Archive for November, 2006

History lesson

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 ( 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.

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The state finals live here

Doing some reading and research on state football finals past and present reminded me of just how good football fans in this corner of Kentucky have it. For a 20-year period from 1987 through this year, at least one school from this five-county area has made the finals 18 times. And we’ve had two local schools represented in five of the last seven years. That’s something that should never be taken for granted, even if your team isn’t playing.

Only two other localities in the state can match that success rate, the metropolitan areas of Jefferson County and the three suburban counties of northern Kentucky. The Advocate’s five-county area has a population of roughly 108,000, only 2.6 percent of Kentucky’s total population. At its peak, there were eight schools playing football in this area (now there are just six), and five of them have reached the finals. That’s astounding, and it’s tremendous fun to be part of.

Here’s the full list of finalists over the last 20 years:

1987, Danville; 1988, Harrodsburg; 1989, Danville; 1990, Lincoln County; 1991, Danville; 1992, Danville; 1993, Lincoln County; 1994, Danville; 1995, none; 1996, Harrodsburg; 1997, Harrodsburg; 1998, Danville; 1999, Boyle County; 2000, Boyle County and Danville; 2001; Boyle County and Danville; 2002, Boyle County; 2003, Boyle County and Danville; 2004, Boyle County and Danville; 2005, none; 2006, Danville and Mercer County.

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Welcome to my blog. Just in time for the best part of football season and the start of basketball season, Advocate webmasters Gary Moyers and Kent Brown helped me create this space to dig a little deeper into high school sports in the newspaper’s five-county coverage area and to have a little fun. Enjoy!

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