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CAL Brings Home 3A Championship in 38-0 Route Over Bardstown

Article written by:On3 imageBrady Byrdwell

BbyrdwellKSR

On3 image
Photo by Kentucky Sports Radio

The Christian Academy-Louisville Centurions took home its third state championship in a 38-0 route over Bardstown of the Class 3A title on Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field. Junior QB Cole Hodge led the Centurians with 172 yards passing and three touchdowns while running back Gavin Copenhaven rushed for an astonishing 225 yards and two touchdowns. CAL finished the season a perfect 15-0, ending Bardstown’s undefeated streak (14-1) in the process.

District Player of the Years Meet

Leading into this 3A championship matchup, all eyes were on district player of the year winners Cole Hodge (CAL) and Tyleeq “TyTy” Williams (Bardstown). This was expected to be one of the best matchups of the Saturday slate.

However, once the first whistle blew at Kroger Field, it was all H-O-D-G-E. He proved why he was 4th District player of the year with 128 yards and two touchdowns on 10-16 passing in the first half alone. The day’s best play was an outstanding 23-yard first passing touchdown from Hodge to Trey Cotton. A Mahomes-type extension by Hodge allowed him to find Cotton on a jump ball for their first six of the game.

Hodge split his 10 completions among four receivers in the first half. The leading receiver was his younger brother Connor Hodge. The younger Hodge had four receptions for 32 yards in the first half, and the brothers connected for the longest passing touchdown on the day — a 32-yard go-route that Cole threw flawlessly in stride to Connor for the touchdown. This made the score 35-0 in favor of the Centurions. If you like beautiful passing plays, then check this one out.

Cole Hodge proved in this matchup why schools such as Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Purdue, and Cincinnati were asking about him. At almost every pivotal moment throughout the game, the elder Hodge made the correct decision.

The second half was ALL Gavin Copenhaver

In the first half, TyTy Williams got most of the touches for the Tigers (11 carries). However, Gavin Copenhaver had a solid 50 yards on eight carries for the Centurions in the first. Then, a new beast arose from the CAL locker room as Copenhaver lit up Kroger Field like prime Benny Snell Jr. In the third quarter alone, rushing for two 74-yard touchdowns… TWO of them. Both times, he used his speed to bust through the Tiger defense for electrifying plays. As a result, CAL sported one of the best offenses we’ve seen through the KSR lens this season.

CAL head coach Hunter Cantwell spoke on the player of the game, Copenhaver, “Obviously, when you have a player like Gavin Copenhaver, you’re going to find a way to get the ball in his hands.”

Defense wins RINGS

All of the offense was very fun to watch. You have four bona fide all-district players on one side of the ball. This Centurian offense includes a division one running back and a junior quarterback well on his way to the same path. However, with all the adrenaline and expectations of a state championship game, it is nearly impossible not to make a few mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Centurians’ defense allowed a total of 235 yards but gave up zero points. The Centurians defense doesn’t need the media’s attention though; they will gladly take their ring. 

“(A shutout) Is phenomenal in the state championship game. But, honestly, that has been the expectation all year. These guys have risen, and we played up to our complete capability.

Player of the game Copenhaver spoke on the defense after the game, “As coach said, we’re a senior-heavy defense. Most of the starters have been together for almost four years. We have speed everywhere; we’re all super disciplined. And all of that combined makes us very dangerous.”

Not only did Copenhaver go nuclear on offense, but he also added a CAL-leading nine tackles throughout the game.

What this Means for CAL

This win marks CAL’s third state championship and its first since 2018. The final win also cemented the perfect season for the Centurions. This title may mean a little more for the fans, as this is their first championship in 3A and just their fourth year in the class. Bringing home a championship with a perfect season is a message to the rest of the teams around. The scariest part of the ideal season that CAL put together is most of the squad is coming back.

The Centurians will lose Gavin Copenhagen to college next year, with the Liberty Flames being the presumable destination. However, the Hodge brothers will be back along with most of the offense. If the Centurians can get a similar production from their defense, look for them as the favorites to repeat next year in 3A.

What does a loss mean for Bardstown?

Bardstown was no slouch of a team. The Tigers came in undefeated, winning the third district with relative ease. TyTy Williams and co. played with a fight that many wouldn’t expect, considering the score. This is a testament to head coach David Clark and the program he has built in the city. The score made this game look awful from the Tigers’ side, but Coach Clark felt different. They just fell victim to a buzzsaw that was Christian Academy-Louisville.

“This team was beyond resilient; we felt a lot of adversity from day one,” Coach Clark said of his team. “We had to deal with an uncharacteristic amount of injuries. I can’t express how proud I am of these guys.

“We’ve laughed, we’ve cried; that’s what has made this group so special. Having that big trophy and celebrating in the locker room would have been awesome, but the result would never change how proud we (the coaching staff) are of this team. The outcome never would determine how proud we are of our guys.”

It is easy to see how the people of Bardstown love their coach; even after a heartbreaking loss, he saw the bigger picture. From the moment noon hit, Kroger Field was rumbling with the noise of Bardstown faithful. The purple and gold showed out and cheered on their team the entire game. This shows an authentic culture and a proper program, and the Tigers will look to make the faithful fanbase proud again next season.

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2023-02-01