Highlands pounded Pendleton County 79-0 in high school football last Friday, the latest blowout by the Bluebirds, who humbled Harrison County 68-0 and manhandled Mason County 71-8. Through seven games they're averaging 59 points, a number that could be bigger if Dale Mueller played his starters more than a half.
If Highlands keeps up its scoring pace, it'll have a shot at the state (and school) record set by the 1998 Bluebirds. That team, led by quarterback Jared Lorenzen, scored 801 points during an undefeated (15-0) state championship season.
Highlands averaged 65 points through its first seven games that year, including routs of Campbell County (88-12), Covington Scott (72-7) and Covington Catholic (70-26). It kept clicking in the postseason, too, averaging 47 points in the playoffs.
While the 1998 team had future Kentucky QB Lorenzen leading the way, the 2011 Bluebirds have future Kentucky QB Patrick Towles at the helm. Towles is making the most of his abbreviated playing time. He threw for 295 yards and seven TDs in less than two quarters against Pendleton County. For the year, he's passed for 2,015 yards, 25 TDs and has been picked off just once.
With Morgan Newton struggling at QB for UK, some people are talking up Towles' chances of playing for the Cats next year. Might Towles graduate from Highlands in December, enroll at UK in January and take part in spring practice? Mueller nixed that notion, saying in an email that while he understands "the excitement regarding Patrick, he won't graduate early. Nobody at Highlands does." Mueller said Towles will attend as many UK spring practices as he can.
■ If undefeated Belfry beats Lawrence County Friday night, Pirates Coach Philip Haywood will tie the state record for career wins (345) held by Bob Schneider and Dudley Hilton. Will the low-key Haywood be glad when the record is broken and the publicity fuss ends? "Truthfully, yes," he said. "We don't talk about it with the team. You guys (reporters) call a lot and ask me about it. It'll be nice once all that's behind me." Haywood has been pleased with how Belfry has progressed this year. The Pirates improved to 7-0 with a 7-6 win over Ashland Blazer last week. Haywood said returning QB Tyler Williams and FB Trey Willis "have given us a little balance and timing in the offense." Payton Mullins, Madison Ghormley and Gary Runyon have led the Pirates' defense.
■ Four defending state champs have the longest winning streaks in the state: Mayfield is tops with 22 consecutive victories, followed by Trinity with 18. Highlands and Newport Central Catholic have each won 12 in a row.
■ Rowan County beat Boyd County 56-46 in a game that featured more than 1,200 yards of offense, 699 by the victorious Vikings. Rowan County QB Adam Wing passed for 307 yards and two TDs, and ran for 149 yards and five TDs. Phillip Hodge, back from a collarbone injury, had 10 catches for 182 yards. Coach Kyle Singleton said the shootout was nothing new for his Vikings, who outscored Southwestern 59-51 earlier this season. "Games like that can be fun, but they can be stressful, too, because there's pressure to score every time you have the ball, and it can make you sick when your defense can't get a stop."
■ Adam Wing's college future is up in the air again. The Rowan County QB originally committed to play football at Marshall. But after leading the Vikings to a Sweet Sixteen runner-up finish last March, Wing got a scholarship offer in basketball from Oklahoma State. He committed to the Cowboys in early June. But in the last few weeks OSU Coach Travis Ford landed commitments from higher profile prospects, and didn't have enough scholarships to include Wing. Rowan County Coach Shawn Thacker said it was a "mutual agreement" between Wing and OSU that he withdraw and reopen his recruitment in basketball and football. Wing still has a football offer from Marshall, and has been told he can play both sports there. WKU originally offered the same opportunity. Louisville talked to Wing about football, but wanted him as an outside linebacker. Wing only wants to play QB. Thacker said Wing will visit Evansville and Indiana State this weekend. Wofford is also in the picture. Former Rowan County football coach ShaDon Brown is a Wofford assistant coach.
■ The Rowan County athletics department is sponsoring a basketball game matching the Big Blue All-Stars against Kentucky Christian on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Morehead State. Former MSU star Kenneth Faried will play for the Big Blue team. General admission is $15.
■ Chasing Derek Homer: Johnson Central's J.J. Jude ran for 369 yards and four TDs in a rout of winless Greenup County last week. Jude is 700 yards shy of eclipsing Homer's state career record of 8,224 yards. Central's Anthony Wales also had a big game last week. He rushed for 355 yards and six TDs in a rout of winless Elizabethtown. Wales is 1,194 short of Homer's mark.
■ East Jessamine's Cameron Thomas rushed for 307 yards and four TDs against Montgomery County, giving him more than 5,000 yards and 47 TDs in three years.
■ Lincoln County's Deon Shannon ran for a school-record 317 yards and three TDs, and had 409 all-purpose yards, in a win over South Laurel. Shannon's 317 yards broke Jeremy Simpson's mark of 294 yards set in 1993, the year he was Mr. Football.
■ Will Whitman, an all-city lineman at Lexington Catholic last year, has started every game for Harvard this season. The 6-6, 260-pound tackle is the first freshman offensive lineman to start in Tim Murphy's 18 years as Harvard head coach. Whitman made the Ivy League honor roll last week for his play in a win over Cornell.
■ After being crowned homecoming king at halftime, Bullitt East's Tyler McMillen blocked a Bullitt Central field-goal attempt with 19 seconds left to secure the Chargers' 22-21 victory.
■ Franklin County junior Ryan Timmons is the ultimate game-changer. Last week against Woodford County, he touched the ball 11 times, scored seven touchdowns and a two-point conversion, and totaled 374 yards. For the season he's gotten the ball 69 times (rushing and receiving) for 1,811 yards (26 yards per touch) and 30 TDs.
■ Anderson County QB Seth Carmichael and RB Ethan Kelly have been a dynamic duo the last two years. Carmichael has thrown for 4,200 yards and 47 TDs, including a 361-yard, six TD performance against West Jessamine last week. Kelly has been a weapon running and receiving. He's rushed for 2,172 yards and two TDs, and caught 50 passes for 1,095 yards and 16 TDs.
■ Clay County freshman Tyler McDaniel and North Hardin junior Lydia Gumm have been named Mr. and Miss Golf. McDaniel won three invitationals this season and was runner-up five times. He finished fifth in the state tournament. He edged out Union County senior Duncan McCormick for Mr. Golf honors. West Jessamine sophomore Fred Allen Meyer was third and Lexington Catholic junior Matthew Mahle was fourth. Gumm, Miss Golf for the fourth time, won six invitationals. She was runner-up in the state tournament behind Emma Talley, who finished second in the all-state points system. Scott County senior Megan Wilshire was third.
■ Bart Rison's coaching days at Montgomery County are over. In 21 years as boys' basketball coach and 11 years as fast-pitch softball coach, Rison totaled 748 victories and 307 losses. He took the Indians' basketball team to the 1995 Sweet Sixteen, and the softball team to five state tournaments. During one 18-year stretch, Rison also umpired baseball, including five Final Fours. "I feel blessed that I got to be around a lot of great people and to coach a lot of good kids," Rison said. "In 32 years in education, I never got out of bed and dreaded to go to work, not even on Wednesday after we got beat by 30 on Tuesday night." Besides taking teams to state tournaments, Rison said a career highlight was coaching the 1998 Kentucky All-Stars against Indiana. Rison, who also coached basketball five years at Estill County before moving to Montgomery County, isn't ruling out the possibility of a return to coaching someday. "It'd have to be the right situation in softball, or boys' or girls' basketball," he said. Rison, 56, may get back in umpiring next spring in college or high school softball.
■ Trinity's Nathan Dieudonne, a 6-7 senior who averaged 12 points and six rebounds last season, committed to play basketball at Boston College. Teammate Charles Foster, a 6-1 senior who averaged 11 points last season, committed to Morehead State.
■ When pre-season basketball practice begins this weekend, Mike Smith, the city's leading scorer the past two years at Sayre, will be with a new team. The 5-10 guard, who averaged 19.2 points as a freshman and 22.8 as a sophomore, has transferred to Paul Laurence Dunbar and has been ruled eligible. Henry Clay is awaiting an eligibility ruling on Christian Cunningham, a 5-10 sophomore transfer from Scott County. Former Lexington Catholic standout Jaylen Beckham, who has been at schools in New Jersey and West Virginia the past couple years, is enrolled at Bryan Station. Defenders Coach Mike Allen said in an email that he is "not for sure in regards to (Beckham's) eligibility at this point."