues. In any year, other than the present one, Watkins’ rushing totals at a school like DeSales would gain the player strong support for being an All-State, Sophomore RB. While his numbers didn’t compare with the Sophomore RBs we selected, he is undoubtedly an Athlete who is worthy of being on the All-State team.

Zach Labhart, 6’1″ 200, Anderson County High School

Dane Jackson, All-Stater, tackles another All-Stater, Zach Labhart

Zach Labhart, who, along with Darion Dearinger, are two players on the Class 5A, District 6 Anderson County Bearscats about whom Coach Mark Peach may well be quite giddy. Well, who could blame him? The Bearcats went 8-4, narrowly losing in the 2nd round to a Madison Southern team (14-11) which is playing, this week-end, against Covington Catholic, for the whole enchilada in Class 5A. Labhart, along with Watkins and Owsley, could have made almost any Sophomore All-State team, in any state touching the Commonwealth of Kentucky, in a normal year with normal football talent. The talent in both the 2020 & 2021 classes in Kentucky is just exceptional. Labhart gained 983 yards from scrimmage as a sophomore in only 196 carries with 12 rushing TDs. Labhart averaged over 5 yards a carry, which is phenomenal, but, in the crowd of runners in the Kentucky 2020 & 2021 classes, looks rather pedestrian in comparison. Zach had 40 tackles on Defense with 30 of them being solo tackles. Labhart caught 3 passes out of the backfield for 35 yards and housed a return on special teams. Labhart, with his 6’1″ frame, and 200 pound weight, figures to add some muscle this offseason and be a punishing, downhill runner and/or fast and big-hitting OLB, next year, very similar to how he played for the Bearcats this past season. Zach is also a top-flight, baseball prospect, who has been called by Perfect Game USA, a site which evaluates base-ballers, a prospect with…[l]arge frame…and very good…physicality. The baseball site evaluated Zach as an 8th grader, but even then, Zach registered a 60 yard dash time of 6.8 flat. Now there is an easy conversion formula for determining a 40 yard dash time from a 60 yard dash time, but, as a committee, we can’t vouch for its complete accuracy. Using the simple formula of a 40/60th of 6.8, Labhart’s approximate 40 speed is 4.53 seconds. This formula has a significant margin of error as it assumes you achieve top speed at both distances for similar periods, which you don’t, so the committee isn’t saying Labhart ran a 4.53 second 40 in eighth grade when his baseball, 60 yard dash time, was registered. It did persuade us Zach is plenty fast, and, taken together with his on-field production, we were sure he belonged on our Class of 2020 All-State football team.

Well, these are the Athletes who made the Classes of 2020 & 2021 All-State Football Teams and why they were selected. Next up, we begin highlighting Defensive selections to our All-State Football teams, so keep checking the site. Until then, this is Fletcher Long, for Kentucky Prep Gridiron, reminding all those playing football at Kroger Field this next week-end to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

 

 

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