Boyle’s Bodner, Dawson among Mr. Football finalists

Published 10:44 am Friday, December 8, 2023


Contributing Writer

Two Boyle County players are among the finalists for the Kentucky Football Coaches Association’s 2023 Mr. Football award.

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Avery Bodner and Sage Dawson are among nine finalists for Mr. Football, continuing a remarkable run of Boyle players in contention for the state’s most prestigious high school football award in recent seasons.

Dawson, Bodner and the other finalists were considered this week by coaches across the state. Ballots were sent to coaches Monday, and the voting deadline was Friday. Mr. Football will be announced later this month.

“I think it is great that they are rewarded for being on the No. 1 team in the state by being up for the most prestigious award,” Boyle coach Justin Haddix said.

Boyle has had seven Mr. Football finalists in the past five seasons, and this marks the third time in Haddix’s four years at Boyle that the Rebels have had two finalists in the same season.

“It is very special for me as a coach,” Haddix said. “I have had a couple of finalists before but never a winner.”

However, Haddix said it is even more special for the two players, both of whom have been leaders on the team for several seasons.

“They have been leaders in the good and the bad since they have been Rebels. Being a Rebel means they have went through a lot of work and struggle and they come out on the other side a champion. Both these guys represent that,” the Boyle coach said.

Here is a look at both finalists from Boyle, which won its fourth consecutive Class 4A championship last week:

Avery Bodner

Bodner stood out on both sides of the ball, leading Boyle in both rushing and tackling this season.

The running back-linebacker rushed for 1,274 yards and a team-high 22 touchdowns, averaging 8.4 yards on his 151 attempts. He also had 29 receptions for 378 yards and four TDs. On defense, he had 43 solo tackles and 87 total tackles with 15 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

Bodner’s collegiate offers include Campbellsville, Eastern Kentucky, Kenyon, Lindsey Wilson, Thomas More and Union.

Sage Dawson

Dawson was named the Class 4A player of the year by KFCA after he directed the Boyle offense at quarterback for the second straight season and also starred at cornerback.

He completed 71 percent of his passes (137 for 194) for 2.509 yards and 29 touchdowns and also ranked third on the team in rushing with 385 yards and four TDs. On defense, he had 18 solo tackles and 24 total tackles with 2 1/2 tackles for loss.

Dawson committed to Air Force in June.

“We have promoted them both, and I wish they both could win,” Haddix said.

Kentucky’s Mr. Football was awarded by The Associated Press from 1986-2021. The KFCA first presented its award in 2018, and it is now the sole Mr. Football award.

Two Boyle players have been named Mr. Football: Jeff Duggins in 2001 and Lamar Dawson in 2010.

In addition to Dawson and Bodner, Boyle’s recent Mr. Football finalists are Reese Smith (2019), Jagger Gillis (2020 and ’21), Will McDaniel (2020) and Cole Lanter (2021).

The other finalists for the 2023 award as reported by the (Louisville) Courier Journal are Cutter Boley, Lexington Christian; Zane Cartwright, Mayfield; Max Gainey, Male; Brady Hensley, Lexington Christian; Cole Hodge, Christian Academy of Louisville; Daniel Thomas, Bell County; and Noah Wallace, Raceland.

Boyle’s Haddix wins award

Haddix, who was named the KFCA’s Class 4A coach of the year, is among six finalists for the association’s Jimmie Reed Coach of the Year award, which will also be announced later this month.

The other finalists won the KFCA coach of the year award for their respective classes: Dale Estes, Campbellsville (Class 1A); Jason Morris, Owensboro Catholic (2A); Chad Griffin, Hart County (3A); Mark Spader, Bowling Green (5A) and Josh Gillispie, duPont Manual (6A).

Haddix won the Jimmie Reed award in 2018 while at Corbin.

Area Mr. Football winners

Winners of Kentucky’s Mr. Football award from area schools:

1993 – Jeremy Simpson, Lincoln County

1997 – Dennis Johnson, Harrodsburg

2001 – Jeff Duggins, Boyle County

2010 – Lamar Dawson, Boyle County

2017 – D’mauriae VanCleave, Danville