Friday night should see a very crisp contest between Somerset and Newport Central Catholic as two teams meet in the Kentucky Class 2A state semi-finals.
Both schools are rich in playoff experience and deep with senior talent. They are two squads that are peaking at the right time with their defense and desire to achieve greatness. This affair has all the makings for an instant classic. Getting out to an early lead could be the difference between winning and losing.
NEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC THOROUGHBREDS (9-4) at SOMERSET BRIARS JUMPERS (11-2)
Site: The Briar Patch, Somerset HS
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: All eyes will be on Somerset freshman quarterback Castle Hatcher, who had a coming of age game last week against Danville. Expect junior Tanner Gadberry to grabs some snaps from center as well. Will Lange is the team’s top offensive threat with 840 yards rushing and 384 receiving. Cam Cheuvront is the top receiving threat for the Briar Jumpers with 46 catches for 733 yards and eight touchdowns. Setting the tone for the Somerset on defense is Tevin Slaughter and Tyson Williams.
Dylan Hayes revs the engine for the Thoroughbreds offense and in the return game. Freshman Jacob Smith is starting to come on strong and should play a vital role in this contest. Senior Josh Cain has quietly put together a very good season in his first year as the NCC signal-caller. Cain has 2,005 yards passing with 17 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. Receiver Mac Franzen is nearing has 47 receptions for 935 yards and six scores.
TEAM TRENDS: Somerset has won four straight regional titles. The Briar Jumpers seniors are 47-9 under head coach, Robbie Lucas since he took over four years ago. The school is looking for their first-ever state title in this their 104th campaign. NewCath is looking for their fifth state title and second in last three years under head coach Eddie Eviston. The Thoroughbred seniors are 33-8 in Eviston’s three seasons at the helm.
NEWCATH’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The defensive line has to put pressure on Hatcher and force him to hurry throw and make freshman-like down plays in long-yardage situations. In order to do make that happen the T’Breds will have to stuff the run on first and second downs. Linebackers Pete Collopy and Mason Myers and crew will have to Hatcher inside the pocket and force everything to bottle up into the middle of the field. It has been a total team effort on defense and there is no reason for that to stop moving forward.
SOMERSET’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Defense fuels the fire for the Briar Jumpers as they are only allowing 10.8 per contest. The Briar Jumpers play hard through every snap. That same will is going to have to be the heart and soul of the team on Friday night. One area in which NewCath excels is in the return game. Somerset can ill-afford to give up points there.
PREDICTION: NEWCATH 32, SOMERSET 24
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