Boyle, CovCath bring similar resumes to title game
Published 11:17 am Monday, November 27, 2023
By MIKE MARSEE
As the collection of state titles continues to grow at Boyle County, there aren’t many teams left that can match the Rebels’ championship pedigree.
Email newsletter signup
Covington Catholic can.
Friday’s Class 4A championship game between Boyle and CovCath pairs two schools with similar resumes of achievement at the highest level of Kentucky high school football.
It also matches two teams that have played in and won big games this season and that will be ready for the bright lights of Kroger Field.
CovCath (14-0) will be the third consecutive undefeated team Boyle (14-0) faces in its quest for a fourth straight championship.
“We’ll have our hands full,” Boyle coach Justin Haddix said. “They’re a good football team; they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. They’re undefeated, ranked No. 1 in 4A in the RPI, so we’ve got to get after it.”
Boyle and CovCath, who have never met, rank among the top 10 schools in the state in most championships won. Boyle is tied for sixth with 11 titles; CovCath is tied for eighth with eight.
And both began playing football and hanging championship banners more recently than most of the schools on that list. Boyle first played football in 1963 and won its first title in 1999; CovCath first fielded a team in 1967 and first won a title in 1987.
CovCath last won a title in 2019 but has remained in contention since. The Colonels lost to 5A state champions Bowling Green in 2020 and Frederick Douglass in 2022 before dropping to 4A this season.
They were No. 1 in Class 4A and No. 6 overall in the final KHSAA RPI standings – Boyle was No. 3 in 4A, No. 11 overall – and were ranked third in 4A – two spots behind the Rebels – in the final statewide media poll.
They defeated Ryle, Highlands, Dixie Heights and Beechwood by two touchdowns or less in their non-district schedule.
CovCath has put up points almost as efficiently as Boyle this season thanks to a similarly balanced offense. The Colonels scored 49 or more points six times and put up at least 31 in every game except their semifinal win over Paducah Tilghman.
“They’re a good team with a nice quarterback and a couple of good receivers,” Haddix said.
Senior quarterback Evan Pitzer has thrown for 2,556 yards and 32 touchdowns with a 72 percent completion rate and only four interceptions. He is also the Colonels’ second-leading rusher with 636 yards and 11 TDs.
Senior Braylon Miller has been on the receiving end of one in three passes and has 859 yards and eight TDs. Senior Willie Rodriguez, a tight end-linebacker who committed to Kentucky this summer, has 485 receiving yards and 12 TDs.
CovCath’s defense, which has given up more than two touchdowns only once in its last nine games, is led by junior linebacker Tate Kruer, who has 109 total tackles, and senior lineman Ben Reeves, who has seven sacks.
Boyle’s offense is led by senior Sage Dawson, in his second season as the starting quarterback. Dawson has thrown for 2,378 yards and 28 TDs with a completion rate of 71 percent and only five interceptions.
Montavin Quisenberry is the Rebels’ top scoring threat with 818 receiving yards, 717 rushing yards and 29 offensive touchdowns. Avery Bodner is the leading rusher with 1,195 yards and 20 TDs, and Bodner and Demauriah Brown have 24 and 29 receptions.
The Rebels have relied more heavily on the run late in the season, particularly in their victory over Frederick Douglas in the regular-season finale and wins over Corbin and Franklin County in the 4A quarterfinals and semifinals.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” Haddix said.
Boyle’s top tacklers are linebackers Bodner (80 total tackles) and Brock Driver (71), and Bodner, Boyle is looking to become the first team to win four straight titles since Belfry in 2013-16. The Rebels will make their 14th appearance in the state finals since 1999, and they are looking forward to another Friday night under the Kroger Field lights.
“It’s going to be a great atmosphere, a great crowd, but we can’t let that get to our heads,” running back-linebacker Avery Bodner said. “We’ve just got to go out and do what we do best and play Rebel football.”
First will come one more week of practice and all the trappings of state finals week, including one of Haddix’s favorite parts, the visits the team will make to the district’s elementary and middle schools.
“I love to see our players doing that and see all the little kids,” Haddix said. “That’s what drove me to football. I remember in Breathitt County in 1995 when they won their first state championship, and I can tell you where I was sitting in LBJ Elementary School when those guys came in and coach (Mike) Holcomb and some seniors showed off their rings … and I said, ‘I want to be able to do that one day.’
“It’s about our community. That’s what makes this special, and our guys appreciate that. That’s not taken for granted.”
Boyle, CovCath by the numbers
A statistical comparison of Boyle County and Covington Catholic:
2023 Season per-game averages
Points 45.2 41.6
Points allowed 11.8 14.1
Total yards 415 380
Total yards allowed 204 246
Rushing yards 216 194
Rushing yards allowed 80 123
Passing yards 200 185
Passing yards allowed 124 122
State championships 11 8
Most recent 2022 2019
Finals appearances 13 9