The state’s top two senior quarterbacks will square off for the second time in their careers on Friday as Lexington Christian and Christian Academy-Louisville renew their occasional series for a third year in a row in Louisville.
Last season’s much-hyped duel between LCA’s Cutter Boley and CAL’s Cole Hodge in Lexington fell flat thanks in part to five Eagles turnovers and an ankle injury to Boley that took him out of action in the third quarter. The Centurions romped from there, handing the Eagles an embarrassing 49-14 loss.
This season, Class 3A No. 1 CAL (3-0) reigns as a defending state champion and Hodge, a 6-foot-2 senior East Carolina commit, again ranks as one of the state’s most prolific passers, averaging 288 yards per game with 15 TDs.
LCA’s Boley, a 6-5 Kentucky commit, has almost quietly averaged 303 yards passing per game and has six TD tosses. That’s because the Eagles now boast the state’s No. 2 running back in terms of yards per game, senior Eastern Kentucky commit Brady Hensley, who has rushed for 746 yards and 10 TDs for the Eagles (2-1).
“They’re a lot more balanced which makes them more dangerous,” CAL coach Hunter Cantwell said. “We’re looking at this game as an opportunity to compete and get better and, hopefully, it helps both teams reach their ultimate goal.”
CAL graduated 15 seniors, including 1,000-plus yard rusher Gavin Copenhaver. That’s a void CAL hasn’t seemed to have filled yet, but that doesn’t mean the Centurions are toothless. They’ve scored 49 points in each of their last two games.
“Cole Hodge is legit. He plays with poise and he knows the system,” LCA coach Doug Charles said. “Our defensive staff is going to be up really late at night trying to figure out all the different wrinkles they have.”
Both teams played Saturday, so they have a short week to recover and get ready.
This will be LCA’s fourth straight game against a highly ranked opponent. The Eagles have wins over Class 5A No. 2 Bowling Green and Class A No. 1 Pikeville and a close loss to Class 4A No. 1 Boyle County. Once past the Centurions, LCA still has Holy War rival Lexington Catholic (No. 4 in Class 3A) and Class A No. 2 Raceland ahead along with its district schedule.
While such a lineup seems daunting, Hensley said he doesn’t mind.
“Honestly, it’s fun,” Hensley said. “I know sometimes it can be hard when you get out here in your third quarter and it’s a close game, but I enjoy it.”
Lexington Christian’s kickoff at Christian Academy-Louisville is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Battle of No. 1 teams
▪ Scott County at Boyle County, 7:30 p.m. In the five years since Scott County reached its last state finals, a 2018 Class 6A state championship game loss to Male, the Cardinals have split their enrollment with sister school Great Crossing, dropped down into Class 5A and fallen short in a bitter rivalry with Lexington’s Frederick Douglass.
But with the Broncos bumped back up into Class 6A for 2023 and beyond, this year’s unbeaten Scott County team (3-0) finds itself ranked No. 1 in Class 5A with the talent that could earn the Cardinals their third state title.
“I’d rather be first than 21st,” McKee joked about his team’s poll numbers. “That’s a compliment to our kids, our program and our expectations. But we want to be No. 1 in November and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve got this game on our schedule.”
Scott County travels to Boyle County this week, the Class 4A No. 1 and three-time defending state champion in that division. The Rebels (3-0) feature some of the state’s most dynamic playmakers, like Montavin Quisenberry, Demauriah Brown, Sage Dawson and Avery Bodner.
“I’m not going to focus on Boyle County,” McKee said. “They don’t hand out trophies in Week 4. … But I’ll be able to say to my guys on Friday that we’re not going to play anybody any better than that team.”
Scott County suffered a tremendous loss on defense when second team all-state senior tackle Jasante Harmon went out with a knee injury in its season opener.
But the Cardinals still have three-star junior Buddy Collins on both offense and defense and the deceptive, run-heavy wing-T attack that all defensive coordinators loathe. The Cardinals rank third in the state in rushing yards with 311 per game. Senior fullback Jacob Fryman averages 119 of that.
“We want to put our kids in big-game environments and that will be,” McKee said. “We look forward to going down there and look forward to hosting them next year.”
Other top matchups
▪ Bryan Station (1-2) at Ballard (2-1), 7:30 p.m. The Class 6A No. 8 Defenders hung on to a top-10 ranking according to the first media poll of the season despite losing their first two contests. This road game against the No. 5 Bruins should prove whether Station has truly returned to the form it showed last season.
▪ Raceland (1-1) at Pikeville (2-1), 7:30 p.m. The Class A No. 2 Rams and No. 1 Panthers offer both a rematch of last year’s state championship game and, perhaps, a preview of the next one.
Other Lexington games
▪ Tates Creek (3-0) at Frederick Douglass (1-1), 6:30 p.m. Ranked No. 2 in Class 6A, the Broncos have not lost to a Lexington team since the school was founded, a streak of 30 games.
Douglass has beaten Tates Creek six times by an average score of 50-13, winning 57-8 last season.
For Commodores coach Jonathan Hawks, facing the Broncos isn’t about a streak or a score, it’s about making his team better.
“We respect them. We think they are a really good team, but we just have to prepare to the best of our ability,” Hawks said. “The focus is just us. We know what we’ve got to do.”
▪ George Rogers Clark (2-1) at Henry Clay (0-3), 7:30 p.m. After a season opening loss to Central Hardin, the Cardinals notched impressive wins over Belfry and Pulaski County.
▪ Great Crossing (1-2) at Lexington Catholic (1-2), 7:30 p.m. Like Bryan Station, the Class 3A No. 3 Knights retained a top-10 ranking despite two losses. Proving they are worth that ranking begins here.
▪ Paul Laurence Dunbar (0-3) at Shelby County (1-2), 7:30 p.m. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Rockets’ only win came against their Shelbyville rivals Collins, the team that routed Dunbar 48-13 last week.
▪ DeSales (1-2) at Lafayette (0-3), 7:30 p.m. The Colts snapped a 12-game losing streak in their season opener and have played two close games since. Lafayette’s losing streak stands at 17 games.
▪ Bye week: Sayre (3-0).
Rivalries of the week
▪ Border War: Marion County (2-1) at Washington County (2-1), 7:30 p.m. This battle for the “Rob Reader Memorial Barrel” stands at 24-24 after the Commanders’ fourth straight win in the series last year.
▪ Battle of Highway 32: Fleming County (2-1) at Rowan County (1-2), 7:30 p.m. The Vikings have won two in a row in this neighbor-county tilt.
▪ Brotherhood Bowl: Shawnee (1-2) at Jackson County (2-1), 7:30 p.m. This small city school vs. small rural school game has become a new tradition.
▪ Other rivalries: Owensboro Catholic (3-0) at Owensboro (1-2), 7 p.m.; Bullitt Central (1-2) at Bullitt East (2-1), 7:30 p.m.; Mercer County (3-0) at Danville (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
Should be a good one
▪ Breathitt County (1-2) at Johnson Central (1-2), 7:30 p.m. These two top-10 teams are legitimate contenders in their respective classes but both lined up brutal early schedules — case in point.
▪ Other games: Ryle at Highlands, 7 p.m.; Walton-Verona at Kentucky Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Shelby Valley at Middlesboro, 7:30 p.m.; Paris at Montgomery County, 7:30 p.m.; Green County at West Jessamine 7:30 p.m.; Murray at Union County, 7 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Stay up to date: Check out the Herald-Leader’s live update feed and our weekly streaming guide “Friday Night Lights” which posts each Friday afternoon on Kentucky.com.