Somerset, Mayfield battle for the state crown

STEVE CORNELIUS I CJ

Somerset High School football coach Robbie Lucas will lead his second Briar Jumper football team to a state championship game. The Briar Jumpers will battle against 12-time state champs Mayfield High School on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Kroger Field.

Saturday's Class 2A state championship football game at Kroger Field, will be played by two storied high school football programs. who both met once before in the 1978 state championship tilt.

Both Somerset and Mayfield are considered to be two of the top small school programs in the history of the Kentucky high school football.

However, while Somerset has made five previous state final appearances without a state championship, Mayfield has made 25 state championship game appearances and garnered 12 state titles - which ranks them fourth all-time in Kentucky high school football history behind Louisville Trinity, Highlands, and Beechwood.

In the past decade during the Jumpers' last two state final appearances, Mayfield has made the final game 10 times and won five of them.

But none of that really matters on Saturday at Kroger Field, as the top two Class 2A teams in the state go head-to-head for the 2019 state championship crown.

"It will be a tall order for us, but all we ever asked for was a chance," Somerset High School football coach Robbie Lucas stated.

"Without a doubt, Mayfield will be the toughest team we have ever played," Lucas stated. "Mayfield is Mayfield, year in and year out. They have over 900 wins and have won multiple state titles. They have great athletes like their quarterback, who can throw the ball well with five or six receivers that can catch it. They have a good running back, and they are good up front."

"They are very athletic attacking defensively, and everything you would see in a state title game you will see in Mayfield," Lucas warned. "They are a very good football team, and we have a lot of respect for their program and what Coach (Joe) Morris has done."

Mayfield's quarterback Jayden Stinson has thrown for 3,506 yards with 48 touchdown passes. His main target will be Kade Neely, who has already caught 52 passes for 1,221 yards and scored 20 touchdowns. Mayfield receivers Diaz Perry and Alonzo Daniel both have 10 touchdown receptions each, and Tate Puckett has five touchdown receptions.

Kylan Galbreath has rushed for 1,575 yards and has 18 rushing touchdowns to his credit. Most of the Mayfield's roster has played in the past two state championship games without a title.

Barring Mayfield's glittery past, Somerset has had just as good, if not better, 2019 season. Somerset quarterback Kaiya Sheron has thrown for 3,043 yards with 27 TD passes, while Kade Grundy has been on the receiving end of 15 of those touchdown passes and has accumulated 1,390 receiving yards.

While Sheron leads all the Somerset rushers with 905 yards, the Briar Jumpers have a wealth of ground gainers in the likes of Cam Austin, Jase Bruner, Jarred Smith, Mikey Garland, Guy Bailey and Kade Grundy. Equally strong is a stingy Briar Jumper defense led by Bruner, Garland, Cale Todd, Chaz Gilmore, Jerrod Smith, Jacob Grabeel, Brandon Jones, Dyllan Keith, Ricky Gilmore, and Tate Madden.

But perhaps the Briar Jumpers' biggest asset is their extremely tough 2019 schedule and the team's unique ability to overcome any kind of adversity thrown upon them.

"We have played a really tough schedule," Lucas vaunted. "We played Hazard, Williamsburg, Lexington Christian twice, Corbin, Danville, and Beechwood. We have played some extremely tough teams. The highs and lows we have had this season has got us where we are today. Hopefully in some point of the game Saturday, either high or low, we are going to find a situation we have been in before and the kids know they can fight through it, and they can get out of it."

"Adversity is going to strike us at some point and time; it does in every football game," Lucas stated. "Last Friday night, we ran two defensive plays and (Breathitt County) had two touchdowns. That can happen, and hopefully that won't happen on Saturday, but our team never gave up and never seemed out of sorts when they fell behind. They were very calm and collected. I hope that is what they have picked up this season; to play every play to the last minute of the game, and then it will hopefully work out our way."

More than the game itself and the 'X's and O's' on the gridiron, it has been a supportive community that has inspired the 2019 Briar Jumpers to achieve great things this season

"We have a lot of people that want to help our program, and it is amazing how the community has always rallied around our program," Lucas explained. "Churches have wanted to work our concession stands, or they want to feed our team, or parents donating, or former Jumpers donating, and lots of other people that have reached out to us."

"Every place is special, and I know everyone thinks they have a special place, but to me it is really unique here at Somerset," Lucas added. "I wasn't born and breed here, I didn't go to school here, but I have been lucky to coach here. Somerset is a special place, and it is not like this everywhere else. The support we have from the community, makes the team want to win this game for the community more than anything else. And of course they want to win this game for Alex Miller."

Lucas said it is because of this community and the century old tradition of Briar Jumper football, that the 2019 state finalist team wants more than ever to bring home a state championship trophy on Saturday.

"A lot of Jumpers, and a lot of people have come through this program during its 114 years, and in the modern day we don't have a state title," Lucas explained. "So that is something we want to give back to the community, for the support they have given us and the things the school board has given us like, this stadium and this new turf field. This school has great athletics all around, and provides great education. The one thing we are missing is a football state title, and hopefully this is the team that can bring it home."

Lucas knows the specific elements of the game that his team have to execute properly to win the game, and he also hopes a little luck might come their way too.

"To win this game we have to capitalize on special teams and turnovers," Lucas stated. "We have got to play through adversity, we might need a little luck, we need to play good defense, and run the ball. We have not been good on special teams, and we need to make sure we shore that up."

"We will be kicking into a college goal post instead of a high school post, so it will be narrower," Lucas continued. "We need to cover well and take care of the ball. We need to find opportunities to score with the ball when possible, and try to put Mayfield under the gun, which may be very difficult to do."

Somerset and Mayfield will kick off for the Class 2A football state championship game at 1 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Kroger Field in Lexington.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

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