The Ryle Raiders have won eight of nine district games since current Class 6A roster District 6 in 2019 but struggled in the playoffs.
It was only a matter of time before the Ryle Raiders had this breakthrough.
Last season, Ryle finished 9-4, winning another district crown and the first two playoff games before eventually being dispatched by Louisville Trinity to Union, 38-16.
The Raiders hope to go further this season.
Mike Engler is the only returning head coach in the district since last year, entering his ninth season at the helm of Ryle.
One big thing Engler said players and coaches do is have fun. The Raiders recently held a team camp that started at 6 a.m. called “Raiders for Life.” Staff taught players life lessons such as how to change a tire. They warm up with music, which the University of Kentucky football team does. In pre-season, Ryle played 7-on-7 football and sent both teams to a tournament final.
“It starts with our coaching staff,” Engler said. “Our coaching staff gets along great and there’s great camaraderie there. That carries over to the team as well. We have, I think, the best coaching staff in the state of Kentucky. We we have fun together. Our players see it. They get along with our players. They develop relationships.
Ryle’s highlights include dynamic senior wide receiver and defensive back Kaden Gardner who caught 56 passes for 786 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He also recorded 59 tackles and had two interceptions.
Junior Logan Verax returns to quarterback and Engler said Verax put on 15-20 pounds of muscle. Verax completed 190 of 333 passes last year for 2,395 yards, 18 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Ryle’s first rusher also returns. Senior Jayce Harden recorded 540 yards on 112 carries and two touchdowns for an average of just under five yards per carry. Harden also had 28 catches for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
Players in Ryle’s skill position will have a nice offensive line to them. Seniors Ameron Vinson, Charlie Perkins and Drew Dickerson return there. The Raiders rushed for 2,136 yards and passed for 2,451 last year for averages between 152 and 153 rushing and just over 175 passes. Engler said he likes the way Ryle makes adjustments during games.
“We’re playing a very tough schedule for a reason,” Engler said. “We won’t see anyone in our district harder than what we play at the start of the season. I love playing teams like (Louisville) St. Xavier because they’re going to make adjustments during the game because they’re well trained.
Gardner and seniors Abram Cusick, Lukas Colemire and Luke Lown return to the secondary for the Raiders. Seniors Brandt Dawson, Justin Moore and second Beau Faul return to linebacker with senior Luke Zimmerman back on defense.
Ryle opens the season at Lexington Catholic on August 19. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Simon Kenton Pioneers
After longtime head coach Jeff Marksberry retired, the administration promoted former head coach Roy Lucas to the position.
What won’t change is Simon Kenton’s dynamic Counter Trey Gap Spread offense. The Pioneers accumulated 1,921 rushing yards and 1,763 passing yards for averages between 174 and 175 rushing and just over 160 passing. The returning players looked eager to quickly put last season’s 2-9 record behind them in the spring.
“They worked really hard,” Lucas said. “The main thing we have focused on is having fun with our kids. As we worked, we tried to keep him upbeat and positive.
It helps that Simon Kenton returns a fourth-year starting quarterback in senior Chase Crone in addition to returning top running back and wide receiver. Crone completed 112 of 214 passes for 1,638 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions last year and rushed for 693 yards on 215 carries and 14 touchdowns for an average of just over three yards per carry.
Senior running back and defensive back Jayden Lawson returns after rushing for a team-high 898 yards on 175 carries and 11 touchdowns to average just over five yards per carry. Senior wide receiver Chase Williams caught a team-best 59 passes for 800 yards and eight touchdowns. The Pioneers have a great offensive line led by seniors CJ Heflin, Kaleb Russell, Nathan Bieber and juniors Jake Putthoff and Aba Selm.
Selm also hopes to help shore things up on the defensive line in Simon Kenton’s 4-3 scheme. The opponents beat Simon Kenton, 467-304.
Senior defensive end Aidan Harris and senior defensive lineman Josh Brophy are also hoping to help disrupt plays in the backfield. Senior linebacker Josh Bowling returns after leading the Pioneers with 123 tackles including three for a loss including a sack. Bowling will also see tight end action.
A number of linebackers and defensive backs are coming back with experience. Senior Lucas Ferment moves to defensive back. Juniors Kaleb Bleier and Mark Ober return to linebacker. Bleier could also see action at running back.
“We tried to match our defensive scheme to our attacking scheme,” Lucas said. “That was one of the things we talked about at the start. Offensively, we were fast, aggressive and attacking, so we tried to do that defensively as well. We were already more aggressive, physical and made plays You’re going to make mistakes, but we feel like they’ve made great progress.
Simon Kenton opens the season at County Oldham on August 19. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Camels of Campbell County
New head coach Brian Weinrich recalled the last time the Camels made it to the third round of the playoffs in the old Class 4A in 1994. He attended the game while visiting college.
The Boone County Camels and Rebels entered the fourth quarter tied at 21. Campbell County pushed into Rebel territory but Boone Co. great Shaun Alexander had a reverse pass in the middle of the screen and sent it back 63 yards for a touchdown. The Rebels added a safety in the 30-21 win en route to a Class 4A second place finish.
Weinrich takes over the Camels after spending a season at Newport and guiding the Highland Bluebirds the previous seven years. The Bluebirds won the Class 4A crown in 2014.
The Campbell County motto is “Brick by Brick”. He knew the daily improvement mentality is much needed after a tough 10-31 streak over the previous four years, including a 1-10 season last year. Campbell County last won a playoff game in 2017.
The Camels plan to continue to run the base defense 3-4 with defensive coordinator Russell Harden and a spread offense.
“The lines have been great,” Weinrich said. “We have great line coaches on both the offensive side and the defensive side who have just come through. We really tried to focus on their engagement on one side of the ball because in high school you have a lot of two-way players in certain situations. But the closer you get to the ball like the offensive line, the defensive line, the harder it is to play like that. It went really well. »
Seth Webb senior will anchor the offensive line. The Camels are firing a number of skill-position players, including junior quarterback Nathan Smith who completed 86 of 162 passes last year for 817 yards, two touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Smith also had two interceptions on defense last year.
Three of the top four rushers from last year go to Smith, Ayden Bauwens and Keegan Hill. Weinrich also said to watch out for junior Joe Amato in the backfield. Amato also led Campbell County with three fumble recoveries last year defensively.
The top three wide receivers from last year, seniors Keegan Hill, Creed Marr and Dez Davie, are back. Hill led Campbell County with 23 catches for 278 yards and Davie scored both passing touchdowns for the Camels last year. Weinrich also said to watch some second-year wide receivers such as Garyn Jackson.
Sophomore Mason Haywood returns to the defensive line, and Weinrich said junior twins Hunter and Mason Wiseman could make an impact there at linebacker and defensive line, respectively. Mason Wiseman will also play some tight ends.
Senior outside linebacker Mitch McElroy returns after leading Campbell County with 71 tackles, including six for a loss and two sacks. Bauwens at defensive back had 39 tackles last year and senior linebacker Zach Funston had three tackles for a loss including two sacks.
Campbell County opens the season against Newport Central Catholic on August 19. Game time is 7 p.m.
Colonels of Dixie Heights
The Colonels are led by new head coach Pat Burke who leads a team that graduated 23 seniors last year after a 7-5 season that ended in the second round of the playoffs.
“It’s more about being able to handle adversity, handle success and handle failure,” Burke said. “We talk a lot about it and how to deal with these things. We’re not talking about it in terms of the Friday night lights. We talk about them in terms of playing with the desire to excel and without fear of failing all the time, no matter where they are, no matter what the circumstances.
The defense has the most question marks as the only returning starter is junior Brach Rice at defensive end and outside linebacker. Rice had 29 tackles and four quarterback sacks last year and will be a tight end on offense. Rice caught 16 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns last year.
Burke said the colonels planned to use multiple formations defensively. Junior Beni Mwamba at cornerback and senior Xavier Gregg at linebacker bring back experience in defense. Burke also likes what he sees from junior safety Miguel Rodriguez.
Burke said the plan was to launch a Smashmouth Spread offense. The Colonels return three starters to the offensive line in seniors Owen Lawrence, Joey Schultz and junior Cole Fitzenberger. Burke also likes what he sees of junior Quentin Russo.
The Colonels are looking for second Armani Gregg at quarterback with senior Caleb Hinkle at running back and second Trey Barnett at wide receiver. Overall, Burke and staff said they were impressed with the returning players’ work ethic.
“We focus a lot on character and our core values,” Burke said. “We focus on coaching through these values - purpose, resilience, integrity, discipline, energy. We teach about this every day and our children understand these things – what they mean, what they stand for and how they’re defined. They take the ball and roll with it. I’m excited about their elevation since the spring and where we’re headed. Couldn’t ask for a better group of guys.
Dixie Heights hosts Lloyd Memorial on August 19. Game time is 7 p.m.