At the season’s mid-point, and with a reference to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, we at Kentucky Prep Gridiron would like to look at two teams we think are hot, two we think are cold, and two we think are just about right. Here we go…
The Caldwell County Tigers– Losing Shane Burns to baseball, with him foregoing a senior season in a football career where he was on the verge of completing one of the most successful stints at the position the school has before seen, was unexpected to put it mildly. There was no way Caldwell County could have anticipated the seamless way Jobe Jaggers has stepped in and led David Barnes’ team to a 4-1 record with Christian County High School, itself 4-0, its only misstep. Jaggers came of age in the final 6 minutes of the Hopkinsville game where he engineered two scoring drives in the final moments for Caldwell’s escape from the Stadium of Champions with the victory. Jaggers is finding his groove now and the Tigers appear to be rolling. Next up for Caldwell awaits a Paducah Tilgman team which is much better than its 1-4 mark and who can run the football on anyone (and it has) but struggles to throw it. Still, all in all, one has to be impressed with the early results.
South Warren Spartans- Sure, this is the Spartans first year in 5A, and, sure, they lost some real talent from off of last year’s team, but I can’t be the only one who has noticed the Spartans are a much more balanced and potent team this year than last. The Defense is stifling, particularly against the run, and Gavin Spurrier, the 6’6″ grandson of a Heisman Trophy winner and College HOF inductee as both a player and coach (Steve Spurrier), in his first year at the helm of the South Warren offense, makes very good decisions with the football with an arm that is good enough though not spectacular. The Spartans have polished off a 5-0 worksheet so far this season including a thrashing of last year’s State Runner-up in 4A (Franklin-Simpson) 36-7. This is the same Franklin-Simpson which beat the brakes off the Spartans in the Regional Championship game just last year. If South Warren beats Ravenwood from Brentwood, Tennessee, and Bowling Green High School, with both games in October, they may well be your 5A State Champion this year. Won’t that be something?
Honorable Mention: Logan County- Logan County is 5-0 at the midway point but they have beaten teams with a combined record of 6-19. Still, they have beaten Russellville and, around those parts, that doesn’t happen too often!
McCracken County Mustangs- I thought Coach Mark Clark was fleeing for greener pastures. Hell, the Mustangs are a whisper, and a Tilghman botched conversion in overtime, from 0-5 as they narrowly escaped dropping their season-opener to The Blue Tornado. Since then, McCracken has lost at home to a Clarksville Northeast Team which was so dismal last season it fired its coach, got hammered by Graves County, got hammered by Mayfield, and got boat-raced/hammered by Glenbard North from Illinois, 35-3, inspite of Glenbard North turning the ball over to the Mustangs seven (7) times. The Mustangs host Davies County (fresh off beating The Red Devils of Owensboro High School) and an Ohio County Team which is presently 5-0, before going on the road to play a Henderson County team at its place. Henderson County was narrowly defeated by Christian County High School’s 4-0 Colonels earlier this year 21-14. With how the team has played to date, it is hard to conceive it is done losing. I have some friends in Paducah and to say they are a bit perturbed at the apparent downwardly spiraling trajectory in which this year’s team appears to be traveling is understated. Plenty of time to turn it around though so the Mustang faithful shouldn’t lose hope just yet!
Bowling Green Purples- Some programs are victims of their own prior successes. That is why I am apologizing to Coach Kevin Wallace right off the bat. When you win 5 out of the previous 6 5A State Titles, and come into the season riding the Commonwealth’s longest active win streak, any loss starts the what’s wrong with BGHS discourse. I know it’s not fair, but it is a monster of their own creation. Bowling Green High School is 3-2 on the year having vanquished North Hardin, Warren Central, and Owensboro and having been soundly defeated by 6A powers, Louisville Pleasure Ridge Park and St. Xavier. Losing to St. X and PRP are not indicators of struggling necessarily, but Bowling Green is used to beating anyone, regardless of Classification. BGHS beat St. X just last year 31-10 in the regular season. Looking ahead, Bowling Green doesn’t have a team left, other than South Warren, which should be capable of beating them, but should they drop the game to South Warren, which Coach Wallace told anyone who would listen early this season was the opponent on his schedule from the 5A Classification which he found most troublesome, The Purples will end the regular season 7-3. By Bowling Green standards that is awful. Still, I believe the 5A State Champion, when it all fleshes out, will be either South Warren, Bowling Green, or Christian County all of whom are in the same region, unfortunately for the three of them.
Honorable Mention:Webster County- Webster Couty’s only win on the year is to the Fulton City Bulldogs. They have been embarrassed every other time out, including losing to Hopkins County-Central 61-6 for that team’s only win.
Just About Right…
Hoptown Tigers-Sure, Hoptown is coming off consecutive 10-2 seasons and was preseason ranked as high as number 3 in the 4A Classification. Sure, the Tigers are 1-4 through its first 5 games. So how are they not on the Too Cold list? Well, because this edition of the Tigers have almost over performed. Allow me to expound. The Tigers are starting 5 offensive linemen, a QB, 2 out of the three deep at RB, and all of its Receivers (other than Gavin Marshand) who entered this season not playing even one Varsity snap on last year’s 10-2 team. One of the Offensive Line’s most consistent performers to date was in Middle School this time last year. The entire Defensive Line is new, and the DBs are new. When many of the publications were predicting Hopkinsville to be the 3rd best 4A team in Kentucky, it was thought the team would return its two-time, defending, District POY at QB, its top receiver and TD scorer at the slot from a year ago, a Senior RT who had started up front the year previous, and its leading rusher from the previous two campaigns. The RB, who got injured in a freaky, non-football related event prior to the season opener, was supposed to be this year’s District POY. Even with all of those hands on deck, it was still believed the Tigers would be 2-3 through its first 5 games as Hoptown lost to graduation 4 of its 5 OL starters, its entire D-Line, including a DL/OL star playing on Saturdays now, and a DB playing on Saturdays now. The Tigers have played five opponents with a combined record of 19-6, all of whom entered the game highly ranked in that team’s Classification, and are 1-4. However, in that 1-4, and through the first 5 weeks, the Tigers have improved every week. They let Caldwell County off the ropes with two late scores in the last 6-7 minutes of the game to lose 28-21, had two missed PATs and a safety and still only lost to 5A’s No. 3 ranked team, Christian County, 15-12, and broke through Friday night to beat Paducah Tilghman 16-9 in spite of allowing a punt return for a TD. If you take away the special teams touch downs allowed and the scoop and scores or pick sixes the Offense has permitted, Hoptown’s Defense has only allowed 106 points in the first 5 games in spite of playing five of the best teams in the opponents’ respective classifications. The young Sophomore QB (Jay Bland), who didn’t play one Varsity snap last year and who didn’t really play any football on any level last year owing to injury, has thrown for 1009 yards and 7 passing TDs in the first 5 games. Nothing remains on the Tigers schedule as frightening as the road it has already traveled . If the Tigers can continue to improve, and limit the mistakes on special teams and offense which have plagued it this year through 5 games, it is conceivable Hoptown will run the table and go into the playoffs 6-4 and feeling pretty good about itself. In the words of Colonel Hannibal Smith from the 80s show, The A-Team, I just love it when a plan comes together!
Logan County Cougars-Logan nearly made the Too Hot list. The Cougars are 5-0 against five opponents who have a combined 6-19 record. Three of their opponents’ wins have been by 1A traditional power, Russellville High School. Still, no one expects Logan County to beat Russellville High School around Logan County and anytime the Cougars can accomplish the feat, it is really noteworthy. The Cougars are getting better and have much more talent than it has had in recent memory. The fact they have played teams who, themselves, are struggling (except for Russellville who is 3-2) isn’t their fault. The Cougars have beaten the teams put in front of them. Remember, in Logan County, we are discussing a team which was a win against Todd Central from being blanked in the win column in 2016 (Logan was 1-9 last year) and which lost 54-14 to Russellville. Don’t tell me Logan doesn’t have it rolling. Logan County has Hopkins Central next before playing Hopkinsville and Madisonville North-Hopkins consecutively. Logan should easily beat Hopkins-Central and go into the Hopkinsville game as a 6-0 ball club. Should they beat Hoptown and North-Hopkins, they will enter the playoffs 10-0. Wow, that not only would put them on the Too Hot list for sure entering the playoffs, but would constitute one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Kentucky High School football history. I am willing to wager there aren’t too many teams in Kentucky who have followed a 1-9 with a 10-0 regular season. Anyone want any of that action?
Honorable Mention: Owensboro Red Devils and Fulton City Bulldogs-Owensbro has some of the best young talent in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, namely LB Austin Gough. Shouldn’t have lost to Davies County, and may have been looking ahead to Christian County, but the Colonels from Christian County can’t enter this game sleep-walking, like it has some of its contests this year, or this Red Devil of a snake will bite them. Owensboro is really good defensively against what Christian County has shown an offensive preference for doing this season, and that is run the football. As for Fulton City, they are winless, which is expected by everyone not presently in the Bulldog locker room, but what isn’t expected is the amount of fight the team has shown and how well they have been able to run the ball, when healthy. If first year HC Dain Gregory can keep these guys moving in the present direction, there are some much brighter days ahead. Keep your heads up Bulldogs and stay the present coarse. The captain of your ship knows how to navigate these tempestuous seas.
We hope you have enjoyed this look at the midpoint of this season. Don’t go anywhere, it is going to be a wild ride from here to the finish line. This is Fletcher Long reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE!