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Wayne County star rushing into school history this season, making case for Mr. Football honors


By Chad Hensley
KyForward sports reporter

The virus-altered 2020 high school football season is one that some will gladly forget, but there is a running back from Wayne County who is doing his part to etch his name among the elite in Kentucky.

Braedon Sloan, who has already verbally committed to Eastern Kentucky University, is rewriting the record books for a Cardinals football program that is now one to be feared each Friday night. The senior running back has 456 yards on the ground and eight touchdowns on 42 attempts so far this season.

Sloan enjoyed a fine sophomore year in 2018, but he really emerged as a star last season when he rushed 277 times for 2,804 yards and 48 touchdowns.

Wayne County’s Braedon Sloan (right) has rushed for 456 yards and eight touchdowns in two games. Wayne County plays at Danville on Friday. (Photo by Wade Upchurch)

Madisonville-North Hopkins’ Jeriah Hightower led all of Class 4A in rushing in 2019, but he collected his 3,001 yards in 14 games, while Sloan placed second in just 12 games.

“Braedon is a very high-character young man,” said Wayne County head coach Shawn Thompson, who 134-64 in 17 seasons at the helm of the Cardinals. “His work ethic is second to none. He is a leader on and off the field. Braedon is very easy to coach. He prepares himself to be ready for each Friday night. He is a player that every coach wants on his team.”

If he stays healthy and the Cardinals can complete the season as scheduled, Sloan will easily crack the 5,000-yards rushing club. Sloan has 4,617 rushing yards on 459 attempts and a mind-boggling 73 touchdowns.

While teams might key on Sloan in an effort to contain his yardage, senior quarterback Brody Weaver can’t be overlooked as a weapon in Thompson’s play-calling arsenal.

Weaver only has 200 yards through the air during the first two games of the season on 11-for-26 passing. But his career stats can’t be overlooked as he has passed for 4,052 yards with 52 touchdowns. Weaver’s career passing numbers are 241-for-460 with just 15 interceptions, but he is also a threat to score on the ground as he has amassed 604 yards and seven touchdowns on 162 attempts.

Wayne County plays at traditional small-school power Danville on Friday night. It may once again be the first team to score 42 points that gets the win. Southwestern downed Wayne County 42-41 to open the season before the Cardinals bounced back last week for a 42-0 demolishing of Harlan County.

The Cardinals program has won at least eight games in each of the last eight out of nine seasons including four state semifinals appearances and a state runner-up bid in 2013.

“Our school and community really have been the backbone to our success. The support we have had is amazing,” Thompson said. “Everyone looks forward to Friday night now because they know these young men work their tails off each day on and off the field.”

Mountain power invades Lexington

A week after collecting a hard-fought win over 2019 Class 3A state champion Belfry, Pikeville will be making the long trip to Lexington to take on Henry Clay in a game that was just added to the schedule on Tuesday.

Pikeville, the defending Class 1A state champion, has just five seniors on its roster but was able to collect a 20-14 victory at home against rival Belfry last week to extend its overall win streak to 17 games.

The Panthers will be taking on a Blue Devils squad that is looking for its first win since defeating Boone County in the 2018 playoffs. Henry Clay has not played a game so far this season.

Pikeville’s Isaac McNamee, a junior quarterback, has passed for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Blake Birchfield, a sophomore running back, has rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Pikeville’s Zac Lockhart, a junior wide receiver, has nine catches for 129 yards and two scores.

Johnson Central, Boyle County visit Northern Kentucky

Two of the state’s powerhouse football programs visit Northern Kentucky on Friday night, with Johnson Central taking on host Simon Kenton, while Boyle County plays at Highlands.

Johnson Central, the defending Class 4A state champion, is 1-0 after posting a 36-0 win at Bell County to open the season on Sept. 11. Dillon Preston rushed for 143 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Golden Eagles to that road triumph. Johnson Central — which also captured the Class 4A state title in 2016 — limited Bell County to just 44 total yards.

Johnson Central offensive lineman Grant Bingham (65) has received 17 scholarship offers, including 15 from Power 5 schools. (Photo by Lisa Lemaster)

Johnson Central offensive lineman Grant Bingham (65) has received many scholarship offers, including 15 from Power 5 schools. (Photo by Lisa Lemaster)

Simon Kenton owns a 2-0 record following its 36-6 victory over Walton-Verona last Friday night. Quarterback Chase Crone passed for 210 yards and a pair of touchdowns to ignite the Pioneers. Jayden Lawson leads Simon Kenton’s rushing attack with 141 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games.

A year ago, Johnson Central rolled to a 49-11 victory over Simon Kenton in Paintsville. The Golden Eagles rushed for 453 yards in that victory, including three players with more than 100 yards on the ground.

Johnson Central features 6-foot-6, 302-pound offensive lineman Grant Bingham, who has received numerous scholarship offers from Power 5 schools.

Boyle County — which fell to Johnson Central in the Class 4A state championship game last December for its only loss of 2019 — is 2-0 after coasting to a 56-21 win at Christian Academy of Louisville. The Rebels own a 43-3 record during the past three years and have just one regular-season loss (10-7 at Danville on Aug. 31, 2017) in the period.

Highlands is 1-1 after rallying from an 11-0 deficit to knock off Ryle by a 23-14 score last Friday night. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Noon rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bluebirds.

Battle of Jessamine County

West Jessamine may not own a winning record against county rival East Jessamine, but the Colts will stand a strong chance of ending their five-game losing streak to the Jaguars.

West is led by sophomore quarterback Jacob Jones and senior receiver Jackson Green. Jones is attempting prove that he is just as talented of a quarterback as his dad Pookie was when he won Mr. Football in 1989 at Calloway County High School. The younger Jones is 28-for-38 passing for 450 yards and four touchdowns in his first season as a varsity starter.

Green is off to another fantastic start after collecting 327 yards receiving and four touchdowns on 19 catches in the first two games of the season.

East (1-1) owns a 16-6 record in the series over West (1-1) and will call upon Tajii Jackson to continue his fantastic start. Jackson has 397 yards rushing on 41 carries and four touchdowns for the Jaguars.

Battle of unbeatens in Southcentral Kentucky

Bardstown and LaRue County are both off to a 2-0 start this season, and the focus of the game on Friday will be LaRue senior running back Jeremiah Belton.

Belton already has 50 carries for the Hawks and he has compiled 467 yards on the ground to go along with six touchdowns. In his four years at LaRue County, Belton has scored 25 touchdowns on 403 carries for 2,741 yards.

Bardstown’s rush defense has been the bend-but-don’t-break type this season as the Tigers have allowed 401 yards in two games, so it very well could be this week that Belton eclipses 3,000 yards for his career.

Bardstown has put up gaudy numbers as well so far. The Tigers have more than 760 yards of total offense combined in a 46-27 victory over Washington County and a 49-7 win over Spencer County. Fans in attendance at LaRue County’s football field are sure to be in for a high-scoring contest on Friday.

COVID-19 IMPACTS FRIDAY: Several big games around the state this weekend were either canceled or moved to another date due to the ongoing pandemic. Scott County was scheduled to play at Frederick Douglass in a Class 5A showdown, but that game was canceled.

Scott County is now playing host to George Rogers Clark on Friday night. Frederick Douglass, meanwhile, picked up a game at Louisville Ballard on Saturday morning with a start time of 11 a.m.

The Breathitt County home game against Knott County Central was also canceled due to the virus, as was Franklin County’s home game with Shelby County.


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