New districts set storylines for this season

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By Sam Draut

Football season officially kicks off Friday, Aug. 23 for North Oldham, South Oldham and Oldham County. All three teams reached the postseason last year while combining for the most wins ever (22) in the regular season between the three schools.

KHSAA realigned the districts and classes in the offseason, affecting all three schools. The new alignment, which divides teams into geographic sections within six enrollment based classes, will be played through the 2022 season.

Is this what South Oldham has been building for?

South Oldham isn’t going to surprise anyone. The Dragons have been one of the best teams in Class 5-A since Jamie Reed took control of the program.

South Oldham has dominated its district, made double-digit win seasons a sure thing and won the regional title twice to advance to the state semi-finals. In the past three seasons, which has included two 12-win seasons and both regional titles, the production has been infused by a talented group of Class of 2020 members.

Keaton Martin, JT Benson and Ethan Bednarczyk played on the team that reached the state semi-finals in 2016 and have been joined collectively by other playmakers like Anthony Pierce, Isaac Lalli, Garrett Chester, Trey Garrison and Luke Clark, among others, the past several seasons.

“We have a lot of seniors with great experience who know what they are doing,” Clark said. “We have some younger guys that help too. Our team chemistry is good.”

Reed said the group has the highest expectations a team has had since he has been at South Oldham. The Dragons will once again be ranked in the top-10 of Class 5-A, but there are still concerns.

There are skill position playmakers abound, but South Oldham has depth issues on the offensive and defensive line, as well as the task of rebuilding its entire linebacker group.

The senior class is talented, but the team will need contributions from juniors and underclassmen to go a step further.

Can North Oldham continue its progression with results?

The win total has improved in each of the past two seasons as North Oldham has returned to the postseason. Coach Joe Gamsky believes the schedule is tougher, but his team is better, heading into his fourth season at North Oldham.

The Mustangs join a district with Central, Franklin County, Shelby County and Waggener.

Blake McAfee takes the reigns of the offense after appearing in several games at quarterback last season. McAfee has an offensive line with several years of experience in Ben Meece, Scott Pforr and Ryan Groth, among others. Sophomore Ben Becerra will be a featured part of North Oldham’s offense as a running back.

North Oldham will have plenty of players going both ways out of necessity, but Gamsky has seen improvement across the roster.

“There have been several kids that have made jumps this year that we are excited about,” Gamsky said. “We had high expectations for them and they met them.”

North Oldham has to replace production on the defensive side, but an influx of underclassmen can help fill the void. Peyton Coffey and Blake Wetzel lead a sophomore group that will be relied upon.

The Mustangs do get the benefit of playing non-district opponents in their first five games. North Oldham won’t see a district opponent until Sept. 27, so some parts of the lesser-experienced roster can develop before games with postseason implications begin.

Does 6-A help or hurt Oldham County’s ascension?

Coach Michael Fox’s rebuild didn’t take long. After winning six games and reaching the playoffs in 2017, the Colonels went 10-2 last fall and won a postseason game for the first time since 2012.

The program’s rise can continue, but it will have to do so in Class 6-A. Louisville Male and Trinity have combined to win the past five state championships, but the Colonels’ new district isn’t as daunting with Bryan Station, George Rogers Clark and Madison Central.

“I want to have the same goal as we had (in Class 5-A),” Fox said. “That’s compete in the district and compete for the regional title. If we build the right way we can do that.”

The Colonels already have the team in place to compete in Class 6-A. Sophomore Sam Young has the talent to be a great quarterback and will be protected by an offensive line that could start five seniors including Reagan Ray, Jakob Mutchler and Cameron Morris.

Parker Caudill and Juan Tapia are dangerous in space for a Colonel offense that needs to replace several playmakers from last season. Bryce Rochet and Preston Dykes were the top-two tacklers from a year ago as linebackers.

The schedule does get tougher. Oldham County travels to Manual and Fern Creek while also playing Shelby County and Collins as non-district opponents. Fox said the program has to continue to develop depth to weather a 10-game regular season and postseason at the higher level.