Archive for November, 2008

A little Catholic history

I wouldn’t advocate driving U.S. 27 with your eyes closed, but longtime followers of Lexington Catholic football surely know the roads that lead to Boyle County — and to other area schools — very, very well.

Lexington Catholic has been a regular visitor to this area over the years, playing 40 games against local teams in its 19 seasons of football, with one more to be added to the list in tonight’s Class 4A, Region 3 final at Rebel Stadium.

There have been too many classic games to mention — the Knights have played 10 postseason games against the locals — and it’s widely expected that tonight’s game will be a memorable battle between two teams with state title aspirations.

Lexington Catholic has played Boyle more often than any other of our teams, with tonight’s game being the 12th meeting since 1997. But the Knights have played every other local school, beginning with Casey County in 1991, Lexington Catholic’s first varsity season, and including eight games against now-defunct Harrodsburg.

When Lexington Catholic began district play in 1993, it was grouped in a Class A district with Garrard County and Harrodsburg and lost every game to those two schools through 1996, after which the Knights jumped to 2A and began playing Boyle, Danville and Mercer County (and continued playing Garrard) on a regular basis. Local schools were 14-1 against the Knights until they started winning more frequently in 1997.

The Knights played four different local schools in each three straight years, 1998-2000. In ’98 and ’99, six of their 13 games were against local schools, including two playoff games.

The district games ended with a 2001 realignment, and there was only one meeting with Danville and one with Boyle from 2001-06. Boyle and Lexington Catholic then became district rivals again in 2007.

Here’s a breakdown of each area school’s record against Lexington Catholic:

  • Boyle County: 6-5 overall, 1-1 playoffs
  • Casey County: 1-1
  • Danville: 2-3 overall, 1-0 playoffs
  • Garrard County: 4-5 overall, 0-1 playoffs
  • Harrodsburg: 7-1 overall, 2-0 playoffs
  • Lincoln County: 0-1
  • Mercer County: 0-4
  • All area schools: 20-20 overall, 5-3 playoffs

And in case you’re trying to recall some of those games, here’s the full list:

  • 1991: Casey County 8, Lexington Catholic 0
  • 1992: Lexington Catholic 27, Casey County 0
  • 1993: Garrard County 54, Lexington Catholic 13
  • 1993: Harrodsburg 30, Lexington Catholic 10
  • 1994: Garrard County 49, Lexington Catholic 19
  • 1994: Harrodsburg 28, Lexington Catholic 14
  • 1994: Harrodsburg 41, Lexington Catholic 27 (second-round playoff)
  • 1995: Harrodsburg 33, Lexington Catholic 30
  • 1995: Garrard County 30, Lexington Catholic 13
  • 1995: Harrodsburg 38, Lexington Catholic 35 (second-round playoff)
  • 1996: Harrodsburg 32, Lexington Catholic 10
  • 1996: Garrard County 33, Lexington Catholic 14
  • 1996: Harrodsburg 36, Lexington Catholic 7
  • 1997: Boyle County 28, Lexington Catholic 27, OT
  • 1997: Danville 38, Lexington Catholic 26
  • 1997: Lexington Catholic 41, Mercer County 12
  • 1997: Lexington Catholic 34, Garrard County 20
  • 1997: Lexington Catholic 30, Danville 29 (second-round playoff)
  • 1998: Lexington Catholic 21, Danville 0
  • 1998: Lexington Catholic 44, Boyle County 17
  • 1998: Lexington Catholic 28, Mercer County 14
  • 1998: Lexington Catholic 30, Garrard County 0
  • 1998: Lexington Catholic 28, Boyle County 13 (second-round playoff)
  • 1998: Danville 27, Lexington Catholic 25 (regional final)
  • 1999: Lexington Catholic 62, Harrodsburg 13
  • 1999: Lexington Catholic 43, Garrard County 14
  • 1999: Boyle County 29, Lexington Catholic 21
  • 1999: Lexington Catholic 60, Mercer County 7
  • 1999: Lexington Catholic 22, Garrard County 7 (second-round playoff)
  • 1999: Boyle County 21, Lexington Catholic 17 (regional final)
  • 2000: Lexington Catholic 42, Lincoln County 6
  • 2000: Boyle County 16, Lexington Catholic 14
  • 2000: Lexington Catholic 42, Garrard County 7
  • 2000: Lexington Catholic 42, Mercer County 0
  • 2000: Boyle County 18, Lexington Catholic 16 (regional final)
  • 2002: Lexington Catholic 32, Danville 26
  • 2004: Lexington Catholic 43, Boyle County 42
  • 2007: Lexington Catholic 18, Boyle County 14
  • 2007: Lexington Catholic 41, Boyle County 12 (second-round playoff)
  • 2008: Boyle County 14, Lexington Catholic 11

All of Lexington Catholic’s scores through 2006 are listed on this page from the school’s Web site, and there’s a ton of other current and historical information on the Knights on this page.

Meanwhile, here are links to the previews of tonight’s game from the Advocate and the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Now to the business of picking this game, which has never been easy. By the time Boyle started playing Lexington Catholic in ’97, the Knights were no longer a pushover. Their first meeting was decided in overtime, seven of their 11 meetings have been decided by eight points or less, six have been decided by four points or less and three have been decided by one or two points.

Lexington Catholic is, as I thought it would be, a better team than it was when Boyle visited in September. The Knights seem to be getting their offensive house in order, and coach Bill Letton said better line play has a lot to do with that.

Throw out a shutout loss at Highlands and the Knights are averaging 55.5 points since their loss to the Rebels. The other side of the coin is that most of those games were against inferior opponents.

Boyle still hangs its hat on defense, having allowed only 80 points in 12 games. Only two teams in the state have allowed fewer points: Bell County (20) and St. Xavier (51).

That defense was good enough to stop Lexington Catholic in September, and it had better be tonight. The Rebels won’t win a shootout; the Knights probably won’t win a defensive struggle. But the Knights will still have a chance in a low-scoring game.

The one factor the tips the scales toward my pick is Larry French. More specifically, it’s the fact that I have gotten burned time after time for underestimating him last year at Lincoln and this year at Boyle. His Rebels could very easily take the gaspipe tonight, and they could just as easily win three more games and a state title. I’m not ready to pick three wins yet, but I’ll pick one:

  • Boyle County 17, Lexington Catholic 14

Last week: 1-2; playoffs 5-2 (.714); season 50-11 (.820).

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Snapp still running

The cross country season as we know it ended a week and a half ago, but Kaitlin Snapp hasn’t stopped. Come to think of it, she never does.

The Danville freshman, who won her third consecutive Class A girls championship at the state meet earlier this month, is headed to North Carolina this weekend to compete in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships for the first time.

The Foot Locker series effectively crowns regional and national high school champions in a dozen different races. Snapp will run in the South Regional in Charlotte, N.C., one of four regionals to be held over the next two weeks, where she’ll compete against runners from 14 states and two U.S. territories. The top runners qualify for the national meet Dec. 13 in San Diego.

It’s the first time in this race for Snapp, who is one of 63 Kentuckians competing in Charlotte. And even as she was trying to add to her string of state titles, she said she was focusing on this race as well. “I’m real excited for that,” she said earlier this month. “I’ve been training to go there.”

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Here's your holiday reading schedule

Set aside some time for reading this week, as the Advocate’s sports pages will be packed with our usual menu of Thanksgiving-week projects:

  • Tuesday: The Advocate’s Area Lineman of the Year will be announced and profiled, and we’ll preview the eight local boys basketball teams.
  • Wednesday: Larry Vaught previews Boyle County’s playoff clash with Lexington Catholic, and the girls basketball preview will also be published.
  • Thursday: As always, the Advocate’s All-Area football team appears in the holiday edition, and so will the feature on the Area Coach of the Year. There will also be schedules for all the local boys and girls basketball teams.
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Here’s your holiday reading schedule

Set aside some time for reading this week, as the Advocate’s sports pages will be packed with our usual menu of Thanksgiving-week projects:

  • Tuesday: The Advocate’s Area Lineman of the Year will be announced and profiled, and we’ll preview the eight local boys basketball teams.
  • Wednesday: Larry Vaught previews Boyle County’s playoff clash with Lexington Catholic, and the girls basketball preview will also be published.
  • Thursday: As always, the Advocate’s All-Area football team appears in the holiday edition, and so will the feature on the Area Coach of the Year. There will also be schedules for all the local boys and girls basketball teams.
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An unwelcome trend

For the second straight season, there’s just one Advocate-area football team still alive after two weeks of the postseason. That came as something of a shock a year ago when I discovered that it hadn’t happened since 1998 (and posted about just how unusual it was).

Lincoln County was the only local team in play then, and this year it’s Boyle County, which hosts Lexington Catholic in a Class 4A quarterfinal on Friday. Considering the way the postseason was diluted by the expansion to six classes last year, it’s strange that only one local team should be among the 48 still playing this week — and even stranger to find that’s the case for the second year in row.

As for how far Boyle could go, it’s anybody’s guess. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Rebels were able to win their sixth championship, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they lost this week or next. There aren’t that many top-flight teams in 4A, but Boyle will almost certainly have to beat two of them to get to Louisville.

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Time to sweat

A team that has earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs shouldn’t have to sweat out its second-round game, but Danville will have to do exactly that tonight in its Class AA game against Green County.

No longer a tomato can, Green brings a solid team and a resume of recent playoff successes into Admiral Stadium. The Dragons have scored 40 or more points in nine of their 11 games behind a powerful offensive line, dropping 78 on Taylor County — in a game that was apparently something of a grudge match — and breaking 50 twice against Washington County.

So while a number of teams should romp into next week’s regional finals — including the one across town — this game might be no better than a 50-50 proposition for a Danville team whose hallmark has been inconsistency throughout the season.

Another No. 1 seed, Mercer County, is in much the same position tonight against Letcher County Central. I’ll go with both Mercer and Danville to win tonight, but both teams have reached the point where they could be eliminated at any time, while Boyle County is still a week away from being there.

* * *

Here are links to the Advocate’s previews of Franklin County-Boyle, Green-Danville and Letcher-Mercer.

Meanwhile, the Greensburg Record-Herald has a brief preview of the Green-Danville game below its coverage of the Dragons’ win last week.

* * *

The playoffs really are a second season when it comes to my picks because I’m undefeated so far. Call me a house man if you must, but here are this week’s picks:

  • Boyle County over Franklin County
  • Danville over Green County
  • Mercer County over Letcher County Central

Last week: 3-0; season 49-9 (.844).

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Triple play

If she doesn’t fall into a hole, and if somebody doesn’t come flying out of nowhere to tackle her, Kaitlin Snapp is a pretty good bet to win her third consecutive state cross country championship later today.

The Danville freshman continues to outrun her Class A girls competition, and she’s a solid favorite to do so again in the state meet at the Kentucky Horse Park. She has been ranked No. 1 in the class all season, and the pre-meet performance list puts regional time 23 seconds ahead her next-best competitor, which happens to be the girl she beat in the regional last weekend.

What’s more, while Snapp can run faster, harder, longer and better than you any day of the week, her personality and humility make her an easy champ to cheer for. It’s hard to imagine anyone rooting against her — except maybe the girls who would like to catch her. Barring a disastrous slip on what figures to be a sloppy track, it’s doubtful any of them will today.

Also today, look for Lincoln County runners Alex Bunch and Emily Frith to continue their rise through the ranks of Class AAA girls. Bunch was 23rd and Frith was 67th in their state meet race last year, and Bunch is coming to Lexington off a regional win last week.

The best team finishes for local schools figure to be in the Class A boys race, where Burgin aspires to close its amazing season with a top-five finish and Danville is looking to stay in the top 10.

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At last, the playoffs

Like a kid who found out he couldn’t open his Christmas presents until Dec. 29, we’ve waited much too long for football’s playoffs to roll around. And sadly, the package we’re unwrapping this week looks too much like another pair of socks.

There’s heightened anticipation with the postseason starting at its latest date ever this year, but this is all we get? A collection of games — both locally and statewide — that will have more mismatches than that drawer my new socks will go into?

The playoffs clearly got watered down with last year’s expansion to six classes, which allowed an additional 64 teams to get into the fray. That means roughly 85 percent of the state’s football schools make the postseason, and that means some bad football this week — and probably next.

I don’t know if the answer is to limit the field to two teams per district, because that would leave out some good teams. Perhaps we could try it at three per district, rewarding district champions with a first-round bye. The best answer would be a return to four classes, but that ship clearly has sailed, never to return.

So we have what we have, with at least three of tonight’s four area games having the potential for the 45-point running clock rule. At least it’ll be a short night.

* * *

Only one available link for the first round, a Glasgow-Danville preview from the Glasgow Daily Times.

* * *

At least this week’s picks didn’t take long, with only the Mercer County game giving me even a moment’s pause:

  • Breathitt County over Garrard County
  • Boyle County over Pendleton County
  • Danville over Glasgow
  • Mercer County over Perry County Central

Last week: 4-0; regular season 45-9 (.833).

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Playoff pairings in place

The playoff brackets are set, and we now know all of the pairings for the regions that include the four local teams that qualified for the postseason: Boyle County, Danville, Garrard County and Mercer County.

Here are the first-round matchups in those regions, listed in bracket order:

Class 2A, 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)

Class 3A, Region 3

  • Powell County (4) at Taylor County (1)
  • Somerset (3) at Estill County (2)
  • Harlan County (3) at Wayne County (2)
  • Garrard County (4) at Breathitt County (1)

Class 4A, Region 3

  • West Jessamine (4) at Harrison County (1)
  • Bourbon County (3) at Lexington Catholic (2)
  • East Jessamine (3) at Franklin County (2)
  • Pendleton County (4) at Boyle County (1)

Class 5A, Region 4

  • Perry County Central (4) at Mercer County (1)
  • Southwestern (3) at Letcher County Central (2)
  • Clay County (3) at Pulaski County (2)
  • South Laurel (4) at Whitley County (1)

They aren’t posted as of this writing, but you should be able to find the statewide brackets sometime over the weekend on Playoff brackets have been now been posted on this KHSAA page, and here are some interesting nuggets relating to the brackets of local interest:

  • Both Boyle and Danville will face winless teams in the first round. Boyle, which just completed its first undefeated regular season since 2003, plays a Pendleton team that wrapped up its schedule with a 31-14 loss to Louisville Christian and lost 49-28 at Garrard a week earlier. Danville, which had an open date in week 11, plays a Glasgow team that finished its schedule with a 40-8 loss to Campbellsville, a team that Danville defeated 35-20. Both Glasgow and Pendleton have given up 40 or more points in five of their 10 games.
  • Mercer’s opponent, Perry, saw a three-game winning streak snapped with a loss to Prestonsburg in its season finale. The Commodores gave up 48 points both in a loss to Whitley County and a win over Harlan but have outscored their opponents by two points, 298-296.
  • Garrard faces a Breathitt squad that has won eight straight games after losses to Johnson Central and Prestonsburg at the start of the season.
  • In Garrard’s 3A district, a three-way tie for first place between Taylor, Wayne and Somerset left the three teams in that order only after Taylor beat Caverna on Friday and the points-for-wins formula that starts with four defeated opponents was carried out to six teams before the tie between Taylor and Wayne was broken.
  • In Boyle’s 4A bracket, West Jessamine and Harrison play a rematch of a game played just last week, when West Jessamine won 26-23 in Nicholasville.

Finally, here’s the schedule of playoff dates, which run later on the calendar than ever before:

  • First round, Nov. 14
  • Second round, Nov. 21
  • Regional finals, Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving weekend)
  • Semifinals, Dec. 5
  • Finals, Dec. 12-13 at Louisville
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An absence of intrigue

There’s very little mystery remaining in high school football’s regular season. We’re two weeks removed from the district races and a week away from the postseason, and tonight’s local schedule consists of four games that have no bearing on either and are frankly pretty easy to predict.

The only question remaining that affects the postseason future of any area team will be answered tonight in eastern Kentucky, where a three-way tie will be broken in Class 5A, District 8. Clay County, Letcher County Central and Perry County Central are tied for second place behind district champion Whitley County, and one of them will be Mercer County’s opponent in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

It won’t be Letcher, which has a solid lead in the points race that will break the tie, and Mercer gets the team that finishes last in that battle. Here’s how to determine which of the other two teams will be coming to Mercer:

  • If Perry wins at Prestonsburg tonight, it will finish second or third and Clay will finish fourth and be matched with Mercer.
  • If Perry loses, Clay will take third whether it wins or loses tonight at Harlan, and Perry will play at Mercer.

If you’re interested in such things, here’s a link to a KHSAA page that looks at all of the state’s three-way ties — there are surprisingly few this season — and how they break down going into this week’s games. The KHSAA’s standings page lists the playoff seeds for those races already decided.

* * *

Here are the links to out-of-town preview stories on tonight’s area games:

Jeff Bastin of the Casey County News looks at Casey County’s final game tonight at Mercer County.

The State Journal of Frankfort previews the Garrard County-Frankfort game as part of its preview package, and Linda Younkin looks at the Panthers’ rebuilt offensive line.

Other preview packages include glances at the Paul Dunbar-Boyle County game from the Lexington Herald-Leader and at the Lincoln County-Hopkinsville game from the Kentucky New Era of Hopkinsville.

* * *

As I said, tonight’s picks look pretty easy on paper, which means I’ll probably take a beating:

  • Boyle County over Paul Dunbar
  • Frankfort over Garrard County
  • Hopkinsville over Lincoln County
  • Mercer County over Casey County

Last week: 3-2; season 41-9 (.820.)

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