‘What Friday Night Lights is about.’ Lexington’s ‘Holy War’ rivalry already a classic.

·5 min read

No, the “Holy War” rivalry to be renewed Friday between the Lexington Catholic and Lexington Christian high school football teams does not have the same tradition as showdowns between some other storied arch-nemeses across the state.

It’s not Trinity vs. St. Xavier, or Boyle County vs. Danville, or Paducah vs. Mayfield.

But you’ve got to start somewhere.

These two undefeated private schools lie just 2.4 miles apart — a mere seven-minute drive with one turn between them. And they have become exceptional at America’s fall pastime. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at LCA.

“It’s always a close game no matter how good we think they are or how good they think we are,” said LCA senior Mason Moore. “This year, it’s hyped up to be the biggest atmosphere yet. … This environment is going to be crazy.”

LCA (4-0) is ranked as the No. 7 overall team in the state by Dave Cantrall and No. 2 in Class 2A by both Cantrall and The Associated Press. LexCath (4-0) comes in rated by Cantrall as the state’s 10th best team overall and No. 3 in Class 4A where the AP ranks the Knights No. 2.

“You consider the atmosphere and that’s what ‘Friday Night Lights’ is about,” LCA Coach Doug Charles said. “It’s a fun game. I’m glad we play it. Win or lose, I think both of our teams are better for playing each other.”

With both teams being so good, the real value of the rivalry is preparation for each team’s ultimate goals of competing for their respective classes’ state championships, both coaches said.

“Every chance you get to play football, you have a chance to get better,” said LexCath Coach Nigel Smith, who beat LCA 54-13 in his first year as head coach, but has lost twice since. “This is game number five. Hopefully, it carries us a lot farther than game number five.”

While the two have only played each other seven times, the last two have been magical — each were decided on the last possession in front of frenzied crowds hanging on every moment.

In 2020, junior LCA kicker Andrew Dobbs’ 37-yard field goal capped an Eagles rally from down 20-7 in the fourth quarter for a 23-20 win as the horn sounded.

In 2019, a heartstopping back-and-forth game saw Beau Allen and LexCath erase a 28-14 halftime deficit to take a 42-35 lead in the fourth quarter only to see LCA score a touchdown and eschew an extra point for a possible tie and instead convert a go-ahead two-point conversion with 55 seconds left to lead 43-42. A last-second field goal try by Lexington Catholic missed.

That final quarter in 2019 featured a 26-yard interception return for a touchdown by Kimwanga Mafuta to put the Knights in front and then a fumble recovery by LCA at midfield to give the Eagles a last gasp chance to get back in the game trailing by seven with just over two minutes left.

Friday’s matchup brings together two impressive teams with serious state title hopes.

Lexington Christian, led by dynamic playmakers Xavier Brown and Moore have already toppled two No. 1 teams (Boyle County and Christian Academy-Louisville) from larger classes than the one they compete in.

Moore, a Miami (Ohio) commit who till this year was primarily a wide receiver and defensive back, has been a revelation at quarterback the last two games with 270 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Brown, a Virginia commit, has had his most prolific start in the backfield yet with 360 yards rushing and two TDs in three games.

Lexington Catholic, meanwhile, has developed a knack for come-from-behind victories this season with senior quarterback Jack Gohmann at the helm and the best rushing attack the Knights have had in years. Gohmann has thrown for 846 yards and nine TDs to go with 162 yards on the ground and five scores. Senior running back Walker Hall has topped 100 yards rushing in three of their four games and scored four rushing TDs to go with a TD catch.

“We know that we’re going to get their best shot,” Charles said. “I think it’s a great game for our community and our school. And you’ll see probably the biggest regular-season crowd on Friday night here that there will be in Lexington.”

Lexington’s ‘Holy War’

What: No. 10 Lexington Catholic (4-0) at No. 7 Lexington Christian (4-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Streaming: Go.PrepSpin.com

Radio: WJMM-FM 99.1 (LCA broadcast)

Rivalry history

Lexington Catholic leads series 4-3

2020: LCA 23, Lexington Catholic 20

2019: LCA 43, Lexington Catholic 42

2018: Lexington Catholic 54, LCA 13

2017: LCA 56, Lexington Catholic 36

2010: Lexington Catholic 62, LCA 0

2009: Lexington Catholic 27, LCA 26*

2005: Lexington Catholic 52*, LCA 14

* Won its class’ state championship that year.

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