By LARRY VAUGHT
He knows the state has a lot of talented high school senior football players but Boyle County coach Chuck Smith — who readily admits he’s biased — has no doubts about who should be Mr. Football.
“Reese (Smith) is right there with any of the best players we’ve have here at Boyle County and I think he is a definite Mr. Football,” said Smith, a former University of Kentucky assistant coach. “He is just special. He has the kind of athleticism that only comes around once every 10 years or so. He has unbelievable ball skills, speed, explosion and physicality.”
Voting for Mr. Football by state media members will occur in late November or after the season ends in early December. Other top candidates include Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen — a Kentucky commit — and tight end/linebacker Michael Mayer of Covington Catholic, a Notre Dame commit.
Smith has a lot of numbers to support his Mr. Football candidacy:
— He caught 50 passes for 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns and also had nine interceptions and 40 tackles to help lead Boyle County to the Class 3-A state title as a sophomore and had 53 catches for 1,173 yards and 20 scores in 2018 along with 55 tackles and three interceptions.
— He has tied the school record of 23 interceptions held by Jacob Tamme, a former UK All-SEC tight end and nine-year NFL veteran.
— His 93-yard scoring reception is the longest in school history and his 20 receiving touchdowns and 62 total touchdowns are both school records.
— He needs only 37 more receiving yards this season — he has 33 catches for 963 yards and 13 scores — to reach 1,000 yards for the third straight season and 10 points to reach 100 points for the third straight year.
— In his career he has 169 catches for 3,747 yards and 55 touchdowns and has amassed 4,583 all-purpose yards to go with 127 career solo tackles.
“If we threw him the ball as much as we wanted, his stats would be even more unbelievable,” Chuck Smith said. “We choose to have a complete team and spread the ball around. There have not been many people we have played that can cover him. He runs great routes, has great explosion. He’s just a special athlete.”
Reese Smith, a West Virginia commit, gets open and quarterback Reed Lanter gets him the ball. Lanter has thrown for 7,476 yards at Boyle by completing 481 of 716 passes for 87 touchdowns. Lanter not only knows how to find Reese Smith, but how to look for other receivers when teams double cover ReeseSmith.
“If we wanted to, we could throw him more balls and he would find a way to get open and catch them,” Chuck Smith said. “We could make him a one-man team but we do not do that. He would not want that. His goal is to win a state title, not have a bunch of stats. He’s fine when Reed spreads the ball around and that makes us a better team.”
The Boyle coach believes his star senior could play defense in college because he is a “physical ballhawk” in the secondary and contributes as much to Boyle (8-0) on defense as offense.
“When it comes to Mr. Football, I think it should be the best player and what he has done for his team and what level of competition he has done it again,” the Boyle coach said. “Reese has already won one state championship, been to the semifinals and this year his team is a contender for another state title.
“He’s not doing this for a 6-4 or 7-3 team. He’s doing it at the highest level and plays his best against the best.”
Against Louisville Christian Academy, he had six catches for 194 yards and three scores and ran one time for 11 yards in a 71-28 win. Against Class AAAA district rival Lexington Catholic he had eight catches for 275 yards and three scores, and one run for 38 yards and a score. In last week’s win over Anderson County when Boyle ran only 29 offensive plays, he had three catches for for 90 yards and two scores and recovered a fumble for a touchdown in a 52-7 win.
“Reese just gets in a zone when he is playing against somebody he thinks will try to challenge him,” Chuck Smith said. “That’s when he takes his game to a whole new level. That’s what he lives for. That’s what makes him great. Other games, he actually gets kind of bored.
“He’s tough and loves playing both ways. We pull him out of a lot of games early and I know he doesn’t want to come out. We could put him back there to return kicks and punts and he would blow those records up, too. But we don’t do that because we try to have a balanced team.
“I just hope doing that and not padding his statistics doesn’t cost him being Mr. Football. He’s just one of those special players that you are lucky to get to coach and personally, I just don’t see how anybody else can be Mr. Football other than him.”