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South Oldham Dragons
1. Brandon KollenbergIn Kollenberg, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior, the Dragons have a workhorse running back. As a junior, Kollenberg rushed for 860 yards on 133 carries with nine touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 354 yards and four scores despite missing three games with a knee injury. SOHS coach Clay Holbrook thinks Kollenberg can become a 20 to 25-carry a game back and increase his production.
2. Offensive lossesSOHS must replace Drew Simpson, a two-year starter at quarterback along with receiver Nate McDevitt. Senior Peyton Meek, who played receiver last year is the starter at quarterback. Senior receivers Cody Malone and Kyle Dunn along with junior R.J. Graziul are the leading candidates to replace McDevitt. Questions also exist on the line where only senior guard Pat Saracino returns. Inexperience and injuries have slowed SOHS’ progress here. Sophomore Trafton Holder has emerged as a solid performer in the pre-season.
3. DefenseLike a lot of the program, the Dragons have as many question marks as proven performers, but Holbrook thinks the physical talent of this year’s team is better. Tackle Evan Jorgensen is a returning starter and budding star. The linebackers are solid in Malone, Holder, Corey Goodlett and Tim Lane. The defensive backfield in Graziul, Kollenberg and Dunn are also athletic and have good speed.
4. Special TeamsThe Dragons have two of the best in the area with Malone handling the punting duties and Kollenberg as a dangerous return man. Malone averaged nearly 38 yards a punt last year and more importantly, is a high, hang-time specialist often giving foes little chance for a return.
5. OutlookHolbrook said the biggest key for SOHS to improve on last year’s 3-8 mark is to avoid any significant injuries until they can build some depth among their younger players. With more sophomores and juniors seeing significant playing time then in past years, the Dragons must overcome their inexperience in a hurry if they hope to make a playoff run.
BREAKDOWNTop returning playersBrandon Kollenberg, 5-foot-9 175-pound Sr. RB; Cody Malone, 6-foot-1, 195-pound WR/LB/P; Kyle Dunn, 5-foot-11, 175-pound Sr. WR/DB; Pat Saracino, 5-foot-10, 180-pound Sr. OG/NG.Varsity newcomersZach Parker, 6-foot, 180-pound So. WR/LB; R.J. Graziul, 6-foot, 180-pound Jr. WR/DB; Jay Gatto, 5-foot-8, 160-pound So. RB/DB; Tim Lane, 6-foot-2, 180-pound Sr. LB/WR; Jon Derringer, 5-foot-9, 185-pound So. OL/LB; Trafton Holder, 5-foot-9, 215-pound So. OL/LB.Key gamesDistrict games at home against Jeffersontown on Sept. 12; at Oldham County on Sept. 19; at Grant County on Sept. 26; at Anderson County on Oct. 10 all of which will decide if the Dragons return to the playoffs; vs. in-county rival North Oldham on Oct. 3.Schedule8:30 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Eastern.; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 vs Holy Cross; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 vs. Jeffersontown; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Oldham County; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Grant County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 vs. North Oldham; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 vs. Anderson County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Nelson County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 at Shelby County; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 vs North Bullitt.Last season3-8, lost first round 5A playoffs. Beat Iroquois 28-18; beat Louisville Holy Cross 19-14; lost to Jeffersontown 23-21; lost to Oldham County 21-7; beat Grant County 28-0; lost to North Oldham 30-22; lost to Anderson County 28-19; lost to Nelson County 54-14; lost to Shelby County 33-14; lost to North Bullitt 27-9; lost to Anderson County 49-7 first round of 5A playoffs.Friday’s gameThe Dragons will face off with 6A Eastern at 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Oldham County Kickoff Classic, The Eagles beat OCHS 35-13 in the classic last year en route to a 7-4 record that ended with a loss in the first round of the playoffs.
North Oldham Mustangs
1. Andrew TullerThe 5-9, 160-pound Tuller is expected to emerge as one of the best all-purpose backs in the area. Last year he led in rushing with 528 yards on 45 carries with six scores and in receiving with 528 yards on 45 catches. He is also one of the top defensive backs recording four interceptions.
2. Backfield inexperienceNOHS must replace Ryan Gallas and Chris Dudley who combined for more than 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns. Dylan Grandon, a four-year starter at quarterback who threw for more than 1,000 yards each of his high school seasons also graduated. The Mustangs replace Grandon with Chase Maddox, who took fifth place in the 400-meter dash at the state track meet.
3. The lineThe Mustangs are big on both sides of the ball, led by senior Spencer Gooch, an all-district performer at center last season who will switch to tackle this year. Zack Lagrange, a 275-pound junior moves to center. NOHS is young at guard, but 255-pound Alex Miller has emerged. At tackle NOHS has three seniors in Sandy Strapp, Ben Lowrey and Zach Fisher and junior Mica Watson. On the defensive side, Fisher and Lowrey are standouts at end in the Mustangs’ 3-5 look while the 295-pound Watson is a clog in the middle.
4. AttitudeAs he did at Henry County before coming to NOHS, Martin has steadily built the NOHS program. After last year’s school record 8-4 record and district finals appearance, the attitude is at an all-time high in the Mustangs’ camp with more than 60 players out for the team and an expectation of success.
5. OutlookWith Tuller and linemen as the building blocks, the Mustangs look to repeat last year’s success. With speedy Maddox under center, the running game gets a boost and Martin said he’s a better passer. Kicker Paul Althoff, a junior, is a weapon on both kickoffs and field goals, adding firepower to the offense.
BREAKDOWNTop returning playersTyler Geers, 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sr. WR/LB; Spencer Gooch, 5-foot-10, 225-pound Sr. OL/LB; Ben Lowery, 6-foot-2, 240-pound Sr. DL/OL; Andrew Tuller, 5-foot-10, 160-pound Sr. RB/DB; Zach Lagrange, 6-foot-3, 265-pound Jr. OL/DL; Mica Watson, 6-foot-2, 295-pound Jr. OL/DL; Zach Fisher, 6-foot-2, 230-pound Sr. OL/DE.Varsity newcomersJakob Manor, 5-foot-10, 185-pound Sr. RB/DB; Davis Dudley, 5-foot-8, 160-pound Sr. RB/LB; Jerrett Link, 5-foot-6, 160-pound Jr. RB/DB; John Askins, 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jr. WR/LB; Alex Miller, 6-foot-1, 255-pound Jr. OL/DL; Ryan Anderson, 5-foot-10, 205-pound Jr. OL/DL; Matt Alward, 5-foot-9, 185-pound Sr. RB/LB.Key gamesDistrict games Sept. 26 at Henry County; Oct. 10 at Spencer County and Oct. 24 vs. Western Hills; at rival South Oldham on Oct. 3.Schedule8:30 p.m. Aug. 30 vs. Shawnee at South Oldham; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 at Atherton; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 vs. CAL; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 at Henry County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at South Oldham; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at Spencer County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 vs. Trimble County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 vs. Western Hills; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31 vs Bullitt Central; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 vs. KCD.Last season8-4 fell in AAA district championship. Beat Shawnee 38-6; beat Atherton 20-0; lost to CAL 30-13; lost to Henry County 19-7; beat SOHS 30-22; beat Spencer County 35-24; beat Trimble County 31-20; beat Western Hills 38-6; lost to Bullitt Central 19-13; beat KCD 47-17; beat Spencer County 42-21 first round of playoffs; lost to Henry County 15-7 district championship.Saturday’s gameThe Mustangs play Shawnee at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the Oldham County Kickoff Classic at SOHS. NOHS beat Shawnee 38-6 last year. The Golden Eagles finished 3-8 last year.
Oldham County Colonels
1. FirepowerThe Colonels have plenty of it with their top two backs and receivers returning along with quarterback Chad Dennis and the return of tailback Dy’Lan Underwood. Returning to the backfield are Joel Cuebas and Kirk Yepko. Dennis threw for 2,223 yards with 19 touchdowns, completing 175 of 331 passes. Top targets Chase Hamby and Austin Middaugh both return. Hamby caught 44 passes for 735 yards and six scores. Middaugh caught 26 passes for 502 yards and four scores.
2. The systemHead coach Matt Brown, an OCHS graduate, has brought in a new staff and scheme on both offense and defense.
3. The defenseThe Colonels return many of their best, led by Lange and Prater at tackle in the 3-5 scheme. OCHS is big and athletic at middle linebacker, led by 6-foot-1, 215-pound Ichiro Chiba along with Dylan Sims and Underwood. At outside linebacker are Yepko and Tyler Oldham. Returning to the backfield are Cook, Hamby, Nick Fleitz and Cuebas.
4. The offensive lineBrown wants a running game and there are questions along a big, inexperienced line. Back are 245-pound center Dalton Armor and 225-pound guard Matt Hogue. The other guard is 230-pound Nate Prater. At tackle, OCHS has four choices in 235-pound Zach Littlefield, 255-pound Austin Fletcher, 240-pound Andrew Avery and 280-pound junior Quentin Russ, a transfer from Texas.
5. OutlookThe Colonels finished 5-8, but did reach the region finals, pulling upsets of J-town and Anderson County before falling to Owensboro. Brown said the key for the Colonels will be their ability to run the ball and to adapt to a more read-oriented style of defense.BREAKDOWNTop returning playersChad Dennis, 6-foot-1, 200-pound Sr. QB; Chase Hamby, 5-foot-10, 160-pound Jr. WR/DB; Austin Middaugh, 6-foot-1, 175-pound Sr. WR; Dy’Lan Underwood, 5-foot-11, 175-pound Sr. RB; Joel Cuebas 5-foot-11, 175-pound Sr. RB/LB; Ichiro Chiba 6-foot-1, 210-pound SR. LB/FB; Nate Prater 6-foot-2, 200-pound Sr. DE/OL; Adam Lange 6-foot-3, 230-pound Sr. TE/DE.Varsity newcomersAustin Fletcher 6-foot, 225-pound So. OL/DL; Andrew Avery 6-foot-2, 240-pound Sr. OL/DL; Quintin Russ 6-foot-3, 280-pound Jr. OL/DL; Tyler Oldham 5-foot-10 170-pound So. RB/LB; Dylan Sims 6-foot-2, 190-pound So. TE/LB.Key gamesDistrict games Sept. 19 vs. South Oldham; Sept. 26 at Jeffersontown; Oct. 10 vs. Grant County and Oct. 24 at Anderson County. Season finale Nov. 7 at arch-rival Shelby County.Schedule6 p.m. Aug. 30 vs. Iroquois at SOHS; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 vs. St. X; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 vs. Madison Central; 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 vs. South Oldham; 7:30 p.m.Sept. 26 at Jeffersontown; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 vs. Scott County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 vs. Grant County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at Franklin County; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Anderson County; 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Shelby County.Last season5-8, reached 5A regional finals Lost to Eastern 35-13; lost to St. X 53-0; lost to Madison Central 35-0; beat SOHS 21-7; lost to J-town 36-13; lost to Scott County 48-14; beat Grant County 55-42; beat Franklin County 21-19; lost to Anderson County 35-31; lost to Shelby County 40-18; beat J-town 35-19 first round of playoffs; beat Anderson County 22-21 to win district title; lost to Owensboro 14-6.Saturday’s gameThe Colonels will take on Iroquois in the Oldham County Kickoff Classic at 6 p.m. Saturday at the SOHS stadium. The Raiders finished 0-11 last year.