Archive for October, 2009

Football playoff pairings (final)

(UPDATED Saturday 10/31: Boy, was I wrong! Mercer County’s first-round playoff game is at Letcher County Central, NOT at Harlan County. I checked my tiebreaker calculations against those released by the KHSAA on Saturday and realized I had credited Harlan for a win that was actually a loss. So it’s Letcher that is the No. 1 seed in District 8, followed by Whitley County and Harlan. Mea culpa.)

The games have been played and the ties have been broken, setting the playoff pairings in stone for the four area teams that qualified for the postseason. The only news broken Friday involved Mercer County, which learned that it will be going to Harlan County Letcher County Central for its first-round game in Class 5A. Harlan Letcher emerged as the No. 1 seed in its district out of a three-way tie.

Here are Friday’s first-round games in the four regions that include local schools, with a couple of notes that tie up last week’s loose ends:

Class 2A, Region 2

Fort Knox (4) at Green County (1)

Glasgow (3) at Danville (2)

Washington County (3) at Monroe County (2)

Metcalfe County (4) at Bardstown (1)

Class 3A, Region 3

Magoffin County (4) at Somerset (1)

Taylor County (3) at Estill County (2)

Powell County (3) at Garrard County (2)

Wayne County (4) at Breathitt County (1

Class 4A, Region 3

East Jessamine (4) at Holmes (1)

Pendleton County (3) at Lexington Catholic (2)

West Jessamine (3) at Harrison County (2)

Bourbon County (4) at Boyle County (1)

(Holmes, the new team on the block in District 5, beat Harrison straight up Friday for the championship and the No. 1 seed. If Holmes wins its first two games, Boyle’s only road game in the playoffs would be there in the regional finals.)

Class 5A, Region 4

Perry County Central (4) at Pulaski County (1)

South Laurel (3) at Whitley County (2)

Harlan County (3) at Southwestern (2)

Mercer County (4) at Letcher County Central (1)

(Mercer makes the road trip to Letcher, which won its three-way tiebreaker by two points thanks largely to its Week 3 win over Hazard Harlan, which has Powell Valley, Va., to thank for its No. 1 seed. Powell Valley’s win Friday gave Harlan a one-point edge over Letcher in the three-way tiebreaker points race that also included Whitley.)

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Friday football digest, week 11

You’ll have to go 200 miles to find the best local football game this week. It’ll be in Hopkinsville, where Boyle County plays Christian County in one of the state’s marquee matchups in this final week of the regular season.

While some schools have reserved this non-district slot for rivalries, others have grabbed who they could get and still others aren’t playing at all, Boyle has landed itself an unlikely matchup with a powerful team from a higher class. Christian is ranked No. 6 in Class 5A, which still might be the state’s deepest class. However, the Rebels, who are ranked No. 1 in 4A, are ahead of the Colonels in all power ratings.

It’ll be a good test for Boyle, although I’m sure Larry French wishes this particular exam wasn’t so far from home. Add up the mileage of the Rebels’ previous five bus trips this season, and it comes to just over half the distance to this game.

It’s also a good place to play. Christian and Hopkinsville share the Stadium of Champions, a beautiful facility located within a large city park. I visited there in 2001, and it remains simply the best high school football facility I have seen in Kentucky, although I certainly haven’t seen all the good ones.

That 2001 trip was to see another Boyle game, an exciting 28-21 win over Hopkinsville in a Class AAA semifinal. The Rebels were very good, but also very lucky to win on that night.

Will they go 2-for-2 at the SOC and 10-0 for this season? The answer lies just 200 miles and three parkways away. Wave if you see me on the road.

* * *

The Danville-Frankfort series has produced some pretty good football over the past four or five years, too, and they’ll play again Friday in one of the state’s great bandboxes, Frankfort’s Sower Field. And Garrard County and Lincoln County fans will probably find plenty of room to stretch out when the Golden Lions and Patriots renew their rivalry at Lincoln’s Death Valley.

It’s scoreboard-watching time for Mercer, which awaits the results of three games involving eastern Kentucky teams that will determine where it goes for the first round of the playoffs. The Titans will travel to Harlan County, Letcher County Central or Whitley County next week. This week, those teams are on the road at Bell County, Moore and Rockcastle County, respectively.

Check back early Saturday morning to see how the three-way tie shakes out and the playoff matchups relevant to all the area teams.

* * *

Here are the links to this week’s available preview stories:

Boyle County at Christian County: Hal Morris’ story at amnews.com; a capsule preview from the Kentucky New Era of Hopkinsville. (There are other related stories at the New Era’s Web site, but most are available only by subscription.)

Danville at Frankfort: My story at amnews.com; a capsule preview from The State Journal of Frankfort.

Garrard County at Lincoln County: Morris’ story at amnews.com.

* * *

Here are this week’s picks, following a perfect week 10:

  • Boyle County over Christian County.
  • Frankfort over Danville.
  • Garrard County over Lincoln County.
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Back to the soccer semis

It had never happened before last year, but now it’s two years in a row that an Advocate-area team has reached the semifinals of the state soccer tournaments.

The Danville boys earned their first trip to the final four in Georgetown by coming from behind to defeat Franklin County 3-2 in their sectional final Thursday. The Admirals are one of three teams in the semifinals that were not ranked in the final statewide coaches poll, along with Covington Catholic and Greenwood. Two-time defending champion St. Xavier, which ended the regular season at No. 2, is also in the field.

Danville will play Greenwood in the second of the two boys semifinals Wednesday at Toyota Stadium, following the game between St. Xavier and Covington Catholic. The two winners will play Saturday night.

Boyle County’s girls came close to making it a Danville-area double, but the Lady Rebels lost their sectional final to Lexington Catholic 2-1.

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State soccer fields set

We finally learned the Boyle County girls’ opponent for their sub-sectional soccer game Saturday night, which means the fields for both the boys and girls state tournaments are complete.

Boyle will play Tuesday at South Laurel, which won the final spot in the 16-team girls field by flogging Pikeville 5-0 in the 16th Region final Saturday. If the Lady Rebels win, they’ll host Henry Clay or Lexington Catholic in a sectional game Thursday for the right to go to the final four in Georgetown.

The Danville boys’ sub-sectional game will be at home Monday against South Laurel. The winner of that game plays at Paul Dunbar or Franklin County on Wednesday.

Here are the full fields for both state tournaments, in bracket order:

BOYS

Sub-Sectionals

Monday, Oct. 26

St. Xavier at Elizabethtown

South Oldham at Trinity

Covington Catholic at Scott

Montgomery County at Ashland Blazer

Fort Campbell at Marshall County

Greenwood at Henderson County

Paul Dunbar at Franklin County

South Laurel at Danville

Sectionals

Wednesday, Oct. 28

South Oldham-Trinity winner at St. Xavier-Elizabethtown winner

Montgomery County-Ashland Blazer winner at Covington Catholic-Scott winner

Greenwood-Henderson County winner at Fort Campbell-Marshall County winner

South Laurel-Danville winner at Paul Dunbar-Franklin County winner

At Rawlings Stadium, Georgetown

Semifinals

Wednesday, Nov. 4

Upper bracket, 6 p.m.

Lower bracket, 8 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Nov. 7

Semifinal winners, 6:30 p.m.

* * *

GIRLS

Sub-Sectionals

Tuesday, Oct. 27

Daviess County at Greenwood

Marshall County at Hopkinsville

Ashland Blazer at Bourbon County

St. Henry at Notre Dame

Sacred Heart at South Oldham

Elizabethtown at duPont Manual

Boyle County at South Laurel

Henry Clay at Lexington Catholic

Sectionals

Thursday, Oct. 29

Marshall County-Hopkinsville winner at Daviess County-Greenwood winner

St. Henry-Notre Dame winner at Ashland Blazer-Bourbon County winner

Elizabethtown-duPont Manual winner at Sacred Heart-South Oldham winner

Henry Clay-Lexington Catholic winner at Boyle County-South Laurel winner

At Rawlings Stadium, Georgetown

Semifinals

Thursday, Nov. 5

Upper bracket, 6 p.m.

Lower bracket, 8 p.m.

Championship

Saturday, Nov. 7

Semifinal winners, 8:30 p.m.

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Football playoff pairings (for now)

District play is over for most football teams, and all but one of the Advocate-area teams that will make the playoffs knows who and where it will play in the first round. The one that doesn’t know is Mercer County, which must wait out the results of a tight tiebreaker to see where it will travel.

Here’s the rundown of the Nov. 6 first-round games in the four regions that include local schools, with question marks (?) beside those matchups that aren’t yet set and explanatory remarks with each region:

Class 2A, Region 2

Fort Knox (4) at Green County (1)

Glasgow (3) at Danville (2)

Washington County (3) at Monroe County (2)

Metcalfe County (4) at Bardstown (1)

(Fort Knox snapped a 40-game losing streak with a stunning upset of Bardstown on Friday, but that didn’t change anything in District 4. Danville tied Bardstown for first place and Fort Knox tied Washington for third, but both got the lower seeds because they lost head-to-head meetings. Barring significant upsets, Danville would be at home only for the first round. The Glasgow-Danville game is a rematch of a first-round game last year, which the Admirals won 45-6.)

Class 3A, Region 3

Magoffin County (4) at Somerset (1)

Taylor County (3) at Estill County (2)

Powell County (3) at Garrard County (2)

Wayne County (4) at Breathitt County (1)

(Garrard, Taylor and Wayne finished in a three-way tie for second place in District 5 at 3-2, and the tiebreaker that awards points for defeated opponents puts the teams in that order, with no possibility of them changing after next week’s non-district games. As a No. 2 seed, the Golden Lions will host a playoff game for the first time since 2004, the last time they had a winning season.)

Class 4A, Region 3

?-East Jessamine (4) at Harrison County or Holmes (1)

Pendleton County (3) at Lexington Catholic (2)

?-West Jessamine (3) at Harrison County or Holmes (2)

Bourbon County (4) at Boyle County (1)

(Bourbon’s loss to Pendleton means the Colonels will come to Boyle for the first round. In District 5, Harrison and Holmes are tied for first place at 3-0, and they haven’t played each other yet, even though district play was supposed to be completed this week. The winner of that game next Friday at Holmes will be the district champion; the loser will be second. Boyle would play three or four playoff games at home if it keeps winning; the Rebels’ only possible road game would be in the regional final if they play the District 5 champion.)

Class 5A, Region 4

Perry County Central (4) at Pulaski County (1)

?-South Laurel (3) at Harlan County, Letcher County Central or Whitley County (2)

?-Harlan County, Letcher County Central or Whitley County (3) at Southwestern (2)

?-Mercer County (4) at Harlan County, Letcher County Central or Whitley County (1)

(We won’t know how a three-way tie for first place in District 8 shakes out until after next week’s games, and Mercer will play the team that wins that tiebreaker. Right now the order is Letcher, Harlan, Whitley, but it’s too close to call, except to say that it looks like Whitley will finish third.)

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Friday football digest, week 10

(NOTE: Apologies for the late arrival of the Friday football post. It was ready to go late this morning, but the host server was not cooperating. If I knew where the server was, I’d sabotage it with a can of Sprite on your behalf.)

Four of the five games tonight involving Advocate-area teams have playoff implications for those teams, but in two of them the local teams are simply playing for positions. That won’t be the case in Lancaster, where Casey County and Garrard County will be fighting for survival.

Wayne County’s win over Taylor County on Thursday leaves Casey and Garrard with the simplest of scenariors: win and you’re in. Garrard would probably get the No. 2 seed in District 3A-5 in a three-way tiebreaker with Wayne and Taylor if the Golden Lions win, but if they lose they’d be on the wrong side of a two-way tie for fourth place. Casey would apparently claim the No. 4 seed if it wins or be stuck in No. 5 if it loses.

And while your instincts might tell you that Garrard has the better end of that deal, don’t count those chickens just yet. The Lions have owned the Rebels in the last two years, winning 55-7 and 42-6, but there is reason for Casey to believe it has a chance this year. The basis for that is Garrard’s loss to Taylor County last week, the latest in a line of hard-to-explain games for the Lions this season, and the fact that Casey took Taylor to overtime before losing by one point.

Yeah, Garrard still looks like the team to beat in this matchup, but it’s certainly not a lock, especially with another Friday of foul weather as an added variable. I still have to pick Garrard, but I expect a relatively low-scoring game, which means Casey will still be involved in the fourth quarter.

(Sidebar: Casey schools have been closed for two days due to illnesses, but that won’t affect tonight’s game, which will go on as scheduled.)

Lincoln County is the other local team in a must-win situation. The Patriots have to win at South Laurel to get into a tiebreaker scenario, and even that might not be enough to get them into the postseason. If Lincoln loses, Mercer will be the No. 2 seed in 5A-7 no matter what it does at Pulaski County, and the best the Titans can do is third.

Danville will play Washington County in a straight-up game that will give the winner second place and the loser third place in 2A-4, which means the difference in being at home or on the road for the first round of the playoffs. The only local team already locked in place is Boyle County, which clinched first place in 4A-6 last week.

I’ll post the probable playoff matchups for local teams and the others in their districts late tonight or early Saturday.

* * *

Former Danville star Kelvin Turner lost his state record for career touchdowns last week to Domonique Hayden of Lexington Christian, who scored his 117th career touchdown to eclipse the record of 116 set by Turner in 2004. Hayden is also expected to climb to the top of the list in career rushing touchdowns and career points, and Turner currently ranks second on both of those lists.

* * *

This week’s preview stories, mostly our own:

  • Washington County at Danville: my story from amnews.com.
  • Boyle County at East Jessamine: Larry Vaught’s story from amnews.com.
  • Casey County at Garrard County: Hal Morris’ story from amnews.com.
  • Mercer County at Pulaski County: Morris’ roundup from amnews.com.
  • Lincoln County at South Laurel: Morris’ roundup from amnews.com; Denis House’s story from The Sentinel Echo of London; Tim Branstetter’s story from The Times Tribune of Corbin.

* * *

Finally, this week’s picks:

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

Last week: 4-1; season 34-9 (.791).

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Big doings for Boyle volleyball

Today’s players were toddlers then, but it really wasn’t that long ago that Boyle County decided it would be a good idea to add a volleyball team. And the Boyle girls who will play for the school’s first regional title tonight would surely agree that it was.

It has been a long road since Boyle became the first Advocate-area school to field a volleyball team in the mid 1990s, but now Boyle will be the first local school to play in a regional championship match when the Lady Rebels host Southwestern in the 12th Region Tournament final tonight.

It’s a significant mark on the sport’s growth chart not just for Boyle, but for all the teams in this area that hope to follow in its footsteps. And it’s a noteworthy achievement for a veteran team that has come a long way in the four-year careers of the team’s six seniors.

Those seniors were freshmen on a team that went 6-25 in 2006, when the team was rebuilding after another strong class led the Lady Rebels to their first district title in 2004 and their first trip to the regional semifinals in ’05. They have reached the regional semifinals in each of the three years since, and tonight they’re going where no local team has gone before.

It’s a far cry from the earliest days of Boyle volleyball, when the level of play wasn’t much better than you’d see at a church picnic. The Lady Rebels had to travel far and wide to play their earliest matches, with they closest opponents in Lexington and Versailles, and they lost most of them.

By the end of the 1990s, other area schools were adding teams, and by the early 2000s there were seven local teams. The sport has taken hold, with Boyle, Lincoln County, Garrard County and Casey County having most of the area’s best teams over the years and Mercer County and Harrodsburg also fielding some good teams.

Today’s players might be grandmothers before any of our teams can hold a candle to the nationally known programs in Louisville or even the best teams in northern Kentucky, the state’s other volleyball stronghold.
First, interest in the sport must start growing below the high school level, good middle school programs must be cultivated and players will probably have to hit the road to play for club or travel teams.

But this is a significant milestone — whether the Lady Rebels win or lose tonight — one that shouldn’t go unnoticed either in the halls at Boyle or the area’s small volleyball community. And although Boyle will be the underdog against a Southwestern team that won its first regional title last year and already has that strong middle school program in place, the Lady Rebels have reached a point where they can compete with the regional powers — and may not be far from joining them.

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Friday football digest, week 9

I hyped last week’s Lexington Catholic-Boyle County and Bardstown-Danville games and I was largely right, and I think I’m right again in calling the marquee game on this week’s schedule the most overrated game of the season so far.

It’s a battle between unbeaten teams at Boyle, where the 7-0 Rebels host 7-0 West Jessamine. But with all due respect to West Jessamine, it might be the worst matchup between unbeatens in the second half of the season that you’ll ever see.

West Jessamine is undefeated against a slate of opponents whose combined record is 15-35, and that record is propped up by the 5-2 mark of Western Hills, the only team the Colts have faced that has a winning record. Boyle and Lexington Catholic, the next team on the Colts’ schedule, have more wins between them (11) than the other six teams they have played, including 0-8 Paris, 0-7 Iroquois and 1-6 Madison Southern. In fact, you could make a case that 3-4 Garrard County, which West Jessamine beat 14-13 in week three, is the best team West has faced to date.

And I’m not knocking West Jessamine. This is a team that just two years ago struggled to put 20 to 22 players in uniform during a rock-bottom season in which the Colts went through three coaches, finishing the second half of the season with baseball coach Jody Hamilton as the interim coach. They scored all of 47 points in that 0-10 campaign, and they gave up more than that in five of those games.

Then the school hired Randy Wood, who had built a winning team at Morgan County, and things slowly began to turn around. West Jessamine finished 3-7 last year (with one win by forfeit) and started this season with about 50 players on its roster.

Is the Colts’ schedule weak? You betcha. Wood has made it easier, with fewer county schools and with four of their seven non-district games coming against schools from lower enrollment classes. But West Jessamine couldn’t have beaten most of these teams — and couldn’t have beaten many of them last year.

Wood can worry about building the schedule back up in a couple of years; for now, he just wants his players to win some games. That’s how it was in 1992 when Chuck Smith took over as Boyle’s coach and installed a softer schedule. Once the Rebels proved they could win at that level, he made the competition increasingly tougher in subsequent schedules.

Now Boyle is where it is and West Jessamine is where it is, and there’s a much greater gulf between them than the teams’ matching 7-0 marks would lead you to believe. So don’t expect anything but another Boyle cakewalk tonight at Rebel Stadium, but keep an eye on West Jessamine to see if Wood starts walking the Colts down the same path the Rebels began all those years ago.

* * *

If you see some of the local teams or their opponents wearing pink ribbon decals on their helmets tonight and for the rest of the season, now you’ll know why: Jason Frakes of The Courier-Journal reports that the coaches of about 120 teams have ordered the decals for their players’ helmets in support not only of the large and worthy issue of breast cancer awareness, but also specifically in support of Lexington Christian coach Paul Rains, whose wife Denise is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

The movement began gaining traction late last week on the coaches’ e-mail network, where one coach after another lined up to say they would participate. Rains wrote in one of those e-mails that more than 3,000 ribbons were sent out in a three-day period this week, in addition to the 1,000 to 1,500 that committed to the program last week.

Rains said he hopes to gain sponsorship and to expand the program next year, perhaps to include wristbands and the like for players and hats for coaches, much like the NFL is doing in its breast cancer awareness program this month. Already, some schools have scheduled a “Pink Friday,” with activities leading up to their games that raise money for research and increase awareness of a cancer that is being diagnosed in one of every eight women.

“There is no doubt that we will save a life of someone’s mother, sister or daughter because they will realize it has been too long since their last (mammogram). Make sure your boys understand the importance of wearing that ribbon, and it may very well be a difference-maker,” Rains wrote to the coaches.

I haven’t seen a list of participating schools whether any, all or none of the six Advocate-area schools will be sporting ribbons by this week or next, but here’s hoping they’ll all jump on board this bandwagon.

* * *

Now for the links to this week’s game previews:

  • West Jessamine at Boyle County: Larry Vaught’s story at amnews.com.
  • Jackson County at Casey County: Hal Morris’ roundup at amnews.com.
  • Danville at Fort Knox: Vaught’s story at amnews.com; Josh Claywell’s preview from The News-Enterprise of Elizabethtown.
  • Lincoln County at Mercer County: Morris’ story at amnews.com.
  • Garrard County at Taylor County: Morris’ roundup at amnews.com.

* * *

Finally, this week’s picks:

  • Boyle County over West Jessamine.
  • Casey County over Jackson County.
  • Danville over Fort Knox.
  • Mercer County over Lincoln Couny.
  • Garrard County over Taylor County.

Last week: 6-0; season: 30-8 (.789).

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Danville legend Coulter dies

Leonard Coulter, a two-sport All-American at Danville High School and a three-time all-conference basketball player at Morehead State, died Wednesday in Louisville.

David Cottrell, Coulter’s basketball coach at Danville, said Coulter is the best all-around athlete the school has produced since at least 1960, and several others have told me over the years that Coulter is the best athlete they have seen or known of at Danville.

Others can speak with far greater authority on Coulter, since I never saw him play. But I can say that of all the sports stars I have heard about who played at Advocate-area schools before I came to Danville, he is the one I most wish I had gotten to see.

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Danville, Boyle games postponed

The Bardstown-Danville and Lexington Catholic-Boyle County football games scheduled for tonight at Admiral Stadium have been postponed. Bardstown and Danville will play at 5 p.m. Saturday at Admiral Stadium; Lexington Catholic and Boyle County will play at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rebel Stadium.

Danville officials said their game was postponed due to the threat of further thunderstorms, although the strongest storms appeared to have gone past Danville by 3:30 p.m. Boyle officials said their field was covered in standing water, although it had been covered by a tarpaulin Thursday.

It’s possible that other area games could be postponed, but so far none have been.

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