The Allen County-Scottsville Patriots will travel to Campbellsville University Saturday afternoon to face Hart County in the opening game of the 49th season of high school football in Allen County. As the new season launches, AC-S will be seeking a return trip to the playoffs, a home playoff game for the first time since 2010, and a deep run into the November nights. The ultimate goal is a run to Kroger---Kroger Stadium (formally Commonwealth Stadium) in Lexington and the 2017 Class 4-A state championship game.
To reach the title game will hinge on the team improving day-to-day and week-to-week, solid play on both sides of the ball, and a focused mindset---believing that a return trip to the final night of the football season is within reach.
AC-S enters Saturday’s opener after a solid summer on the practice field.
“We have had a lot of guys coming in focused and working hard,” explained Patriot coach Brad Hood. “We have some guys in new positions and after the scrimmage; we have some changes to make. But, overall, the kids have come in with a good attitude and great work ethic. I feel like we have gotten a lot down in the nine days we have had on the pads. I saw a lot of positives in the scrimmage last week that we can build on.”
The Patriots return quarterback Chase Wilson. The 5’11”, 190 senior was in the midst of an outstanding junior season when a torn ACL on September 30 cut short what appeared to be a certain 2,000 yard passing year. Wilson completed 106/195 passes for 1,672 yards and 12 touchdowns prior to the injury. Wilson enters his final year at the high school level needing 1,297 yards to become the AC-S all-time passing leader.
“A big thing was that Chase was tackled the other night in our scrimmage,” Hood said. “That was big in that he took a hit and was tackled and that is out of his mind. He has had a great summer.”
Expect the Patriots to look to throw the ball again this year. AC-S loss standout receivers Jack Ward and Colton Cox to graduation but the team will field several players that will await Wilson’s passes.
“Cayden Ross (6’1”, 195), Jacob Lightfoot (6’2”, 175), Dakota Harrison (6’0”, 170), Carter Holland (5’9”, 175) and Warren Bray (6’1’, 175) will be our receivers,” Hood noted. “Warren is actually our leading receiver returning. He has had a good summer.”
Wilson’s injury last season resulted in several players stepping up to help the team in their final five games of the 2016 season. Hood notes that he has also watched as player-after-player has stepped up their games in the off-season, thus helping the team build depth in a variety of positions.
AC-S will open the year with a pair of seniors in the offensive backfield---seniors that will be asked to help the Patriots rebuild a ground game hurt by graduation.
“Carson Taylor (5’9”, 185) has stepped up as the number one threat at running back and Brock Meador (6’0”, 210) is doing good at the fullback spot,” Hood added.
One of the offseason areas of concern has been the Patriot offensive line.
“The only returning starter back is Austin Woods (5’11’, 275),” Hood explained. “But Austin missed most of the summer trying to get a knee injury worked out. He is a little behind but he is working hard every day. We have moved some guys over from defense. Steven Whitney (5’11”, 215) and Aaron Borth (6’0”, 205) have jumped in and will help us out as needed. Patrick Wade (5’9”, 285) has been a d-lineman most of his career is now looking at right guard. Matthew West (6’1’, 225) has been a big surprise. He never has played much offensive line, matter-of-fact this is just his third year playing football. He has worked really hard in the weight room and this summer and is looking really good at tackle. Jordan Madden (6’1”, 215) is a sophomore that has had a really good summer. We could see seven or eight guys in a game playing on the offensive line. Hunter Foster (6’4”, 215) is another guy that could go two or three different spots on the line for us.”
Coach Hood admits that he has already been surprised by the line’s play.
“They looked better than I was expecting the other night in our scrimmage,” Hood said. “I was really proud of them. They handed themselves really well.”
The Patriot defense will be a veteran squad seasoned with experience.
“Defense is our bread and butter,” Hood said. “We have the most returners coming back on defense. In our scrimmage last week, we walked out there for the first series with 10 seniors and one junior. It may not always be that way.”
The defensive unit starts with the lineman, charged with stopping the opponents offense.
“We are feeling really good about our d-line,” Hood noted. “Steven Whitney and Derik Vargis (5’8”, 175) give us to quick noses. Wade will do spot duty in their as well. Sheldon Peay (6’2”, 205) and Philip Kinslow (6’3”, 215) gives us to solid and big outside defensive ends. Both are physical and like to get after it. Then Dillon Rookstool (5’8”, 225) is a freshman that will be on the field a lot sooner than later. He had a sack on his second play as a freshman. Hunter Foster can play any of the defensive line positions.”
The AC-S linebackers return a wealth of experience as well.
“Our two leading tacklers from the last two years are back,” Hood explained. “Aaron Borth is a hard working young man with a lot of leadership abilities. He will do anything you ask. Brock Meador has been our brute force for two years and he is back. Our two new faces will be seniors Ethan Givens (5’11”, 185) and Tristan Adams (5’10”, 170). They both are starting to learn their positions really well.”
The defensive secondary will feature familiar faces.
“All three of our defensive backs are back,” Hood said. “Carson Taylor is at safety with Kelly Weger (5’8”, 185) backing him up. Andrew Bomar (6’1”, 185) is starting his second year at corner and Cayden Ross is probably our best athlete on the team. He has seven interceptions last year and also had one in the scrimmage.”
The Patriots will be challenged by another strong schedule---a schedule that has four teams who start the season ranked in the top eight in their class in the Courier-Journal’s preseason state poll of coaches.
“Greenwood, Glasgow, Pulaski County all are right there together,” Hood pointed out. “Glasgow is a powerhouse program in this area. Pulaski County is new to the schedule but they have been in this area a lot as they have been in Bowling Green in the 5A championship for five years. Greenwood is solid as well.”
The Patriots will enter the District play with some good news---South Warren is no longer in the district, having moved to 5A. However, the bad news is that Franklin-Simpson---last season’s 4A state runner up---returns.
“Franklin is the team with the target on their backs,” Hood said. “But, Warren Central will be much improved. They have many kids coming back and their numbers have improved. Warren East has a new coach but they will keep building. We will have our work cut out for us but our goal is to win the district. We have to win three games to do that. If we do, we will get our next goal, a home playoff game. We are shooting for those things. We think they are within our grasp.”
Hood---who has a 66-62 record in his 11 years at the Patriot helm---notes that his team has gained valuable experience in the last two years that should help his squad in their quests this season.
“We have not had a home playoff game in recent years but our kids have went on the road and won playoff games the last two years,” Hood said. “They know how to win on the road in the playoffs. Then, the last two years, our last games have been against teams that went to the state championship game. We have a taste of what it takes to win in the playoffs. Hopefully, we are not just happy to win a playoff game. Hopefully we are ready to compete for a regional championship.”
AC-S kicks off the season against Hart County---the first match-up with the Raider program since 1994.
“They have a good second year coach that is doing good things there,” Hood explained. “They will be a primary running team. They do have some big boys and try to use strength and ball control.”
The Patriots and Raiders are slated to kick off at 5:30 (CDT) Saturday at Finley Stadium on the campus of Campbellsville University. The game will be part of the two-night, four game schedule in the Forcht Bank Bowl. Campbellsville High and Washington County will play in the nightcap. Should weather force postponement, the game will be played Sunday afternoon. Admission is $10 per person.