June 27th, 2014

Year in Review: Football

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Paul Najjar

Senior Writer


Year in Review: Football
DeSales' record breaking RB Dylan Byrd shakes loose from a NewCath defender / photo and cover by Erica Henley

The Louisville Catholic Sports Network chronicles the 2013-14 sports year in review. We will bring you every sport, every season, every team’s season ending results in a capsule until we're finished.

While the perennially strong St. Xavier and Trinity teams were doing their best to fend off Male and Manual in the Kentucky Class 6A “Super-District”, the two teams across town were enjoying quite a bit of success. Especially that little school with the big following on Kenwood Drive.

Holy Cross and coach Todd Crumbacker improved on its 2012 results and finished at .500 for the season. Meanwhile, the talk of the town was the magical season the DeSales Colts enjoyed on its way to winning its first football state championship.

Here’s a look back at the 2013 football season.

DeSales – Class 2A State Champions – 14-1

This DeSales Colts team had it all: record-breaking running back, veteran quarterback, a stifling defense that allowed just 10.53 points per game and a will to win after being knocked out of the 2012 playoffs in the semifinal round.

With Nathan Roush under center and Dylan Byrd churning up the yards out of the backfield, this DeSales offense had multiple threats and could beat you on the ground, through the air and with a hammer of a defense.

The Colts were road warriors in the playoffs. They breezed past Metcalfe County at home 42-3 in the first round and made the long trip to Glasgow to hold off the tough Scots 34-28 recovering a fumble late in the game to seal the win.

Their lone blemish for the season came at the hands of district rival Christian Academy, 27-24, but the Colts avenged that loss with a resounding 34-0 pounding at CAL in the Class 2A quarterfinals. DeSales made the long trip to Murray to play the Tigers in the semifinals and returned with a 38-0 blanking for the effort.

That set up a state title game against Newport Central Catholic at Feix Field/L.T. Houchens Stadium at WKU in the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Class 2A state final. Though the Colts had to weather an ice storm and a few nervous moments at the end of the game, they built a commanding lead in the third quarter and held off the Thoroughbreds for a 34-26 victory and their first ever football championship.

“It’s obviously very special and emotional,” head coach Harold Davis said following the state final victory. “I’m just really happy for DeSales, the community, I’m just happy be a part of it. It’s for the kids; they’re the ones that play the game. They deserve a lot of respect for the hard work they put in since we started Jan. 7.”

Byrd scored three times, twice on the ground and also on a 30 yard TD connection from Roush. The speedy senior running back gained 142 yards rushing and another 45 yards on two receptions. His 73 yard touchdown scamper put the Colts ahead 28-13 near the midway point of the third quarter and Adam Nord’s one yard TD plunge just before the end of the third gave DeSales a comfortable 34-13 lead.

The Colts allowed two fourth quarter NewCath scores to set the final tally at 34-26.

Though slight of build at 5-foot-9, 170-pounds, the speedy Byrd finished his career as the Colts’ all-time leading scorer with 77 touchdowns. Byrd amassed 4,254 rushing yards and 63 rushing touchdowns and set the school rushing record. His combined 5,243 total yards from scrimmage also set a school record. He will play for Kentucky Wesleyan College in the fall.

“His athleticism and vision, you can't teach that,” Davis said of Byrd. “He can catch the ball and he can be a return guy. I knew he wasn't getting recruited a lot because of his size.”

Holy Cross – 6-6

The Cougars and head coach Todd Crumbacker rebounded from a tough 2012 campaign to put up a 6-6 record that featured a four game win streak. With a young group of skill position players on offense, the team should be set up for success in the coming years.

Though the Cougars got shut out 35-0 at perennial Class A power Mayfield in the second round of the state tournament, Crumbacker continued to make strides with his young squad. As their rivalry with district foe Bethlehem gets bigger and more pronounced with every competition, the Cougars learned much from this past year’s heart-wrenching 35-28 home loss.

“One thing we preach to our kids all the time is that the game is 48 minutes and you’ve got to finish,” Crumbacker said following that game. “We got a great return after their last score and had 1:34 and a few timeouts to do something with that. We had an opportunity with the ball inside their 10-yard line, but we came up short. I’ve told our kids before: A fighter never loses, they just run out of time.”

Led by senior linemen C.J. Jacoby and Nelson Bodenbender, the guys in the trenches opened big holes for speedy running backs Ryan Kaelin (junior) and Evan Perry (sophomore) and sophomore quarterback Alec Greenwell.

“All the people at Holy Cross stress community and family,” Jacoby said. “That’s what we are, a family. We fought together and came up a little short.”

Said Crumbacker: “I love Class-A football. The numbers are limited and you have players going both ways and kids on special teams. When you say it’s a 48 minute fight in Class-A football, it is a fight. You can’t take a play off and you have to continue to grind.”

St. Xavier – 7-5

The Tigers and first year head coach Will Wolford started the season with back to back wins, but couldn’t find that consistent, winning formula week in and week out. What began as a promising season with a stable of running backs including Charles Walker and backups Treyveon Percell and Austin Davis along with new quarterback B.J. Nagle, turned into a difficult, up and down campaign for the Tigers against some of the best competition in the state.

Walker gained over 1,000 yards on the ground, but was hampered by injuries throughout the year. Percell was injured early in the season and was unable to return and thus Davis became the workhorse and was able to add some offensive punch while Walker and Percell were sidelined.

Turnovers were a sore spot for the Tigers, especially in the passing game, and cost the team at least two victories. St. X just could not get past district champion Male, dropping a heartbreaker during the regular season, 44-40, a game that ended with a Tigers interception near the goal line, and a 23-21 loss in the second round of the playoffs. And they escaped with a thrilling 24-23 win at Manual.

A loss to archrival Trinity, the Tigers’ seventh straight loss to the Shamrocks, was offset somewhat by a win over Cincy St. X in the regular season finale.

Nagle, a transfer student, won the quarterback job but didn’t heat up in the passing game until the end of the season. The defense, led by sturdy linebacker Andrew McCormick brought pressure, but was vulnerable to the pass. The Tigers allowed more than 300 yards passing on five occasions and three other opponents gained over 200 yards through the air.

Trinity – 6-6

There would be no four-peat for the Trinity Shamrocks football team in 2013. The Rocks had to replace its entire defense from the 2012 season and the results on the field reflected that. Though they played arguably the toughest schedule in a three state region, the Rocks had trouble defending the pass.

Trinity also had to replace eight starters on offense and quarterback Reggie Bonnafon was getting his first crack at a starting job. Early season losses to Ensworth (Tenn.), Carmel (Ind.) and Colerain (Oh.) put the Rocks behind in the schedule 1-3. They rebounded with three straight wins over Indianapolis Cathedral, St. X and Manual. But, like St. X, they Rocks couldn’t get by Male and the Bulldogs’ high octane offense.

“They handled us, we didn’t handle them (up front),” Trinity head coach Bob Beatty said following the playoff loss to Male. “They held up in protection and we didn’t. They didn’t drop very many balls and we did. We didn’t stop them, (but) we stopped ourselves a lot of times. Bottom line is the game’s won up front. And we didn’t win up front on either side of the ball.”

Though it was a disappointing season for Trinity, the Rocks gained valuable experience on both sides of the ball and return more than forty lettermen for next year.

Bonnafon, a Louisville signee, passed for 2,606 yards and gained 895 yards on the ground. His favorite targets were seniors Cody Swabek, who caught 50 passes for 796 yards, and C.J. Ott who hauled in 49 receptions for 686 yards. Speedy sophomore receiver Rodjay Burns caught 43 passes for 743 yards and a team-leading 17.3 yards per catch.

The young defense gave up 351 points in 12 games, a 29.25 points/game clip. 

Conor Revell, Ed Peak and Brad Knoop all contributed to this article.

 

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