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Friday, December 18, 2020

Beechwood wins first 2A state championship, 15th overall


Beechwood junior tight end scores on a 10-yard touchdown pass with 7:21 left in the second quarter of the Class 2A state championship game against Lexington Christian on Friday. Beechwood edged LCA, 24-23 in overtime to win the 15th state championship in school history. Living Magazines file. 

By G. Michael Graham, Fort Mitchell Living 

In a year most are looking forward to a new start, the Beechwood Tigers recorded an unforgettable Class 2A state championship adding onto the storied history.


The Tigers won their 15th state championship in thrilling fashion, edging the Lexington Christian Academy Eagles, 24-23 in overtime at Kroger Field in Lexington when the Tigers blocked an extra point to end the game. 

Both teams finished 10-2 on the season shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Beechwood’s state win gives them the third mos tin Kentucky High School Athletic Association history behind Louisville Trinity’s 26 and 23 from Highlands. This marked the sixth state championship under current Head Coach Noel Rash. But it is the first state championship in Class 2A in school history.


“That’s the thing that people don’t understand is all the hard work and all the adversity every team goes through to get to this point,” Rash said. “Then you have to have some good fortune along the way so it’s a combination of things. But I’ll tell you what it comes down to – Great kids. We get to benefit from that and I just happen to have a title.”


Beechwood won three in a row between 2016 and 2018 before moving up to Class 2A last year. The Tigers lost 35-7 at nemesis Mayfield in the state semifinals last year.


LCA outgained Beechwood, 389-284 in total offense. The Eagles ran 61 plays averaging 6.4 yards per play compared to 58 for the Tigers for an average of 4.9 per play. But the Tigers made up for it holding the ball for 27 minutes, 42 seconds to 20:18 for LCA.


Senior third-year starting quarterback Cam Hergott led the Tigers rushing for 111 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown for an average of just under 4.5 yards per carry. He also completed 12-of-26 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver and running back Mitchell Berger led the Tigers with three catches for 30 yards and senior running back Cole Stammer had two for 67 as seven different Tigers had receptions.


Beechwood received the ball in the first overtime. Every team starts at the 10 in Kentucky. It took the Tigers one play to score the game-winning touchdown. Hergott found sophomore tight end Torin O’Shea on the right side. O’Shea smashed past an LCA defender for the score and senior Colin Graman made the important Point-After Touchdown.


“We walked through it (Thursday) and we’d been running it all season,” O’Shea said. “As soon as I saw 1-on-1, it’s power football for me. I just tried to rock (the LCA defender) and get in the end zone as fast as I can.”


Lexington Christian versatile running back and wide receiver Xavier Brown answered in two plays scoring from three yards out. But Beechwood junior defensive back Brady Moore blocked junior kicker Andrew Dobbs’ PAT try to end the game.


“The D-line was supposed to push out on the guards so that opened up the A-gap,” Moore said. “I was able to go through it. I hopped over the left guard and center because they stepped down. When I jumped, I put my hands up and kept them together like (the coaches) teach us and it went right off my hands.”


Beechwood led 14-3 at halftime. Hergott scored from 25 yards out just 40 seconds into the game before finding junior tight end Tanner Jackson for a 10-yard touchdown with 7:21 left in the second quarter and Graman made the two PATs.

But Lexington Christian built some momentum before halftime. Dobbs booted a 26-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half.


But Eagles came out firing in the second half. Brown finished with 139 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns for an average of just more than nine per carry. He scored from 52 yards out just 51 seconds into the second half to pull LCA within four at 14-10.


“I’m glad I voted for (Brown) for all-state because that sucker is unbelievable,” Rash said. “But (the title) is special because LCA has a ton of talent. They’re extremely well-coached. Their kids play hard. They play smart. I didn’t know how good we were. I know we’re pretty good now because we beat them.”


LCA junior quarterback Drew Nieves finished with 63 yards rushing on 12 carries for an average of 5.25 per carry and a touchdown run of seven yards with 2:38 left in the third to put LCA up 17-14. Nieves completed 12-of-26 passes for 138 yards. Brown led LCA with four catches for 62 yards.


But the Tigers picked off three passes. The last one came with when junior linebacker Michael Hatfield picked off a Nieves screen pass with 6:13 left in the game returning the ball 59 yards from the Beechwood 14 to the Lexington Christian 27. Graman hit a 48-yard field goal with 2:09 left in the game to send it to overtime.


“We’d been doing it in practice and it worked,” Hatfield said. “We just had to trust the process. It went well. You have to be patient and just wait (for the ball).”


Lexington Christian drove the ball to Beechwood 27 with four seconds left. But Dobbs field goal hit off the left post then deflected out off the bottom bar sending the game to overtime.


Beechwood graduates 11 seniors from the team including Hergott. Hergott helped the Tigers to two state championships after transferring from Highlands before his sophomore year in 2018.

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