Colonels enter finals with perfect track record
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.
Covington Catholic’s Casey McGinness, right, has rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season.