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.
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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.
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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.
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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).