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Battle-tested Beechwood meets top-ranked Lexington Christian for Class 2A state championship on Friday


By Don Owen
KyForward sports editor

Start by combining a rugged schedule with talented football players. Add an accomplished coaching staff to those ingredients, and the final result is a championship-caliber team.

Those elements will be on full display Friday when Beechwood takes on Lexington Christian for the Class 2A state championship. The game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Beechwood’s Cameron Hergott has rushed for 981 yards and 14 touchdowns. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Beechwood enters the state championship game with a 9-2 record after rallying for a 35-34 win at West Carter last week. The Tigers’ two losses this season were to defending Class 5A state champion Covington Catholic — a last-minute 19-17 setback — and Class 6A member Dixie Heights (28-20).

Beechwood also knocked off Class 4A powerhouse Corbin on the road and collected wins over Ryle and Newport Central Catholic this fall.

Lexington Christian owns a 10-1 record going into Friday and is ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A state poll. The Eagles faced one of the most demanding schedules in Kentucky this season, having played Louisvile DeSales, Lexington Catholic, Frederick Douglass, Williamsburg and defending Class 2A state champion Somerset twice.

Lexington Christian’s only loss was a 40-6 setback against Class 5A powerhouse Frederick Douglass in a game that was only scheduled after virus-related issues left both schools with open dates on Oct. 9. Since that defeat, Lexington Christian has won six straight games, including a 48-13 triumph over Murray in the state semifinals last week.

Both teams are led by outstanding quarterbacks, with Beechwood featuring senior Cameron Hergott and Lexington Christian countering with junior Drew Nieves.

Hergott is a candidate for Kentucky Mr. Football, and for good reason. The dual-threat quarterback has completed 149 passes in 194 attempts for 2,313 yards and 24 touchdowns this fall. Hergott has added a team-leading 981 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns.

Lexington Christian quarterback Drew Nieves has rushed for 403 yards this season. (Photo by Alicia Quenemoen)

Hergott also excels under pressure, as evidenced last week at West Carter. The Beechwood star accounted for five touchdowns — including a touchdown pass to Brady Moore with 2:32 remaining to pull the Tigers to within 34-33. Hergott then eluded multiple West Carter defenders on the ensuing two-point conversion play to find Moore for the winning score at 35-34.

Nieves is also a dual-threat quarterback, having passed for 2,513 yards and 28 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 403 yards and another five scores.

Lexington Christian also features junior running back Xavier Brown, who has caught 41 passes for 815 yards and nine touchdowns. Brown, who is being recruited by multiple big-time college football programs, has added 310 yards and six touchdowns on the ground this season.

Mason Moore leads Lexington Christian with 48 receptions for 935 yards and 11 touchdowns. Will Vernon has caught 29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns.

Beechwood’s receiving corps includes three players who have caught at least 30 passes, led by Mitchell Berger’s 38 receptions for 571 yards and five touchdowns. Moore has hauled in 32 catches for 537 yards and five scores, while Parker Mason also has 32 receptions and four touchdowns.

Liam McCormack has caught 13 passes for 269 yards and five touchdowns, while Cole Stammer has 16 receptions for 253 yards. Avery Courtney is No. 2 on the team in rushing with 359 yards and five touchdowns.

Beechwood’s Liam McCormack (left) hauls in a reception against Newport Central Catholic. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

During its current seven-game winning streak, Beechwood has averaged 46.1 points per contest. The Tigers have also posted three shutouts this season.

Lexington Christian’s defense features senior linebacker Mattie Lebryk, who has collected 121 tackles and 5.5 sacks this season. Moore leads the secondary with five interceptions, with two of those having been returned for touchdowns.

Beechwood and Lexington Christian met in the Class 1A state championship game in 2007, and the Tigers pulled out a 38-35 victory.

Beechwood has won 14 state championships, all of them at the Class 1A level. The Tigers’ most recent state title came in 2018, when Beechwood defeated Pikeville in the championship game by a score of 21-20.

Lexington Christian claimed its lone state championship in 2009, when the Eagles soared to a 55-19 win over Mayfield in the Class 1A finale in Bowling Green.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES AT UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY
Friday, Dec. 18
Class 1A – Paintsville vs. Kentucky Country Day, 11 a.m.
Class 2A – Beechwood vs. Lexington Christian, 3 p.m.
Class 4A – Boyle County vs. Franklin County, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 19
Class 3A – Ashland Blazer vs. Elizabethtown, 11 a.m.
Class 5A – Bowling Green vs. Owensboro, 3 p.m.
Class 6A – Louisville Trinity vs. Louisville Male, 7 p.m.

Mason Moore leads the Lexington Christian secondary with five interceptions, with two of those having been returned for touchdowns. (Photo by Alicia Quenemoen)

Beechwood senior Cameron Hergott is a dual-threat quarterback and a strong candidate for this season’s Kentucky Mr. Football. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Lexington Christian’s Xavier Brown attempts to elude Somerset’s Kaiya Sheron (2) during the Class 2A playoffs earlier this season. (Photo by Alicia Quenemoen)


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