Archive for October, 2008

Balanced, but not close

The Danville-Frankfort series has become a good one in recent years, so it surprised me when I researched the scores and found that very few of their games have actually been close.

In fact, only two of the six games the Admirals and Panthers have played since beginning annual meetings in 2003 have been what you’d call close games. The first was the 2004 game at Frankfort, a narrow Danville win that was close enough to give an improved Frankfort program the idea that it could play with Danville. Since that game, the two teams have split the next four meetings, the last of which was Frankfort’s 20-19 win last year at Admiral Stadium.

Four of the six games were decided by 20 points or more, but that one game in 2004 was all it took to make this a competitive series. And the attraction is still high for tonight’s game in Frankfort. Will it be close this time? My pick of Danville is based on the Ads’ edge in experience over Frankfort, which lost a number of key players from last year’s team that made the Class A semifinals.

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Winless Pendleton County makes the first of two trips to this area for its game tonight at Garrard County. The Wildcats will be at Boyle County two weeks from tonight for a first-round game in the Class 4A playoffs.

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Here are this week’s out-of-town football previews:

The State-Journal of Frankfort previews the Danville-Frankfort clash.

Brandon Roberts of the Georgetown News-Graphic takes a look at the Lincoln County-Scott County game.

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I’m coming off a 6-0 week in the picks department, and you’ll have to take my word for that because I incorrectly typed “East Jessamine over Boyle County” last Friday, which was not at all my pick. Trust me, I’m an honest guy. And I wouldn’t have been nuts enough to pick that upset, so I’m taking credit for Boyle. This week’s picks:

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

Last week: 6-0; season 38-7 (.844).

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Boyle's turn in soccer state tourney

It’s easy to get lost in all the brackets and terminology surrounding the state soccer playoffs and lose sight of the significance of what Boyle County and Danville’s soccer programs have done over the past six seasons.

Beyond the litany of regionals, sub-sectionals and sectionals, here’s the bottom line: The boys and girls teams at the two schools have combined to make their respective state tournaments 10 out of a possible 12 times during that span. And all but one of those teams has won its first-round game.

Yes, a realignment before the 2004 season made that much easier to accomplish. But that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of making it to the state tournament. Whether it’s soccer or basketball or baseball, you beat the teams you have to beat to win your region, and the Boyle and Danville programs are doing that year in and year out.

This year it’s Boyle’s turn again, as that school’s boys and girls won their regions and have already won their sub-sectional games, which are the equivalent of first-round games in the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournaments. The Lady Rebels will play a sectional (or quarterfinal) game tonight at Woodford County, while the Rebels will host their sectional game against West Jessamine on Thursday.

This is the fifth straight year that a girls team has reached the round of eight (Danville in 2004 and ’07; Boyle in ’05, ’06 and ’08), and it’s the fourth straight year for one of the boys teams (Boyle in ’05 and ’08, Danville in ’06 and ’07). Boyle’s boys also made the state tourney in 2003, losing their first-round game.

The Boyle girls are playing Woodford for the first time since 2002, when they were in the same region and Woodford defeated the Lady Rebels 2-0 in the regional finals to advance to the state tourney.

Boyle and West Jessamine’s boys teams play almost every year, and West Jessamine seems to always win. Boyle has beaten the Colts at least once since Jessamine County split into two schools in 1997, but West Jessamine has won all seven meetings since 2001, including a 7-1 shellacking of the Rebels in this year’s season opener.

The winners of the upcoming games advance to the semifinals, which will be played Nov. 5 (girls) and Nov. 6 (boys) in Georgetown. No team from Boyle or Danville has ever made it to that round, but it’s bound to happen soon.

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For those planning to go to tonight’s Boyle girls game, Woodford’s home games are in Community Stadium, located inside Woodford County Park at the intersection of Ky. 2113 and U.S. 62. It’s the same facility used by Woodford’s football team, so directions can be found on this page. Scroll down through the column on the right side of the page to “Driving Directions.”

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Boyle’s turn in soccer state tourney

It’s easy to get lost in all the brackets and terminology surrounding the state soccer playoffs and lose sight of the significance of what Boyle County and Danville’s soccer programs have done over the past six seasons.

Beyond the litany of regionals, sub-sectionals and sectionals, here’s the bottom line: The boys and girls teams at the two schools have combined to make their respective state tournaments 10 out of a possible 12 times during that span. And all but one of those teams has won its first-round game.

Yes, a realignment before the 2004 season made that much easier to accomplish. But that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of making it to the state tournament. Whether it’s soccer or basketball or baseball, you beat the teams you have to beat to win your region, and the Boyle and Danville programs are doing that year in and year out.

This year it’s Boyle’s turn again, as that school’s boys and girls won their regions and have already won their sub-sectional games, which are the equivalent of first-round games in the Sweet Sixteen basketball tournaments. The Lady Rebels will play a sectional (or quarterfinal) game tonight at Woodford County, while the Rebels will host their sectional game against West Jessamine on Thursday.

This is the fifth straight year that a girls team has reached the round of eight (Danville in 2004 and ’07; Boyle in ’05, ’06 and ’08), and it’s the fourth straight year for one of the boys teams (Boyle in ’05 and ’08, Danville in ’06 and ’07). Boyle’s boys also made the state tourney in 2003, losing their first-round game.

The Boyle girls are playing Woodford for the first time since 2002, when they were in the same region and Woodford defeated the Lady Rebels 2-0 in the regional finals to advance to the state tourney.

Boyle and West Jessamine’s boys teams play almost every year, and West Jessamine seems to always win. Boyle has beaten the Colts at least once since Jessamine County split into two schools in 1997, but West Jessamine has won all seven meetings since 2001, including a 7-1 shellacking of the Rebels in this year’s season opener.

The winners of the upcoming games advance to the semifinals, which will be played Nov. 5 (girls) and Nov. 6 (boys) in Georgetown. No team from Boyle or Danville has ever made it to that round, but it’s bound to happen soon.

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For those planning to go to tonight’s Boyle girls game, Woodford’s home games are in Community Stadium, located inside Woodford County Park at the intersection of Ky. 2113 and U.S. 62. It’s the same facility used by Woodford’s football team, so directions can be found on this page. Scroll down through the column on the right side of the page to “Driving Directions.”

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Football playoff pairings (for now)

Most of the playoff pairings in regions where Advocate-area schools play were set with the conclusion of district play Friday. There are still some blanks to fill in (see the comments below each region), but all four local teams that are playoff bound know their seeds, and three of them know their first-round opponents. Here’s how things the Nov. 14 first-round schedule would look in those four regions, with question marks (?) beside those matchups that aren’t yet set:

Class AA, Region 2

Fort Knox (4) at Monroe County (1)

Metcalfe County (3) at Bardstown (2)

Washington County (3) at Green County (2)

Glasgow (4) at Danville (1)

(With no ties in either of these four-team district, this region is set. Danville has home-field advantage throughout the three regional rounds and in a semi-state game.)

Class AAA, Region 3

?-Powell County (4) at Wayne County (1)

?-Somerset (3) at Estill County (2)

?-Harlan County (3) at Taylor County (2)

Garrard County (4) at Breathitt County (1)

(This region is NOT set because of a three-way tie for first place in District 5 between Wayne, Taylor and Somerset. The tiebreaker would currently seed the teams in that order, but that could change over the last two weeks of the season. Garrard is locked into the No. 4 spot and cannot play any postseason games at home.)

Class 4A, Region 3

Pendleton County (4) at Boyle County (1)

East Jessamine (3) at Franklin County (2)

Bourbon County (3) at Lexington Catholic (2)

West Jessamine (4) at Harrison County (1)

(With no ties in either of these four-team district, this region is set. Boyle has home-field advantage throughout the three regional rounds.)

Class 5A, Region 4

South Laurel (4) at Whitley County (1)

?-Clay County (3) at Pulaski County (2)

?-Southwestern (3) at Letcher County Central (2)

?-Perry County Central (4) at Mercer County (1)

(This region is NOT set because of a three-way tie for second place in District 8 between Letcher, Clay and Perry. Again, the tiebreaker would currently seed the teams in that order. Mercer, the District 7 champion, will play the team that comes out third in that tiebreaker. Whitley is locked into the No. 1 seed from District 8. Mercer has home-field advantage for the first two rounds but would play fellow No. 1 seed Whitley on the road in the regional final; it also has the home-field advantage for the semi-state round.)

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Finals bound for Bowling Green

The KHSAA has awarded the state football finals for 2009 and 2010 to Bowling Green and Western Kentucky University. It’s a decision that was expected for the past several weeks — since Bowling Green was the only city to bid for the finals — and finalized today at the KHSAA’s Board of Control meeting.

Here’s the KHSAA press release, as well as a story from The Courier-Journal that lists the game dates. The games will continue to be played in a two-day format with three games each day, and they’ll move back next year to the first weekend in December. This year’s finals are Dec. 12-13 in Louisville.

It will be the first time since 1978, when three title games were played in Richmond and one was in Louisville, that the state finals will be played somewhere other than Louisville. They visited Bowling Green once before, in 1975, when WKU hosted three of the four title games and the newly created Class 4A final was played in Louisville.

L.T. Smith Stadium opened in 1968 and has gotten a facelift and expansion over the last two years, and here’s what it looks like this season, with the original grandstand on the right of the photo and the new grandstand on the left. For more information on the stadium and the renovation, visit this page on WKU’s athletic Web site.

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Playoff picture comes into focus

It’s the final week of district play for local football teams, and for the most part the results of tonight’s games probably won’t have much impact on the final standings.

Barring major upsets, we already know who’s making the playoffs and who isn’t, and we have a pretty good idea where most of the six area teams will finish.

One exception is Garrard County, which plays an up-for-grabs game at Wayne County that will decide its position in Class 3A, District 5. If the Golden Lions win, they’ll tie Wayne for third place and take that spot in the head-to-head tiebreaker, which would probably mean a first-round playoff game at Estill County or Harlan County. If they lose, Wayne will tie Somerset and Taylor County for first place, and Garrard would get fourth place and probably a first-round game at Breathitt County. (Remember, teams will no longer play district opponents in the first two postseason rounds, thank heavens.)

Here are where the other area teams figure to stand after tonight:

  • Boyle County can win 4A-6 outright with a home win over East Jessamine. If that happens, the Rebels would host a first-round game against the loser of tonight’s Pendleton County-Bourbon County game. If not, they would probably still emerge from a three-way tie as the No. 1 seed and with the same matchup.
  • Danville can win 2A-4 outright by winning at Washington County. The Admirals would play a first-round game against the loser of tonight’s Glasgow-Metcalfe County game. They also figure to be in the strongest position in the event of a three-way tie.
  • Mercer County, which is 3-0 in 5A-7, has the No. 1 seed in that district wrapped up because it can’t be caught by South Laurel, the team it plays tonight on the road. Expect the Titans to host Letcher County Central in their first-round game.
  • Casey County (1-3 in 3A-5) and Lincoln County (0-3 in 5A-7) are effectively out of the playoff picture despite the fact that either team could tie for fourth place.

If they win their respective districts, Danville would earn the home-field for all games leading up to the state finals, Boyle could be at home for the first three rounds and Mercer could host up to three games in rounds 1, 2 and 4.

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Here are this week’s out-of-town preview links, which number only two even though all six local teams are playing schools from outside the area:

The Wayne County Outlook calls the Garrard County-Wayne County game a must-win for Wayne.

The Casey County News previews the Casey County-Somerset game at the top of its “Friday Morning Quarterback” feature.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t occasionally remind you that the best previews are the Advocate’s own, which can be found on the prep football page at amnews.com, along with everything else we’ve written during the current pigskin season.

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Finally, tonight’s picks. Lincoln County fooled me for my only miss last week, as it has done so often over the past two years, but there are two or three games this week that could go either way:

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

Last week: 3-1; season 32-7 (.820).

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The wrong rematches

Every October seems to bring the possibility of the Boyle County and Danville boys and girls soccer teams facing each other in both the 29th District and 15th Region tournament finals, but it almost never happens.

It won’t happen this year, either. Even though both the boys and girls teams from the two rival schools went head to head in last week’s district finals — and all advanced to the regionals as a result — there won’t be any rematches when the 15th Region titles are decided tonight and Thursday.

Instead, the rematches are between teams from Boyle and Southwestern, which meet in the boys final tonight at Southwestern and in the girls final Thursday night at Boyle.

Since the current 15th Region was configured in 2004 to include teams from Boyle, Garrard, Marion, Mercer and Taylor counties in the 29th District and from Adair, Lincoln, Pulaski and Russell counties in the 30th District, the teams from Danville and Boyle have been the best of the bunch more often than not. Yet they have met only once in the boys final and once in the girls final during that time.

Counting this year, both Boyle and Danville have reached the girls regional for four straight years, yet they have faced off in the finals only once — even though it’s only a four-team tournament. That was in 2006, when Boyle won.

Boyle and Danville’s boys teams have made the boys regional in the same season only twice in five years, and their one meeting in the boys final was in 2005, which Boyle won.

So tonight’s boys final is a rematch of a Sept. 25 game at Boyle that Southwestern won 2-0. Boyle coach Cris McMann said the Warriors were called for 33 fouls in that game. Interestingly, the Southwestern boys are the only boys or girls team other than a Boyle or Danville team that has won a regional title since 2004.

The girls final is a rematch of a Sept. 9 game at Boyle, which Boyle won 4-2 as Lauren Paynter became the Lady Rebels’ all-time leading scorer.

The winner of tonight’s boys game will play a sub-sectional game Tuesday at Corbin or Perry County Central. The girls winner will host its sub-sectional game Monday against Middlesboro or South Laurel.

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Practice palace

Just when I thought I’d seen every conceivable example of how important high school sports have become in some communities, I stumbled upon a story about the new indoor football practice facility that opened this season at Massillon Washington High School in Ohio.

One of the nation’s best-known football schools has opened an 80,000-square foot building, complete with a regulation 120-yard football field, at a cost of $3 million — all of it privately funded. And perhaps it should come as little surprise that it happened in Massillon, where the Tigers rank third on the national all-time wins list behind only Valdosta (Ga.) and Louisville’s Male.

Here’s a story about the facility from Tim Warsinskey of The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, as well as an earlier story from Todd Porter of The Repository of Canton that includes a 7-minute video.

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Notes from elsewhere

Some news items of note from out of town that will be of interest to local football and basketball fans:

  • Leonard Macon, the former Danville football and basketball player now playing at Taylor County, has become more running back than wide receiver since my Sept. 23 story on him ran in the Advocate.
  • An injury to Chris Thomas, the Cardinals’ star running back, prompted Taylor coach Rodney Turpin to put Macon in the backfield for their last game Oct. 9 game against Wayne County. Macon carried the ball 21 times for 277 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 423 yards and three TDs on the ground this season. By comparison, he has caught 24 passes for 409 yards and six TDs.

    Thomas, who still leads Taylor in rushing with 888 yards and 11 touchdowns, suffered a torn ligament in his ankle on Oct. 3. He told the Central Kentucky News-Journal that doctors in Louisville told him he might be able to play after three or four weeks of rest. Meanwhile, Macon will probably continue to get the bulk of the carries for the Cardinals.

  • Across town, Herb Wiseman has resigned as the coach at Campbellsville, effective immediately. Wiseman wrote Monday on Bluegrasspreps.com thought it best for him to resign before the season ended.
  • The Eagles are 2-6, including an Oct. 3 loss to Danville. They could still finish in a three-way tie for first in their Class A district, but they’ll likely finish second.

  • From McCreary Central comes news that Aaron Watts, the football team’s leading passer and rusher and in my opinion the top basketball player in the 12th Region, injured his right arm last week while playing basketball.
  • A dunk attempt apparently ended with Watts flying into a glass door and suffering cuts to his right arm deep enough to cause muscle damage. He is expected to fully recover in a few weeks, but he’s off the football field for the time being.

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0 yes, 0 no

There are four weeks left in football’s regular season, but this week might well mark a turning point for the only area team that can still win every game — and the only area team that can still lose every game.

Tonight’s games for Boyle County and Lincoln County will go a long way toward determining whether they finish 10-0 and 0-10, respectively. Boyle (6-0) hosts Mercer County (3-3), while Lincoln (0-6) plays at Garrard County (3-3). And if the various power ratings are to be believed, these will be the closest remaining games for both the Rebels and Patriots.

Boyle’s remaining games after tonight are East Jessamine (home), Southwestern (away) and Paul Dunbar (home). None of those teams have winning records, and the Rebels would be a solid favorite against all of them.

On the other side of the coin is Lincoln, which finishes its season with four straight road games, its last three at Pulaski County, Scott County and Hopkinsville. Hopkinsville is the only one of those teams with a losing record, but the Patriots would be obvious underdogs against that team as well as Pulaski and Scott.

Tonight’s games would appear to be closer, at least on paper. And the fact that both Boyle and Lincoln play next-door neighbors only adds to the intrigue. That’s not to say that Lincoln will lose them all or that Boyle will win them all, but the chance that either will happen will be much clearer after tonight’s results.

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This week’s one and only out-of-town preview link comes from the News-Democrat & Leader of Russellville, where the first half of this story looks at the Russellville-Danville game.

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Now for tonight’s picks:

  • Boyle County over Mercer County
  • Casey County over Bracken County
  • Danville over Russellville
  • Garrard County over Lincoln County

Last week: 4-1; season: 29-6 (.829).

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