Despite losing Brandon Gathof, Mr. Everything for the Colonels last fall, who is headed to play for Eastern Kentucky, the Oldham County appears to have the athletes to continue their impressive play when they open their season against Class AAAA power Male.
For the Colonels to challenge Fort Thomas Highlands for the District 5 crown, as well as Lexington Catholic for the Region 3 title, it must receive strong play from the backfield and running back Kevin Bramblett.
As a sophomore, Bramblett developed into one of the state's top backs, rushing for over 1,000 yards. He followed that performance up last year by gaining over 1,500 yards and 24 scores.
"Pound for pound he's the best overall player that I've ever had here at Oldham County," said Colonels head coach Mike Jackson. "He has great balance. He made a lot of plays last year that most kids couldn't do because of his balance and lower body strength."
A knee injury suffered at the end of the season last fall slowed down Bramblett during the off-season, but the senior-to-be was dedicated with his rehab, never missing a session, and is now close to his previous form.
"I feel fine," Bramblett said. "I'm running on it now, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there and playing in our first game."
"He started running on it full strength about three weeks ago," Jackson said. "He has had to go nine months without doing any work on his speed and he still ran a 4.73."
Once Bramblett resumes his speed work, there's no doubt that he'll return to his pre-injury form when he clocked a 4.5.
While the injury may have made college coaches become more cautious in their recruiting of Bramblett, should be open his senior year strong, the offers will begin to pour in.
Louisville assistant Greg Nord has recently inquired about having Bramblett, along with teammate Lee Kuiper, make an unofficial visit to the Louisville football complex.
Kuiper, who measures in at 6-foot-5, 270-pounds plays defensive end and will likely see time at tight end for the Colonels, projects as an offensive lineman on the collegiate level.
"He got better and better as the year went on last year," Jackson said of Kuiper. "He ran a 5.0, which is a pretty good time for someone his size."
While Kuiper may be a name most aren't familiar with, college coaches have taken notice.
"He has started to get a steady stream of letters," continued Jackson. "Both U of L and UK, as well as Arizona State, Oregon and Vanderbilt."
Joining Kuiper along the Oldham County line will be Cord Johnson, who like his counterpart, may be relatively unknown to many.
Johnson (6'2, 305) projects as a nose tackle, where he can utilize his impressive strength to cause havoc for opponents.
"He's a major guy strength wise," said Jackson. "He squats 700 pounds and he could probably do more, but we limit him to that amount."
Joining Bramblett in the backfield is Charles Chatman, who also plays linebacker for the Colonels. At 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, Chatman already has the size coveted by college coaches for the fullback spot.
"He was the most impressive player on our team during the off season," Jackson said. "He worked really hard at getting better. He has an agressive mentality and is dedicated to the weightroom."
His work has started to reap rewards, as Indiana has expressed an interest in him as a fullback and a number of I-AA programs like him as a linebacker.
At receiver and defensive back for the Colonels is Ryan Phillips (6'1, 180) who recently was clocked as the second fastest member of the team.
Phillips, a coaches son, also drew praise from his coach.
"He knows the game very well," said Jackson. "He's a clutch type kid for us who made a number of big plays for us last year. He'll be a key player for us again this year."
A rising player for Coach Jackson and Oldham County is junior-to-be Matt Guida. Guida (6'4, 180) needs to add weight to his frame, but once he grabs a full understanding of his linebacker position, could become a top prospect for 2006.
Oldham County will play two scrimmages prior to kicking off their season against Louisville Male. They will host Franklin County on August 6th and Louisville Southern on August 13th.