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State Football Notebook: Most of Beechwood’s starting players will be returning next season

The NKyTribune will be providing focused coverage of NKY high school football throughout the season, thanks to support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. See all of our pre-season features on each of NKY’s 21 high school football teams and follow our coverage, including roundups each week at Northern Kentucky High School Football.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter


Beechwood junior quarterback Brayden Burch

Most of the starting players on Beechwood’s state champion football team are underclassmen who will likely make the Tigers a leading contender for the Class 1A state title again next season.

One of six returning starters on offense is junior quarterback Brayden Burch, who accounted for 173 of the team’s 245 total yards in the title game against Hazard on Friday. In addition to completing 16 of 26 passes for 162 yards, he had 11 yards rushing.

In his first season as a starting quarterback, Burch completed 151 of 236 passes (63.9 percent) for 2,407 yards and 26 touchdowns with only six interceptions.

The Tigers will also have  junior wide receiver/place kicker Daniel Mescher back in the lineup next season. Mescher caught a 41-yard pass that set up the winning touchdown in Friday’s game and converted all three of his point-after kicks. He finished the season as the team’s second leading scorer with 86 points.

The returning offensive linemen include junior guard Blake Soete, sophomore center Noah Fisher, sophomore guard Adam Derry and sophomore tackle John Willis.

There are seven underclassmen starting on the Beechwood defensive unit that limited Hazard to 233 total yards, well below the team’s 452 yards-per-game average coming into the championship final.

The Tigers’ leading tackler in the game was junior linebacker Harrison Heist with 10 stops. Junior cornerback Elijah McKenney had four tackles and came up with the interception in the final seconds that clinched the victory. The other returning starters on defense will be Derry and Dayton Baugh up front, cornerback Jake Massie and safeties Mescher and Logan Castleman.

Local teams have 54-33 record in state championship games

Beechwood’s victory in the Class 1A state final on Friday gives Northern Kentucky teams an overall record of 54-33 in state championship games since the post-season playoffs started in 1959.

Local teams have a 19-11 record in Class 1A championship games with Beechwood claiming 12 titles followed by Newport Central Catholic and Bellevue with two each. The first three local small-school champions were Lloyd (1965), Dayton (1966) and Ludlow (1975).

Beechwood won its last three state titles under head coach Noel Rash, who now has a 37-8 record in playoff games during the 11 seasons that he’s been in charge of the program. His overall record as coach of the Tigers is 122-33.

Top players will receive awards from coaches association

The Northern Kentucky Football Coaches Association will present the Top 26 Awards at its annual post-season banquet on Wednesday at Receptions.

Each of the 20 teams in the association selects one player to receive an award and the coaches vote on six additional players who had an outstanding season to be honored at the banquet.

Awards will also be presented to the Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year. The Owen Hauck Award will be go to the head coach of the team that made the biggest turnaround this season.

Beechwood –
Aiden Justice; Bellevue – Adam Hazeres; Boone County – Brandon Morgan; Brossart – Jake Martin; Campbell County – Tanner Hamilton; Conner – Austin Cain, Peyton Van Horn; Cooper – Dante Hendrix, Jarod Lonaker; CovCath – Alex Shelton, Hunter Ziegelmeyer; Dayton – Trevor Simpson. Dixie Heights – Jose Torres; Highlands – Sam Taylor; Holmes – Salih Abdullah; Holy Cross – Derrick Barnes, Drew McIntosh; Lloyd – Elijah Jouett; Ludlow – T.C. Eads; Newport – Markel Garland; NewCath – Pat Henschen; Ryle – Jacob Chisholm, Tanner Morgan; Scott – Alex Thurza; Simon Kenton – Brian Carter, Cam Racke.

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