As a speedy running back at Fort Knox, Derek Homer couldn't be caught. He set a state career rushing record with 8,224 yards, obliterating the old mark by more than 1,100 yards, in 1996.
As football became more of a passing game, Homer figured his record would stand a long time.
A long time is over.
Homer's record is within reach of two players this season. J.J. Jude of Johnson Central is closing in on it fast. Anthony Wales of Central has a little farther to go.
Homer, in his first season as an assistant coach at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, heard that his mark is in jeopardy, and he's prepared for the inevitable.
"It's always been special to have the record for me, my teammates and coaches," he said. "If these guys break it, a big congratulations to them. I know they must've worked hard to get there. That's what the game's all about — having goals and reaching for them."
Jude, averaging almost 300 yards a game this year, could overtake Homer in the next couple weeks. The Johnson Central senior has 7,905 yards, just 319 shy of the record. Jude has two regular-season games (at Ashland Blazer Friday night and at Belfry next week) and probably at least a couple 4A playoff games left.
Wales has 7,161 yards, 1,063 behind the record. The senior speedster, averaging 216 yards a game, might have seven games left to chase down Homer because Central is favored to reach the 3A finals for the fourth time in five years.
Homer said his record was a by-product of the accomplishments of the Fort Knox team. The Eagles won their first 14 games before losing to Breathitt County in the Class 2A finals in 1996.
Brett Burnett, Fort Knox's coach at the time, agreed. "A lot of team goals came first, like playing for a state championship. The record was a nice individual honor for Derek, but a lot of people were involved in it," said Burnett, who's been coaching in Pelham, Ala., the last seven years.
Burnett still considers Homer the best back he's ever had. "He was so explosive when he touched the ball. He could turn a bad call into a good call in seconds."
Homer, Mr. Football in 1996, was only the sixth player in the nation to rush for 8,000 yards. That number has swelled the last 15 years. The national record book now shows 25 players with at least 8,000 yards, 10 with more than 9,000. Ken Hall of Sugar Land, Texas, established the record of 11,232 almost 60 years ago.
■ Belfry's Philip Haywood can become the state's all-time winningest football coach if his Pirates beat Pike County Central Friday night. It would be Haywood's 346th victory, one more than Dudley Hilton and Bob Schneider. There's been a lot of turnover at the top of the career wins list the past 25 years. Bardstown's Garnis Martin overtook Murray's Preston "Ty" Holland for the No. 1 spot in 1986. Walter Brugh of Paintsville surpassed Martin in 1993. Joe Jaggers of North Hardin eclipsed Brugh in 1997. Schneider passed Jaggers in 2005, and Hilton tied Schneider last season in his last year at Bell County.
■ West Jessamine, which lost its first eight games, made its first victory a sweet one by knocking off cross-town rival East Jessamine 18-13 last week. "That took a lot of the sting out of what has been a disappointing season," Coach Graham Heasley said. The Colts' schedule turned out to be tougher than expected, and a rash of injuries compounded their problems. Losing star wide receiver and free safety Will Knight (torn ACL) in the third game was the biggest hit. West Jessamine was missing four starters last week, but it pulled the upset when Romando Tatum scored with two minutes left. Now the Colts have a chance to make the playoffs out of their six-team 5A district. East Jessamine was without standout running back Cameron Thomas last week. Thomas, who's run for 1,700 yards and 17 TDs, has a partially torn ACL. Coach Mike Bowlin said he's not sure if or when Thomas will be back.
■ Campbell County, which lost its first five games this season, has beaten Simon Kenton, Dixie Heights and Ryle to clinch its 6A district title. The Camels beat Ryle last week for the first time in 10 years as Tyler Durham ran 46 times for 267 yards and three TDs.
■ Knox Central ripped 4A district rival Rockcastle County 40-14, handing the Rockets their first loss of the season. QB Jonathan Barger passed for four TDs.
■ Bowling Green blanked 5A district rival Warren Central 21-0, knocking the Dragons from the list of undefeated teams.
■ Male visits Manual Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. in the oldest rivalry in the state. This will be the 129th game in the series that began in 1893. Male leads it 80-42-6.
■ Corbin, which moved from 2A to 3A this season, had its 47-game district winning streak halted with a 42-14 loss to Bell County. Cory Davenport ran for 185 yards and five TDs to lead the Bobcats. It was Corbin's first district loss since 2000.
■ Unbeaten Highlands hammered Holmes 77-0. UK recruit Patrick Towles only played a half but he completed 14 of 15 passes for 361 yards and five TDs. Jac Collinsworth, son of former NFL receiver Cris Collinsworth, had three TD catches. UK recruit Austin Sheehan also had three TDs, including a 65-yard TD reception on the first play of the game.
■ LaRue County's Cody Thompson carried 20 times for 345 yards and four TDs in a 57-44 win over Elizabethtown. No surprise that E-town gave up a bunch of points. The Panthers have given up more points (469 in eight games) than any team in the state. E-town has some offensive stars in seniors Matt Morgan and Kyle Todd. Morgan is the leading receiver in the state with 75 catches for 1,200 yards and 16 TDs. QB Todd has thrown for 7,406 yards and 69 TDs in his career. (Kyle's brother Chris Todd passed for 10,766 yards and 120 TDs for E-town from 2001-04).
■ Glasgow senior QB Parker Cash was shaken up in last week's win over Green County, and as a precaution will probably sit out Friday's game against Metcalfe County. Cash is the triggerman for the unbeaten Scotties. He's thrown for 831 yards and nine TDs, and run for 427 yards and eight TDs.
■ North Bullitt senior Todd Asbury was the workhorse in a 39-28 win over Bullitt East. He rushed 46 times for 406 yards — both school records — and five TDs. He has 1,600 yards and 20 TDs this season.
■ Dixie Heights senior QB and Auburn recruit Zeke Pike threw for 250 yards and three TDs, and ran for 153 yards and two TDs in a 35-14 win over Simon Kenton. For the season, Pike has completed 123 of 208 passes (59 percent) for 1,585 yards, 10 TDs and 11 interceptions. He's run for 448 yards and 13 TDs. Goose Cohorn has 58 catches for 886 yards and five TDs for the Colonels.
■ Paris High School has been playing football for more than a century. The Greyhounds' 103-year history includes three state titles, a 38-game winning streak and an iconic coach in Blanton Collier. There's a new book by Brent Clay of Paris that details the Greyhounds' football history. It includes old photographs and a season-by-season list of scores. The $15 book is available at several locations in Paris, or from Clay (859-266-2326.)
■ Sayre freshman and two-time state champ Maddox Patterson won the girls' small schools portion of the Lexington Catholic Invitational cross-country race at the Horse Park last Saturday. Sayre sophomore Nicholas Waltman was tops among the boys. North Oldham took the girls' and boys' team titles. In the big schools competition, Cassidy Hale of Manual and Jacob Thomson of Louisville Holy Cross won, while Sacred Heart and St. Xavier took team honors.
■ Jeff Trame is the new baseball coach at Scott, where he has taught for 19 years. Trame previously served as boys' basketball coach at Holy Cross and Scott, and volleyball and softball coach at Holy Cross.
■ Trinity's football team is rated nationally, and so is the Shamrocks' basketball team. ESPN's Powerade Fab 50 pre-season ratings have Trinity No. 50, the only Kentucky school to make the cut. Coach Mike Szabo's Shamrocks will be led by seniors Nathan Dieudonne, Charles Foster and Troy Saxton, and junior Darryl Hicks, who sat out last season after transferring from Shelby County.
■ Elizabethtown will be home to the new Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame. According to the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise, the Elizabethtown city council will loan the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches $25,000 that the organization will match as seed money to start the museum project. KABC executive director Ken Trivette said the first class of inductees — 12 players and four coaches — has been chosen and will be announced when the Hall of Fame site is selected.