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Beechwood advances to state semifinals for eighth consecutive year behind big game by Hergott

By Brendan Connelly
NKyTribune sports reporter

The Beechwood Tigers are headed to the semifinals of the state football playoffs for the eighth straight year after beating Walton Verona, 50-6, in a Class 2A region final on Friday night. Their next opponent will be Mayfield, a team that won the last six playoff games against the Tigers.

The last time the two teams met was in the 2019 Class 2A semifinals and Mayfield came away with a 35-7 victory. Last year, Mayfield lost in the the first round of the playoffs and Beechwood won the state championship. Next Friday, they’ll meet again at Beechwood.

Beechwood quarterback Cameron Hergott is pulled down by Walton-Verona defensive back Trey Haymaker. (Photo by Carla Martin)

In Friday’s quarterfinal game, Beechwood senior quarterback Cameron Hergott wasted no time putting his team on the board. On the second offensive possession, he took a snap from center and scored on a 55-yard touchdown run.

Walton Verona quarterback Jackson Smith attempted the first two pass plays of the game on his team’s next possession.

The first one was incomplete and the second one was intercepted by Beechwood defensive back Liam McCormack, who returned it to the Bearcat 22-yard line.

Three plays later, the Tigers cashed in on the turnover with a 6-yard touchdown run by Hergott and they were on their way to another lopsided victory with a dominant defense and unstoppable offense.

Beechwood went on to take a 42-0 halftime lead. Hergott accounted for all six of the touchdowns with two in the air to go along with four on the ground. His longest run of the night came on a 76-yard scramble in the second quarter.

Beechwood defender stops Walton-Verona quarterback Jackson Smith. (Photo by Carla Martin)

“He is an elite athlete and the ball is in his hands on every single play, so it makes us look really good,” said Beechwood coach Noel Rash. “Cameron’s the man that stirs the drink.”

In the fourth quarter and the game in hand, Rash inserted freshman play caller Clay Hayden. The first-year quarterback proceeded to march the Tigers down the field before throwing a 35-yard scoring strike to fellow freshman James Cusick.

Walton Verona scored on its last possession of the game. The rushing attack finally came alive as a 52-yard run by Smith led to a 24-yard run by Max Montgomery. Tyson Beach capped the drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone for his 22nd touchdown of the season.

“You’ve got to give Walton credit. They’re well coached, they do a good job.” Rash said.

In addition to forcing three turnovers, the Tigers held Walton-Verona to 151 yards, all coming on the ground. Beechwood junior Austin Waddell knows the defense plays just as large a part in the Tigers’ success as their offense.

“We look in the paper, you see a lot of offense,” Waddell said. “You don’t see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes, but I think all of our guys are important.”

Beechwood’s offense had a total of 414 yards on Friday. Hergott provided 228 yards on the ground and 61 in the air. He now has season totals of 2,215 yards passing and 1,574 yards rushing. He’s also among the state’s leading scorers with 25 rushing touchdowns for 150 points.

Walton-Verona running back Tyson Beach stretches to get the ball across the goal line for his team’s lone touchdown. (Photo by Carla Martin)

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