Johnson Central Juniors Take in UF-UK

Followers of high school football in the state of Kentucky know the Johnson Central program fairly well given its surprise entry into the 3A state semifinals this past year.

The Paintsville (Ky.) program would fall to eventual champion Covington Catholic in the Final 4, but the mark it left on the state has put them atop the favorites to host the state championship trophy in 2008.

Just two months removed his wild ride that included winning the Associated Press Coach of the Year, Johnson Central head man Jim Matney brought along two of his star players to Lexington for Junior Day in defensive end Nathaniel Dials and quarterback J.K. Ratliff.

"Anyone that has seen us play or has seen any film on us, knows about Nathaniel Dials," Matney said. "He's got good speed, good size and good strength. He's 6-foot-3, 240 pound tight end/defensive end that's projected to be a middle linebacker in college. He had an outstanding year for us this past year and coaches big and small have been calling about him."

Dials was an AP second team All-State selection at defensive line this past year, just one year after transferring from Lawrence County. He had over 70 tackles from the defensive end spot.

Unlike Dials, who had a standout year that led to several postseason accolades, quarterback J.K. Ratliff watched most of the year on the sidelines.

"He's a 6-5, 200 pound quarterback," Matney said of Ratlitt. "He was hurt part of the year with a broken collarbone, but he's got the classic frame and arm. He's also a 4.0 student, which is what alot of colleges are looking for. His arm strength, size and ability to read defenses are his fortay and it's gotten him a lot of notoriety.

"Since (J.K.) missed part of the year, he's a little bit of a secret," Matney interated. "I think most schools know about Nathaniel. He's becoming well known, but J.K.'s going to need to get out a little bit this summer."

Both visited Kentucky for junior day this past weekend and are hoping to garner an offer from the Wildcats.

"I've told all the coaches that have called that none of my kids are interested in making a commitment right now," Matney said. "They are going to go around to some camps and combines this summer and see some places, first."


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