WCHS football holds signing day
Five Woodford County High School football players took part in National Signing Day last Wednesday, Feb. 5. Center and defensive lineman Lucas Brocato, offensive tackle Daegan Bush, wide receiver Ziggy Gill, receiver/defensive back Skyelar Johnson and running back Amartae Rice signed in a near-capacity WCHS cafeteria as classmates, teachers and parents looked on. Bush signed with Eastern Illinois University, a Division-I FCS school in Charleston, Illinois. The Panthers are perhaps best known for quarterback alumni Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo. And as an offensive lineman, Bush will be tasked with protecting future EIU quarterbacks. “Daegan’s been a four-year starter for us,” said WCHS football Coach Dennis Johnson. “I think his best football is ahead of him. The guy called me from Eastern Illinois and said ‘Coach, I just now found out about this guy,’ and I said, ‘You need to get on him’ ... He probably called me two hours later and said he had an offer for the kid because he is that talented.” After thanking teammates, family, coaches and athletic trainer Walker Terhune, Bush made special note to thank his grandmother, Jackie Douglas, saying “She’s one of the strongest people I know.” Rice, who committed to Lindsey Wilson College, was a major benefactor of Bush’s blocking the last two seasons. The power-back finished the 2019 season with 1,481 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns to finish his senior season as one of the state’s premier players. Like Bush, Rice also thanked the women in his life — his mother and grandmother — for being “My backbone, my everything. I love them with all my heart.” He also had nothing but praise for Coach Johnson saying, “We’ve had our ups and downs, we’ve had our downs lately, but I love this man to death. He does anything for your kid. If he really loves your kid, he’ll do anything in his mind ... He’ll give them the clothes off his back.” Coach Johnson’s son, Skyelar, was also on stage Wednesday as he signed with NCAA Division-II school West Virginia State. Skyelar is a two-sport star for the Jackets and could have a future playing football or baseball for the WVSU Yellow Jackets. In 2019, he led Woodford County in receiving touchdowns (three), was second in receiving yards (319), and was sixth on the team in tackles (27) despite missing four games due to injury. On the baseball diamond, Skyelar was second on the team in batting average while leading the Jackets in triples and runs scored. “It’s definitely a great moment for me as a dad,” said Coach Johnson. “Truth be told, we never really thought Skyelar would play football ... The last two years he kind of grew a little bit and he really got his work ethic together ... I’m very proud of him and he still has some decisions to make — football, baseball — but I like where he’s going to go.” Brocato and Gill committed to Union College, an NAIA school in Barbourville. “I want to thank God, my family and also the coaches for this opportunity,” said Gill. “Thank you to Walker (Terhune) for keeping me healthy this past season.” Gill’s only season with the Jackets started on a rough note when he suffered a head injury in the season opener at Lincoln County, but he rebounded to become the team’s leading receiver with 28 catches, 330 yards and two touchdowns. Brocato, along with Bush, has been one of the senior linemen helping mentor a strong class of sophomores for the Jackets. Brocato’s season was cut short with an injury during the game at Madison Southern and although he was unable to play in the Homecoming game against Collins, Coach Johnson shared an anecdote about Collins’ coach coming over before the game to say he had “Great respect” for Brocato’s game after watching him on tape. “Most of the scholarships are fully paid for, and some of them it’s just a few thousand dollars, so there’s something to be said for their athletic and academic abilities,” noted Johnson before half of his 10-player senior class signed to play at the next level.