What to know about the Holy Cross, Kentucky Country Day football teams in 2022

Here’s a look at the Louisville-area high school football teams in Class A:

Holy Cross (9-4 in 2021)

Coach: Eric Dick (third season, 16-6 record)

Offense (6 starters back): The Cougars return their all-everything quarterback in 6-foot-3 senior Chris Perry, who passed for 1,382 yards and 22 touchdowns last season and also led the squad in rushing (630 yards, seven TDs). Four starters are back on the line — senior Lukas Emberton and juniors Dylan Jacobs, Caleb Phillips and Jakub Brown. Jacobs was an all-district pick last year. Junior wide receiver Joey Foushee (31 catches, 355 yards, six TDs) is back, but the Cougars must find more playmakers after the graduation of top receiver Nate Siegrist.

Holy Cross head coach Eric Dick yelled to his players during first half action against Bethlehem in the Class A district final on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020.

Defense (7 starters back): The unit allowed a respectable 17 points per game last season, posted two shutouts and returns its top tackler in senior linebacker Tyler Ballard (122 tackles, 81 solo, 34 tackles for loss, 13 sacks). He has an offer from Wilmington College. Senior end Luke McCubbins added 14 sacks last year. Dick is excited about a secondary that returns three starters in junior cornerback Jayse Hardesty and junior safeties Logan McClellan and Foushee. McClellan and Foushee both had three interceptions in 2021.

Outlook: The Cougars enjoyed a solid 2021 but were thumped twice at Bethlehem — 34-0 during the regular season and 44-0 in the second round of the playoffs. Perry and Foushee are steady, but Dick knows someone else must emerge as a threat on offense. He’s hoping Ballard and/or Hardesty can take over at running back, with a pair of sophomores (Aiden DeWees and Peyton McVey) also in the mix. A tough opener against Class 3A contender Taylor County awaits Aug. 20 in Campbellsville’s Forcht Bank Bowl.

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Class A, District Two poll

Coaches could not vote for their own teams. First-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points.

1. Bethlehem (3) 9

2. (tie) Campbellsville 6

2. (tie) Holy Cross (1) 6

4. Fort Knox 3

Kentucky Country Day (10-3 in 2021)

Coach: Matthew Jones (11th season, 88-36 record)

Offense (6 starters back): Luke Russo left big shoes to fill after starting four years at quarterback, but Jones is excited about junior Ethan Harris (6-1, 155 pounds) stepping into the role. “Tremendous arm talent and speed,” Jones said. “Has grown and gotten much stronger this off-season.” The Bearcats also must replace their top running backs and receivers, with junior Troy Humphreys (333 rushing yards, three TDs) expected to take on a larger role. Four starters return on the line, led by senior center Will Liggett and junior Harrison Callahan. Jones said Callahan is the “strongest kid on the team, great feet” and is versatile enough to play fullback.

Kentucky Country Day safety Rex Rumpke has Eminence wide receiver Adonis Whitney in his grasp.Oct. 16, 2021

Defense (10 starters back): Jones is looking for improvement from a unit that allowed 21.7 points per game in 2021. Four of the top five tacklers return, led by senior linebacker/safety Rex Rumpke (45 tackles), Callahan (38), senior linebacker Alex Ramirez-Icaza (36) and senior lineman Will Liggett (34). Liggett (6-2, 265 pounds) is entering his fourth year as a starter and is “ready to dominate up front,” Jones said. Junior cornerbacks Nehemiah Brown-Hamlin (three interceptions) and Cam Edwards (two interceptions) anchor the secondary.

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Outlook: After reaching their first-ever state final in 2020, the Bearcats reached the third round of the playoffs last year before falling to Bethlehem 49-10. Jones said KCD will have more than 50 players on this year’s roster, an all-time high. “There is incredible excitement and energy around our program as … we open a new football locker room, weight room and training room before the 2022 season,” Jones said. “We must develop strong leadership from our senior class and buy-in among all of the new, younger players.”

Class A, District Three poll

Coaches could not vote for their own teams. First-place votes in parentheses, followed by total points.

1. Kentucky Country Day (3)  9

2. Frankfort (1)                       7

3. (tie) Berea                           4

3. (tie) Eminence                     4

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

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KHSAA football: What to know about Holy Cross, Kentucky Country Day