Fifteen days (and 42 playoff games) left in the high school football season. Ten days until the high school basketball season (and its million or so games) tips off.
■ Talk about hard luck, for the second year in a row Mason County quarterback Neal Pawsat suffered a knee injury that may have cost the Royals a chance to advance in the playoffs. "It's a good example of life not being fair," Coach David Buchanan said. "Neal is such a great kid. He wanted to help Mason County win a state football championship. That's what was driving him. For this to happen to him sure isn't fair."
Last year Pawsat went down in the regular-season finale. Without him, unbeaten Mason County lost to Pike County Central in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Last Friday, Pawsat was injured early in the second quarter and the Royals lost to Belfry in the second round of the playoffs.
Pawsat, a senior, hit five of six passes for 103 yards in the first quarter against Belfry. On his last snap at quarterback, he threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Gilbert to tie it 7-7. Belfry went on to win 27-14.
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"I don't want to take anything away from Belfry because they're a great team," Buchanan said. "But I couldn't be prouder of my kids. They've done everything we've asked the last two years. It's very disappointing to have it end like this. It's one of those things you really struggle to figure out. It's hard to take."
In his career, Pawsat completed 59 percent of his passes for 5,209 yards and 52 TDs, including 1,907 yards and 20 TDs this year.
Pawsat's injury last year sidelined him for the first two months of the basketball season. He got back in time to help Mason County win the 10th Region. Buchanan said Pawsat's injury this time around isn't as serious, but that he might miss at least two months of hoops again.
■ If Bell County beats Knox Central on Friday night, Bobcats Coach Dudley Hilton will tie Bob Schneider's record for most victories (345) in state history. Trying to keep Hilton from doing that will be his former assistant and close friend, Knox Central Coach Wayne Mills.
"Dudley's been like a father to me," Mills said. "He's a great coach, and he's like a Lou Holtz, a master motivator. He can take an average football player and make him solid. What Bell County has done over the years is a testament to Dudley."
But Mills would dearly love to beat him. Bell County has 15 wins in a row over Knox Central. The Panthers' last win in the series was in 1997 when Hilton was guiding Bourbon County to a state title. "I just want it for our kids," Mills said. "The biggest challenge is getting the kids to believe they can do it. I don't think that's a problem now."
Not after Knox Central almost spoiled Bell County's run to the 2008 state title. The Bobcats needed a late TD to pull out a 19-14 quarterfinal victory. When they played last month, Bell County won 21-7, by far its closest game of the season.
Knox Central is led by a talented backfield that includes sophomore Jeffrey Canady, Johnathan Barger and Johnathan Turpin.
■ Ballard's loss to St. Xavier last week meant Bruins senior DeVante Parker won't have a shot at breaking the state single-season record for receiving yards. Parker finished with 68 catches for 1,793 yards, fourth all-time, and only 228 shy of the state record of 2,021 set by Lone Oak's Jamarielle Brown in 2007. Parker averaged 149 receiving yards per game this season and had 19 TDs. In his career he had 3,274 yards, fifth on the all-time list.
■ Campbell County QB Michael Kremer finished his career with 6,231 passing yards and 52 touchdowns.
■ When Anderson County hosts John Hardin on Friday night, it will be the Bearcats' first region final since 1987 when Sam Harp was coach and Mark Peach was a junior lineman. Peach is now Anderson County's coach. The Bearcats lost to eventual state champ Danville 63-14 in the '87 playoffs in Harp's last game as Anderson County coach. He left to succeed Tom Duffy at Danville.
■ Johnson Central's J.J. Jude carried 36 times for 439 yards and five TDs in last week's playoff win over Covington Catholic, and he became the sixth player in state history to eclipse 3,000 rushing in a season. Jude has 3,100 yards. If he has a monster game against three-time defending state champ Highlands on Friday he could threaten the state record of 3,361 yards set by Bath County's Frank Jones in 1969.
■ Lone Oak, 4A state runner-up last year, needed a 10-yard TD pass from Cole Ousley to Davontae Wilson with 53 seconds left to get by Franklin-Simpson 35-32 last week. The Purple Flash play unbeaten Allen County-Scottsville on Friday night.
■ Murray flattened three-time defending state champ Fort Campbell 49-15 as Matt Deese ran for four TDs. Unbeaten Murray, which has allowed only 81 points this year, visits Owensboro Catholic (11-1) Friday night.
■ Christian County beat Bowling Green 14-10, its first win over the Purples in eight tries. Marcoreyon "Bubba" Tandy scored two TDs in the last 1:42 to rescue the Colonels. "I think it's called a little character there, isn't it?" Christian County Coach Steve Lovelace told the Kentucky New Era.
■ Connor Berry rushed for 273 yards and had five TDs to lead Henderson County past Fern Creek 56-35. The Colonels play Male on Friday.
■ Pulaski County's Alex Abner ran for three TDs and caught three TD passes in a 48-8 rout of Clay County.
■ Somerset senior Taylor Sears, who starts at strong safety for the Briar Jumpers' undefeated football team, signed to play baseball at EKU. Sears, an infielder, hit .411 last spring. Grant County pitcher Aaron Goe also signed with EKU.
■ With only a few days left in the voting, Tates Creek senior RB Brandon Shrout is in second place in balloting for the Kentucky Army Iron Man of the Year Award. Thomas Wilson of Meade is first among 10 players, who were selected for one-game performances throughout the season. Shrout was picked after he ran for 99 yards and a TD and returned a kickoff 85 yards for a TD against Madison Central. Check out the Iron Man Award voting at www.TheSportsFlash.com.
■ Domonique Hayden, who set state rushing and scoring records while leading Lexington Christian to the Class A title last year, has run for 994 yards and 15 TDs as a freshman at Thomas More. The unbeaten Saints host Washington & Lee in the first round of the Division III playoffs at noon Saturday.
■ Longtime Bardstown track and cross country coach Tom Williams died last Friday, the day before he was supposed to coach the Tigers in the state cross country meet. Williams, 63, died after a brief illness. He guided Bardstown to five state track titles and was national coach of the year in 2006. Williams also served as an assistant football and basketball coach.
■ Clark County and Jeffersontown, two of the top boys' basketball teams in the state, face off in a pre-season scrimmage Nov. 26 at 6 p.m. at Clark County. The Cardinals feature WKU signee Vinny Zollo and EKU signee Robbie Stenzel. J-town has transfers Zach Price, a Louisville signee, and Tony Kimbro Jr.
■ Sheldon Clark will host some of the top basketball teams in the state in the Fast Lane Classic pre-season scrimmages Nov. 27. The schedule: Lafayette vs. Wyoming East (W. Va.), 10 a.m.; Clark County vs. Perry Central, 11:30; Shelby Valley vs. Elliott County, 1; Christian County vs. Eastern, 2:30; Sheldon Clark vs. Tolsia (W. Va.); Huntington (W. Va.) Prep vs. Kestrel (N.C.), 5:30; Sheldon Clark girls vs. Leslie Co., 7; Bowling Green vs. Logan (W. Va.), 8:30.
■ Lexington Catholic tennis star Samantha Maddox, the state singles champ, signed with College of Charleston, not Coastal Carolina as was noted here last week.
■ Lafayette shortstop Lauren Mitchell, a starter since she was an eighth-grader, signed to play fast-pitch softball at EKU. She batted .500 last year and helped the Generals go 35-5.
■ Todd and Tyler McDaniel are the first brothers to earn all-state golf honors in the same year. Todd, a senior at Clay County, signed with UK. Tyler, an eighth-grader at Clay County Middle School, finished third in last month's state tournament. The McDaniels learned the game playing Big Hickory, a nine-hole course in Manchester. Todd is also a baseball standout at Clay County, and helped the Tigers reach the state tournament last season.
■ Two-time state wrestling champ Caleb Ervin of Union County has signed with Illinois. Ervin went 56-0 and won the state 140-pound title in February. Two months later he was injured in a gas fire and suffered second- and third-degree burns on his arm and shoulder. But he has recovered and will be going for a third consecutive state crown this winter.
■ Brett Johnson of Christian Academy of Louisville signed to play tennis at UK. Johnson was state doubles champ in 2008.