Preview: Beechwood vs. Lexington Christian

The Beechwood Tigers are no stranger to December football. On Friday they’ll play at Kroger Field for a chance to earn the school’s fourth state championship in five years and 15th overall. The only thing standing in their way is a matchup with the Lexington Christian Eagles.

Kickoff: 3:00 p.m. | Kroger Field – Lexington, KY
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Cam Hergott will put the exclamation point on his three-year run as the Tigers’ starting quarterback in this one. The senior has built quite the resume during his senior season posting career highs across the board, including posting 2,313 yards and 24 touchdowns through air while rushing for an additional 981 yards and 14 scores. Juniors Brady Moore and Parker Mason along with sophomore Mitch Berger have each eclipsed 32 receptions, 450 receiving yards and at least four touchdowns through 11 games. All of those guys have also chipped in on defense along with stalwarts Xavier Campbell, Tanner Shultz and rising star Luke Slusher to help the Tigers tame opponents during their recent winning streak.

Junior quarterback Drew Nieves stirs the pot for the Eagles’ offense. He’s completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 2,513 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also averaged 36.6 rushing yards per game and has rushed for five scores. Classmate Mason Moore has been his favorite target. He leads the team in receptions (48), receiving yards (935) and receiving touchdowns (11). Moore also leads the team with five interceptions on the other side of the ball. The defense is anchored by senior linebacker Mattie Lebryk, who leads the Eagles with 131 total tackles to go along with 5.5 sacks.

TEAM TRENDS: Beechwood enters the contest winners of seven straight games and having won 23 of its last 25 playoff games. This year’s Tigers are having no problems putting points on the scoreboard, averaging 37.7 points per call. On defense, they’ve been equally impressive allowing just 11.7 points per game. Beechwood boasts a 0.67171 RPI per the KHSAA.

Lexington Christian is riding a six-game winning streak entering Friday’s tilt. The Eagles have won 20 of 23 games over the past two seasons. The 2020 edition of the team is scoring 34.7 points per game while allowing 20.5 points per outing. No Class 2A has a higher RPI rating from the KHSAA than the .74356 mark that the Eagles earned this season.

Beechwood: Noel Rash (171-49 at Beechwood, 16th season, 5 state championships)
Lexington Christian: Doug Charles (20-3 at Lexington Christian, 2nd season)

Beechwood: State Championships – 14 (2018, 2017, 2016, 2008, 2007, 2004, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1984); State Runner-Up – 5 (2015, 2003, 2002, 1995, 1974); Lost in 4th Round to Mayfield 35-7 last year.

Lexington Christian: State Championships – 1 (2009); State Runner-Up – 2 (2007); Lost in 2nd Round to Somerset 28-26 last year.

BEECHWOODS KEYS TO VICTORY: Getting out of the gate quickly will not be enough. Beechwood blew a 20-point lead a week ago in their win over West Carter and had to rally to advance. Keeping their feet on the gas pedal will be a must here. The Eagles don’t have much of a running game, so getting pressure on Nieves and keeping him in the pocket should be a priority. One thing Beechwood needs to avoid is falling in a big hole. That is unfamiliar territory to this team as aside from last week’s matchup, most of the games the Tigers have played since the first month of the season have been blowouts.

LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Eagles don’t have the playoff pedigree that the Tigers do as a program, but they can’t get too caught up in that. Treating this like just another football game will be hard to do, but it is the approach to take. Controlling the clock and keeping Hergott and company on the sidelines will go a long way towards keeping this game close. Lexington Christian will need to get someone else aside from just Nieves to do some damage on the ground to pull that off. The defense and special teams’ units also need to make some big plays to help the Eagles’ steal some momentum.

Prediction: Beechwood 34, Lexington Christian 21

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