Before his team played Lexington Catholic this season Frederick Douglas coach Brian Landis watched eight game videos of Catholic quarterback Beau Allen. He was impressed then, but even more impressed after his team beat Catholic 42-31.

    "Beau was as good as advertised. I was more impressed with each game I saw him play and then against us he showed his grit and toughness. 
     We hit him and were able to get pressure with our front four, but he 
never got rattled," Landis said. "My worry going into the game was 
his ability to escape pressure and find his guys downfield. He did a 
good job, buying some time when we missed and was able to make some 
great throws."
    Allen completed 28 of 44 passes for 286 yards and one score against 
Douglas. He threw for a touchdown and ran for another one in Douglas' 
42-31 win. If those numbers don't impress you, consider that Douglas 
has given up just 36 points in 12 other games and has shut out eight 
teams.
    Allen won the Paul Hornung Award last week given by the Louisville 
Quarterback Club to the state's top high school player. He threw for 
3,683 yards and 38 touchdowns in 2019 and ran for 517 yards and 12 
scores. The Lexington Catholic quarterback finished his career with 
11,439 yards passing and 127 touchdowns, both fifth all-time in 
Kentucky, along with 1,133 yards rushing and 20 more touchdowns.
    Catholic coach Nigel Smith, a former UK player, believes the "sky is 
the limit" for his star player in college and is not worried about 
him being overwhelmed by SEC competition like some are.
    "I think his talent speaks for itself but I think one of the things 
he has really picked up the last couple of years is knowing when and 
where to use his talent, and that includes his legs," Smith said. "He 
is probably as underrated as a runner as a pocket passer would be. He 
led us in rushing several games the last two years. He had almost 200 
yards rushing in the Belfry game (in the playoffs) last year.
    "He's not afraid to run the ball and when your quarterback has the 
arm talent he has and then the ability to use his legs, it's really 
crucial to a team and hard on a defense. That threat of a running 
quarterback just makes that threat of a passing quarterback even more 
dangerous. Beau is the total package."
    Kentucky coach Mark Stoops watched the Catholic-Douglas game and 
Landis told the UK coach that Allen "was elite" when it came to 
moving in the pocket despite the pressure Douglas' talented defense 
put on him.
    "He does a great job of getting out of trouble, feeling pressure and 
avoiding pressure while keeping his eyes down the field," Landis 
said. "He is sneaky fast as well. He is deceiving. Faster than he 
looks. Made a few big first downs with his legs against us.
    "He's a tough kid. We got after him pretty good, put him on the 
ground, but he never got rattled. It was impressive. He's not the 
kind of kid that is going to get gun shy after taking a lick."
    That's one reason Catholic was able to make some big comebacks in 
games this season. Allen doesn't back down from adversity.
    "We were down in a lot of games and we handled it the right way. We 
handled tough situations and came back and won games, and I am so 
proud of that," he said.
    Allen understands how difficult it was for UK to change offenses 
midseason after injuries sidelined the top two quarterbacks. The Cats 
lost the ability to pass when starter Terry Wilson went down with a 
season-ending knee injury and then backup Sawyer Smith became 
ineffective in his second start due to injuries. Stoops finally moved 
receiver Lynn Bowden to quarterback in game six and UK has basically 
a one-dimensional running offense now.
    "They won big games and did a great job changing the offense," Allen 
said. "Nobody in the world would have expected to be in the situation 
they are in and nobody I can think of in a situation like that could 
have done any better than what they have done. I really think highly 
of them (UK coaches) for the way they are winning games."
    Landis has no doubts Allen has the talent to help Kentucky keep 
winning. He thinks Allen will "be just fine" in the SEC.
    "He has the things you can't teach. The competitive spirit, 
toughness, accuracy and vision. The good ones have that stuff. He is 
elite in some of those areas, so yes, I think he will be a great 
addition to UK," Landis said. "He processes well, makes good 
decisions for the most part, and competes.
    "And he's a great kid. I've known him for a short while now, and 
absolutely one of the most genuine kids you will ever meet. I wish 
him all the best. Glad I don't have to play against him again."
Brooks is still adjusting
    Freshman Keion Brooks Jr. is still adjusting to what Kentucky coach 
John Calipari expects from him and needs from him, especially with 
Nate Sestina out indefinitely with a broken wrist. Brooks is 
averaging 17.7 minutes, 5.4 points and 4.0 rebounds per game while 
shooting 45.7 percent from the field going into Saturday afternoon's 
game with Fairleigh Dickinson.
    However, Brooks has quickly learned just how admired UK basketball 
players are and become role models for young fans across the state.
    "It's nothing I necessarily asked for, but I know that comes with 
it. I have to carry myself in a way — I know little kids and other 
people are looking at me, so I have to carry myself in a way that's 
being a good citizen, being a good person and always doing things the 
right way," Brooks said.
    With Sestina out, Brooks admits there have been some "tough times" 
and that him and others may have to play more minutes until Sestina 
gets back.
    "We have got to play through some fatigue but Coach and everybody on 
this team have the belief that anybody who goes out there can make a 
positive impact on the game," Brooks said.
    The positive for him is that with Sestina out, he's going to play 
more and get more opportunities to learn, grow and either succeed or 
fail. He's struggled from 3-point range (2-for-7) and at the foul 
line (4-for-11).     However, he is averaging a rebound per 4.5 minutes 
played.
    "I'm not where I want to be. I always have the mentality that I got 
room to get better and there's things I can learn and improve on 
throughout the game," Brooks said. "The minutes that I have had, I 
feel like I have done a pretty decent job of trying to make an 
impact. I'm going to practice and keep going up and talking to Coach 
Cal to see what I can do to help our team get better."
Duffy is All-American  type performer
    Punter Max Duffy has had an All-American type season for Kentucky by 
leading the nation in punting average most of the season and is one 
of three finalists for the prestigious Ray Guy Award given to the 
nation's best punter. However, what makes Duffy happiest is that 
despite the adversity UK has faced this year the Wildcats are still 
bowl eligible.
    "We also get that extra month of practice. We're all young guys, 
which I think means a lot. We get to travel for a team, for a week, 
which we only get to do that once a year," Duffy said. "I think it 
really bonds the guys, I know I've made some really great 
friendships, even more so over the bowl week (last year).
    "It was great last year, and to be able to go do it again is awesome 
for the team. Especially after coming through all the adversity this 
year, losing our quarterback and having a new defense and all that 
kind of stuff, I think it's a pretty impressive effort to get where 
we have, and hopefully we can finish it off next week."
    Quarterback Lynn Bowden, the catalyst to UK's resurgence with his 
move from receiver at midseason, says it "definitely feels good" to 
be bowl eligible.
    "It means a lot to us. Me personally cause everyone doubted us. You 
know just making a switch  they said we weren't going to be good. I 
mean our record doesn't show but I think we are a pretty damn good 
team," Bowden said.
    So does senior guard Logan Stenberg, who will be playing in his 
fourth bowl game.
    "I am just happy to be a part of it. We have had a lot of great guys 
on this team over the past four or five years," Stenberg said. "We 
have all chipped in and helped build this program to where it is 
today and I am glad I am leaving it better than it was and beating 
Louisville in our final home game was the best possible way to go out."
Volleyball team sweeps Mississippi
    Kentucky volleyball swept Mississippi last week to claim its third 
straight SEC championship and earn the right to host NCAA Tournament 
play again this week where the Cats will be favored to win and 
advance to the regional.
    Kentucky (23-6) will play Southeast Missouri State (23-10) on Friday 
and if it wins will play the Northern Kentucky-Michigan winner on 
Saturday for a berth in the regional that likely will be hosted by 
top seed Baylor. The other two top seeds in the region are Purdue and 
Washington going into the first-round games.
    Junior libero Gabby Curry wasn't looking too far ahead after the Ole 
Miss win.
    "I hope we go to practice Monday and we grind hard and get better 
each day. All I can think about is getting better on Monday and 
whoever we play (in the NCAA) and  we will give them our undivided 
attention," Curry said after clinching another SEC title.
    She won't ponder whether this team, which has won eight straight 
matches, is better prepared for NCAA play than others she's been on 
at UK.
    "This year is different. I think that whatever is supposed to happen 
will happen. I think we are going to work to make what we want happen 
happen," Curry said. I think it is dumb to put all these forecasts on 
our team and then get the expectations where you can put no pressure 
on yourself and just say we are going to do the best you can.
    "Do I think we are going to win the national championship? Yes. But 
I am going to go out there and say that, no."
    Just don't doubt her passion for wanting the title she has been 
talking about since getting to UK.
    "I do want to win a national championship. I am not backing down 
from that," Curry said.
    Kentucky coach Craig Skinner knows his team is playing well and had 
to after dropping two home SEC matches
    "To win eight in a row in this league in the environments we have 
had to do it in the last few weeks isn't easy. We had to learn how to 
serve better and serve tougher. There is a fine line and our serving 
is a big piece of that," Skinner said. "There is a lot of pressure 
and expectations when you are picked to win the league and everyone 
just assumes you are going to win. There are no assumptions in 
athletics. You have to perform. We had to learn how to fail a little 
bit early and how to respond to that. I am proud our upperclassmen 
came together to make that happen."
 
    Quote of the Week: "It's very obvious why they'll be the No. 1 team 
in the country come Monday. … They got multiple weapons, and multiple 
big guys they can throw to in the paint. They don't have a lot of 
holes," Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury after Louisville beat 
his team 71-54 last week (Louisville plays at UK Dec. 28).
    Quote of the Week 2:  "They had those shot blockers right there. 
Even when we penetrated, our guys had a pink elephant in the back of 
their mind. They were looking for those big guys back there," Lamar 
coach Tic Price after his team lost to Kentucky.
    Quote of the Week 3: "Out of all of our players, she has spent the 
most time in the gym and has taken the most shots outside of 
practice. She has worked really hard on her shooting. We've been 
focused with her on just trying to hustle more, make some hustle 
plays, rebound a little bit stronger, become a better defender, and I 
think she's working hard on all of those things," Kentucky women's coach Matthew Mitchell on sophomore Blair Green.

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