Twenty-two teams are undefeated at least halfway through their regular-season schedules. Perennial powers Bell County, Boyle County, Highlands, John Hardin and Mayfield are on the list, but so are a few surprising up-and-comers.
Pineville is 5-0. That's the most wins the Mountain Lions have had in a season since they went 6-5 in 2000.
Bishop Brossart, in only its fourth year of varsity football, is 5-0, as is Washington County, which hasn't had more than six victories in a season since 1999.
Central Hardin is the only 6A team with a perfect record. The Bruins remember last year when they won their first six games, but dropped their last five.
6A: Central Hardin (5-0)
5A: Christian County (6-0), Grayson County (6-0), Highlands (6-0), John Hardin (5-0), Perry Central (5-0).
4A: Allen County-Scottsville (5-0), Bell County (5-0), Boyle County (5-0), Holmes (5-0), Lone Oak (6-0), West Jessamine (5-0).
3A: Somerset (6-0), Pike County Central (5-0).
2A: Monroe County (6-0), Murray (6-0), Washington County (5-0).
1A: Bishop Brossart (5-0), Fairview (6-0), Hazard (5-0), Louisville Holy Cross (6-0), Mayfield (6-0), Pineville (5-0).
■ Three years ago West Jessamine was nursing a 16-game losing streak in football, and baseball coach Jody Hamilton was care-taking the program until a new coach was found. Randy Wood took over in 2008 and got the Colts stepping in the right direction. They started last season 7-0 and finished 9-3.
This year, under new coach Graham Heasley, West Jessamine is 5-0 and hoping for the first 10-win season in school history. That goal looks more attainable after the Colts' upset of Tates Creek 34-14 last week. Heasley hopes that victory will strengthen his team's confidence that it can play with district powers Boyle County and Lexington Catholic. "I think our kids believed a little bit that we could before, but after beating Tates Creek, I think they're pretty sure we can compete at that level."
Heasley, who had been an assistant at Woodford County, brought a radical offensive change to West Jessamine. He installed a wide-open fast-break spread attack, hoping he could find a quarterback and playmakers. That's been no problem. Senior QB Matt Carbol "took to the offense like a fish to water," Heasley said. And he found skilled receivers in Will Knight, Sean Donaldson and Blake Davis.
The Colts' defense, led by senior linebacker Aaron Shearer, is solid (it forced Tates Creek into nine turnovers). Yancey Marcum has been defensive coordinator the last few years. He's a former West Jessamine star who played under Jim Tressel for a year at Youngstown State.
Getting halfway through the regular season unbeaten is nice, but Heasley said there's lots of work ahead. "From the moment I got here, the whole thing was that these kids wanted to do better than last year. To do that, they've gotta beat either Lexington Catholic or Boyle County. Nothing less than 10 wins will satisfy them, and that means beating one of the big two."
■ Oliver Lucas teaches biology at Manual, but he doesn't need to dissect the Crimsons' schedule to know it's the toughest in the state. "Nobody else's comes close. It's unrelenting. There's no breathing room," said Lucas, who was at Bryan Station the previous four years. Manual opened the season with a lopsided loss to No. 1 Highlands. Two weeks later it fell to No. 2 Trinity, followed by a loss to Cincinnati Colerain, a top-10 team in some national ratings. Manual beat No. 24 Seneca last week. Still ahead are No. 3 St. Xavier and No. 9 Male. The Crimsons' other opponents — Fern Creek, Central, Pleasure Ridge Park and Butler — aren't cupcakes. Lucas calls the schedule "challenging and ambitious. But that's why you want to come to Manual — to play the best. Football is historic and important here."
Last year at Bryan Station, Lucas had the state's leading rusher in the regular season in Tevin McCaden. He's got a featured back at Manual, too, in DarMontre Warr. He rushed for 400 yards two weeks ago, and 264 last Friday. But the Crimsons also have an effective passing game, led by QB Ian Wooldridge.
■ Montgomery County Coach Dan Gooch's decision to move senior Seth Dotson, a three-year starter at quarterback, to receiver and running back paid off big in a 40-13 win over Lloyd. Dotson showed his versatility in scoring five times. He rushed for two TDs from the tailback position, including a 55-yarder; he caught a 77-yard TD pass from sophomore Matt Tuttle; he returned a punt 37 yards for a score, and he had an 11-yard TD run as a wildcat QB. "We wanted to utilize his athletic ability as best we could," Gooch said. "Seth's got the best hands and about the best speed on the team."
■ What NFL quarterback who led his team to victory last Sunday played a high school game in Lexington almost 20 years ago? (Answer at end.)
■ Garrard County junior Markell Hayes ran seven times for 207 yards and four TDs, and had three catches for 51 yards and a TD in a 55-39 victory over Wayne County.
■ Pulaski County's Zach Eastham passed for 255 yards and seven TDs in a 54-12 rout of Barren County.
■ Defending 3A champ Paducah Tilghman, led by Justin Williams' 252 rushing yards, routed Calloway County 65-29.
■ LaRue County's Cody Thompson ran for 257 and three TDs in a 52-28 romp over Elizabethtown.
■ Three-time defending state champ Fort Campbell is 1-5 after losing to Warren Central 34-14.
■ Bell County bashed Rockcastle County 55-0 for its 32nd victory in 33 games. Corey Davenport led the assault, rushing five times for 194 yards and three TDs. Ben Madon completed two of three passes for 105 yards and two TDs.
■ Harlan County's Dylon Smith carried 27 times for 288 yards and had a 34-yard pass reception in a 41-27 win over Whitley County. He also had five tackles, two for losses, and had a 57-yard punt inside the 1-yard line.
■ J.J. Jude rushed for 335 yards and two TDs to power Johnson Central past Breathitt County.
■ Morgan County won its own Sorghum Bowl for the first time in 19 years by beating Leslie County. Freshman Kody Thornsberry ran for a TD, returned a punt for a score and ran back an interception 101 yards for a TD. Morgan County's Joe Holbrook rushed for 200 yards for the second game in a row. When Brian Turner took over as Cougars' coach in 2009, they had a 19-game losing streak. They are now 3-2, the first time they've been over .500 in five years.
■ Rowan County's Darrell Cross rushed for 239 yards and had five TDs, including a 68-yard punt return, in a 55-6 win over Boyd County.
■ Bath County sophomore QB Clark Kissick had five TD passes and a pair of two-point conversions in a 36-35 loss to Shelby Valley. Kissick started seven games as a freshman and threw a 55-yard TD pass on his second play.
■ Corey Robinson, who threw 91 TD passes — a national record — while leading Lone Oak to the 4A state finals in 2007 and was Mr. Football that year, is doing well as a redshirt freshman QB at Troy. Robinson threw for 316 yards and two TDs in a win over Arkansas State last week, and in four games this season he's passed for 1,244 yards and eight TDs. Troy's game against Middle Tennessee on Oct. 5 will be televised on ESPN2.
■ Former Breathitt County star Channing Fugate, a freshman at Tennessee, saw his first action in the Vols' double-overtime win against UAB last Saturday in Knoxville. Fugate was on UT's kickoff return team and fielded a short kick.
■ Aubrey Cashman, a soccer referee for 27 years, had a first-time experience while officiating a junior varsity game at Henry Clay last week. A snake in the middle of the artificial turf field halted play. "It was a garter snake about nine inches long," Cashman said. "I put my foot on its head, grabbed it by the tail and took it to the sidelines where somebody got rid of it." Cashman said most of his fellow refs might be reluctant to pick up a snake, but he's used to seeing them on his farm in Jessamine County.
■ North Hardin sophomore Lydia Gumm won the 3rd region golf title for the fourth time in five years by shooting a 68, 12 shots clear of the field. Gumm qualified for the state for the eighth year in a row. The girls' state tournament is Oct. 5-6 at Bowling Green Country Club. The boys' tournament is on the same course Oct. 8-9.
■ Southwestern soccer star Danay Fothergill scored her 130th career goal Tuesday night, tying the school record held by her sister Devin. Danay, who has 1,756 points in her basketball career, has committed to play hoops at WKU.
■ Owen County cross country and track star Danielle Hoop will run for the University of the Cumberlands next fall. She is a three-time state runner-up in cross country. She's also a standout in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA.
■ Trivia answer: Charlie Batch of the Pittsburgh Steelers. On Aug. 31, 1991, Batch threw for 200 yards and two TDs to lead Steel Valley, Pa., to a 35-29 win over Danville in the Thoroughbred Bowl at Tates Creek. He played college ball at Eastern Michigan.