Ahead of Mayfield’s Class 2A semifinal game against Beechwood, Paducah Sun sports reporter Al Willman had a chat with James Weber, who covers high school sports for the Cincinnati Enquirer.

AW: Taking a glance at Beechwood’s schedule, it seems to have had some trouble with ranked teams like Somerset, which has spent time in the top three all season in Class 2A. While that was an early-season matchup, what’s been your impression of the Tigers’ progression this year?

JW: They have certainly improved over the course of the year. They were loaded with one of the top senior groups in their history last year, and this season they have had to rely on several sophomores plus a freshman or two in key spots. Their schedule was brutal early, with three of the losses to teams that could end up as state champions (Paintsville, Somerset, Covington Catholic); and Taft was a strong Cincinnati team of similar size to Beechwood that had a great season and qualified for the Ohio playoffs. The message from them, especially last week, is that the young talent has grown up and they’re a more mature team than they were the first half of the season.

AW: The pass game, under Cameron Hergott, seems to be successful, if not a little underwhelming — at least in comparison to his counterpart, Jayden Stinson. As a dual-threat quarterback, do the numbers seem to agree with his tendencies?

JW: Hergott is a very skilled quarterback. His uncle Greg led Beechwood to four state championships in the 1990s and is the offensive coordinator at Beechwood. Cam’s older brother Austin Hergott is a QB at Central Michigan. When Cameron gets into the open field, he’s fast and dangerous. Beechwood had several dynamic skill position players last year, and every target he has this season has been learning as they go. They had Logan Castleman (Wright State baseball signee) for three years and he was a workhorse for them. The four main ball-handlers now are three sophomores and a senior.

AW: What is Beechwood’s defensive flavor? Do the Tigers like to go after the quarterback or stay home? Something in between?

JW: Not sure. Beechwood has struggled at times against the top passing attacks on their schedule. Their loss was to Newport Central Catholic to end the regular season, and NewCath threw the ball at will in the second half of that game.

AW: Who or what is Beechwood’s X-Factor? Why?

JW: Hard to say, but I’ll go with senior Mason Williams, who is a big playmaker on both sides of the ball but didn’t seem to be a huge factor against NewCath or West Carter, the two games I’ve seen. Adam Derry is a tough and skilled linebacker who needs to play well against the Mayfield offense.

AW: Do you have a prediction for the game?

JW: Beechwood can’t win a shootout with Mayfield, so unless they can hold onto the ball for long stretches and force some key turnovers, they will have a long and sad bus ride home.

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