The Big Boys playing for the Big Boys. The Large School (4A, 5A, & 6A), Preseason, All-State OL @minguabeefjerky @kyhighs @KyHighFootball @840WHAS @bigassfans

Maybe the best OL we have covered since coming online. Jarvis Strickland, Paducah Tilghman

These are the ‘Big Boys’ playing for the Big Boys (4A, 5A, & 6A)

There are some grown men playing football across Kentucky in the four, five, and six A classifications. Here we will tell you the linemen who look to us to have the best chance of making our end of the year All-State football team. There will be misses, and those feeling slighted will have ample opportunity to make a case with their play over the course of the season. However, every analysis must have a beginning and we will begin with these guys. We are looking for skill over size, but size does matter. We want good feet; length; a devastating, path altering punch; and the core strength and quickness to intercept upfield pass rush coupled with an ability to “shut the door” when that upfield rush redirects across the blocker’s face.

HB Lyon, Scouting Director, KPGFootball

Unless you have ever been on a selection committee, you have no idea how difficult it is to attempt to pick the best high school football players in this or any commonwealth/state. Offensive line is particularly difficult as statistics which indicate competent play are usually not kept and are both few and far between.

These five guys here could each lay an entirely legitimate claim to being the best offensive lineman in Kentucky at their level of play. We have two 6As, 2 4As, and a 5A guy comprising our unit. We are sure we have missed. No all-anything team gets them all.

As the season works itself out, there will be players who make their case for All-State with their play. We will be there to see them, like every other year.

Still, every analysis has to begin somewhere. We have begun here. Let the debate commence.

Left Tackle ’26: Jarvis Strickland, Jr., 6’6,” 290, Paducah Tilghman (4A)

This is a guy we have had the privilege of watching on numerous occasions. Jarvis Strickland plays on one of the better stocked rosters in Kentucky High School Football at any level of play.

Strickland transferred over to the Blue Tornado, with Martels Carter (UK commitment), last year from Brainerd High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. No offense to Carter, who may be the fastest player in the entire KHSAA or maybe even its history, but Strickland may have been the better part of the bargain.

Strickland has plenty of length as we have seen him consistently listed at 6’6,” 290-pounds. He may even be taller and he possesses plus extremity length.

Strickland is mean as Hell. Sorry for cursing but don’t know how else to capture the fact of his nature any more accurately nor succinctly. He is like a tornado in that he commonly leaves nothing but oppositional destruction in his wake.

They should call him Uncle Jemima. He is a Kentucky manifestation for the pancake industry.

Strickland is a member of the ESPN 300, the National Playmaker’s Association and Super Max’s top 100, and the top player in the ’26 graduating class, in Kentucky, at any position. You don’t see too many OTs similarly praised.

Left Guard, ’26: David ‘Pancake’ Pellman, 6’3,” 290-pounds, duPont Manual (6A)

You know a kid is a bad boy as an offensive lineman if “pancake” is in his official Nomme de guerre. David Pellman, 6’3,” 290-pounds ’26, is not called “Pancake Pellman” for nothing, and it isn’t for purposes of alliteration.

The Crimsons, in ’23, behind a line anchored by the then sophomore, scored 422-points this season, rushed for 1,634-yards and passed for 2,885-yards. The Crimsons scored 27-TDs passing and another 26-TDs the old fashioned way…by EARNING them.

Pellman was a member of our ’23, All-State football team and was only a second year player. He is continuing to mature and fill out and that is a very scary proposition for Louisville, especially among its high school football teams.

Center, ’25: Isaac “Spike” Sowells, 6’2,” 293-pounds, Louisville’s Male High (6A)

Isaac Sowells is the definitive offensive center among all high schools, regardless of size, throughout the Bluegrass. Matter of fact, 247Sports.com has him listed as the number five (5), overall, prospect in the Kentucky ’25 graduating class.

Mr. Sowells, whom we commonly call “Spike,” is the son of a coach who formerly played collegiately at the University of Indiana before a stint in the league. It is kind of “up in the air” where Spike ends up playing; but, he has loads and loads of FBS, power six suitors.

While Spike has not committed, early indications seem to suggest he is headed to NC State. With Sowells anchoring its front, the Bulldogs scored 501-points, rushed for 1,820-yards, and passed for 2,464-yards.

The team scored 30-rushing TDs and 34-TDs passing. That is called a balanced attack.

Right Guard, ’26: Zach Jordan, 6’5,” 240-pounds, Bowling Green (Senior) High (5A)

Jordan carries a 3.5-GPA and has super length to go along with enough height to move out to tackle in college depending on how his frame finishes. Jordan played in all 15-games for a 5A team which took home the title in ’23 and will be favored to repeat in ’24. Jordan was outstanding for the Purples.

The Purples threw for over 3,700-yards and 47-TDs. The Purples ran for nearly 1,500-yards and another 33-TDs.

The offense scored close to 44-points a night. The offensive line, of which Jordan is an integral part, deserves some credit for this; if not the lion’s share.

If you review the film we have linked under his photograph, you will notice Jordan has elite size and length and his frame doesn’t look finished. He figures to get taller and longer; both scary propositions.

Jordan uses his size well and plays physically. Jordan uses his wing span to stun and overpower opponents. Jordan is able to adapt to the opponent’s pushback and use his considerable strength to beat defenders.

Jordan has quick, nimble feet. Jordan runs his feet until the whistle blows and finishes blocks with an angry disposition.

Jordan is a bully…when he should be. Football is a game for bullies.

Right Tackle, ’25: Gradey Anthony, 6’5,” 270, North Oldham High (4A)

Gradey Anthony played on a 7-5, 4A football team in ’23 where he was among the team’s brightest stars. Anthony is a 3-star, nationally ranked prospect who is rated 10th, in the ’25 class, in all of Kentucky, overall, and the 2nd highest rated offensive lineman. 

Anthony is a prospect with the highest growth potential (or ceiling as it is sometimes called) among the group. His frame is slight and lengthy and looks far from finished. By the end of the year, it wouldn’t surprise us if Anthony was approaching 6’7.”

Anthony has pledged to the University of Louisville and will take his talents to the ACC. With Isaac Sowells looking like an NC State lean, these two could face each other in college.

Anthony is an accomplished pass-setter as he played for a team which completed 221 of its 381-passing attempts for 2,565-passing yards and 27-TDs against only 9-picks. One doesn’t often encounter many 7-win, 4A teams completing close to 60% of its passing attempts with a 3:1 TD to INT ratio while throwing for close to 214-yards a night.

Gradey Anthony’s best football is still ahead of him and that is pretty scary because he is performing at a very high clip right now. That is why he is headed to the FBS, power-six to play collegiately.

These are the five linemen we would throw in our opening Friday night lineup if we had to open a season tomorrow. The season is right around the corner and we shall see what we see when the time to play arrives.

Let’s get ready, folks! It is our favorite time of year.

This is Friday Night Fletch, reporting for KPGFootball, reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!

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About Fletcher Long 1534 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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