Kentucky 6A is the highest classification of competition played in high school football in the Bluegrass. It is usually a safe bet, if you are confused about where a program is likely to finish in Kentucky 6A, to pick the Shamrocks from Trinity High to win the championship. They have won it a whopping 27 times. This year we aren’t making the “safe play.” Who’s winning the crown in ’22, we will below discuss.Fletcher W. Long, Senior Scout and Editorial Board Member
We have poured over the rosters and looked hard at what teams lost and what they have returning. Now this method isn’t as fool proof for Kentucky 6A as it is in other classifications.
The reality is most 6A programs platoon and have senior laden lineups. However, it seems the same ball clubs who are good in any given year are still good most every year which means these teams are reloading and not rebuilding.
We took a look at the rosters entering ’22. We like the below teams as the five best at the 6A level. There are a surprise or two. There are some glaring omissions. There are some yearly contenders. Here is how we see it…
1. Madison Central, 10-4 in ’21 lost in the semis to St. Xavier 31-21, Mike Holcomb HFC, 6A, District 8;
Brady Hensley, ’24, is one of the better RBs in Kentucky and he isn’t bad on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage either. Last year, Hensley had 225-carries for 1,804-yards with 31-TDs on the ground. Hensley caught eight (8)-receptions for 130-yards and a pair of TDs swinging out of the backfield. Hensley was Madison Central’s leading scorer. On defense, Hensley forced a fumble and recovered two in an among his 41-stops with one (1)-TFL.
Hagan Harrison, QB, ’23, threw for 655-yards and 4-TDs; ran for nearly 500-yards and 4-TDs.
Jayden West, ’23, 29-receptions for 629-yards receiving and 4-TDs.
Brock Eads, ’23, had 4-picks a year ago with 8-TFLs and a pair of sacks interspersed among his 59-stops.
Madison Central lost a darn good kicker and who will fill those duties this coming season is anyone’s guess. Would feel better about this pick if we knew anything about the new PK. Otherwise, this program has excellent talent and is very well coached.
KPGFootball Analysis: Any team with a Brady Hensley in the backfield and a Mike Holcomb on the sideline is going to have a whale of a chance to win any classification. Hensley is something we don’t see often at this level of play…he’s a kid who contributes on two sides of the football. Now there are reported injuries of which we have heard but on which we will not comment. Madison Central is a very good ball club which looked to have St. Xavier on the ropes mid-way through the 3rd Q of last year’s semis.
2. St. Xavier, 14-1, 6A Champions, Kevin Wallace, District 3
DonTre Richardson, ’24, scored 3-rushing TDs on 70-carries gaining 332-yards.
Adam Boone, ’23, caught 22-passes, for 240-yards and a pair of TDs. He scored a rushing TD. He can play QB, just keep that in mind.
Trevor Havill, ’24, looks to be the heir apparent to Sivori at the QB position. He completed 11-passes a year ago, two of which were for scores.
Nolan Wolford is a huge piece of the puzzle to return. The ’23 PK, was third on the team a year ago in scoring and will be the leading returning scorer from last season. He converted on over 95% of his PATs (61 of 64) and was 5 of 6 in FGs.
Tyler Boggs ’23 was tied for the team lead in INTs with three and had 81-tackles, 5-TFLs and a sack
Jaxon Panariello, ’23 LB had 7-TFLs and 3-sacks among his 38-stops.
Tyler Neal, ’24, had quite a sophomore season in ’21 with 6-sacks among his 30 or so tackles.
KPGFootball Analysis: Kevin Wallace was brought into St. Xavier to help the school attract some inner-city, urban talent to compete with Trinity. St. Xavier’s roster is still populated by surnames which leave the reader to wonder if these guys are New York’s sixth crime family (Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, Lucchese, and Panariello, just kidding on the last one). All of that aside, St. Xavier is right back in the thick of things around the 6A, Derby City football scene. St. Xavier will defend its title in ’22. They may just win it for the second consecutive time.
3. Louisville’s Trinity High, Jay Cobb, HFC, 6-8 in ’21, lost to Male in the semis;
Jackson Hepner, ’24, will get the first shot to replace Willis at QB we would think. Hepner completed 67% of his passes a year ago and threw a TD every 9-attempts.
Lucas Sasser, ’24, is the leading returning rusher. He gained nearly 400-yards his sophomore season in 76-carries.
Noah Meyers, ’23, (Superstar alert!) appears poised to take over the over the middle targets for the ball club this coming season. The talented 6-5, 225-pound TE is drawing D-1 interest and already has several offers. He could end up being as good as he wants to be. He had 25-receptions working the middle of the opposing defenses a year ago.
Can’t imagine how one can do better than ’23’s Kellan McLaughlin at PK. McLaughlin was the team’s leading offensive scorer, converted on close to 96% of his PATs (46 of 48) and made 15 of his 19-attempted FGs. McLaughlin’s a human point machine.
KPGFootball Analysis: Trinity is the favorite to win it every single year. That is what 27-Kentucky High School football titles do for a program. We could probably get away with picking them every, single year. Of course, what would be the fun in that. Trinity plays a really tough schedule so the end tally doesn’t have much to do with whether they are capable of winning the Kentucky 6A crown. Trust me, they are. Having a human point producing machine like Kellan McLaughlin back can pay huge dividends. These guys could easily go all the way this coming season.
4. duPont Manual, Scott Carmony, HFC of the Crimsons, 8-4 in ’21, lost to St. Xavier by two points, 18-16, in round two at St. Xavier.
Jeremiah Blakey is from a fine football playing family. Blakey was second on the team in receptions a year ago and third in TDs receiving.
Natalie Lowe, ’23, was second team at PK in ’21 but she acquitted herself well when given opportunity. She converted on 75% of her PATs (12 for 16) and looks forward to it being her job this Fall. If she should slip, ’23’s Zach Hutchinson was a perfect 2 for 2 last season.
Julian Wallace was the defense’s leading tackler a year ago. He is a ’23 prospect and is back for another tour.
Class of ’23’s Dominic Shoulders was among the leaders in tackles, TFLs, and sacks and he hasn’t yet exhausted his eligibility either.
Amare Tounsend, ’23, is dangerous on the back end of the defense. He had 4-picks a season ago.
KPGFootball Analysis: We are going to tell you duPont Manual may have been the best 8-4 ball club in Kentucky a year ago. They almost beat the classification’s champion in the second round at St. Xavier. You can never discount the Crimsons’ talent. This will come down to seeding and when the Crimsons will have to face one of the other elite Louisville teams.
5. Ryle, Mike Engler, HFC, 9-4 in ’21, lost to Trinity in the Regional Finals;
Logan Vera, ’24, may be among the better rising junior QBs in the commonwealth. He completed 190 of his 333 passing attempts for 2,395-yards passing with 18-TDs against only 8-picks. He rushed for over 300-yards with 4-ground scores to go along with his passing production. A superlative QB takes a team a long way in high school football.
Jayce Harden ’23 will be the leading returning rusher. Harden gained 540-yards last season on 112-carries. Harden is dangerous swinging out of the backfield, catching 28-passes for 290-yards and 3-scores a season ago.
Kaden Gardner, ’23, is a bone fide superstar. He caught 56-passes in ’21 for 786-yards and 7-TDs. He was also among the club leader in tackles with 59. Gardner’s defensive prowess will be needed this coming season as the ball club graduated many of its top defenders.
KPGFootball Analysis: The Ryle Raiders are always tough and they will always plumb turn around your hats. They have lost a ton from off of last year’s defense or they might have been picked even higher. If they can get off the field, there is plenty on the offense to wreak havoc on opponents.
Others of Note: We know we are going to catch some slack over not picking Male High. It is a proud program which was top-ranked much of the ’21 season before falling to St. Xavier in the title game. However, Male lost some tremendous production from off of last year’s roster we believe will be awfully tough to replace.
Bryan Station was really close to making this list and Ballard is loaded with athletes across its roster yearly. We don’t see another Daviess County from last season because we don’t see a western team with a star player even close to the ability of Daviess County’s Joe Humphreys, now at Miami of Ohio.
The omissions aside, the above is how we see it shaking out. Numbers one, two, and three could have been literally ranked in any order. It is time to kick this thing off, so all the preseason prognostication ends up not being worth a diddly squat.
This is Coach HB Lyon, reporting for KPGFootball, and we’re JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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