How Christian Academy of Louisville football stayed unbeaten with rout of Henry County

Another night, another running-clock pounding by the Christian Academy football team.

Gavin Copenhaver rushed for 91 yards, scored three touchdowns and anchored a dominant defense that led the host Centurions to a 51-7 victory over previously undefeated Henry County on Friday.

CAL, ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press Class 3A poll, improved to 7-0. Six of the seven victories — including Friday’s — have finished with the mercy rule running clock that comes after a team takes a 36-point lead.

“They’re super-strong up front, and they control the line of scrimmage in a way that nobody else does,” Henry County coach Matt Wright said. “It’s impressive. We feel like we’re pretty strong … but the way they control the line of scrimmage is big and gives their skill guys an opportunity to get open.”

CAL quarterback Cole Hodge completed 11 of 15 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 83 yards and a score. Trey Cotton had three catches for 67 yards to lead CAL’s receivers.

Blaik Nation’s 13-yard touchdown run on the final play helped Henry County (5-1) avoid the shutout.

Here are three observations from the game:

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Copenhaver 'absolute monster'

CAL's Gavin Copenhaver (16) beat the last Henry County defender as he took it 21 yards for his second touchdown during their game at the CAL stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 30, 2022.
CAL's Gavin Copenhaver (16) beat the last Henry County defender as he took it 21 yards for his second touchdown during their game at the CAL stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 30, 2022.

Copenhaver backed up his reputation as a leader on offense and defense, scoring three touchdowns as CAL took a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

He caught a 14-yard touchdown pass to give CAL a 7-0 lead on its first possession. He added a 21-yard TD run in the first quarter and a 60-yard score that made it 28-0 at the 5:52 mark of the second.

“Gavin is an absolute monster, but he’s on a team full of great playmakers,” CAL coach Hunter Cantwell said. “Sometimes he does get kind of lost in the shuffle because everybody’s out there making plays. But when you turn on the film, you see his value. I think he’s one of the best players in the state.”

Copenhaver (6 feet, 210 pounds) is being recruited by Dayton, McKendree and Valparaiso, and Cantwell said his future could be at linebacker. He was credited with six tackles Friday, including two for loss, to lead a defense that harassed Henry County quarterback Jordan King all night.

“I love playing both positions,” Copenhaver said. “If I’m having a good day on defense, I like defense better. And vice versa. A touchdown is a touchdown, but getting a tackle for loss or sack on defense is just the same. It gets you going.”

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Vazanna a future star

CAL heads to the locker room after warming up before their game against Henry County at the CAL stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 30, 2022.
CAL heads to the locker room after warming up before their game against Henry County at the CAL stadium in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 30, 2022.

From Hodge to Copenhaver to Cotton to Justin Ruffin Jr., CAL is loaded with stars on offense.

Jeffrey Vazzana may not be quite there yet, but the freshman running back showed his skills Friday with 35 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries. He also plays outside linebacker.

“He’s very special,” Cantwell said. “He’s provided a lot of depth on the defensive side and the offensive side of the ball. He’s electric with the ball in his hands. You’re going to hear his name this year and another three years. He’s another special talent to come through CAL.”

Vazzana has rushed for 125 yards on 23 carries this season and scored five touchdowns (four rushing, one punt return).

“Jeffrey is an animal,” Copenhaver said. “In the weight room, he’s phenomenal. Whenever he plays scout team, he gives our defense a great look. He’s just a great athlete. He’s going to be special.”

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DeSales up next for CAL

It didn’t take long Friday for the Centurions to start looking ahead to their next opponent — at DeSales on Friday.

The Colts may be 0-6 after Friday’s loss to Fern Creek, but a rivalry is a rivalry.

“It’s our rival, and we’re going to have to come out and play fast,” Copenhaver said. “We want to put up as many points on them as we can.”

Cantwell sees plenty of room for improvement and continues to be motivated by last year’s third-round playoff loss to Paducah Tilghman that came after an 11-1 start.

“This is eerily similar to where we were last year — a lot of blowout victories, good wins,” Cantwell said. “The coaches see stuff we have to get fixed, and if we don’t fix it we’re in trouble. These wins are great, but there are good teams coming in the playoffs.”

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Midseason honors:Meet the top Louisville high school receivers so far

HENRY COUNTY               0            0            0            7 - 7

CHRISTIAN ACADEMY    14          21          9            7 - 51

First quarter

CAL – Gavin Copenhaver 14 pass from Cole Hodge (Jackson Barrickman kick)

CAL – Copenhaver 21 run (Barrickman kick)

Second quarter

CAL – Hodge 10 run (Barrickman kick)

CAL – Copenhaver 60 run (Barrickman kick)

CAL – Jaylen McRoberts 1 run (Barrickman kick)

Third quarter

CAL – Safety, Jordan King intentional grounding in end zone

CAL – Jeffrey Vazzana 13 run (Barrickman kick)

Fourth quarter

CAL – Vazzana 17 run (Barrickman kick)

HC – Blaik Nation 13 run (Morgan Wilson kick)

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @kyhighs.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KHSAA football: Christian Academy of Louisville routs Henry County