Class 3A football state championship preview: Christian Academy-Louisville vs. Bardstown

It’s championship weekend for the 2022 UK HealthCare Sports Medicine State Football Finals. Here’s a look at Saturday’s Class 3A state title game at Kroger Field.

Christian Academy-Louisville (14-0) vs. Bardstown (14-0)

Kickoff: Noon Saturday

RPI Ratings: No. 1 CAL (.74183); No. 2 Bardstown (.73089).

Cantrall Ratings: No. 1 CAL (88.4); No. 2 Bardstown (74.8).

Championship game history: CAL — Two state titles (2016, 2018) in two finals appearances; Bardstown — Four state titles (the last in 2001) in seven finals appearances.

Quick hits

Class 3A offensive ranks: No. 1 CAL (49.2 ppg); No. 2 Bardstown (39.4 ppg).

Class 3A defensive ranks: No. 1 CAL (7.8 ppg); No. 2 Bardstown (13.3 ppg).

CAL quarterback Cole Hodge, a 6-foot-2 junior, was recently named District 4 player of the year, according to the Kentucky Football Coaches Association. Hodge led the state in TD passes with 45 and threw the third-fewest interceptions, four, while averaging 198 yards passing per game. His 2,774 yards passing on the season rank first in Class 3A.

Cole’s younger brother Connor Hodge, a 6-1 sophomore, is tied for the team lead in interceptions as a defensive back with four and has two pick-sixes this year. He’s also third on the team in receiving yards on offense (408) and has seven TD catches.

CAL junior Justin Ruffin missed three weeks due to a dislocated shoulder, but returned to the lineup last week with 49 yards and two TDs receiving.

Bardstown running back/defensive back Tyleeq Williams, a 5-5 junior, was the KFCA’s District 3 player of the year. He’s rushed for 1,646 yards and 24 TDs with an average of 127 yards per game, stats that put him in the top 10 in Class 3A in all of those categories. He also leads the team with four interceptions and has 54 tackles.

To folks in Louisville, it’s simply Christian Academy, but for clarity’s sake statewide it’s called Christian Academy of Louisville or CAL for short. The KHSAA uses the preposition-less Christian Academy-Louisville.

CAL Coach Hunter Cantwell is in his fourth season with the Centurions after taking over from Stefan LeFors in 2019. If those names sound familiar, they were both quarterbacks at the University of Louisville in the early 2000s. LeFors preceded Cantwell at Louisville just as he did at CAL. LeFors led CAL to state titles in 2016 and 2018 before taking a job in his home state of Louisiana.

CAL and Bardstown have played no common opponents this season, but there is a comparison that can be made. CAL defeated Paducah Tilghman 30-24 in the state semis last week. Bardstown defeated Tilghman’s district rival Union County 66-33 for a region title two weeks ago. And Union County defeated Tilghman 20-16 on Oct. 14. Connect those dots and you have what might shape up to be an excellent finals.

CAL and Bardstown have been district rivals in the past under previous KHSAA alignments when the schools were in both Class A and 2A. They were last districted together in 2014.

Since 1999, CAL leads the series against Bardstown 7-3. The Centurions ousted the Tigers from the 2013 and 2014 Class 2A playoffs during those district rival years.


CAL: Cole Hodge, Jr. QB (2,774 yards, 45 TDs passing, 669 yards, 9 TDs rushing); Gavin Copenhaver, Sr. RB/LB (1,007 yards, 17 TDs rushing; 105 tackles; 3 sacks); Darwin Cotton, So. WR (896 yards, 11 TD receiving); Justin Ruffin, Jr. WR (711 yards, 12 TDs receiving); Gunnar McKinley, Sr. DL (35 tackles, 10 sacks).

Bardstown: Brayden Clark, Sr. QB (1,371 yards, 15 TDs passing; 247 yards, 6 TDs rushing); Tyleeq Williams, Jr. RB/DB (1,788 yards, 25 TDs rushing; 433 yards, 6 TDs receiving; 54 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 INTs); Shannon Tonge, Sr. WR (785 yards, 10 TDs receiving); Amonti Marshall, So. LB (53 tackles, 8 sacks; 4 fumble recoveries, 2 for scores); Kyan Lydian Jr. LB (57 tackles, 4 sacks).

@HLpreps pick

Christian Academy-Louisville 38, Bardstown 24.

State championships

At Kroger Field in Lexington

Tickets: Available by advance sale digitally at No walk-up paper tickets sold.

Streaming broadcasts: Subscription required for live video stream at Pay-per-view live video at Free audio stream at


Class A: Pikeville (11-2) vs. Raceland (13-1), Noon

Class 2A: Beechwood (13-1) vs. Mayfield (14-0), 4 p.m.

Class 4A: Corbin (14-0) vs. Boyle County (12-2), 8 p.m.


Class 3A: Christian Academy-Louisville (14-0) vs. Bardstown (14-0), Noon

Class 6A: Male (10-4) vs. Bullitt East (13-1), 4 p.m.

Class 5A: Frederick Douglass (14-0) vs. Bowling Green (12-2), 8 p.m.

Christian Academy-Louisville’s Cole Hodge has passed for 45 touchdowns and rushed for nine this season.
Christian Academy-Louisville’s Cole Hodge has passed for 45 touchdowns and rushed for nine this season.

The John Clay Podcast: Kentucky State High School Football Championships preview

These Kentucky football recruiting targets will play in high school finals at Kroger Field

Class A football state championship preview: Pikeville vs. Raceland

Class 2A football state championship preview: Beechwood vs. Mayfield

Class 4A football state championship preview: Corbin vs. Boyle County

Class 5A football state championship preview: Douglass vs. Bowling Green

Class 6A football state championship preview: Male vs. Bullitt East