Where have all the great rivalries gone?
Besides the holy war between Catholic superpowers St. Xavier and Trinity, won by St. X 32-7 in front of more than 26,000 fans to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday, it's hard to find any Hatfield-McCoy type football feuds that stir the passions of coaches, players and fans, and attract state-wide attention.
Highlands-Covington Catholic is still a macho matchup, but not like it used to be, not after the Bluebirds won 61-0 last year on their way to a second consecutive Class 5A title.
Mayfield-Paducah Tilghman used to be a high-profile series between two elite programs. Not anymore. Not since Tilghman's free fall from "elite" status.
Male-Manual, once upon a time the state's crown jewel series, doesn't move the interest needle outside Louisville.
Boyle County-Danville was a must-see showdown when the Rebels developed into a juggernaut in the late 1990s. But that cross-town clash has lost some of its sizzle, with Boyle County winning eight of the last 11 times, including a 49-9 rout a few weeks ago.
Beechwood-Newport Central Catholic has waned a bit since the schools were split into different classes.
We've seen some terrific rivalries come and go in the playoffs over the years. For a while it seemed Danville and Mayfield were always squaring off in the state semifinals or finals. In the late 1980s and early '90s, post-season showdowns between Boone County and Tates Creek in 4A, and Beechwood and Pikeville in 1A were special.
Among the hottest current rivalries is Boyle County-Lexington Catholic, now that they're in the same district again. They face off Friday in a game that should draw notice across the state.
If Boyle County and Bell County remain 4A powers, they could also develop a special relationship in the playoffs, maybe something worthy of being called a great rivalry.
■ Anderson County visits Bullitt Central in a showdown of unbeaten 5A teams Friday night. Anderson County Coach Mark Peach hopes it is positive preparation for the post-season "We need to understand what it takes to win a big game on the road against a quality opponent, which is what we'll have to do in the playoffs," he said. The Bearcats, trying to go undefeated in the regular season for the second time in three years, have one of the top quarterbacks in the state in Jacob Russell. The 6-4 senior, who has thrown for 5,871 yards and 59 TDs in his career, is getting attention from a lot of Division I schools, including UK, Louisville and Indiana. "We knew he was a great player, but the jump he's made from his junior to senior year is pretty significant," Peach said. "He's bigger, faster, stronger, and he's taken on more of a leadership role. We think he's a Mr. Football candidate." Peach expects a battle with Bullitt Central, which beat Anderson County 39-33 last year. The Cougars are led by Jeremaie Bennett, whom Peach called "one of the best running backs in the state."
■ Butler qualifies as the most surprising undefeated team in the state, considering this time a year ago the Bears were in the midst of a 23-game losing streak. "I knew we'd be better, but I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised we're 6-0," said Coach Scott Carmony, who is in his second stint at Butler. He previously coached the Bears from 1999-2001. He retook the reins in 2008 and inherited a team that had lost 15 in a row. Butler dropped its first eight games last year before ending its skid. This season has been nothing but victories, led by a much-improved defense and the hard running of DeAngelo Thomas. Butler's unbeaten streak figures to end Friday night against No. 1 St. Xavier. But that won't take the shine off the Bears. "The community is excited again," Carmony said. "When you win, everything's good."
■ Bellevue and Dayton meet Friday for the 130th time. Their rivalry began in 1926, and included two games a year for 45 years. Bellevue leads the series 84-42-3.
■ Fulton County Coach James Bridges has been suspended by his superintendent after several of his players were involved in a fight in the closing minutes of a loss to Calloway County last week. Fulton County will forfeit its game with Crittenden County Friday night. The KHSAA has suspended 16 Fulton County players and three Calloway County players. Fulton County also was fined $1,000 by the KHSAA.
■ It will be father vs. son when North Laurel visits Harlan County Friday night. Chris Larkey is in his first season as coach at North Laurel. His dad Tom coaches Harlan County. Both teams are 4-2.
■ Simon Kenton's Miles Simpson rushed for 222 yards and five TDs in a rout of Cooper. He has 20 TDs overall this season.
■ Newport Central Catholic's Chris Kelly ran for 123 yards and four TDs as the Thoroughbreds beat Newport. It was career victory No. 340 for Coach Bob Schneider.
■ Central Hardin stayed unbeaten (6-0) with a 51-41 win over LaRue County. QB Dylan Beger threw for 257 yards and four TDs.
■ Southwestern beat South Laurel 14-8 to give Dale Anderson his 100th win as Warriors coach.
■ West Jessamine plays host to East Jessamine Friday night. The Colts ran their record to 6-0 with a 35-0 win over Western Hills. QB Matt Carbol had TD runs of 40 and 39 yards, and threw a TD pass to Blake Lewis.
■ Clark County, led by Darius Skinner, ended Corbin's 24-game regular-season winning streak by beating the Redhounds 35-30. Skinner had three catches for 88 yards, completed a 21-yard pass, and sealed the victory with a 26-yard fumble return for a score.
■ Conner's Nick West ran for 149 yards and three TDs and passed for 222 yards and one TD in a rout of Boone County.
■ Prestonsburg QB Michael Burchett passed for 256 yards and four TDs in a victory over Matewan, W.Va. Josh Blackburn had four catches for 115 yards and two TDs for the unbeaten Blackcats.
■ Correction: Abraham "Lincoln" Collinsworth, father of former Bengals' receiver Cris Collinsworth and grandfather of Highlands football star Austin Collinsworth, played high school basketball at Salyersville (in Magoffin County) before going on to play at UK for Adolph Rupp in the 1950. Lincoln is retired from a school superintendent job in Florida and lives in Orlando.
■ Condolences to the family of former football coach Ron Finley, who died this week at age 76. I got to know Finley, a genuinely nice guy, when he was coaching Henderson County in the 1970s. He went on to revive football at Campbellsville University and coached there from 1988 to 2002.
■ Dylan Favre, a standout high school QB and nephew of NFL star QB Brett Favre, has set a Mississippi record with 108 career TD passes. Dylan plays for St. Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
■ Best wishes to Bob Good's wife of 55 years, Polly, who is battling an illness. Bob, a former successful high school football and baseball coach in Ohio, has been a fixture at Lexington high school sports events for years.
■ Shelby Valley basketball star Elisha Justice got a scholarship offer from Eastern Kentucky last week. Shelby Valley Coach Jason Booher said the Colonels would like a quick commitment from the the 5-11 senior point guard. Booher said Louisville assistant Walter McCarty will visit Shelby Valley on Friday to evaluate Justice. U of L Coach Rick Pitino and his staff saw Justice have a big game in Las Vegas this summer, which sparked their interest in him. Booher said U of L probably would want Justice to be a preferred walk-on, with an opportunity to earn a scholarship.
■ Al Northington, who guided Iroquois to the girls' state basketball title in March, is the new coach at 6th Region rival Fairdale. In Northington's 10 years at Iroquois, the Lady Raiders won four region titles. They went 33-1 last season.
■ The Fayette County public schools cross country championships are Wednesday at Masterston Station Park. The girls' race is at 5 p.m., followed by the boys.
■ A couple of former Kentucky high school stars had big-league "firsts" on Sunday. Former Paul Laurence Dunbar catcher A.J. Ellis, a late-season call-up with the Dodgers, got his first major-league hit and RBI in Los Angeles' final regular-season game against Colorado. Former Fairview running back Chris Jennings got his first NFL carry and gained eight yards for the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals. He also caught his first pass for two yards.
■ Former Dunbar goalkeeper Sean Kelley, a senior at George Mason, was named Colonial Athletic Association' soccer player of the week. He had two shutouts, one against second-ranked and defending national champ Maryland.