A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CovCath quarterback among seniors looking to make history in their final football game together

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

A.J. Mayer has played a key role in the resurgence of the Covington Catholic football team that will face Madison Southern in the Class 5A state championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl.

This is the Colonels’ first appearance in the state finals since 2006 and they’ll finish the season with a perfect 15-0 record for the first time ever if they win Saturday’s game at Kroger Field in Lexington.

CovCath senior quarterback A.J. Mayer is among the candidates for Mr. Kentucky Football after leading his team to the Class 5A state final. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

Maher has run the offense so well that it has scored 630 points to shatter the previous team record and the Colonels have won 11 games with a running clock after taking a 36-point lead.

That’s why he’s one of the top candidates for Mr. Kentucky Football, an award the goes to the state’s premier player.

“I feel it’s been more of a leadership thing,” Mayer said of his impact on the CovCath program as a three-year starter. “I’ve tried to do everything right, especially this year. Your senior year is the last hurrah, so I’ve made it a personal goal to where I’m trying to do everything right and trying to lead our guys in the right way.”

Mayer is one of seven seniors in CovCath’s starting offensive and defensive lineups who have a chance to make history in their final high school game together on Saturday. After finishing the 2015 season with a 5-8 record and improving to 9-4 last year, they’re one win away from being undefeated state champions.

“We’re all excited,” the quarterback said, “but at the same time we haven’t done everything we want to do, so after Saturday we’ll have to see.”

Mayer signed a letter of intent with Miami University of Ohio last spring and then focused on making his senior season something special. In the first 14 games, he completed 159 of 250 passes for 2,777 yards and 37 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He also rushed for 380 yards and 11 TDs.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior gives his teammates much of the credit for his success, particularly the offensive line that entered the season with only one returning starter.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys up front who aren’t even 220 pounds, but they’re fast and know what they’re doing and they have great technique,” Mayer said. “They take special pride in pass protection and pass blocking for me. I’ve obviously had a great season because I’ve had a lot of time (to throw).”

Madison Southern’s defense has allowed 166 yards rushing and 103 yards passing per game this season. The Eagles have good size on the line and an aggressive linebacker in Carter Smith, who has made 200 tackles.

In its previous four playoff games, Madison Southern held opponents to 76, 37, 38 and 56 passing yards. It was will be interesting to see what CovCath does against the Eagles.

“They definitely know what they’re doing and they’re coached very well,” Mayer said. “It’ll be a good game and I plan on slinging the ball around a little bit.”

The Colonels are averaging 200 passing yards per game. When the offensive line gives Mayer time to throw, he can pick a defense apart with the help of his receivers. The team leaders are Malachi Pike and Jack Coldiron, who have a combined total of 68 catches for 1,329 yards and 20 touchdowns. There are four other wide outs who have between 198 and 275 yards in receptions.

“They just make it easy for me,” Mayer said. “They’re all pretty tall and very athletic. If I put the ball where it needs to be, I know they’ll catch it and make plays.”

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