Defensive Devils set for Fairdale

Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer.com | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Owensboro’s Gavin Wimsatt looks to pass during the first half against Graves County on Nov. 15 at Rash Stadium.

OHS will host Class 5-A quarterfinal game tonight

When the Owensboro High School football team hits the turf at Rash Stadium Friday night, the Red Devils will look to continue the dominant defensive effort that's been their calling card all season.

This time, however, OHS is facing its toughest offensive challenge of the year in Louisville Fairdale, as the two sides clash in the quarterfinals of the KHSAA Class 5-A playoffs.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

"They're 11-1 and lead the state in scoring in Class 5-A," Red Devils coach Jay Fallin said of the incoming Bulldogs. "But we're excited about the opportunity to play another game in the playoffs."

In 12 games this season, Owensboro (11-1) has given up just 67 points to opponents -- 5.6 points per game, a mark that ranks the Red Devils second in the state.

Along the way, OHS has recorded six shutouts, including a pair in playoff victories over Muhlenberg County and Graves County. The Red Devils are also fourth in the state with 44 team sacks, led by seniors Kobe Skortz (11.5 sacks) and Yovani Sales (9.5).

Fairdale will counter with an offense that scores 46 points per game, paced by Trey McCoy's 2,373 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. The 5-foot-11 senior quarterback has completed 121-of-241 attempts (50.2%) and thrown nine interceptions.

"They've got a very good quarterback," Fallin said. "He's very good at getting out of the pocket, keeping the play alive and finding receivers downfield. Our defensive line will have to do a good job of containing him, and our defensive backs will have to hold their coverage when he does escape the pocket."

The Bulldogs typically spread the ball around otherwise, with three senior running backs -- Mekale Buckner, Earl Cameron and Travis Helm -- combining for 2,073 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns this year.

"They play a really good brand of team offense," Fallin said. "Really, all of their skill players are threats to score. They do a nice job of spreading the ball around. We're gonna have to be disciplined and assignment-oriented if we want to stop them."

On the other side of the ball, Owensboro scores 38.8 points per game, led by quarterback Gavin Wimsatt. The 6-3 sophomore has thrown for 2,356 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He's also rushed for 493 yards and a team-high 12 scores.

Junior Treyvon Tinsley (47 catches, 736 yards, 9 TDs) and senior Tyren Hayden (37 receptions, 664 yards, 10 TDs) have been the Red Devils' top playmakers downfield.

Defensively, Fairdale gives up 15.8 points per game.

"Their defensive front is their strength, so we're gonna have to do a good job of blocking up front, both in pass protection and run blocking," Fallin said. "... We'll have to be efficient with the ball, move the chains to pick up first downs and take care of the football."

If the Red Devils stick to the same formula that's worked for them so far this year, Fallin said, he's confident that OHS will have an opportunity to reach the state semifinals.

"We've advanced to this round four of the last five years, but we haven't yet won a regional championship," he said. "We're very excited. We've worked all year to have an opportunity to play deep into the playoffs. Teams that make long runs in the playoffs have prepared all year to get here."

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