Boyle braces for another clash with LexCath

Published 2:33 pm Thursday, October 6, 2022


Contributing Writer

Danville is one thing, but Lexington Catholic has become something else entirely.

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There is no replacing Boyle County’s oldest and closest football rival, but there is also no getting around the fact that in recent years most of the Rebels’ biggest rivalry games have not been against Danville, but against LexCath. And the two will meet for the 35th time Friday in Lexington.

Boyle and LexCath have crafted one of the state’s most compelling rivalries over the past 25 years, and it has for some time been the most important game on both teams’ regular-season schedules.

And in the relatively short time that Justin Haddix has been at Boyle, he has come to appreciate the significance of this game to the Rebels and their fans.

“They get excited about it, and it’s really a quality team,” the Boyle coach said. “It means a lot to them, too. They don’t like us, and there’s no love lost between either team. Not that we don’t respect each other, but there’s just that rivalry.”

As is often the case, Friday’s game in Lexington matches two of the top teams in Kentucky. The Rebels and Knights are ranked Nos. 1 and 3 in Class 4A by and are Nos. 4 and 11 overall in the KHSAA’s Ratings Percentage Index.

And although this is the first district game for both teams, the game is expected to determine the regular-season champion in District 4A-5.

“You’re in the same district. You’ve got to go through them,” Haddix said. “People around here all talk about state championships, but you’ve got to win your district first.”

Boyle has won its last nine games against LexCath over the past five seasons, including regular-season and playoff games in each of the past three years, and only a couple of those games have been close. The Rebels eked out a 16-10 win in the regular season last year, then won the playoff rematch 47-13.

The Knights lost only one other game last year, and they have lost only once this year in their first season under Coach Bert Bethiany, a 2005 Highlands graduate — he was a captain on the Highlands team that beat Boyle in the 2004 Class 4A finals — who has coached at the collegiate level since 2010.

LexCath is led by an experienced defense that has allowed 241 yards per game but has given up an average of only 9.8 points.

“It’s kind of a funky defense. You don’t know where they’re coming from all the time, and they’ve done a great job mixing it up,” Haddix said. “Their guys believe in it, and they’re playing hard.”

On offense, the Knights throw the ball more often than they run it — about three out of five plays — behind junior quarterback Jackson Wasik, who has 1,396 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Senior Max DeGraff, already well known as a kicker, has emerged as the Knights’ leading receiver with 26 catches for 758 yards and 12 TDs, and running back Walker Hall has rushed for 414 yards and seven TDs.

Like Boyle, LexCath prefers to move quickly on offense.

“They play pretty fast. If they have a big play, they like to get it going again,” Haddix said.

Both teams are coming off a bye week, and Haddix said Boyle’s practices last week were about improvement and installing a few new things.

“It was getting our installs in, and now we’re just getting more and more reps at what we want,” he said. “Now hopefully we can execute at a higher level. That’s the goal.”

Boyle leads the series with LexCath 21-13. The teams have played in all but four seasons since they first met in 1997, and they have been in the same district in 19 of those 25 seasons.