Louisville Courier Journal
Published 7:45 AM EST Nov 8, 2019
With the high school football playoffs kicking off in Kentucky on Friday, the race for six state championships has taken center stage.
But the competition for the state’s 2019 Mr. Football award also is heating up.
Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen, a University of Kentucky commit, is considered the front-runner by many, but several other seniors are enjoying huge seasons.
A few reminders about the Mr. Football process:
-Only seniors are eligible.
-The winner is selected by a media-only vote.
-Voting takes place following the state championship games.
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History shows offensive players have a much better chance to win the award than defensive players. Since Mr. Football was first handed out in 1986, 28 of the 33 winners have come from the following positions: quarterbacks (14), running backs (10), wide receivers (three) and tight ends (one). There have been four linebackers and one defensive lineman (Harrodsburg’s Dennis Johnson in 1997) to capture the award.
Here's a look at 10 of the top candidates for the award. Statistics are through regular-season games, and rankings are from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s statistics.
Beau Allen, Lexington Catholic
Allen (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) was considered the front-runner coming into the season and has done little to disappoint. The University of Kentucky commit has completed 68.1 percent of his passes (224 of 329) for 3,311 yards and 34 touchdowns with six interceptions. He ranks third in the state in passing yards and TD passes and fourth in completion percentage. He’s also the Knights’ top rusher with 418 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Izayah Cummings, Male
Cummings (6-3, 212) could garner the “Best Player on the Best Team” vote. The UK commit has 47 receptions for 870 yards and nine touchdowns and ranks 16th in the state with 96.7 receiving yards per game. He’s been at his best in the biggest games, such as a 20-17 double-overtime victory over Trinity when he had six catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Earlier: Izayah Cummings dreams of another state title, success at UK, career in NFL
Drew Hartz, Owensboro Catholic
Hartz (6-3, 200) leads the state in passing yards (3,571) and touchdown passes (49) and ranks third in completion rate at 70.2 percent (203 of 289). Hartz, who has led the Aces to an 8-2 record, has offers from Kentucky Wesleyan, Mount St. Joseph and Western Kentucky (as a preferred walk-on).
Franklin Hayes, McCracken County
Hayes (5-11, 198) ranks No. 1 in the state in receiving yards (1,435) and touchdown catches (24) and is No. 7 in receptions (59). He needs five more TD catches to surpass the single-season state record of 28 shared by Somerset’s John Cole (2006) and Lone Oak’s Jamarielle Brown (2007). Hayes has received recruiting interest from Morehead State.
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Jeriah Hightower, Madisonville-North Hopkins
Hightower (6-1, 220) is the state’s leading rusher with 2,231 yards. He’s rushed for 23 touchdowns and averages 9.6 yards per carry. He has scholarship offers from Illinois State and Tennessee-Martin.
Michael Mayer, Covington Catholic
Mayer (6-5, 240) is one of the state’s top two-way players and has led the Colonels to a 10-0 record. As a tight end, the Notre Dame commit has 33 receptions for 676 yards and 11 touchdowns. At linebacker, he has a team-high 66 tackles (54 solo) and three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.
Walker Parks, Frederick Douglass
No lineman ever has won Mr. Football, but Parks (6-5, 275) is having an outstanding season on both sides of the ball. The Clemson commit anchors an offensive line that has allowed the undefeated Broncos to average 45.9 points and 259.6 rushing yards per game. He’s also tallied 27 tackles (16 solo), 9 ½ tackles for loss and 5 ½ sacks for a defense that ranks No. 1 in the state in points allowed (4.5 ppg) and has posted eight shutouts.
Matchups: Pairings set for first round of KHSAA football playoffs
Jake Sloan, Pulaski County
If you consider Mr. Football a career award, Sloan (6-3, 200) could be your guy. The Eastern Kentucky University commit has 77 catches – ranking No. 2 in the state – for 899 yards and five touchdowns this season. For his career, Sloan ranks second in state history in receptions (312) and seventh in receiving yards (4,011).
Reese Smith, Boyle County
Smith (5-11, 185) is the catalyst for a Boyle County offense that ranks No. 1 in the state in scoring (50.6 ppg). He has 37 receptions for 1,055 yards and 14 touchdowns and also has rushed for three scores. Defensively, the West Virginia commit has 20 tackles (16 solo) and a team-high four interceptions.
Jayden Stinson, Mayfield
Stinson (6-2, 200) has led the Cardinals to a 9-1 record while completing 64.7 percent of his passes (132 of 204) for 2,567 yards and 33 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He ranks fifth in the state in passing yards and TD passes. Campbellsville, Centre, Kentucky Wesleyan, Lindsey Wilson and Thomas More are among the schools with recruiting interest.
Rankings: Kentucky high school football rankings: AP releases final poll of season
Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @kyhighs. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jasonf.