An eye on the finals
It’s just a few hours before another state finals weekend kicks off without a team from the Advoplex, but there are still some things going on in Louisville this weekend that area football fans can keep an eye on.
For starters, there’s the 4A final on Saturday between Bell County and Bullitt East. Sure, we won’t be following this game as we would have if Boyle County were there, but it does match two coaches whose footprints are all over this area
There’s Doug Preston of Bullitt East, who spent 10 years in this area as an assistant coach at Danville, Garrard County and Lincoln County. He was on the staff of two of Danville’s state championship teams (2000 and ’01), and his first appearance in the finals as a head coach comes in his first year at his third stop, following stints at Western and Rowan County. And there’s Dudley Hilton of Bell, the crafty veteran whose roots run through Boyle and Washington counties.
I talked to Preston earlier this week for a story that appears in today’s Advocate and on www.amnews.com. Here are some of the things he said that didn’t make the story:
- On when or whether he thought Bullitt East had the stuff to have a chance at a championship: “We could sense it about the group we had. We talked about it during the regular season, but we wouldn’t allow (the players) to talk about anything other than the next week. But all along we sensed it, and I think our kids could, too.”
- On his good relationship with Hilton: “I’ve known him since ’93 or ’94 … and I’ve tried to learn from him when I could be around him over the years. We’re friends, but we’ll try to beat each other’s tails this weeks and go back to being buddies after Saturday.”
- Mercer County coach Marty Jaggers gave Preston his first coaching job out of college at Lincoln County in 1994. “He told me he wanted to be a head coach, and he wanted to work at a good program (as an assistant),” Jaggers said. He added that Preston is one of only two assistants he has had — along with former Lincoln and Webster County coach Tim Estes — who told him he wanted to become a head coach.
Hazard, one of the 1A finalists, was badly beaten by Danville two years ago (63-14) on its way to a pedestrian 9-4 season. Since then, the Bulldogs have gone 24-4 with a loss to Lexington Christian in each of the last two years plus losses this season to Green County and Johnson Central.
In 3A, Breathitt County’s playoff run began with a closer-than-expected 28-14 win over Garrard County. The Bobcats are led by another crafty veteran, Mike Holcomb, whose roots run through Garrard and Lincoln counties.
Here are my picks for a weekend that could include three or more blowouts:
- Today: Beechwood (1A), Central (3A), Highlands (5A).
- Saturday: Newport Central Catholic (2A), Bell County (4A), Trinity (6A).