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Lexington Catholic returns 15 starters, but Knights must find replacement for star quarterback Allen

(KyForward is previewing the upcoming football season for many high school programs in Central Kentucky. The season is scheduled to begin Sept. 11.)

By Chad Hensley
Special to KyForward

Lexington Catholic returns 15 starters this season, but the biggest question mark will be how the offense responds after losing Beau Allen, arguably the greatest quarterback in program history.

Allen, a Mr. Football finalist last year, is now at the University of Kentucky after being heavily recruited by many major schools. He finished his prep career with 11,439 yards passing and 127 touchdowns.

Lexington Catholic must replace star quarterback Beau Allen (11) this season. Allen passed for 11,439 yards and 127 touchdowns in his career. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

LexCath head coach Nigel Smith will have a difficult time replacing a quarterback with such tremendous numbers. The Knights posted a 7-5 record last season, with two of the losses coming against a powerful Boyle County squad. LexCath faced a grueling schedule in 2019, and the slate will get no easier this fall.

With wide receivers Blake Busson and Jackson Corbett returning, LexCath has the talent to compete for a Class 4A state title. Corbett, who has received offers from many small colleges, is picking up attention from the likes of Morehead State, Austin Peay and Cincinnati after having tallied 72 receptions and gaining 1,139 yards with 11 touchdowns.

Corbett’s receptions and yardage ranked second and third, respectively, in all of Class 4A.

Busson, who is attracting attention from Power 5 schools — including Stanford — followed closely behind with 1,098 yards receiving on 56 receptions. Busson also added 12 touchdowns last year.

It is currently unknown who the starting quarterback will be for the Knights, but it appears that the frontrunners are junior Jack Gohmann and senior Joshua Brownell. Brownell was 9-for-16 for 50 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions, while Gohmann completed his only pass attempt that went for a 79-yard touchdown in a 64-28 loss at Boyle County in the regular season.

Boyle County, arguably LexCath’s biggest rival, also defeated the Knights in the second round of the playoffs (54-7) before losing to Johnson Central by a 21-20 score in the Class 4A state championship game.

LexCath’s other losses were to Frederick Douglass, Covington Catholic and Lexington Christian. CovCath defeated Frederick Douglass in the Class 5A state finals, while LCA was the top-ranked team in Class 2A for the majority of the season.

Nigel Smith

Smith, who attended both Army-West Point and UK during his collegiate career, is a native of Lexington, having graduated from Bryan Station in 1997. He knows what it is like to play tough schedules.

“We always play a tough schedule, and this year is no different,” said Smith, who has a record of 15-9 leading the Knights. “DeSales and Tates Creek were final four teams last year. Boyle was our district champ and state runner-up last year. Covington Catholic and Douglass was the 5A Championship game.”

LexCath will meet Class 4A District 5 opponents Boyle County, Bourbon County and Anderson County as well as battle-tested Louisville DeSales, Covington Catholic, Tates Creek, Lexington Christian and Frederick Douglass.

To overcome such a strong schedule with an unproven starting quarterback, the LexCath defense will have to improve on the nearly 5,000 yards it gave up in its 12 games last year. Back to take charge of the defense will be Kimwango Mafuta at linebacker and J.D. Woodall at defensive back.

Mafuta tallied 50 tackles including 5.5 for a loss and three sacks with one interception. Woodall notched 29 tackles as well as two interceptions — one going for a touchdown.

Smith said that Mafuta, Woodall, Busson, and Corbett will be joined in battling for all-state honors with Quentin Duffy as an offensive linemen and Dylan Bracken at wide receiver.

“We have good game experience returning, and a very cohesive senior class,” Smith said when asked about his team’s strengths going into the season. “Our guys have a high standard in their mental approach to the game as well.”

Smith also expects to see breakout performances from numerous other players.

“Players like John Martin Simms, Jackson Klien, Pearce Hall and Darrin Eldridge could gain more attention for their play this year,” added Smith.

Blake Busson

Smith, his coaching staff and players will be joined by every team in the state on the decision from the KHSAA as to the fate of the 2020 season. A meeting is scheduled to take place this Thursday to determine if the season will still proceed on Sept. 11.

The Knights are still preparing as if they will be opening the season on the road at DeSales.

“We have a group of players who understand the mental focus that it has taken to prepare properly for the season, even if the pre-season is shortened,” commented Smith. “While our on-field practice will not be the normal that other years have been, we have confidence in our mental preparation.”

We will have to use our time in a very efficient manner in the preseason. We must understand that the goal is not going to change, but our process of getting there might. Everybody is in the same boat, so the way we do things is going to matter more than it might have before.”

That goal for the Knights is the same in 2020 as it has been in the past, and that is to win a state championship.

“Winning the state championship cannot be separated from any of our team goals,” Smith said. “Each goal is a step on the way to winning it all. Winning your district, learning to win big games and win in big situations are all about winning the state title.”

Sept. 11 – @ DeSales, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 – @ Tates Creek, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 – BYE
Oct. 9 – BOYLE COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 – BOURBON COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 – @ Anderson County*, 7:45 p.m.
Oct. 30 – @ Frederick Douglass, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 – COVINGTON CATHOLIC, 7:30 p.m.
* = District Game





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