GARY B. GRAVES
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 by The Associated Press.
Kevin Wallace guided Louisville St. 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.
Named Mr. Football by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association in December, 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.
Offense Awards:Complete list of Courier Journal 2021 All-State football offense selections
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.”
Defense Awards:Complete list of Courier Journal 2021 All-State football defense selections
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.
First team offense
quarterback: Cameron Hergott, Beechwood.
running back: Isaac Dixon, Belfry; Xavier Brown, Lexington Christian.
wide receivers: Dane Key, Lexington Frederick Douglass; Cole Lanter, Boyle County; Vinny Anthony, Louisville Male.
Offensive Linemen: Luke Slusher, Beechwood; Grant Bingham, Johnson Central; Owen LeMaster, Johnson Central; Malachi Wood, Madison Central; Evan Wibberley, Dixie Heights.
kicker: Jackson Smith, Boyle County.
First team defense
Defensive Linemen: Selah Brown, Louisville Male; Tommy Zeismer, Boyle County; Jerimiah Lightfoot, Bowling Green; Jadairion Smith, Louisville Ballard.
Linebackers: Tyler Morris, Lexington Christian; Kalib Perry, Great Crossing; Mitchell Berger, Beechwood; Elijah Manning, Louisville Male.
Defensive backs: Mason Moore, Lexington Christian; Ty Bryant, Frederick Douglass; Elijah Reed, Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park; Chevis Elliott, Russellville.
Punter: Ryan Zoeller, Louisville Saint Xavier.
Second team offense
quarterback: Joey Humphreys, Daviess County.
Running backs: Charlie Terry, East Carter; Kaden Moorman, Franklin County; Isaiah Fitzpatrick, Anderson County; Blake Birchfield, Pikeville.
wide receivers: Braden Mundy, Owensboro Catholic; Easton Messer, Louisville Christian Academy; Mekhi Smith, Louisville Saint Xavier.
Offensive Linemen: Jordon Jones, Ashland Blazer; Andrew Daniel, Louisville Male; Jon Daniels, Louisville Male; Anthony Johns, Lexington Christian; Mason Sulla, Garrard County; Carter Guillaume, Louisville Saint Xavier.
kicker: Andrew Dobbs, Lexington Christian.
Second team defense
Defensive Linemen: Xavier Campbell, Beechwood; Saadiq Clements, Henderson County; Jeremiah Goodwin, Owensboro; Austin Johnson, North Laurel; Jack Jackson, South Warren.
Linebackers: Ben Marks, Louisville Saint Xavier; Malachi Williams, Louisville Central; Trevor Wilson, Covington Catholic; Gabe Savage, Ryle.
Defensive backs: Kenyon Goodin, Collins; Daisjuan Mercer, Hopkinsville; JT Haskins, Lexington Bryan Station; Grant Rice, Johnson Central.
Punter: JT Wilcoxson, Trimble County.
mr. Football: Isaac Dixon, Belfry.
Coach of the Year: Kevin Wallace, Louisville Saint Xavier.
looking back:Kentucky All-State football: A look at the teams by the numbers
Quarterbacks: Jagger Gillis, Boyle County; Caden Veltkamp, South Warren; Jack Sivori, Louisville Saint Xavier; Drew Polston, Pulaski County; Sydney Bowen, Williamsburg; Adrian Stringer, Hopkins County Central.
Running backs: Brady Hensley, Madison Central; Tanner Wright, Southwestern; Daniel Swinney, Louisville Male; Kobe Martin, South Warren; Elijah Pitman, Casey County; Jed Martin, Bishop Brossart; Keyandre Strand, John Hardin; Wyatt Blake, Logan County; Zack McCoart, Johnson Central; Zach Shofner, Bullitt Central; JaWaun Northington, Louisville DuPont Manual; Tramel Barksdale, Owensboro; Cole Crampton, West Carter; Cole Wallace, Rowan County; Noah Wallace, Raceland; Keiran Stockton, Glasgow; Ryan Rayno, Logan County; Jovari Gamble, Russellville.
wide receivers: Clayton Davis, Lincoln County; Mitchell Berger, Beechwood; Chandler Godby, Pulaski County; Ricky Padron, Ashland Blazer; Chaunte Marrero, Louisville Ballard; Carson Patrick, Russell; Max Dees, Daviess County; Martin Shannon, Williamsburg; Avrin Bell, South Warren; Jackson Bond, West Carter; Jackson Marshal, Sayre; Logan Pinkley, Fleming County; Jax Cooper, Allen County Scottsville.
Offensive Linemen: Jon Thompson, Scott County; Zach Mason, Boyle County; Drew Woodruff, Louisville Trinity; Matt Mason, Ryle; Lucas Hughes, Hopkinsville; Andrew Hardwick, Boyle County; Holden Stamper, Lincoln County; Samuel Turley, Lexington Paul Dunbar; Bryce Tapp, Henderson County; Ethan Goforth, Corbin; Davis Pike, Union County; Tre Alexander, North Hardin; Bryson Kiser, East Carter; Mikey Holbrook, East Carter; Franklin West, Corbin; Jakson Lindsey, Owensboro; Gavin Adams, West Carter; Paul Turley, Lexington Paul Dunbar; Andrew Hobbs, Central Hardin; Connor Lay, Williamsburg.
kickers: Nick Keller, Conner; SJ Lycans, Ashland Blazer; Zavier Cruse, Henderson County; Jacob Baker, Corbin; Kellan McLaughlin, Louisville Trinity; Nathan Totten, Russell.
Defensive Linemen: Adam Hobbs, Central Hardin; Layton Davis, Caldwell County; Bradley Rose, Russell; Zane Christian, Ashland Blazer; Cody Harmon, Southwestern; Dylan Yates, Crittenden County; Elijah Lalli, South Oldham; Ryun Dye, Pulaski County; Iverson King, Union County; Andrew Jones, Lexington Paul Dunbar.
Linebackers: Brady McEnaney, Louisville Trinity; Dylan Ferguson, Lawrence County; Caden Johnson, Frederick Douglass; Tyler Snell, South Warren; Jake Napier, Bowling Green; Keygan Pelfrey, Johnson Central; Logan Stephens, Casey County; Matthew Davis, Paintsville; Peyton Ledford, Franklin County; Ramont Townsend, Louisville DuPont Manual; Kellen Bowen, LaRue County; Giddeon Brainard, Southwestern; Layton Abbott, Pulaski County; Sam Jones, West Carter; Connor Goodall, Russell; Caden Ball, Lawrence County; Cannon Sheffer, Union County; Lofton Howard, Greenwood; Brody Wells, Corbin; Bryce Creekmore, Williamsburg.
Defensive backs: Chevis Elliot, Russellville; Zach Clark, Owensboro; Kristopher Hughes, Union County; Conner Hughes, Raceland; Micah Parmes, North Hardin; Alex Strickland, Lawrence County; Curtis Rearden, Louisville DuPont Manual; Jeremy Hamilton, Scott County; Terrell Henry, Mason County; Evan Poore, Corbin; Brett Mullins, Ashland Blazer; Ezra Major, Southwestern; Liam Hutson, North Oldham.