Boyle dominates CovCath to win fourth consecutive state title

Published 10:00 am Monday, December 4, 2023

By Mike Marsee

Contributing Writer

LEXINGTON – Is Boyle County the best team in Kentucky?

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We’ll never know for sure, but the Rebels made a convincing case Friday as they captured their fourth consecutive state championship with a dominant performance.

The Rebels ruled every aspect of their 41-0 victory over Covington Catholic in the Class 4A championship before 8,406 fans at Kroger Field.

They claimed their 12th title and completed the seventh undefeated season in school history by defeating a previously unbeaten team for the third consecutive week.

Their last win was the most impressive of the three, as their defense held CovCath to just 64 yards and their offense was almost unstoppable after stalling on its first series.

“We talked about we wanted to play our best, and I felt like we played pretty close to that,” Boyle coach Justin Haddix said.

The debate about whether Boyle was the best team in any of the state’s six football classes began after the Rebels rolled through a challenging early-season schedule and has only gained steam in recent weeks.

It’s an unanswerable question, of course, and Haddix said the hypotheticals didn’t matter much to him.

“That’s for you guys to decide,” Haddix said to the media. “Obviously I’m going with them. We win and we ride with this bunch. … We just said, ‘Come out and play our best,’ and we’ll let you all decide the rest of it.”

Several Boyle players were less reserved with their opinions, including running back-linebacker Avery Bodner, part of a senior class that will leave with four state titles in four years.

“I got my guys,” Bodner added.

Here’s another unanswerable question: Does Boyle have the best program in the state right now?

It’s hard to argue against the Rebels, who have won 12 championships in the past 24 seasons and are now the first team to win at least four straight titles in two separate runs.

There’s no doubt about this: Boyle was at its best against CovCath, the No. 1-ranked team in the KHSAA’s regular-season RPI standings.

“There’s no reason to sugarcoat anything, they beat us in all three phases of the game tonight,” CovCath coach Eddie Eviston said. “We tip our hat to them. Great football team. We ran into a buzzsaw tonight.”

Montavin Quisenberry was named the game’s most valuable player after he put up 178 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns for Boyle (15-0), but he certainly didn’t have the stage to himself as numerous players made important contributions to the Rebels’ most dominant victory in their 12 successful championship games.

Bodner rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns, was the leading receiver with five catches for 44 yards and had a team-high 5½ tackles.

Sage Dawson, who was recognized before the game as the Class 4A player of the year by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association, passed for 131 yards and a TD ran for 65 yards and a TD.

“I think they were just focusing on the wrong things,” Dawson said. “If they’re trying to double-team ‘Tavi’ we’re going to go somewhere else. We’re going to hand the ball to 10 (Bodner) and he’s going to make a play. It’s hard to take 10 down, to take 5 (Quisenberry) down, 6 (Geordon Brown), anybody.”

Seven different defenders were in on tackles for loss and three players had sacks for a defense that didn’t allow CovCath (14-1) to get close to the red zone.

The Colonels crossed midfield only once, and they were stopped at the Boyle 47-yard line on that advance.

Boyle’s greatest advantage, as it has been all season, was speed. The Rebels combined what is probably the fastest team in school history with the same sound, physical play they always bring to the table.

“People talked about our speed all year, and a lot of times when people talk about speed they’re usually saying, ‘That team’s soft,’” Haddix said. “I want to be fast to the ball and by physical, and I felt like we were.”

CovCath passed for 12 yards and a first down on its first offensive play, but the Colonels didn’t get another first down until they had fallen behind by three scores.

The Boyle offense had been stopped on downs at the CovCath 21 on its first series, but the Rebels then scored on three consecutive possessions and six of their next seven.

“Any time you’re in a game like this you want to start off strong, but we just put ourselves behind the 8-ball,” Eviston said. “Offense put our defense in bad positions, special teams put our defense in bad positions and we just couldn’t stop them. A lot of third down conversions, a lot of fourth down conversions.”

Dawson got the offense untracked when he ran up the middle on third-and-17 for a 22-yard gain to the Boyle 42. Quisenberry soon ran for 23 yards to the CovCath 18, and he scored on a 13-yard run moments later.

After a CovCath three-and-out, Bodner capped Boyle’s longest drive of the night by plays (nine) with a 1-yard TD run early in the second quarter.

Later in the period, Quisenberry ran for his third punt return touchdown of the season – it was his fifth return touchdown and his 35th TD overall – to make it 20-0 with 5:16 left in the first half.

Little changed in the second half, with the exception of Boyle keeping the ball on the ground more often to burn the clock.

CovCath was stopped on downs at the Boyle 47-yard line on its first series and never got past its own 37 again.

Bodner and Dawson ran for touchdowns in the third quarter and Brown scored on a 32-yard reception with 6:56 remaining to give the Rebels their first running-clock victory in a title game and put an exclamation point on a statement win and a statement season.

Haddix admitted that he saw the opportunity at halftime for the Rebels to make that statement.

“I said, ‘We’ve got a chance,’” Haddix said. “‘If we want to send a message that we’re the best team in the state, we need to run the clock on these people.’”


Class 4A Championship

At Lexington

Boyle County 6-14-14-7 — 41

Covington Catholic 0-0-0-0 — 0

First Quarter

Boyle – Montavin Quisenberry 13 run (kick failed), 2:38.

Scoring drive: 8 plays, 73 yards, 3:50.

Second Quarter

Boyle – Avery Bodner 1 run (Andrew Carr kick), 8:29.

Scoring drive: 9 plays, 65 yards, 3:58.

Boyle – Quisenberry 39 punt return (Carr kick), 5:16.

Third Quarter

Boyle – Bodner 9 run (Carr kick), 7:14.

Scoring drive: 6 plays, 53 yards, 2:51.

Boyle – Sage Dawson 9 run (Carr kick), :40.

Scoring drive: 8 plays, 33 yards, 4:26.

Fourth Quarter

Boyle — Geordon Brown 32 pass from Dawson (Carr kick), 6:56.

Scoring drive: 7 plays, 62 yards, 3:59.



First downs 19 6

Rushes-yards 39-282 23-28

Passing 131 36

Comp-Att-Int 11-16-0 7-17-1

Return Yards 64 28

Punts-Avg. 1-28.0 4-35.0

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 9-113 5-49

Time of Possession 27:30 20:30


RUSHING–Boyle, Montavin Quisenberry 12-93, Avery Bodner 16-76, Sage Dawson 7-65, Ji’dyn Smith-Hisel 1-39, Baylor Murphy 1-5, Demauriah Brown 1-4, team 1-0. CovCath, Owen Leen 6-26, Evan Pitzer 15-1, Braylon Miller 2-1.

PASSING–Boyle, Dawson 11-16-0-131. CovCath, Pitzer 7-17-1-36.

RECEIVING–Boyle, Bodner 5-44, Quisenberry 3-46, Geordon Brown 2-39, D. Brown 1-2. CovCath, Miller 3-22, Oliver Link 2-9, Willie Rodriguez 1-3, Noah Johnson 1-2.

TACKLES–Boyle, Bodner 5.5, Dawson 4.5, Brock Driver 4.5, D. Brown 4, Bryce Bullock 4, Jax Crowe 3.5, Gage Feltner 2.5. CovCath, Rodriguez 7, Josh Flood 5.5, Logan Sanning 5, Ben Reeves 4.5, Andrew Bassler 4.