Colonels en­ter fi­nals with per­fect track record

Lexington Herald-Leader (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JOSH MOORE

Four­teen weeks of foot­ball have led to this week­end, when Ken­tucky’s six high school state cham­pi­ons are be­ing crowned in the cul­mi­na­tion of the KHSAA Com­mon­wealth Grid­iron Bowl play­offs.

The fi­nals are be­ing played over the course of three days at Kroger Field in Lex­ing­ton. We are pre­view­ing all six games in the Her­aldLeader, con­tin­u­ing to­day with Sun­day af­ter­noon’s game to de­cide the Class 5A cham­pi­onship.

Here is a look at that game, which is set for 2 p.m. Sun­day.

COV­ING­TON CATHOLIC VS. SOUTH WAR­REN

Cov­ing­ton Catholic (14-0)

Head coach: Ed­die Evis­ton (fourth sea­son)

His­tory: No team in this year’s fi­nals has a bet­ter track record than Cov­ing­ton Catholic: It’s 7-0 in the fi­nals, in­clud­ing a 49-13 win over Madi­son South­ern in last year’s trip, the Colonels’ first since 2006. This is the third time CovCath has played in back-to-back fi­nals and its first time do­ing so since 1993-1994.

How they got here: The Colonels’ de­fense isn’t as stout as last sea­son, but that just means it went from “his­tor­i­cally great” to “re­ally, re­ally great.” Three of their four shutouts have come in the last five weeks, in­clud­ing a 49-0 win over Wood­ford County to open the play­offs and a 36-0 vic­tory over ri­val High­lands in the re­gion fi­nals. Be­tween those con­tests it de­feated Mont­gomery County, 43-15, and went on the road to best Pu­laski County, 36-14, in the semi­fi­nals.

MVP can­di­dates: Casey McGin­ness leads the way. The se­nior has rushed for 34 TDs, which leads all ac­tive rush­ers and is tied with Perry County Cen­tral’s Jay­den Neace for the statewide lead. He’s eclipsed

2,000 yards on the ground this sea­son and also has five re­ceiv­ing TDs. Ju­nior Michael Mayer with a big re­ceiv­ing day could get the nod: the Notre Dame com­mit has 905 yards and 11 TDs on only 40 re­cep­tions and leads the Colonels with 87 to­tal tack­les (70 solo). He’s also forced three fum­bles, re­cov­ered four and had an in­ter­cep­tion on de­fense.

South War­ren (14-0) Head coach: Bran­don Smith (sixth sea­son)

His­tory: The Spar­tans have reached the cham­pi­onship round just once be­fore, in 2015, when they de­feated John­son Cen­tral, 36-6, for the Class 4A crown. They made the leap to 5A in 2017 and bowed out to Cov­ing­ton Catholic in the state semi­fi­nals.

How they got here: Hav­ing the state’s topranked of­fense and scor­ing de­fense has helped. South War­ren won hand­ily over Apollo (48-0), Grayson County (55-21) and Owens­boro (44-7) be­fore South Old­ham tried to play spoiler in the semi­fi­nals. That game was tied, 10-10 at half­time, be­fore the Spar­tans rat­tled off 21 straight points in the third quar­ter to make the dif­fer­ence in a 31-10 road vic­tory. South War­ren’s re­sume also in­cludes a 36-14 road win at Franklin-Simp­son and a 21-0 vic­tory over Raven­wood, a semi­fi­nal­ist in Ten­nessee’s largest class.

MVP can­di­dates: If the of­fense man­ages to pile up points, Gavin Spurrier might walk away with it. He has thrown for 2,491 yards and 39 TDs, the lat­ter tops in 5A this sea­son and tied for se­cond statewide. The se­nior grand­son of col­lege foot­ball leg­end

Steve Spurrier has com­pleted 71 per­cent of his passes, too (174 of 246). Clay­ton Bush — the Spar­tans’ lead­ing scorer with 24 TDs — could earn it on two-way merit; the WKU com­mit leads the team with seven in­ter­cep­tions, two re­turned for scores. Or, per­haps, Notre Dame com­mit Ja­cob Lacey will take it should the Spar­tans suc­ceed — he leads the team with 13 sacks and four forced fum­bles.

MATT GOINS

Cov­ing­ton Catholic’s Casey McGin­ness, right, has rushed for more than 2,000 yards this sea­son.

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