Archive for October, 2007

The road to Bowling Green?

A small blog item is quickly becoming a hot topic of conversations among football fans with a stake in where the state finals will be played after this year.

Ryan Ernst writes in The Cincinnati Enquirer’s preps blog that Bowling Green is preparing to bid to host the state finals, which might move out of Louisville because of conflicts with the University of Louisville’s Big East Conference schedule.

The finals have been played in Bowling Green only once, in 1975, and all classes have been played in Louisville continuously since 1979.

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Mercer tiebreaker update

There was plenty of movement among the teams involved in the tiebreaker in Class 5-A, District 7 last week, but there was no change in the big picture as we spelled it out in this post. South Laurel still holds a one-point edge over Mercer County in the three-way tiebreaker for the Nos. 3 and 4 playoff seeds in that district.

By winning on Friday, each team picked up the wins of an additional opponent to count in the points system used to break three-way ties. South Laurel got Middlesboro and its six wins; Mercer got Rockcastle County and its four wins. Mercer also picked up one win each for wins by Russell County, Greeneville (Tenn.) and Boyle County, and South Laurel got a point for a win by Valley.

(Southwestern is the third team in this three-way tiebreaker, but it’s mathematically impossible for the Warriors to catch either Mercer or South Laurel in this points race.)

Here are the current points for each team, listed with the teams that each of them can count and their current win totals, and this week’s opponent and its win total in parentheses:

  • South Laurel, 18 points: Valley 7, North Laurel 0, Knox Central 5, Middlesboro 6. (This week’s opponent: East Jessamine 5.)
  • Mercer County, 17 points: Russell County 3, Greeneville (Tenn.) 7, Boyle County 3, Rockcastle County 4. (This week: open date.)
  • Southwestern, 3 points: Paul Dunbar 3. (This week’s opponent: George Rogers Clark 2).

Because Mercer doesn’t play, South Laurel clinches the No. 3 seed with a win over East Jessamine. The Titans can still get points from the teams they’ve beaten, but not enough to overcome one more South Laurel victory.

Mercer’s maximum point total is 20, which it’ll get only if Greeneville, Boyle and Rockcastle all win this week. (Russell doesn’t play.) If South Laurel loses, Mercer must also hope for losses by Valley, North Laurel, Knox Central and Middlesboro (or at least most of them).

The probable outcome is that Mercer gets the No. 4 seed and a first-round game at Lincoln County on Nov. 9. (The No. 3 seed plays at Pulaski County.) And in fact, that’s what the Titans are expecting. It didn’t take long during their on-field meeting after the win over Rockcastle for the talk to turn to Lincoln and the Titans’ desire to avenge a 12-7 home loss to the Patriots on Sept. 7.

* * *

A slight correction from Friday’s post. Mercer County and Rockcastle County were district rivals in Class 3-A (not 2-A) in the late 1970s and early ’80s.

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Reunion Week

ESPN has its Rivalry Week, Judgement Week and other silly marketing gimmicks for its college sports, and now we have Reunion Week for local high school football.

Four of the five area games tonight pair teams that were once in the same district but aren’t any more. Here’s the rundown:

  • Boyle County and Southwestern were in the same Class 3-A district from 2003-07. The Rebels won the first four district and playoff games between the schools and the first seven meetings overall, but Southwestern won the last two meetings, 28-7 in the regular-season last year and 18-9 in a second-round playoff game.
  • Scott County won its first meeting with Lincoln County in 1974 and the last meeting in 1999. But the Patriots won all eight games in between when the teams were paired in a 3-A district from 1987-93. Most of those years were lean ones for Scott, which was shut out in three of those eight district games and held to seven points or less in three others.
  • Danville and Frankfort were placed in the same Class A district in 2003, and the Admirals have won three of the five meetings since. They split two games last year, with Frankfort winning 33-13 in the regular season and Danville winning 35-6 in the playoffs
  • Mercer County and Rockcastle County haven’t played since 1981, but they met annually in the 2-A wars for several years up to that point. The Scotties won the last four meetings and six of the last seven, and their last meeting resulted in a 7-6 Mercer victory.

The only exception in our Reunion Week is the Garrard County-Pendleton County game, which is the first meeting between the two teams. That’s understandable in light of the facts that the two schools are some 95 miles apart and that Pendleton’s first varsity season was in 2003.

* * *

Now for some links to preview stories from other newspapers for some of this week’s games:

* * *

Finally, the picks, as I attempt to rebound from a disappointing week:

  • Boyle County over Southwestern.
  • Danville over Frankfort.
  • Rockcastle County over Mercer County.
  • Garrard County over Pendleton County.
  • Scott County over Lincoln County.

Last week: 4-2. For the season: 36-11 (.766).

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Danville girls can't wait for the weekend

A reminder that the Danville girls’ sectional soccer final scheduled for tonight will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday at Admiral Stadium.

Woodford County defeated West Jessamine 1-0 on Wednesday to fill the other spot in this game in the state tournament’s round of eight. The winner of this game will advance to the final four, which is Nov. 1 and 3 in Georgetown.

Woodford eliminated Danville the last time the Lady Admirals reached this level in 2004 with a 2-0 win in a game played in a downpour similar to the one Danville and South Laurel played through Tuesday. The two teams haven’t played since.

Several of the seven seniors on this year’s Danville team played in that game, and two of them started. Now they’re grateful to get another shot not only at Woodford but at making it to the final four.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors on the team, so we know everyone will be trying real hard,” said forward Jessie Davis, one of those seniors.

“I think for the seniors — it’s everybody, really — but for the seniors, it’s one of their goals, and they wanted to go back (to the quarterfinals),” coach Michael Lauer said.

That 2004 game marked the first time that any area soccer team had reached the state tournament quarterfinals, as it was the first year of a realignment that made getting to that point much easier.Since then, reaching the quarters has become commonplace, as a local boys and girls team has done so in each of the last three years: the Boyle County boys and girls in 2005, the Danville boys and Boyle girls in ’06 and the Danville boys and girls this fall.

Danville’s success in 2004 was unexpected, but now getting this far has become an annual goal for the Danville and Boyle boys and girls, and those teams now aim to get past this ceiling that none of them have been able to break through yet.

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Danville girls can’t wait for the weekend

A reminder that the Danville girls’ sectional soccer final scheduled for tonight will be played at 7 p.m. Saturday at Admiral Stadium.

Woodford County defeated West Jessamine 1-0 on Wednesday to fill the other spot in this game in the state tournament’s round of eight. The winner of this game will advance to the final four, which is Nov. 1 and 3 in Georgetown.

Woodford eliminated Danville the last time the Lady Admirals reached this level in 2004 with a 2-0 win in a game played in a downpour similar to the one Danville and South Laurel played through Tuesday. The two teams haven’t played since.

Several of the seven seniors on this year’s Danville team played in that game, and two of them started. Now they’re grateful to get another shot not only at Woodford but at making it to the final four.

“We’ve got a lot of seniors on the team, so we know everyone will be trying real hard,” said forward Jessie Davis, one of those seniors.

“I think for the seniors — it’s everybody, really — but for the seniors, it’s one of their goals, and they wanted to go back (to the quarterfinals),” coach Michael Lauer said.

That 2004 game marked the first time that any area soccer team had reached the state tournament quarterfinals, as it was the first year of a realignment that made getting to that point much easier.Since then, reaching the quarters has become commonplace, as a local boys and girls team has done so in each of the last three years: the Boyle County boys and girls in 2005, the Danville boys and Boyle girls in ’06 and the Danville boys and girls this fall.

Danville’s success in 2004 was unexpected, but now getting this far has become an annual goal for the Danville and Boyle boys and girls, and those teams now aim to get past this ceiling that none of them have been able to break through yet.

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Southwestern concedes playoff spot

The math works out the same way in Somerset as it does here (see previous post), and Southwestern coach Dale Anderson acknowledges in this story from The Commonwealth-Journal that the Warriors are out playoff contention in Class 5-A, District 7.

That leaves Mercer County and South Laurel to fight over the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds in the playoffs. Mercer’s chances of rising to No. 3 aren’t real good, and they’ll be virtually nil if the Titans don’t beat Rockcastle County in their season finale Friday.

* * *

With the Danville soccer teams still alive in the state tournament, here are some links to relevant stories from elsewhere:

* * *

Finally, belated kudos to the volleyball teams from Boyle County and Mercer County. They won’t get trophies for it, but it bears noting that they gave this area two teams in the regional semifinals earlier for the second time in three years. (Boyle and Casey County made the semis in 2005.)

Volleyball is still relatively new in this area, and no local teams survived the first round of the regionals in 2004 and 2006. The 2003 Harrodsburg team is the only other local team to do so since regionals were reduced to eight-team tournaments in that season.

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The Titans and the tiebreaker

Marty Jaggers couldn’t have known it at the time, but adding an out-of-state team to Mercer County’s schedule at the last minute has apparently made the difference in the Titans making the playoffs.

After losing to South Laurel on Friday, Mercer is locked in a three-way tie with South Laurel and Southwestern for the last two playoff spots in Class 5-A, District 7. Few could have pictured the Titans in such a fix before the season, but how they’ll get out of it might be even more improbable.

Three-way ties in which no one team has beaten the other two are decided by a system in which each team receives one point for each win by a team it has beaten (except for games between the tied teams). That includes out-of-state teams, so Mercer stands to gain from a win over Greeneville (Tenn.) that was very nearly an open date.

The Titans were staring at a hole in their schedule after a proposed game with Somerset fell through this spring, but they picked up a game with Greeneville a short time before the season started. Good thing, too, because Greeneville is having a pretty good season at 6-2 despite its 14-9 loss to Mercer on Aug. 31.

Greeneville’s six wins are more than any other team Mercer can use in its tiebreaker formula, and they mean that the Titans are assured a spot in the playoffs.

Here’s how the tiebreaker breaks down for each of the teams that finished 1-3 in this district. Keep in mind that the point totals will change over the last two weeks of the season; these are only the current totals. I’ve listed each team that can count in the formula with their current win totals, and the teams’ future opponents and their current win totals are in parentheses:

  • South Laurel, 11 points: Valley 6, North Laurel 0, Knox Central 5. (Future opponents: Middlesboro 6, East Jessamine 5.)
  • Mercer County, 10 points: Russell County 2, Greeneville (Tenn.) 6, Boyle County 2. (Future opponents: Rockcastle County 4, open in week 11.)
  • Southwestern, 3 points: Paul Dunbar 3. (Future opponents: Boyle County 2, George Rogers Clark 1.)

The future math gets a little fuzzy, but it doesn’t look good for Southwestern. If the Warriors win their last two games, it looks like the best they can do is nine points, and that’s if Dunbar somehow beats Trinity this week. (It also works against them that Dunbar and Boyle play each other in week 11, because that could cost them a point.)

Nine points leaves Southwestern below the other teams’ current standing, so it’s safe to say that Mercer and South Laurel will make the playoffs and Southwestern will not. It’s also likely that Mercer will have to settle for the No. 4 seed based on the teams’ potential points and the fact that the Titans have an open date in two weeks.

If Mercer is seeded fourth, it will play its first-round game at Lincoln County. South Laurel would play at Pulaski County in the district’s other first-round game.

We’ll keep you updated on the tiebreaker standings as the season progresses. Meanwhile, here are the playoff pairings for the Nov. 9 first-round games in all of the districts with area teams:

  • Class 2-A, District 4: No. 4 Fort Knox at No. 1 Danville; No. 3 Washington County at No. 2 Bardstown.
  • Class 3-A, District 5: No. 4 Taylor County at No. 1 Somerset; No. 3 Garrard County at No. 2 Wayne County.
  • Class 4-A, District 6: No. 4 West Jessamine at No. 1 Lexington Catholic; No. 3 East Jessamine at No. 2 Boyle County.
  • Class 5-A, District 7: No. 4 Mercer County or South Laurel at No. 1 Lincoln County; No. 3 Mercer County or South Laurel at No. 2 Pulaski County.
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The end is near

For all practical purposes, high school football’s regular season ends tonight.

Sure, there will be two weeks’ worth of games remaining after tonight. But for the six area teams and almost every other team across Kentucky, they won’t mean a blasted thing.

Tonight marks the end of district play for Boyle County, Casey County, Danville, Garrard County, Lincoln County and Mercer County and for all the teams in their districts. Seeds will be settled and playoff pairings will be set in stone for the first two rounds. It’s the result of a scheduling grid that mandates when district games will be played in 2007 and 2008, and it might have created a bigger problem than the one it’s supposed to solve.

For while tonight’s games are packed with postseason significance, the remaining games are merely filler.

There are some good non-district matchups on the horizon (Frankfort at Danville, Hopkinsville at Lincoln County, Rockcastle County at Mercer County), some matchups that look to be a little more one-sided and four open dates for the six area teams.

The move to wrap up district play earlier than in the past makes some sense in the context of the intra-district playoffs that were introduced last year. Teams play district opponents in the first two postseason rounds, and the district scheduling grid eliminates the possibility of a rematch from the final week of the regular season.

No district games can be played in week 11, and week 10 can only be used if a district game has to be moved from one of the five “priority weeks” (3, 4, 5, 7 and 9) designated for them.

By itself, that’s a good idea. But the intra-district playoffs seem to be an unpopular idea, and that’s where the solution to this problem lies. Restore the regional format that worked so well for so long, and it won’t matter when district game are played in the regular season.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how coaches approach the meaningless games that lie ahead. Will they become glorified exhibition games as in the NFL, with the starters playing only long enough to stay sharp for the playoffs? Will teams stick to the first few pages of the playbook, skipping the complex stuff so scouts won’t get a good look at it? What will happen when an injury knocks a key player out of the postseason?

And perhaps just as importantly, will it be worth the price of a ticket on a cold Friday night to get the answers to those questions?

* * *

I’ll admit that last week’s games weren’t the most difficult to pick, but I’m still basking in the glow of my first (and probably only) perfect week of the season, at least until this week’s picks:

  • Somerset over Casey County.
  • Danville over Washington County.
  • Boyle County over East Jessamine.
  • Garrard County over Wayne County.
  • Lincoln County over Pulaski County.
  • Mercer County over South Laurel.

Last week: 4-0. For the season: 32-9 (.780).

* * *

Now that Danville’s boys and girls soccer teams have won their respective 15th Region tournaments, here’s what’s next for them under the even-odd sectional schedule:

  • Boys: At home Monday for a sub-sectional game vs. the winner of Saturday’s 16th Region final (South Laurel at Corbin). The winner of that game plays in the sectional round Wednesday at the winner of the Lexington Catholic-Henry Clay game.
  • Girls: At South Laurel on Tuesday for a sub-sectional game. The winner of that game hosts the sectional round Thursday against the Woodford County-West Jessamine winner.

Teams that have reached this level are officially in the state tournament, even though they need two more wins to reach the final four at Georgetown. The second of those games has been the glass ceiling that teams from Danville and Boyle County have been trying to break through for the past several years.

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Clay's day

Belated congratulations to Danville grad and former Lincoln County coach Clay Clevenger on his first win as a head coach. Clevenger’s Henderson County team got off an 0-6 schneid with a 35-24 win over Graves County last week.

The win was a long time coming, and it’s going to take a little longer to turn Henderson’s fortunes around. But for now, it kept the Colonels’ playoff hopes alive in their six-team Class 6-A district. And here’s hoping it’s the first of many victories for Clevenger.

From The Gleaner of Henderson, here’s the story from the win over Graves and a preview of tonight’s game with 2-4 Apollo.

* * *

Congratulations are also in order for Tim Davis, the Campbellsville boys basketball coach who was named to coach the Kentucky All-Stars in 2008.

I got to know Davis when the Advocate was covering Marion County for a time and he was coaching there. He won a state title there in 1993 with Anthony Epps and Elton Scott.

* * *

From the weekly KHSAA football statistics roundup … nothing. In the list of statewide individual and team leaders, which has 25 entries in each category, not one local school or player can be found. It’s the first time I can ever remember seeing (or not seeing) that this far into the season.

* * *

Thursday night’s district soccer championships cleared up the picture for next week’s 15th Region tournaments just a bit. Southwestern will host the girls tournament, and Danville will be the boys host.

Since three schools are represented in both tournaments, there’s a good chance their schedules will alternate to avoid conflicts. Nothing is set yet, so this is only an educated guess, but look for the girls to play on Monday and Wednesday and the boys to play Tuesday and Thursday.

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Clay’s day

Belated congratulations to Danville grad and former Lincoln County coach Clay Clevenger on his first win as a head coach. Clevenger’s Henderson County team got off an 0-6 schneid with a 35-24 win over Graves County last week.

The win was a long time coming, and it’s going to take a little longer to turn Henderson’s fortunes around. But for now, it kept the Colonels’ playoff hopes alive in their six-team Class 6-A district. And here’s hoping it’s the first of many victories for Clevenger.

From The Gleaner of Henderson, here’s the story from the win over Graves and a preview of tonight’s game with 2-4 Apollo.

* * *

Congratulations are also in order for Tim Davis, the Campbellsville boys basketball coach who was named to coach the Kentucky All-Stars in 2008.

I got to know Davis when the Advocate was covering Marion County for a time and he was coaching there. He won a state title there in 1993 with Anthony Epps and Elton Scott.

* * *

From the weekly KHSAA football statistics roundup … nothing. In the list of statewide individual and team leaders, which has 25 entries in each category, not one local school or player can be found. It’s the first time I can ever remember seeing (or not seeing) that this far into the season.

* * *

Thursday night’s district soccer championships cleared up the picture for next week’s 15th Region tournaments just a bit. Southwestern will host the girls tournament, and Danville will be the boys host.

Since three schools are represented in both tournaments, there’s a good chance their schedules will alternate to avoid conflicts. Nothing is set yet, so this is only an educated guess, but look for the girls to play on Monday and Wednesday and the boys to play Tuesday and Thursday.

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