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Tates Creek looks to build on momentum from state semifinals; Commodores must replace 24 seniors

(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

A year ago, Tates Creek High School penned a tale of two vastly different seasons — in just 14 weeks. And the 2020 version of the Commodores will begin as a mystery with only three starters returning on both sides of the ball.

Head coach Jon Smith and his staff watched 24 seniors graduate from a Tates Creek team that far exceeded expectations in 2019 with regular-season and district championships as well as a regional crown.

After starting the season with a 2-4 record, including losses to city foes Frederick Douglass (62-14) and Lexington Catholic (54-50), the Commodores reeled off an impressive seven-game winning streak before bowing out in the Class 6A semifinals to Louisville Male (48-18). Tates Creek finished with a 9-5 record.

Tates Creek won the regional championship last season and advanced to the Class 6A state semifinals en route to a 9-5 overall record. (Tates Creek photo)

The biggest question mark going into the 2020 season for Smith: Who is going to step up to try and replace Luke Duby at quarterback?

Duby committed to Cornell University after leading the state with 4,685 yards passing and 47 touchdowns on 283 completions in 468 attempts with 12 interceptions. He also led the Commodores with 448 yards rushing on 99 carries and two touchdowns.

Miles Thomas, the leading receiver in the state in 2019, is another Division I signee who will be tough to replace. Thomas is headed to Idaho State after finishing with 77 receptions, 1,797 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior.

J.T. Acosta will take over the quarterback duties after tallying 52 yards passing on eight completions in limited action in 2019. Returning letterwinners Trepeon Broadus and Mathew Underwood will also be key to the Tates Creek offense.

Broadus, who is a senior, is the top returning receiver with 314 yards on 26 receptions. Underwood, who is a junior, will look to improve his numbers after tallying 54 rushes for 271 yards and four touchdowns in 2019.

Smith isn’t sure who will step up for all-state or all-city honors, but he is hopeful that his players retained enough knowledge of his system that they will be able to overcome their inexperience.

“I only have three seniors with playing experience this year,” said Smith. “The kids have been in our system for three years now. We are really young this year, so Friday night experience I feel is our biggest weakness.”

The defense will be just as inexperienced as the offense and will also be led by Acosta from his linebacker position. Acosta notched 71 tackles with 12.5 being for negative yards and four sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and forced another.

Also, back with some experience in the defensive backfield will be Mugisa Dhemani who recorded 24 tackles and one fumble recovery as a junior.

The kicking game does look to be strong once again this season as senior Chino Vasquez will try to improve on his impressive 2019 numbers of 39-for-46 on extra points with three field goals.

As certain as Smith is of his team’s lack of experience, he also thinks he has a group that will remain competitive despite having a strong schedule.

“We have a really tough schedule this year,” said Smith. “I feel like we will be in a dogfight every game. With being a young team, I just want to see us improve each and every week and see how it all plays out when we get into district play.”

Tates Creek, Henry Clay, Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar are all in District 7 of Class 6A.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on any progress that football teams were making in spring workouts and has continued over into the preseason. Smith is hopeful that his squad can overcome the virus situation that halted spring practice.

“It put us behind with not returning a lot of starters, but the kids are working hard,” Smith said. “You can tell who on your team has been working out and who has not. I feel they’re working hard, and we are headed in the right direction.”

Sept. 11 – NORTH HARDIN, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 18 – @ Bryan Station, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 25 – LEXINGTON CATHOLIC, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2 – BYE
Oct. 9 – PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR*, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 16 – @ Lafayette*, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 23 – @ Henry Clay*, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 – @ Pulaski County, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 – BYE
* = District Game


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