Isaac Dixon returned to Belfry High School with an extra season of eligibility to rush for nearly 2,000 yards and lead the young Pirates back from an 0-5 start to the Class 3A state championship. That earned his selection as Kentucky’s Mr. Football for the 2021 season.
Kevin Wallace guided Louisville Saint Xavier to its first Class 6A title since 2009 and was honored as Coach of the Year in voting by 13 members of The Associated Press from around the state.
Dixon, 5 feet 11 and 197 pounds, was an honorable mention selection in 2020 after rushing for 1,690 yards and 25 touchdowns during the COVID-19-shortened season. He reclassified to the 2022 class under state Senate Bill 128, emergency legislation that allowed students to retake or take supplemental courses because of prolonged remote learning and other barriers caused by the pandemic.
Dixon went on to rush 196 times for 1,986 yards and 29 touchdowns, ranking second in Class 3A yardage and seventh overall in Kentucky last fall. Dixon capped his impressive campaign by rushing for 376 yards with five touchdowns and a two-point conversion in the 3A final, including the game-winning, 62-yard TD run with 4:58 remaining as Belfry overcame Paducah Tilghman 33-28.
The Eastern Kentucky School won nine of its final 10 contests for its second state title in three years.
“I knew we had a lot great, athletic kids coming back, but we were really, really young,” said Dixon, who became more vocal while trying to set an example for the underclassmen.
“It just fell right into our hands that all the young guys went to a whole new level and stepped it up during practice on and off the field. … Winning the state title was one of the greatest accomplishments because I don’t think anybody expected it, especially (after) losing the first five games.”
Meanwhile, Wallace added another state title to his stellar resume as one of Kentucky’s winningest coaches.
Saint X avenged a 28-21, early-season loss to unbeaten Louisville Male with a 31-21 victory in the championship to finish 14-1. Wallace won five 5A titles from 2011-16 at powerhouse Bowling Green before coming to Louisville and taking the Tigers to their 13th championship overall.
“The great thing at Saint X is we have great depth, and we got great performances when we needed them,” Wallace said of the season. “The second half of the (first) Male game was our most important half because we were down 28-7 and came back. Our confidence grew as the season went along and I felt pretty good about our chances.”
Wallace is 6-3 in title games among a 336-115 lifetime mark that ranks sixth on the Kentucky High School Association wins list.
Of note: Last year’s co-Mr. Football, Beechwood quarterback Cameron Hergott, also returned for an extra season and repeated as a first-team selection while leading the Tigers (15-0) to their second consecutive 2A state title.