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Beechwood finishes playoff run with dominating performance in Class 1A state championship game

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With his teammates clearing the way, Beechwood junior Logan Castleman picks up yardage on a running play in the Class 1A championship game against Raceland. (Photo by Bob Jackson)


By Terry Boehmker

NKyTribune sports reporter

LEXINGTON — Fans weren’t allowed to come on the field after Beechwood’s 41-0 win over Raceland in the Class 1A state championship game of the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl on a sunny Friday afternoon at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field.

After the trophy presentation and post-game interviews were completed, however, Beechwood coach Noel Rash gathered his players  together in front of the stands so family and friends could take part in celebrating the Tigers’ second straight state title and 13th in the history of the program.

Beechwood wide receiver Daniel Mescher makes an over-the-shoulder catch on a lob pass from Brayden Burch. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

“Those kids come to me every day ready to play football because of the support they get off the field,” Rash said. “I don’t have to deal with a lot of issues because they come from homes that teach them great values. So when we win, they’re all a part of that. No way can I ever ignore that.”

It was a great day to be a Beechwood fan. The Tigers dominated play on both sides of the ball from start to finish and posted the widest winning margin in any of the team’s 13 championship game victories. The only previous shutout was a 26-0 win over Harrodsburg in the 1997 state final.

“We put a goose egg on the board in the state championship so that speaks volumes about how much they prepared all year and believed in the game plan, and it paid off,” Rash said of his team’s defensive effort.

Beechwood finished with 305 total yards and held Raceland to 27. Daniel Mescher, the Tigers’ most versatile player, received the most valuable player award. The senior caught 12 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown, kicked two field goals, converted five extra-point kicks and made four tackles.

“I wouldn’t have had all those opportunities without my teammates, so props go to them, Mescher said. “It’s all about the team, not just one person. Winning back-to-back championships feels great and I wouldn’t want to spend it with anyone else besides my friends.”

Senior quarterback Brayden Burch completed 22 of 30 passes for 186 yards to lead the Beechwood offense. He expected to throw the ball a lot more than usual against Raceland’s defense.

“That was actually our plan coming into the game,” Burch said.”We knew after James Davis’ performance last week, getting 200 or something yards on the ground, that they were going to stop the run. But we have just as good of a passing game with all of our athletes on the edge.”

Beechwood defensive end Duncan Baugh breaks up a pass attempt by Raceland quarterback Damon Black. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

Beechwood passed for 151 of its 178 yards in the first half of Friday’s game and had a 24-0 lead at the break. The first two touchdowns came on short runs by Davis and Castleman. Mescher did the rest of the first-half scoring with one touchdown, a 37-yard field goal and three point-after kicks.

Castleman’s touchdown came after a trio of turnovers in the second quarter. Beechwood recovered a fumble on a kickoff, but Burch had the ball stripped from his hands and Raceland recovered it. Two plays later, Beechwood defensive end Jake Moore intercepted a pass at the Raceland 33-yard line.

On the Tigers’ final scoring drive of the first half, they went 58 yards in six plays. The last four plays were passes from Burch to Mescher, including an 8-yard touchdown toss.

“Daniel Mescher is, in my opinion, one of the best receivers in Northern Kentucky, route-wise,” Burch said.”He doesn’t have the best height, but he’s almost automatic with his hands and he has the quickest feet. If they’re going man-to-man on Daniel Mescher, I’ll take that all day.”

Mescher kicked a 20-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend the Tigers’ lead to 27-0. In the fourth quarter, Beechwood’s offense scored on two short drives that began in Raceland territory because of a shanked punt and fumble recovery. Davis ran in the last two touchdowns and ended up with 88 of the team’s 119 rushing yards.

Beechwood’s defense had 10 tackles for a loss in addition to two takeaways. Three linebackers made 14 of the team’s 24 solo tackles. Harrison Heist finished with five, followed by Robbie Cottingham and Josh Derry with four each.

“We just played hard — fast, physical and aggressive — if you do those three things you shut down the run and the pass,” Derry said. “And you can tell by the scoreboard we did that.”

Beechwood coach Noel Rash gets a water cooler shower after the final seconds tick off the clock (Photo by Dale Dawn)

BEECHWOOD  7   17   3  14 — 41
RACELAND      0     0   0    0 — 0

B — Davis 1 run (Mescher kick)
B — Mescher 37 FG
B — Castleman 2 run (Mescher kick)
B — Mescher 8 pass from Burch (Mescher kick)
B — Mescher 20 FG
B — Davis 1 run (Mescher kick)
B — Davis 5 run (Mescher kick)
RECORDS: Beechwood 12-2, Raceland 10-5.

BEECHWOOD STATE CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORIES

Tigers carry off 13th state championship trophy. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

2017 — Beechwood 41, Raceland 0
2016 — Beechwood 21, Hazard 14
2008 — Beechwood 14, Hazard 7
2007 — Beechwood 38, Lexington Christian 35
2004 — Beechwood 23, Danville 7
1999 — Beechwood 45, Hancock County 22
1997 — Beechwood 26, Harrodsburg 0
1996 — Beechwood 21, Harrodsburg 14 OT
1994 — Beechwood 18, Murray 16
1993 — Beechwood 13, Bardstown 12
1992 — Beechwood 21, Bardstown 14
1991 — Beechwood 34, Pikeville 6
1984 — Beechwood 35, Paris 26

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