2022 Kentucky high school football preview
The 2022 high school football season kicks off Friday, Aug. 19. High school sports beat writer Jared Peck is writing numerous stories in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com previewing the season around the city, region and state and highlighting the top players, games and rankings. Click below to read all of his stories in case you’ve missed any of them, and watch for more in the lead-up to the season.
Some of the best high school football players in the state suit up in Central Kentucky, where there are both winning traditions and recent success.
Boyle County has won back-to-back Class 4A titles to make it an even 10 for the Title Town Rebels. Woodford County went unbeaten all the way to Class 5A semifinals before falling to the eventual champ. Madison Central stood toe-to-toe with a Louisville juggernaut for three quarters in the Class 6A semifinals last year.
Many players on these outstanding teams are getting set to cap a great prep career. Others are just getting started.
Here, listed in alphabetical order, is a rundown of 10 of the Bluegrass’s top players to watch this season (and a few of their teammates), along with a few other names to know. (The top Lexington players are named in another article).
At a glance: Brown, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore who already has an offer from Eastern Kentucky, made quite an impression during his first season of varsity ball. The multi-purpose back/linebacker led the Admirals in scoring with 11 rushing TDs, two receiving TDs and two more scores on fumble recoveries. He rushed for 513 yards while splitting carries with a senior and had 12 catches for 180 yards. Meanwhile, he was Danville’s second-leading tackler with 31, including three sacks.
Big-time teammate: Aicen Ganns, 6-0/215/Sr./ATH.
School: Bourbon County.
At a glance: Floyd, a 5-10, 160-pound senior, recently picked up his first Division I offer from Dayton. He made his mark for the Colonels last season with 27.5 tackles, an interception and two fumble recoveries as a defensive back. On offense, he had 212 yards and two TDs receiving on just seven catches.
School: Great Crossing.
At a glance: Fisher, a 6-6, 210-pound senior edge rusher, led the Warhawks in sacks with 11.5 and was second in tackles with 84, trailing only Tennessee-bound teammate Kalib Perry. Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, Fisher has a reported eight offers, including Kentucky, West Virginia and Louisville.
Big-time teammate: Pilot Lukacsko, 5-10/190/Sr./LB.
School: Madison Central.
At a glance: Hensley, a 6-foot, 202-pound junior running back/safety, had a breakout 2021 with 1,804 yards and 31 TDs rushing and 130 yards and two TDs receiving for the surprising district and region champions. He also notched 41 tackles on defense. Hensley racked up 120 yards and three TDs against eventual Class 6A champion St. Xavier in the state semifinals. His offers include Eastern Kentucky.
School: West Jessamine.
At a glance: Jones, a 6-2, 200-pound senior dual-threat quarterback, helped the Colts get a playoff victory amid a 5-6 season last year, tossing for 143 yards and two TDs and rushing for 121 yards and another two scores in a 51-39 shootout with Collins in Shelbyville. The son of former UK QB Pookie Jones threw for 1,720 yards and 17 TDs and ran for 682 yards and 16 scores on the season.
School: Franklin County.
At a glance: Moorman, a 5-11, 205-pound senior running back already committed to Kentucky, began leading the Flyers in scoring his sophomore year when he rushed for 606 yards and 13 TDs and caught for 453 yards and four TDs during Franklin County’s run to the Class 4A finals. That was just a glimpse of what he could do. Last year’s numbers: 1,447 yards, 27 TDs rushing; 211 yards, two TDs receiving and two kickoff return TDs. The Flyers always play a tough schedule and this year’s no different. Expect Moorman to give as good as he gets.
Big-time teammate: Peyton Ledford, 6-3/250/Sr./LB.
School: Woodford County.
At a glance: Nelson, a 6-2, 185-pound senior wideout/defensive back, is one of two Yellow Jackets committed to Ball State. (The other is Tristan Cook); Nelson led Woodford in receiving with 745 yards and nine touchdowns. As a defensive back he tied the team high with four interceptions and had a second-best 56 tackles. Woodford retained a lot of playmakers from a historic 13-1 season and is primed for another deep run into the playoffs.
School: Madison Central.
At a glance: Wood, a 6-8, 280-pound senior offensive tackle, committed to Kentucky back in March and is one of three offensive tackles signed by the Cats, so far, from the class of 2023. Like Wood, all are three-star prospects, according to 247sports.com. Woods rates as the 11th-best recruit in the state and 89th at his position nationwide. The Indians ranked second in Class 6A in rushing and seventh in scoring as the team went 10-4 in 2021. With Wood on the line, those are probably not coincidences.
School: Garrard County.
At a glance: Sulla, a 6-6, 295-pound senior two-way lineman for the Golden Lions, earned second-team all-state honors from the Courier Journal during a 5-7 season. Two of those losses were COVID cancellations. Regardless, Sulla has been getting respect from college recruiters, as well, with offers including Eastern Kentucky, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech. He notched 40 tackles, including five for a loss, last season.
School: Boyle County.
At a glance: Ziesmer, a 6-2, 220-pound senior edge rusher, has been on Kentucky’s recruiting radar for some time and the Cats landed him in May, just before their camp and his official visit a month later. A big part of the Rebels’ last two state championships, Ziesmer led the Rebels with 10 sacks to go with 61 tackles in 2021. He also forced five fumbles.
Others to watch
Anderson County: Isaac Black, Jr./LB; Berea: Joe Collins, 6-0/200/Sr./LB; Clark County: Tate Spayd 6-1/175/Sr./WR; Estill County: Braeden Waddle, 5-11/190/Sr./LB; East Jessamine: Justin Hisle, 5-11/185/So./QB ; Frankfort: Jaden Morgan, 5-7/120/Sr./RB/CB; Harrison County: Kaydon Custard, 6-1/190/Jr./QB/DB; Lincoln County: Sawyer Horton, 6-2/190/Jr./QB; Madison Southern: Jayshaun Ethridge, 5-10/175/Sr./WR/DB; Paris: Jakari Ransom, 5-10/163/Jr./RB/LB; Scott County: Elijah Adams, 6-0/210/Sr./DE; Western Hills: Jaden Youngblood, 5-9/165/Sr./RB/LB/DB.
This story was originally published August 15, 2022 6:45 AM.