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Nine finalists named for coaches’ 2023 Kentucky Mr. Football award

Nine finalists have been named for the annual Mr. Football award by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.

Lexington Christian standouts Cutter Boley and Brady Hensley and Boyle County’s Avery Bodner and Sage Dawson are among the seniors that KFCA members will vote on this week, according to an email sent out Monday by the association.

Also on the ballot are Bell County’s Daniel Thomas, Christian Academy-Louisville’s Cole Hodge, Male’s Max Gainey, Mayfield’s Zane Cartwright and Raceland’s Noah Wallace.

Hodge and Dawson each earned their respective class’s player of the year honor from the KFCA during last weekend’s state football championships. In addition, Hodge was named the Class 3A championship game’s most valuable player in the Centurions’ 41-16 win over Thomas’ Bell County team.

This year, Thomas set state single-season records for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total points scored in helping lead the Bobcats to district and region championships and a runner-up finish in Class 3A.

Boley earned recognition last week as the annual Paul Hornung Award winner as the state’s top player, according to the Louisville Quarterback Club.

Since 2019, the KFCA has named its own Mr. Football based on a vote from its membership. The historic Mr. Football that was chosen by members of the Associated Press from 1986 to 2021 ended abruptly last year along with the AP’s annual all-state teams recognition. Those honors no longer exist.

The KFCA has kept the tradition of only recognizing seniors for its Mr. Football. Voting by the coaches is due Friday with an announcement expected soon after.

Coaches will also select their Jimmie Reed Coach Award from among six finalists — Campbellsville’s Dale Estes, Owensboro Catholic’s Jason Morris, Hart County’s Chad Griffin, Boyle County’s Justin Haddix, Bowling Green’s Mark Spader and Manual’s Josh Gillispie. Coaches must be KFCA members to be eligible.

Here’s a closer look at the Mr. Football nominees in alphabetical order.

Avery Bodner

School: Boyle County (15-0).

Measurements: 6-0, 175 pounds.

Position: Athlete.

2023 stats: 1,274 yards, 22 TDs rushing; 378 yards, 4 TDs receiving; 87 tackles, 7 sacks, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 2 recoveries, 1 for a TD.

Career: 319 yards, 4 TDs passing; 3,697 yards, 53 TDs rushing; 810 yards, 7 TDs receiving; 193 tackles, 9 sacks, 6 interceptions, 4 fumbles forced, 4 recoveries, 1 for a TD.

Notes: 2022 Courier Journal all-state honorable mention; part of four state championships.

Lexington Christian’s Cutter Boley (7) fends off Lexington Catholic’s Matthew Kern (18) during a game at LCA on Sept. 15.
Lexington Christian’s Cutter Boley (7) fends off Lexington Catholic’s Matthew Kern (18) during a game at LCA on Sept. 15.

Cutter Boley

School: Lexington Christian (11-2).

Measurements: 6-5, 203 pounds.

Position: QB.

2023 stats: 2,187 yards, 24 TDs passing; 15 yards, 5 TDs rushing.

Career: 8,241 yards, 82 TDs passing; 396 yards, 17 TDs rushing.

Notes: Four-star Kentucky commit; 2022 Courier Journal second-team all-state.

Mayfield’s Zane Cartwright (9) looks to pass the ball against Lexington Christian on Nov. 17.
Mayfield’s Zane Cartwright (9) looks to pass the ball against Lexington Christian on Nov. 17.

Zane Cartwright

School: Mayfield (13-1).

Measurements: 5-11, 180 pounds.

Position: QB.

2023 stats: 2,306 yards, 32 TDs passing; 151 yards, 2 TDs rushing.

Career: 7,884 yards, 93 TDs passing; 136 yards, 2 TDs rushing.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class 2A, District 1 player of the year; fifth-year senior; led 2023 Class 2A state championship team.

Boyle County’s Sage Dawson, right, runs the ball against Covington Catholic during the Class 4A state championship game at Kroger Field on Friday.
Boyle County’s Sage Dawson, right, runs the ball against Covington Catholic during the Class 4A state championship game at Kroger Field on Friday.

Sage Dawson

Team: Boyle County (15-0).

Measurements: 6-0, 160 pounds.

Position: QB.

2023 stats: 2,509 yards, 29 TDs passing; 385 yards, 4 TDs rushing.

Career: 6,258 yards, 70 TDs passing; 1,275 yards, 18 TDs rushing; 206 yards, 2 TDs receiving; 81 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery for a TD.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class 4A, District 7 player of the year; fifth-year senior; part of three state championship teams; 2022 Courier Journal all-state honorable mention; Air Force commit.

Max Gainey

School: Male (11-2).

Measurements: 5-9, 150 pounds.

Position: WR.

2023 stats: 1,019 yards, 20 TDs receiving; 73 yards, 2 TDs rushing; 2 punt return TDs, KO return TD.

Career: 2,273 yards, 35 TDs receiving; 11 yards, 1 TD passing; 101 yards, 2 TDs rushing; 3 punt return TDs, KO return TD.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class 6A, District 4 player of the year; 2022 Courier Journal third-team all-state; three-star recruit.

Lexington Christian’s Brady Hensley (42) runs the ball during a win at Christian Academy-Louisville on Sept. 8.
Lexington Christian’s Brady Hensley (42) runs the ball during a win at Christian Academy-Louisville on Sept. 8.

Brady Hensley

School: Lexington Christian (10-1).

Measurements: 6-0, 202 pounds.

Positions: RB/SS.

2023 stats: 2,408 yards, 43 TDs rushing; 213 yards, 4 TDs receiving.

Career: 5,682 yards, 90 TDs rushing; 454 yards, 8 TDs receiving.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class 2A, District 4 player of the year; 2022 Courier Journal first-team all-state.

Christian Academy-Louisville’s Cole Hodge (2) throws a second-half touchdown pass against Bell County during the Class 3A state championship game at Kroger Field on Saturday.
Christian Academy-Louisville’s Cole Hodge (2) throws a second-half touchdown pass against Bell County during the Class 3A state championship game at Kroger Field on Saturday.

Cole Hodge

School: Christian Academy-Louisville (14-1).

Measurements: 6-2, 193 pounds.

Position: QB.

2023 stats: 4,104 yards, 57 TDs passing; 625 yards, 10 TDs rushing.

Career: 9,186 yards, 135 TDs passing; 1,942 yards, 27 TDs rushing.

Notes: 2023 state championship game MVP for back-to-back 3A champs; 2023 KFCA Class 3A and District 3 player of the year; 2022 Courier Journal honorable mention all-state; three-star East Carolina commit.

Bell County’s Daniel Thomas, front, runs for a 36-yard touchdown against Christian Academy-Louisville during the Class 3A state championship game at Kroger Field on Saturday.
Bell County’s Daniel Thomas, front, runs for a 36-yard touchdown against Christian Academy-Louisville during the Class 3A state championship game at Kroger Field on Saturday.

Daniel Thomas

School: Bell County (13-2).

Measurements: 5-9, 180 pounds.

Positions: RB/LB.

2023 stats: 3,817 yards, 54 TDs rushing; 32 yards, 1 TD passing; 71 yards receiving; 94 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 for a TD.

Career: 7,143 yards, 95 TDs rushing; 801 yards, 8 TDs receiving; 163 yards, 4 TDs passing; 314 tackles, 13 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced, 4 recoveries, 1 for a TD.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class 3A, District 7 player of the year; 2022 Courier Journal all-state honorable mention.

Noah Wallace

School: Raceland (11-4).

Measurements: 6-1, 190 pounds.

Positions: RB/DB.

2023 stats: 1,198 yards, 15 TDs rushing; 114 yards, 1 TD receiving; 82 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions

Career: 3,523 yards, 44 TDs rushing; 316 yards, 4 TDs receiving; 298 tackles, 2 sacks, 9 interceptions, 2 fumbles forced, 2 recoveries.

Notes: 2023 KFCA Class A, District 6 player of the year.

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