OHS football

Owensboro’s Zachary Clark, Kenyata Carbon and Maurice Moorman get the tackle on Frederick Douglass’ Tylon Webb during the KHSAA Class 5-A semifinals at Broncos Stadium in Lexington.

Owensboro High School could have let Gavin Wimsatt’s departure after three games for Rutgers be the defining moment for its football team.

But the Red Devils kept playing, kept persevering, after Wimsatt, a 4-star quarterback in the 2022 class, finished his senior year in the first few days of September and enrolled at the Big 10 school he had signed with in the spring of 2021.

Wimsatt has seen limited action while preserving his redshirt freshman season at Rutgers.

OHS won 12 straight games, 10 with Kasey Boone at quarterback, and finished its season in the semifinals of the KHSAA Class 5-A football playoffs. Frederick Douglass ended Owensboro’s run with a 35-7 loss on Friday in Lexington.

The Red Devils went 12-2 and this senior class put an impressive list of accomplishments together, highlighted by three straight runs to the Class 5-A semifinals. OHS played in the 2020 Class 5-A state championship game last December, losing 17-7 to Bowling Green.

“They’ve done a tremendous job,” OHS head coach Jay Fallin said. “They were not a ‘heralded’ class coming into our program. They lost some games in middle school to in-town opponents. But they really worked hard, they bought in. They’re not a big class, 10 seniors with Gavin’s departure, but they really worked hard. They bought into what we want to try to do as a program, it matters a lot to them.”

A large part of what Fallin, the assistant coaches and other coaching staffs have tried to instill at OHS through the years has been that team is what matters most.

Fallin was expansive about this senior class in the moments after OHS’s season ended at Frederick Douglass.

Of course, the most prominent member of that group when the season started was Wimsatt, who would have been a heavy Kentucky Mr. Football favorite had he played the entire season.

“We were appreciative of Gavin and everything he did for us,” Fallin said. “We know he had a great experience playing in the OHS program. We were happy for him when he made his decision, and we continue to root for him.

“The practical side of that was we had to move on. We always felt confident in Kasey and what he was going to be able to do. It’s a team game, we really try to emphasize that for our kids. When an injury or departure like this occurs, a team can rally around that loss and move forward. That’s what makes our kids believe, they believed we were going to be fine, we didn’t waste a second getting back to work.

“Just this season, they’ve had to overcome adversity, they’ve had to deal with difficult circumstances, they’ve had to come together as a team.”

After Wimsatt left, OHS with Boone at the controls rolled to wins over Owensboro Catholic, Breckinridge County, Ohio County and Muhlenberg County before facing a serious 5-A, District 1 challenge at Graves County.

The Devils got a game-winning touchdown run from Tramel Barksdale in the final minute to allow them to escape Graves County with a 35-28 win.

Boone had one of his best games in a four-touchdown performance in a 55-18 win over Henderson County to close out the regular season at Rash Stadium.

Boone threw for 225 yards and four touchdowns in a 43-0 rout of Graves County in the second round of the 5-A playoffs on Nov. 12.

OHS blew out Bullitt Central 56-12 for its 12th win of the season. The Devils would continue for a third straight season at least to the 5-A state semifinals.

There OHS would run into a very talented Frederick Douglass team that got a measure of revenge for OHS’ 28-27 survival victory in the 5-A semifinals in 2020 at Rash Stadium.

The class of 2022 closed out its OHS career with a 46-8 record, three trips to the state semifinals and one 5-A state championship game berth.

“Two of those losses were in the state semifinals, one was in the state finals, one was to St. X, one was to South Warren, who went on to win it all,” Fallin said Friday.

“They’ve won a lot of big ball games, and the ones they’ve lost have been against really good teams late in the playoffs. We’ve always gone to at least the third round of the playoffs, in three out of their four years we’ve gone to the state semifinals, and we’ve played in the finals as well. It’s tough for them, but like I told them there at the end, tonight’s tough, tomorrow’s tough, but when they reflect back on it in years to come, the good memories will outweigh the bad.”

OHS did well with a strong running game, an opportunistic defense and special teams that could score touchdowns.

Barksdale ran for 1,177 yards and 14 touchdowns. Kenyata Carbon scored 12 touchdowns in nine games. Jeremiah Goodwin (8), Khalil Rogers (7) and Ethan Pendleton (6) were touchdown catch leaders.

Maurice Moorman had six punt returns for touchdowns. Zach Clark returned three interceptions for touchdowns.

Boone threw for 1,304 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions.

“It speaks volumes to what Kasey has done to keep himself ready,” Fallin said. “He started work on a Sunday and was able to play in a City-County game on Friday. For the whole team, to absorb a loss like that (Wimsatt leaving) and have a ton of success, that speaks to what kind of team we have.

“I think at a certain point early in the season a lot of people probably wrote us off and said we probably couldn’t even win our district, and we won 12 in a row. A lot to be proud of this season.”

M-I sports reporter Joseph Russell contributed to this story.

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