Prep Rally crew Dominique Yates, David Kim and Jason Frakes make their picks for the six state football championships this weekend at Kroger Field.
Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of Sunday’s Class 6A football state championship game between Male (14-0) and Trinity (12-2).
Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Kroger Field in Lexington.
Elijah Parrish has done a nice job in replacing Garrett Dennis this year. He’s completed nearly 64 percent of his throws for 2,484 yards and 26 touchdowns. The most impressive stat might be just the five interceptions he’s thrown all year. Parrish certainly has the luxury of having some of the best receivers in the state, but his management of the game has gotten the job done for the Bulldogs.
Statistically, Parish leads Trinity’s Nathan McElroy, but only by a slight margin and his is still just as impressive. McElroy threw for 2,404 yards and 29 touchdowns while completing 61 percent of his throws. The junior has shown tremendous poise after winning the starting position battle in the summer and has been a dependable athlete.
Read this: What to know about the Male-Trinity game
This could be the fiercest position battle of the game.
Trinity’s Armon Tucker is the biggest weapon for the Shamrocks on offense. He’s already rushed for 1,164 yards and scored 26 touchdowns. Once he finds the open lane, he is pretty much impossible to catch with his blazing speed, and that’s not it for the Shamrocks. Bradley West has had games where he led the team in rushing while Kyle Feger showed he can be a dangerous threat when he rushed for 238 yards against Ballard.
Jaylin Bross and Quantrell Wright are one of the most formidable running back duos in the area. Bross is having a breakout season with 1,612 rushing yards and 23 carries, averaging 115 yards per game. Wright can surpass the 1,000-yard mark Sunday as he has 963 yards and 12 touchdowns this season.
Also: Armon Tucker, Bradley West give Trinity football ‘exceptional’ 1-2 punch at running back
Male’s Izayah Cummings is arguably the best receiver in Kentucky. The UK commit alone is probably good enough to give Male the edge, but having fellow senior Briceson Rodgers and Vinny Anthony gives the Bulldogs, perhaps, the biggest advantage over Trinity among all the positions. This receiving corps has given opponents a headache all throughout the season and expect that to continue Sunday.
Ryan Miller, who has 911 receiving yards and six touchdowns, leads the position depth chart for the Shamrocks. Tight end Kaelan Racculia has been a dependable target in the end zone with 11 touchdowns, but the group is no match against the Bulldogs’ group.
Related: Is Male’s Briceson Rodgers underrated?
Tucker would not have put up the stats that he did if it wasn’t for Trinity’s offensive line. Sam Lewis was the only returning starter, but the group shook off any preseason worries. Coach Bob Beatty instituted some changes after a .500 season last year, and the results are evident by their success.
Among all the talent that the Bulldogs have in every position, the offensive line is the most underrated of all. Four of the five in the group are returning starters and they have paved the way for 2,957 rushing yards, an average of 211 per game. The years of experience this group has, especially the state title-clinching game last year, with each other cannot be overlooked. The line is led by a trio of three-year starters in left tackle Nathan Stotts, left guard Chris Malala and center Blake Gossett.
Edge: Male, slightly
Male has the top college prospect at the position in sophomore tackle Selah Brown (13 tackles for loss, nine sacks). The 6-foot-2 270-pounder already has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue and West Virginia. Sophomore end Elijah Manning (5-11, 225) has enjoyed a breakthrough season, ranking second on the team with 70 tackles (40 solo).
Trinity has strength and depth, as Beatty said five of the six players who rotate on the line squat more than 475 pounds. “That always makes me feel much better,” Beatty said. “That tells you that you have strength to stop the run game … and that you’re going to keep people off the linebackers.” Senior end Tyler Roberson (6-3, 245) has scholarship offers from Ball State, Eastern Illinois, Eastern Kentucky, Kent State and Western Michigan.
Edge: Trinity, slightly
Awards: All-district football teams named by Greater Louisville Football Coaches Association
Juniors Charlie Ely (6-3, 225) and Branden Stearman (6-2, 215) give Trinity one of the best combinations of middle linebackers in the state. Ely is receiving recruiting interest from several NCAA Division I schools. Junior Jack Dingle (6-3, 205) and senior RiLee Waggoner (6-2, 215) are both solid playmakers on the outside. Dingle has scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Louisville and Western Michigan.
Trinity’s Charlie Ely (10) sacks Oldham County QB Sam Young during their game at Trinity High School in Louisville, Ky. on Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo: Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal)
Senior Joe Kuerzi (5-11, 210) and junior Jaxson Allgeier (5-9, 216) are the starters in Male’s 4-2-5 alignment. Kuerzi is a blue-collar playmaker who leads the team in tackles (85) and also has rushed for 10 touchdowns, mostly out of the Wildcat formation. Allgeier ranks fifth on the team with 44 tackles (22 solo).
Four of the five starters in Male’s secondary have at least two interceptions, with senior rover Judah Ford recording a team-high four. Junior cornerback Nick Coates and sophomore free safety Romel Sheffield earned all-district honors.
Trinity starts four juniors in the secondary, with strong safety Blake Ruffin and free safety Kyle Feger leading the way with three interceptions apiece. Beatty said moving Feger, who also has played running back this season, has solidified the secondary.
If you had to pinpoint a weakness that Male has, this would be it. That Male had to use two kickers, who are 2 for 5 in their field-goal attempts, throughout the season shows the shakiness in the position.
It’s not like Trinity’s kicking game is exponentially better, though. Sebastian Mata connected on five field goals in 12 attempts. But he missed just three PATs in 72 tries.
It’s hard not to give the edge to Beatty, who has a 243-44 record in 20 seasons at Trinity and has won a record 13 state championships.
Pregame reading: A Q&A with Trinity coach Bob Beatty
But Male’s Chris Wolfe has won eight of the past 11 meetings against Beatty. Wolfe is 106-28 in 10 seasons at Male and is 2-1 in state championship games.
Simply put, they’re two of the best in the business.
Jason Frakes, Courier Journal – Male 21-20
David Kim, Courier Journal – Male 24-20
Kent Spencer, WHAS-11 – Male 31-28