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Prep Sports Report: Six football playoff teams have quarterback with passing total above 2,000 yards

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Six local high school football teams preparing for first-round games in the state playoffs have a quarterback who has passed for more than 2,000 yards and one of them has a shot at reaching the 3,000 mark this Friday.

Beechwood junior Clay Hayden has thrown for 2,898 yards in 10 games for a 289.8 average that ranks fourth in statewide statistics posted on the khsaa.org website. He has already surpassed the previous team record of 2,467 yards set by Cam Hergott in 2020.

Beechwood junior quarterback Clay Hayden

There are only seven Northern Kentucky quarterbacks who have passed for more than 3,000 yards in a single season, according to khsaa.org statistics and team records.  The local record is 4,367 yards by Gino Guidugli of Highlands in 2000.

Last season, Hayden missed five games while recovering from knee surgery and returned to lead the Tigers to the Class 2A state championship. He finished with 1,822 passing yards in 10 games as a first-year varsity starter.

The other five quarterbacks who have surpassed 2,000 passing yards this season are Ryle senior Logan Verax (2,613), Cooper sophomore Cam O’Hara (2,531), Newport junior Kyle Lee (2,178), Simon Kenton junior Brady Lee (2,105) and Covington Catholic senior Evan Pitzer (2,062).

This is the first year of varsity competition for Brady Lee. Pitzer made a remarkable comeback after missing the last five games of the 2022 season with an injury. Verax is a three-year starter who needs 135 passing yards in a home game on Friday to surpass Ryle’s single-season record of 2,747 set by Tanner Morgan in 2016.

Brody Benke

Logan Verax

Verax also has a chance to move his name up a notch or two on the Northern Kentucky career passing yards list. He currently has 7,313 total yards and the three local quarterbacks ahead of him are Hergott of Beechwood (8,537), Guidugli of Highlands (7,516) and Patrick Towles of Highlands (7,431).

This season, Highlands has a pair of quarterbacks who have passed for a combined total of 2,442 yards. Senior starter Brody Benke has 1,442 and sophomore Rio Litmer hit the 1,000 mark in the team’s final regular season game two weeks ago.

Benke was one of five local players named Player of the Year in their respective districts by members of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.  The other four are Hayden of Beechwood, running backs Dameyn Anness of Ludlow and Demetrick Welch of Newport Central Catholic and lineman Aba Selm of Simon Kenton.

The district winners for Coach of the Year included Steve Lickert of NewCath, Bruce Kozerski of Holy Cross, Eddie Eviston of CovCath, Pat Burke of Dixie Heights and Mike Engler of Ryle.

Holy Cross senior named Ms. Kentucky Volleyball by state coaches

Julia Hunt of Holy Cross became the second 9th Region player named Ms. Kentucky Volleyball by the state coaches association and she’ll receive the award Saturday between the state tournament semifinal matches at George Rogers Clark High School.

Julia Hunt

Hunt finished her senior season as the state leader in kills with 658 in 95 sets for a 6.93 average. The 6-foot-3 middle hitter had more than 2,200 kills and 500 blocks during her five-year varsity career.

The first local player to receive the Ms. Kentucky Volleyball award was Morgan Hentz of Notre Dame Academy in 2005. She later played on an NCAA championship team at Stanford University. Hunt was recruited by the University of Washington, one of Stanford’s rivals in the Pac 10 Conference.

The other local players among the 16 first-team all-state selections were Conner senior Lillian Hamburg, St. Henry senior Alivia Skidmore and Notre Dame junior Ava Tilden.

The second-team all-state selections included Ryle senior Kiana Dinn and Notre Dame junior Julia Grace. The honorable mention list included St. Henry seniors Anna Guard and Elizabeth Tabeling and Scott sophomore Milyn Minor.

St. Henry accepting applications for head coach of football program

St. Henry High School is accepting applications for head coach of its football program that plans to field a junior varsity team next season and begin competing on the varsity level in 2025.

Applications should be sent to athletic director Jim Demler at jdemler@shdhs.org before Nov. 30. Interviews will be scheduled during December.

St. Henry officials announced their intention to start football at the co-ed school last November. At that time, R.J. Riegler was named director of football operations. He has 12 years of coaching experience, including four seasons as head coach at Scott High School.

Kentucky high school football teams compete in six classes during the post-season playoffs. St. Henry’s enrollment will determine that class the Crusaders will join in 2025.


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