Male's trio of receivers — 'a three-headed snake' — helps make offense one of state's best

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Wide receiver Vinny Anthony catches passes during a Louisville Male football practice Wednesday afternoon. Aug. 4, 2021
Wide receiver Vinny Anthony catches passes during a Louisville Male football practice Wednesday afternoon. Aug. 4, 2021

The Washington Football Team had the “Fun Bunch” in the 1980s, and the University of Louisville promoted the “A.F.R.O.S.” — America’s Fastest Receivers On Saturdays — a few years ago.

Male High School’s current group of talented wide receivers may not have a catchy nickname, but senior Dominic Vrbancic provided a worthy description.

“I like to think of ourselves as a three-headed snake,” Vrbancic said. “We all have different roles and different parts, but we come together to be three top receivers.”

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Vrbancic and fellow senior Vinny Anthony and sophomore Max Gainey comprise one of the state’s most productive groups of wide receivers and are big reasons the Bulldogs are one victory away from their third state championship in seven years.

Male (13-0) will meet St. Xavier (13-1) at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Class 6A state championship game at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington.

The Bulldogs rank ninth in the state in scoring at 42.2 points per game and feature a balanced attack led by junior running back Daniel Swinney and senior quarterback Nic Schutte.

Anthony, a Wisconsin commit, is the top target in the passing game with 47 catches for 979 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gainey is the slot receiver and has 37 receptions for 562 yards and eight TDs. Vrbancic may not have the name recognition of the other two but has comparable stats — 32 catches, 528 yards, four TDs.

“I love every single one of them,” Schutte said, “and I trust them all.”

Here’s a breakdown of the “three-headed snake:”

Vinny Anthony

Whether its route-running, speed, catching or blocking, Anthony (6 feet 1, 170 pounds) is the undisputed leader of the group.

“He’s going to make the tough catch, he’s going to be able to beat people vertically and he certainly can make people miss,” Bulldogs coach Chris Wolfe said. “He’s the full package. If you’re going to a Power Five school, they’re only going to recruit guys who are the full package.”

Anthony also has the advantage of having played football together with Schutte since they were 8-year-old players for the Jeffersontown Bulldogs.

Male wide receiver Vinny Anthony (foreground) and quarterback Nic Schutte are a powerful combination, connecting for 598 yards and 7 touchdowns this season for the Bulldogs. Oct. 20, 2021
Male wide receiver Vinny Anthony (foreground) and quarterback Nic Schutte are a powerful combination, connecting for 598 yards and 7 touchdowns this season for the Bulldogs. Oct. 20, 2021

They’ve been on the same team ever since.

“It means a lot to have that chemistry,” Anthony said. “He knows where I’m going to be, and I know where he’s going to put the ball. I just trust him to put me in the right spot.”

Anthony needs 21 yards Saturday to become the third wide receiver during Wolfe’s 12-season tenure at Male to reach 1,000 receiving yards in a season, joining Izayah Cummings (1,100 yards in 2019) and Zack Smith (1,040 yards in 2015). Cummings is a sophomore tight end at UK, and Smith recently finished a standout career at Southeast Missouri State.

Max Gainey

Gainey (5-8, 150) played quarterback in middle school but was moved to wide receiver, where he started as a freshman.

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Gainey credited Anthony and Vrbancic with showing him the ropes.

“It was weird coming in because I didn’t play receiver, so I had to look up to Vinny and Dom a lot,” Gainey said. “They taught me a lot my freshman year — what I need to know, how the varsity experience is going to be.”

Male's Max Gainey made this leaping catch for a touchdown over Ballard's Jaden Minkins in the first half against the Bruins during Friday night's game. August 27, 2021
Male's Max Gainey made this leaping catch for a touchdown over Ballard's Jaden Minkins in the first half against the Bruins during Friday night's game. August 27, 2021

Gainey is considered the most elusive of the trio and is most likely to work the middle of the field.

“He can pretty much do it all,” Schutte said. “He’ll make you miss. And even though he’s small, he’ll go down the field and go up over somebody to make those hard plays.”

Dominic Vrbancic

Vrbancic (6-1, 185) is the biggest of the trio and, Wolfe said, may be the best blocker.

“You have to block to get the clock, as (assistant coach Nathan Jones) would say,” Vrbancic said. “You have to block to help the run game. And we like to run some short screens, so being a receiver that can block definitely helps out.”

Like Gainey, Vrbancic also is a member of Male’s basketball team. But with offers from Campbellsville and Hanover, Vrbancic likely will play football in college.

Male's Dominic Vrbancic runs for yardage after a catch against Bullitt East in the first half Friday night. Oct. 22, 2021
Male's Dominic Vrbancic runs for yardage after a catch against Bullitt East in the first half Friday night. Oct. 22, 2021

Schutte said Vrbancic would be the No. 1 wide receiver at most schools in the state.

“He might not be as quick as you’d like in a receiver, but he leaves it all out on the field every Friday night,” Schutte said. “He’ll go up and make those tough catches … and he’s a tremendous blocker. If you get outside and have him blocking in front of you, it’s a good sign.”

Anthony is one of a handful of Male seniors who will be playing in the state final for the fourth straight season. Male beat Scott County 37-20 in the 2018 final but the championship game to Trinity in both 2019 and 2020.

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Anthony doesn’t see the “three-headed snake” letting the Bulldogs end another season with a loss.

“We’re excited, but we can’t get too excited and forget what all of this has been for,” he said. “We definitely have to finish out. I’m not going out with another loss again. I’ve done that two years in a row, and I’m not doing that again.”

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

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky high school football: Male one of the best teams in KHSAA

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