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2022 Prep Football Previews: Conner senior lineman not concerned with team’s lack of varsity experience

The NKyTribune is featuring players on each of the 21 high school football teams in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties leading up to the first games of the 2022 season on Aug. 19. We will then provide focused coverage of our local teams throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

By Sarah Mae Wilson
NKyTribune sports reporter

Grant Reece is one of only two returning starters on the Conner football roster, but he doesn’t think a lack of varsity experience will make the Cougars less competitive during his senior season.

“We see this year as a chance for all of us to go out and prove something,” he said. “All of our guys who didn’t get the opportunity last year are chomping at the bit to go out each Friday night and prove what they’ve got to all the people who doubt us every year.”

Grant Reese is a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive lines for Conner. (Photo provided)

Reese was a two-way starter on the offensive and defensive lines last season when the Cougars got to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs and finished with a 7-5 record.

Most of the team’s other starting players were seniors, including the two leading tacklers on defense and a quarterback who accounted for 163 yards per game with his passing and rushing.

The Conner coaching staff will be rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines around Reese, who has two years of varsity experience.

“It’s been a blessing to say the least,” he said of his high school career. “To be able to go out and play the game I love and help our team succeed in any way I can has always been my goal. And I’m grateful our coaching staff believes in me enough to allow me to fulfill that”

Last year, Conner’s offense averaged 265 yards and 22 points per game behind an offensive line that included Reese. On defense, he recorded 35 tackles (15 solo, 20 assisted) with two quarterback sacks in the trenches.

He prefers to be on defense because it allows him to play more freely and aggressively and break away from the repetitive assignment blocking he does on the offensive line. In his best game defensively last year, he tallied a team-high nine tackles and one sack against George Rogers Clark.

Grant Reese

“While the offensive side of the ball can be rewarding, defense has always been my biggest source of enjoyment,” he said. “It suits my personality better.”

Conner competes in one of the top Class 5A districts in the state that includes Covington Catholic, Highlands, Cooper and Boone County. To prepare for those games, the Cougars will play against Class 6A teams from larger schools the first four weeks of the season.

Last year, Conner had a 2-2 record in regular season district games. The Cougars upset Cooper in the first round of the post-season district playoffs and then ended the season with a loss to CovCath.

Despite losing most of the starters on that last year’s team to graduation, Conner’s returning players are not discouraged going into the 2022 season that begins on Aug. 19.

“We embrace the challenge of playing in arguably the toughest district and class in Kentucky this year,” Reese said. “We are excited to compete with the best of the best.”

2021 SEASON: 
 7-5 record, lost in second round of Class 5A playoffs.
DISTRICT:  Class 5A, District 5 with Boone County, Cooper, Covington Catholic, Highlands.
HEAD COACH:  Dave Trosper (109-102 in 19 seasons overall, 96-75 in 15 seasons at Conner).

Aug. 19 – vs. Henry Clay at Lexington Lafayette, 6 p.m.
Aug. 26 – RYLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 – DIXIE HEIGHTS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 – SCOTT, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Campbell County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 23 – BOONE COUNTY, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 – HIGHLANDS, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 – at Cooper, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 – at Covington Catholic, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 – at George Rogers Clark, 7:30 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:


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