South Warren throttles Dragons to reach 5A semifinals


South Warren High School’s football team took the fight to South Oldham on Friday night and quickly took the Broncos out of their element.

The Spartans bolted to a quick lead, and South Oldham isn’t built to play from behind. The Broncos got left behind, all right, as South Warren obliterated South Oldham 47-13 on a frigid Friday night.

South Warren (12-1) opened the scoring in the second half, after which point the game was played with a running clock. The Broncos finish their season 9-4 while South Warren advances to the KHSAA Class 5A semifinals against unbeaten Woodford County.

The Spartans will travel to Versailles for Friday’s game with a trip to the KHSAA’s championship weekend at the University of Kentucky hanging in the balance.

“That’s how you want it to go,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said.

Smith and senior quarterback Caden Veltkamp have been pushing all the right buttons in the playoffs, and Veltkamp threw two touchdown passes in the first half. Senior running back Kobe Martin, meanwhile, was punching out steady yardage between the tackles, and South Warren’s defense answered the bell time and again.

South Warren defensive tackle Jake Jackson said the Spartans’ strategy for South Oldham was fairly simple.

“South Oldham is heavy on the running game,” Jackson said. “We stopped the run early, made them have to throw the ball. Our defensive line knew what we had to do. As a team, we’re getting better every week.”

It’s hard to argue with Jackson, but Veltkamp made sure South Warren’s passing game was a picture of precision.

The 6-foot-5 Veltkamp hit Spartans teammate Christian Conyers for a 32-yard touchdown pass with 5:31 left in the first quarter, and South Warren was off to the races.

The Dragons’ Wyatt Fowler did catch a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff, however, and weaved his way to a 70-yard return for a touchdown.

The game wasn’t tied long.

Veltkamp quickly took South Warren down the field before senior tailback Kobe Martin broke two or three tackles on his way to an 11-yard touchdown run with 1:35 left in the first quarter.

In the opening moments of the second quarter, the Spartans’ Luke Burton fielded a South Oldham fumble and scored on a 30-yard return, at which point the Dragons were going nowhere fast.

Veltkamp found Burton, the Spartans’ senior running back/linebacker, for a 34-yard touchdown pass on a deep route to the left sideline. Burton scored his third touchdown on a 1-yard run with 4:14 left in the first half, and in the third quarter, Kobe Martin carried three or four South Oldham defenders into the end zone on his second touchdown of the night, a 12-yard scoring run.

Martin added a 15-yard touchdown run with 9:38 left in the third quarter, which brought on the running clock and ensured a game wouldn’t be much longer than a couple hours.

The story of the night, however, may have been the dominant performance of South Warren’s offensive line.

“The offensive line, they were unbelievable,” Veltkamp said. “That was definitely our best game, overall, this season. We were really clicking. That’s a good win against a real good football team.”

Martin and South Warren offensive tackle Preston Parks said the Spartans’ offense has become a confident group over the last month of the season.

“We knew we had to come out and play physical,” Martin said. “Our confidence level really made a difference, and the offensive line, they were amazing.”

Parks said the Spartans will need the same kind of effort and execution to be successful on the road next week against Woodford County. The Yellow Jackets eliminated Covington Catholic on Friday night, taking a 28-14 victory to remain unbeaten in 12 games.

“We kept our heads down tonight and went to work,” Parks said. “It gets us fired up to see Kobe playing like that … There’s no bad teams left in this thing. It’s gonna be an all-out war with Woodford County …”

South Warren finished the game with 474 yards total offense, and Veltkamp, the picture of efficiency, completed 13 of 18 passes for 251 yards and two scores.

Frederick Douglass High School advanced to the Class 5A semifinals with a 37-6 victory over Southwestern. The new Lexington school will be paired with Owensboro High School in the other semifinal.

Brandon Smith said he figured the Spartans would be going on the road for semifinal play. South Warren needs two more victories to claim the school’s third state championship in just 12 years.

“When we had adversity, the kids responded,” Smith said. “Our offensive line really dominated. They’re playing with a lot of confience. Caden had another big night for us. He checks every box, what you’re looking for in a quarterback. Our kids are excited about playing next week.”