Thanks to the work of one local football fan, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association has a better knowledge of the history of its state football championships than it did this time last year.
Daniel Hopkins of Lancaster researched playoff scores from the first 15 years of the state playoffs, 1959-74, for which the KHSAA records were incomplete. Until now, the KHSAA’s records listed scores from the state finals throughout their history but only had complete playoff scores from 1975, when the playoffs expanded from three classes to four.
Hopkins’ research through newspaper archives, KHSAA records and one particularly thorough Web site on Jefferson County football (www.louisvillehsfootball.com) made those records virtually complete (only one score couldn’t be found).
Hopkins, a teacher at Garrard Middle School, said the project took only a couple of days out of his summer. “It wasn’t a hard job, and I was doing something I really like,” he said. “It was an interesting project, and it was an interesting read.”
Among the interesting points discovered about postseason football in days gone by:
- Travel times to playoff games were an issue in the days when there were only three rounds. A team such as Danville might get a first-round game against, say Richmond Madison, but the next game would be a semifinal out in western Kentucky.
- Ties weren’t common but could happen before the current overtime format was introduced. Hopkins said he found about seven ties over 15 years, and those games were decided by “penetration,” meaning the team that had the most first downs was declared the winner. That meant players and fans had to wait for a few minutes after the game while the stats were double-checked.
Hopkins’ interest in high school sports history ranges from old games to old gymnasiums and covers everything from his beloved Garrard County Golden Lions to things like this project. The results of Hopkins’ work (and the proper credit) should appear in this year’s state finals game program, along with the records the KHSAA already had.