The expectations remain high entering the 2014 season for Frankfort High’s football team.
“The teams may have changed, but we try to keep our expectations to get to Bowling Green,” said FHS head football coach Craig Foley.
After coming off an 11-3 season in which they reached the semifinals, the Panthers look to make it to Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green to play for the Class A title, something they last did in 1977.
“We realize that there are only two teams in Class A that are going to do that, but that is our goal going into it that we are going to get to that point,” Foley said.
Looking to make a deep postseason run, the Panthers return a veteran squad, including six seniors who are three-year returning starters.
“We have a ton of experience between our seniors and juniors,” Foley said. “We haven’t had to spend the preseason installing everything because the kids know it; it’s been more refining what we have in. We have just so many kids that have played in the past. That’s going to be a big benefit for us.”
One of those three-year starters returning is senior running back and defensive back Jalen Washington. Washington led the team in rushing yards (739), receiving yards (401) and was the primary kick and punt returner. He scored 19 touchdowns last season, with six coming on defense.
“He is a special kid and a kid that is electric,” Foley said. “When the ball is in his hands, he tends to make things happen. Defensively he is just as electric. He’s just a great all around football player.”
Senior fullback and defensive lineman Jalen Acree also returns after finishing last year second on the team in rushing yards (647) and rushing touchdowns (7).
“He’s a big fullback and when he goes downhill he does a great job at that,” Foley said. “On defense, he plays at d-line, is an anchor, takes things on and just makes plays for us.”
Foley said there are two players competing for the starting spot at quarterback in juniors Anthony Robinson and DeShawn Newton. Robinson returns after throwing for 16 passing touchdowns and rushing for seven in his sophomore season.
“They each bring something different to the table that is really going to help the football team,” Foley said. “We want to continue to improve our passing game. That’s one of those things we always try to work on. Refining the wide receiver routes and making those routes a little crisper. For Anthony, it’s better footwork and for DeShawn it’s getting the experience.”
On defense, senior linebacker Isaiah Jackson returns after leading the team with 64 solo tackles last season. Foley said that he set the tone defensively a lot of times and also plays tight end on offense. Senior middle linebacker Chris Brooks is another key veteran that returns on defense.
After playing primarily on the offensive line last year, senior Matthew Collins will be called on to play both sides of the ball this year.
“He’s worked really hard in the off season, trimmed down a little bit and built his strength up,” Foley said. “He’s probably one of the better linemen we’ve had in the last four to five years.”
Sophomore lineman Hunter Conway, a partial starter last season, looks to have more of an impact this year.
Foley said senior defensive back and running back Rontez Mitchell is also expected to be an impact player after having some good games last season.
Senior Bailey Spade returns as the team’s kicker.
A key newcomer for the team is Abijah Cox, a senior defensive back, who transferred from Scott County to FHS in May. Freshmen newcomers include Korleone Bailey, defensive end and receiver, and Tremayne Jones, running back and linebacker.
The Panthers begin the regular season on the road against Lincoln County Friday. The game is a part of the Death Valley Bowl.
New to the schedule this year is a road trip to face First Baptist Academy in Naples, Fla. Oct. 3. The Panthers will make the trip during fall break. First Baptist Academy is a 2A entering its sixth season with a football team. The Lions have won their district the past two years and their region in 2012.
“We are going to be out of our element all week so we’ll see how the kids can adapt to some adversity from the trip and from the game, not being at home,” Foley said. “It’s going to be a big challenge.”
FRANKFORT HIGH ROSTER
2 Abijah Cox RB/WR/DB Sr
3 Rontez Mitchell RB/WR/DB Sr
4 Anthony Robinson QB/RB/DE Jr
5 Chris Brooks RB/LB Sr
7 Jalen Washington RB/QB/DB Sr
9 Malik Frank WR/OLB/DB Jr
10 DeShawn Newton QB/WR/DB Jr
11 JT Taylor WR/DB Fr
16 Charlie Pearl RB/WR/DL/LB Sr
18 Kyndreck Scott WR/DB So
20 Brandon Mack WR/DB Fr
21 Josh Jones WR/OLB Jr
22 Tremayne Jones RB/LB Fr
23 Isaiah Jackson WR/OLB Sr
24 Preston Pearl WR/DB So
27 Will Bowen WR/DL/LB So
32 Devonte Faulkner WR/DB Jr
40 Bailey Spade K Sr
44 Jalen Acree FB/DL Sr
51 Brandon Wright OL/DL Fr
52 Hunter Conway OL/DL/LB So
53 Mathew Dean OL/DL Jr
55 Josh Bowen OL/DL Sr
58 Josh Boone OL/DL Sr
60 Brandon Semones OL/DL So
61 Joe Pardi OL/DL Jr
64 Morgan Campbell OL/DL Sr
65 Casey Kimball OL/DL Jr
66 Matthew Collins OL/DL Sr
79 Hunter Blackford OL/DL Jr
81 Korleone Bailey TE/WR/DE Fr