Kentucky's best high school football teams, preseason players of the year and games to watch.
Kentucky Preseason Top 10
1. St. Xavier Tigers (Louisville)
After losing to Trinity by a point in last year’s 6A playoffs, the Tigers may be ready to knock their crosstown rivals from their perch atop the state. A big, experienced line and a deep stable of backs have this team poised to win its first state title since 2009.
2. Trinity Shamrocks (Louisville)
Despite some heavy graduation losses, the Shamrocks return one of the state’s best athletes in Louisville commit Reggie Bonnafon, who takes over at quarterback after a strong season at receiver.
3. Highlands Bluebirds (Fort Thomas)
Perennially one of the top offensive teams in the region, the Bluebirds will again put up points in bunches with receivers Luke Brockett and Brandon Hergott and tight end Nick True.
4. Bowling Green Purples
The two-time defending 5A champs have won 30 straight games, including two in a row over St. Xavier.
5. Scott County Cardinals (Georgetown)
The Cardinals nearly shocked Trinity in last year’s playoffs and return one of the top receivers in the state in Scott Daniel.
6. Covington Catholic Colonels (Park Hills)
Expect another strong defense, as linebacker Sam Burchell anchors the front seven.
7. Central Yellowjackets (Louisville)
Linebackers Donald Styles and Phillip Francis pace the defense for Central, winner of five 3A state titles in the last six seasons.
8. Conner Cougars (Hebron)
Quarterback Drew Barker should keep this offense humming at a high level, while the defense figures to be improved.
9. Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers (Louisville)
The Panthers look to duplicate last year’s offensive showing behind an experienced line and emerging back Delvon Dunn.
10. John Hardin Bulldogs (Elizabethtown)
Only two offensive starters return for new coach Chad Lewis, although one is leading rusher Khalil Frazier.
Three Can't Miss Matchups
9.6 – Bowling Green at St. Xavier
An early chance for a statement game by two teams with legitimate state title hopes.
9.28 – Highlands at Covington Catholic
Covington Catholic was one of only two teams to hold Highlands under 40 points last year.
10.4 – St. Xavier vs. Trinity (at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium)
Trinity owns a six-game winning streak in this rivalry between the state’s marquee programs.
2013 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year
Drew Barker, QB, Conner (Hebron)
Senior, 6-4, 210
For his career, Barker has thrown for 3,104 yards and 26 touchdowns and rushed for 2,971 yards and 41 touchdowns. The 4-star prospect committed to Kentucky over South Carolina this summer in a huge recruiting victory for the Wildcats’ new staff.
2013 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Matt Elam, DT, John Hardin (Elizabethtown)
Senior, 6-6, 350
A powerful and athletic presence anywhere you line him up, Elam can make an impact rushing the passer, stuffing the run or blocking kicks and punts. He’s a 4-star recruit who has offers from a host of SEC powers as well as Louisville.
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