Preview: Mayfield at Beechwood

Two of the most decorated small school programs in Kentucky high school football collide in Fort Mitchell on Friday as Beechwood hosts Mayfield with a trip to the KHSAA Class 2A state championship on the line. The two programs collectively have combined for 27 state titles and both teams would like to add one more to the list.

To say the Cardinals have had the Tigers’ number would be an understatement. Mayfield has played Beechwood eight times in the playoffs all-time and has won all eight games, including six times in the Noel Rash Era. Each of those losses came in the state semifinals. Most recently the two met in 2019 and Beechwood fell on the road 35-7 in that affair.

This time feels different though. For starters, it will be Mayfield making the nearly five-hour bus ride to play the game. The Tigers are the reigning state champions and a much more experienced team than they were two years ago. It all should prove to be an epic battle in this one.

Kickoff: 7:00 p.m., Friday, November 26th
Edgar McNabb Stadium
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Quarterback Cam Hergott won Mr. Kentucky last season and this year’s numbers are even better. The fifth-year senior has accounted for 56 touchdowns (31 passing, 25 rushing), passing for 2,218 yards and gaining 1,522 yards on the ground. The Cardinals contained Hergott two years ago, but he has matured quite a bit since then and this year is playing behind one of the state’s best offensive lines, anchored by Bryce Shepherd, Luke Slusher and Xavier Campbell. All of those guys are also key cogs on the Tigers’ defensive front.

Beechwood has been hit by injuries, but they still have plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball. Mitch Berger has compiled 800 total yards of offense and scored 14 times. Parker Mason leads all receivers with 613 yards and six touchdowns on 26 catches. Torin O’Shea is a difference maker on both sides of the ball and earned All-District honors on defense.

In Mayfield’s 2019 victory over the Tigers, Kylan Galbreath rushed for 252 yards and three scores and he’s still leading the charge for the Cardinals’ backfield. The senior has compiled 1,552 yard and 24 touchdowns on the ground and picked up another 184 yards and three scores as a receiver. Sophomore quarterback Zane Cartwright has looked like a seasoned pro under center. He’s passed for 2,209 yards and 23 touchdowns and only been intercepted once all season. Cartwright doesn’t do much on the ground though with just 32 yards rushing on the year.

Nathan Watkins anchors the Mayfield defense, leading the team with 76 total tackles. Jutarious Starks (7.5 sacks) has wreaked havoc on opposing signal callers all season. Daniel Coles leads the team with four interceptions.

TEAM TRENDS: Beechwood enters this contest winners of 21 straight games and are two wins away from giving Noel Rash his first-ever undefeated season. They’ve outscored their opponents 628-76 this season, including by a 156-14 margin during the postseason. Only two teams have reached double digits on the Tigers all season. With their win last week Beechwood clinched its eighth straight regional title and 17th regional championship in the last 20 years.

Mayfield hasn’t had a losing season since 1963 and won a state-best 37 regional titles and 42 district championships all-time. Their only loss this year came to Murray, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago. The Cardinals got revenge though, knocking them off 55-6 two weeks ago. After allowing 14.9 points per game during the regular season the Cardinals have outscored their foes during the postseason 163-12. Over their last six meetings with Beechwood they scored 35 points or more in all but one contest and won by an average of 21 points per game.

Beechwood: Noel Rash (177-45 at Beechwood, 16 years)

Mayfield: Joe Morris (271-53 at Mayfield, 23 years)


State Champion (15 times): 2020, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2008, 2007, 2004, 1999, 1997, 1996, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1984

State Runner-Up (5 times): 2015, 2003, 2002, 1995, 1974

State Champions (12 times): 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2010, 2002, 1995, 1993, 1986, 1985, 1978, 1977.

State Runner-Up (12 times): 2019, 2018, 2017, 2011, 2009, 2005, 1998, 1992, 1991, 1989, 1987, 1976.

BEECHWOOD’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Tigers need to get back to the basics, the first three steps, get back to who they are and win this game at the line of scrimmage. Getting off the snap and playing as fast and violent as they can in a controlled manner will be key. Mayfield is 11th in the state in rushing defense, but if the Tigers are going to win this game they must find ways to have success on the ground. This is a different team and a different year, so the players must not get caught up in the history of the rivalry and play their game.

MAYFIELD’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Getting out of the gate quickly will work in the Cardinals favor. Not only could it help take the crowd out of the game, but it will put the Tigers in unfamiliar territory, playing from behind. It will be tough for Mayfield to contain Hergott like they did two years ago, but they must force other Beechwood playmakers to step up. Joe Morris’ team has done a great job of taking care of the football all year if they continue to win the turnover battle here there chances of moving on to next week’s state championship will be high.

Prediction: Beechwood 33, Mayfield 28

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