Archive for December, 2009

Holiday hoopla

The holiday basketball tournament season got under way late last week with a few tournaments involving area teams, but there’s much more to come this week and next.

The only holiday tournaments being played locally are Danville’s Lady Admiral Tournament, a girls round-robin event played last week, and the Titans Christmas Clash, Mercer County’s girls tournament that began last year as a 12-team event and has been expanded to 16 teams this year.

Here’s the full list of tournaments for area teams this week and next:

BOYS

  • Boyle County: Jessamine Invitational at East Jessamine and West Jessamine, through Wednesday; First Federal Savings Bank Cardinal Classic at Nelson County, Dec. 28-30.
  • Casey County: Twin Lakes Holiday Classic at Clinton County, through Wednesday; Monticello Bank Classic at Wayne County, Dec. 28-30.
  • Danville: Defenders of the Station at Bryan Station, through Tuesday.
  • Garrard County: Arby’s/KFC Holiday Classic at McCreary Central, through Wednesday; Shirley Kearns Holiday Invitational at Model, Dec. 29-31.
  • Lincoln County: Capital City Classic at Frankfort Convention Center, through Wednesday; Coca-Cola/Campbellsville University Holiday Classic, Dec. 28-30.
  • Mercer County: Capital City Classic at Frankfort Convention Center, through Wednesday; Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic, Dec. 27-30.

GIRLS

  • Boyle County: Bourbon County/Paris Holiday Classic, Dec. 27-29.
  • Casey County: Berea Holiday Classic, through Tuesday; Gateway Holiday Classic at Montgomery County, Dec. 28-30.
  • Danville: Coca-Cola/Campbellsville University Holiday Classic, Dec. 28-30.
  • Garrard County: First Southern National Bank/Roy’s BBQ Classic at Logan County and Russellville, Dec. 28-30.
  • Lincoln County: Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic, through Tuesday; Titans Christmas Clash at Mercer County, Dec. 28-31.
  • Mercer County: Titans Christmas Clash at Mercer County, Dec. 28-31.
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All quiet in Title Town

If you find yourself in almost any small town in America right after one of its high school teams has won a major sports championship, you’ll probably know about it. But what if someone was driving through Danville this week? Would it be obvious to a traveler that Boyle County was celebrating a state football championship? Strangely enough, the answer is no.

All those other towns would be coated with congratulatory messages spelled out on business signs, scrawled in storefront windows and displayed on banners. And all those things are missing here.

Boyle County and its fans are deservedly proud of the school’s sixth championship, and the support for the Rebels was reflected in the attendance at most of the team’s games, including the 4A championship in Bowling Green. Fans who were in the stadium and those who were listening on the radio or online went nuts as the Rebels rallied to beat Lone Oak in double-overtime, and a number of them joined the team for a postgame celebration later that night at the school.

Since then, it’s been pretty quiet. In the course of running errands early this week, I found only two businesses — both of them on Main Street — displaying “Go Rebels” signs that had been put up before the game. There weren’t any congratulatory messages in windowns or on messages boards around town — not even on the school’s own message board. I made three trips to the school to cover two basketball games and a wrestling match, and I found no signs inside the building, either, and no acknowledgement at any of those events.

Does it mean anything? Not really. It could be a sign that the town has gotten a little jaded now that its three high schools have combined for 16 state championships and two national championships, but that’s about it.
Still, it’s a little surprising — and frankly a little disappointing — that the buzz surrounding Title Town’s latest title faded away in a few short hours.

Here are two stories from other Kentucky newspapers worth reading from the aftermath of the state finals:

  • Steve Cornelius of The Commonwealth Journal of Somerset reported after Somerset’s loss to Paducah Tilghman in the 3A final that former Briar Jumpers coach Jay Cobb, who resigned less than two weeks before the season, was in the press box with a set of headphones on and may have been assisting the Somerset staff led by interim coach Robbie Lucas, a former Lincoln County player and coach who was promoted when Cobb resigned.
  • Chad Bishop of the Daily News of Bowling Green reported that Bowling Green officials considered the return of the state finals to that city for the first time since 1975 a success, with attendance up from the 2008 games in Louisville. The KHSAA is committed to Bowling Green for one more year, but don’t be surprised to see the finals there for several years to come.
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Boyle wins title game thriller

By now you know that Boyle County has won the Class 4A championship with a 42-39 double-0vertime victory over Lone Oak in a game that should go down as the most thrilling title game victory ever by an Advocate-area team and one of the most exciting in the history of the state finals.

The Rebels’ victory, clinched with a touchdown run by Boone Goldsmith on fourth down-and-1 foot and set up by Patrick Barsotti’s 38-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in regulation, was remarkable both because of the way they came from behind — they trailed 22-7 at halftime and 29-13 early in the fourth quarter — and because of the drama that surrounded the end of regulation and the two overtimes.

This was only the ninth game out of 189 in state finals history that has been decided in overtime, and only the second to go past a first overtime. (Breathitt County defeated Franklin-Simpson 42-35 in double-overtime in the 1995 2A final.) It’s the second overtime final involving an area team. (Harrodsburg lost to Beechwood 21-14 in OT in the 1996 1A final.)

The Advocate sports team is hard at work producing content that will appear online later today at amnews.com and in a special four-page wraparound surrounding Sunday’s sports section in the print edition.

For now, you can view the final statistics from the game here or here.

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Friday football digest, state finals edition

Three years ago, we launched this blog at the Advocate during the week leading up to appearances by Danville and Mercer County in the state football finals. At the time, they were at the end of a list of 18 Advocate-area teams to make the state finals in a 20-year period, and they still are.

We finally have another team to add to that list as Boyle County returns to the finals for the first time since 2004. The Rebels arrive in Bowling Green with a very familiar look, as they look much like some of the dominant Boyle teams that won five straight titles from 1999-2003.

But are they like those teams? Will their year be added to the “State Champions” side of the sign on the back of the Rebel Stadium press box, or will it go into the “State Runner-Up” column? The answer doesn’t come as easily as Boyle fans might think.

Yes, I believe Boyle’s game with Bell last week was between the two best teams in Class 4A, but it wasn’t the de facto championship game. By that, I mean that this Lone Oak team is certainly good enough to give the Rebels a run for their money in Friday’s 4A championship.

First, Lone Oak will score some points. The Purple Flash’s pass-powered offense has been contained only once this season, when Class 6A Green County held them to 17 points but lost 17-7. And they have what Advocate colleague Hal Morris has been saying for two years is the right ingredient to succeed against Boyle’s nearly airtight defense: a good passing game that can stretch the field. I’m not going to recite all the numbers — you can read them in the preview stories and stat pages linked below — but Lone Oak has produced 63 percent of its total offense from the passing game, so that’s as good a test in that area as Boyle will face in this season or any other.

The question is, is this Lone Oak team better than the 2007 team that put up huge offensive numbers through 14 games, then got waxed 49-7 by Lexington Catholic in the 4A final. Hard to say, but my guess is yes. The Flash won’t score in the 50s or 60s as they have in their best games this season, but they will score on Boyle.

The problem for them is that Boyle will be scoring, too. This game won’t take on a track meet quality, but if the Rebels’ offense can get the blocks they usually get, they’ll be able to make up for whatever the defense might allow. My pick: Boyle County 42-27.

* * *

Here, in case you’re curious, is the full list of the 19 Advocate-area teams that have made the state finals since 1987, when that started happening on a regular basis:

1987, Danville; 1988, Harrodsburg; 1989, Danville; 1990, Lincoln County; 1991, Danville; 1992, Danville; 1993, Lincoln County; 1994, Danville; 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; 2006, Danville and Mercer County; 2009: Boyle County.

* * *

My friend Joey Fosko and his colleagues at The Paducah Sun cover sports in the Jackson Purchase extremely well and are surely producing good stories about Lone Oak this week, but I never read them because the Sun’s site is subscription-only.

You’ll have to settle, then, for this link to Hal Morris’ preview story in today’s Advocate, and for this link to our prep football page where other Boyle-related stories are collected.

Here are links to the KHSAA scoreboard pages for Boyle’s scores and stats and Lone Oak’s scores and stats.

* * *

Congratulations to two Advocate-area native sons who are coaching in the state finals this week, Somerset interim coach Robbie Lucas, who played and coached at Lincoln County; and Lexington Christian assistant coach Ray Graham, who played at Danville.

I first thought I would pick against both of them when making my predictions for this weekend’s six championship games. Well, not against them, but against their teams. Thing is, I’ve changed my mind in both cases. Somerset is every bit good enough to beat Paducah Tilghman in 3A, though my knee-jerk reaction was to pick Tilghman without a second thought. And Lexington Christian should earn a slight nod in its 1A matchup with Mayfield.

Here are all six picks:

  • 1A: Lexington Christian over Mayfield.
  • 2A: Fort Campbell over DeSales.
  • 3A: Somerset over Paducah Tilghman.
  • 4A: Boyle County over Lone Oak.
  • 5A: Highlands over John Hardin.
  • 6A: St. Xavier over Trinity.

Last week: 1-0; season: 45-10 (.818).

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Finding the stadium, finding a seat

Boyle County has made six trips to two different stadiums in Louisville for the state finals, but the Rebels and their fans will take a different road to the title game Friday when they head west to Bowling Green for the Class 4A championship against Lone Oak.

Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium is the same site where Boyle played Bowling Green in a season-opening bowl in 2007, but it is not the same stadium. A $50 million renovation to the Western Kentucky University venue gave it an entirely new south grandstand that includes more seats and a stadium club, refurbished facilities in the original north grandstand, new artificial turf, a video replay board and even a Sonic concession stand.

Just about everything you need to know about getting to WKU, finding a parking spot and maybe finding a place to eat or stay in Bowling Green is covered at a well-constructed Web page on WKU’s site: www.wku.edu/gridiron.html. Keep reading below for a few more things you might find helpful if you’re making the trip.

This a much smaller stadium than Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the most recent home of the state finals, but its 23,600 seats should be more than sufficient for this game. (Photos of the stadium can be found at a link from the above WKU Web page.)

The good news is that a “small” crowd of 5,000 or 6,000 won’t get swallowed up by the empty seats. The bad news is that most of the stadium’s seats are bleachers, not chairbacks. There are some chairbacks seats on both sides of the stadium, but those are being sold as reserved seats. The rest of the seats throughout the stadium (except for the club) are general admission.

If you buy tickets at the stadium, they’ll cost $10 for general admission or $15 for reserved seats (if available). And as has been the KHSAA’s practice in recent years, every game will require a separate ticket. Stadium gates will open to fans one hour before kickoff, which is at noon ET.

Boyle is the designated home team for its games, meaning the Rebels will wear black jerseys and have the bench on the south (new) side of the stadium. Boyle fans will be on that side as well, somewhere within sections 101-114. In the five centermost sections (104-109), the top eight rows or so — roughly half of the section — consists of reserved seating. The stadium club above that level is also reserved, and it is sold out.

Other details from the important to the mundane can be found on this KHSAA Web page. To get really detailed, check out this 24-page KHSAA manual (a .pdf document) on what teams, players and fans can and cannot do.

For more football-specific details, like rosters, depth charts and stats, visit this KHSAA page.

Finally, since this is a Friday afternoon game, I’ll have my weekly preview post online this evening, technology willing.

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A little about Lone Oak

The question I’ve heard most often since Boyle County qualified for the Class 4A championship and learned its opponent is, “Where is Lone Oak, anyway?”

Well, I’m here to help. Lone Oak is located on the outskirts of Paducah, just a couple miles off Interstate 24. It might be the most distant 4A school from Boyle County. (It’s either them or Calloway County.) Now for some more nuggets you might not have known:

  • Lone Oak is the largest of three McCracken County schools, a list that also includes Heath and Reidland. (Paducah Tilghman is in a city school district.) The three county schools will be disappearing into history in the near future as they are being consolidated into McCracken County, which is scheduled to open in 2012.
  • The school’s teams are known as the Purple Flash, making it one of the few Kentucky schools that has both a singular nickname (not ending in “S”) and a nickname not shared with any other state school. And If you know how much I love good nicknames, you know I love that.
  • Lone Oak’s high point in football — so far — came two years ago, when the Flash reached the 4A finals, only to be pasted 49-7 by Lexington Catholic. Its star quarterback, Corey Robinson, was named Mr. Football a few weeks later and now plays for former Boyle star Neal Brown at Troy, where Brown is the offensive coordinator.
  • Lone Oak coach Jack Haskins, now in his seventh season there, is the winningest coach in school history — and with the school set to close soon, he probably always will be. Haskins is the father of former Kentucky quarterback Billy Jack Haskins (1993-96).
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MacShara named KFCA player of the year

Rees MacShara of Boyle County has been named the Class 4A player of the year by the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.

MacShara has rushed for 2,878 yards and 42 touchdowns — and has another 347 receiving yards — entering Friday’s 4A final against Lone Oak, which puts him right in the thick of the Mr. Football race. The winner of that award won’t be announced until later this month.

He’ll be recognized this weekend at the state finals, along with the other winners of the KFCA’s statewide and district player and coach of the year awards. That list includes former Lincoln County coach and current Somerset interim coach Robbie Lucas, the winner of the 3A coach of the year award.

Lucas’ Briar Jumpers will play Paducah Tilghman for the 3A title on Saturday. He is one of two coaches from Somerset to win a state coach of the year award from the KFCA, as Pulaski County’s John Hines is the 5A winner. Here’s the full list of statewide winners, with the player of the year listed first in each class:

  • Class A: Domonique Hayden and Paul Rains, both of Lexington Christian.
  • Class 2A: Antonio Andrews and Shawn Berner, both of Fort Campbell.
  • Class 3A: Tim Patterson, Central; Robbie Lucas, Somerset.
  • Class 4A: Rees MacShara, Boyle County; Luke Salmons, Lawrence County.
  • Class 5A: Jacob Russell, Anderson County; John Hines, Pulaski County.
  • Class 6A: Miles Simpson and Jeff Marksberry, both of Simon Kenton.

As for the district awards, Will Dunn of Danville and Tyler Ray were named players of the year in their respective districts, and Danville’s Sam Harp and Boyle’s Larry French were named coaches of the year. Here’s the full list of winners from districts including area teams, again with players listed first:

  • Class 2A-4: Will Dunn and Sam Harp, both of Danville.
  • Class 3A-5: Tyler Ray, Garrard County; Robbie Lucas, Somerset.
  • Class 4A-6: Rees MacShara and Larry French, both of Boyle County.
  • Class 5A-7: Zach Eastham and John Hines, both of Pulaski County.

A full list of the district winners can be found on this KFCA Web page.

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