As high school football's regular season comes to a close this weekend, here are a few observations on what we've seen the past 10 weeks:
■ There are a handful of really good teams across Kentucky, and one great team. Trinity, rated No. 2 in the nation by USA Today and Rivals.com, is the great one. The Shamrocks should breeze to the Class 6A title, which would be their ninth championship in 12 years, and state record 21st overall.
■ There are a whole bunch of mediocre teams, and a sizable group of downright awful teams, across Kentucky. That's made for more blowouts than a highway full of potholes.
■ Assuming star QB Patrick Towles stays healthy, Highlands is a solid favorite to win the 4A title, which would be its 21st championship and keep it tied with Trinity for that record.
■ Class 5A should have terrific playoff games in the later rounds, with unbeatens Bowling Green, Christian County, Franklin County, Harlan County and John Hardin in the mix. A strong case can be made for each of those teams making it to Bowling Green for the finals.
■ Defending champs Mayfield, Newport Central Catholic and Central are the teams to beat in 1A, 2A and 3A, respectively.
■ Nine of the 11 highest-scoring teams in the state are unbeaten: Highlands (58.1 ppg), Franklin County (49.8), Bowling Green (49.8), Edmonson County (48.7), John Hardin (48.5), Scott County (48.2), Breathitt County (46.7), Harlan County (46.7) and Trinity (46). Also among the top 11 are Beechwood (51.1) and North Oldham (47)
■ The seven stingiest defenses in the state also belong to undefeated teams: Mayfield (5.3 ppg), Scott County (6.4), Glasgow (6.9), Bowling Green (7.3), Trinity (8.6), John Hardin (9.3) and Fairview (9.8).
■ Nice guys do finish first, or at least get to No. 1 in their profession: Philip Haywood of Belfry got his 346th career victory last Friday, making him the state's all-time winningest coach. To put Haywood's accomplishment in perspective, Rick Bentley, sports information director at Pikeville University and a longtime sportswriter, pointed out that if a coach rang up 23 consecutive undefeated (15-0) state championship seasons, he would have 345 victories.
■ Eleven undefeated teams are in Dave Cantrall's top 25: No. 1 Trinity, No. 2 Highlands, No. 3 Bowling Green, No. 4 John Hardin, No. 6 Scott County, No. 13 Christian County, No. 15 Newport Central Catholic, No. 21 Harlan County, No. 23 Franklin County as well as Belfry and Mayfield, who are tied at 25.
Here's how Cantrall rates the six other unbeatens: No. 47. Breathitt County, No. 49 Glasgow, No. 61 Owensboro Catholic, No. 85 Edmonson County, No. 92 Fairview and No. 139 Owen County.
■ Elizabethtown and Hopkinsville were among the best programs in the state just a few years ago, but are at serious risk of going winless this season. E-town (0-9) visits unbeaten Glasgow Friday night. Hoptown (0-9), which will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, finishes at Fort Campbell. Hoptown has decades of football tradition, and it carried over into the early 2000s. The Tigers made it to the state semifinals four times in five years, and reached the third round of the playoffs three other times before things started to sour in 2007. Nothing compares to this season, though. Hoptown has been outscored by an average of 54-10. E-town, state runner-up in 2003, made it to the third round of the playoffs in 2004 and '08, but started to slide after that. The Panthers have hit bottom this season, giving up 58 points a game.
■ Chasing Derek Homer: Ashland Blazer beat Johnson Central 22-6 by putting the clamps on J.J. Jude, limiting him to a reported 81 yards. That would leave Jude 238 yards shy of Homer's state career rushing record of 8,224 yards. Johnson Central visits Belfry on Friday. Meanwhile in Louisville, Central's Anthony Wales ran for 287 yards and four TDs in a win over LaRue County. That pushed his career total to 7,448 yards, 776 behind Homer's mark. Central hosts Pleasure Ridge Park on Friday.
■ When Highlands QB Patrick Towles was sidelined by a head injury in the first quarter of last Friday's game at Cincinnati Elder, Donovan McCoy stepped in and threw for 246 yards and two TDs, including a 58-yarder to David Christian in the fourth quarter that wound up being the difference for the Bluebirds. McCoy also rushed for 56 yards. Not bad for a wide receiver who had gotten few reps at QB this season. "When Donovan went in the game, I realized I had messed up because I hardly practiced him at quarterback all year," Coach Dale Mueller said. "But he came in and put on a show." Mueller said Towles is OK and will start at QB for the Bluebirds' against Ryle Friday night. Highlands has a score to settle with the Raiders, who upset the Bluebirds 28-26 in last year's regular-season finale. That's Highlands' only loss in its last 52 games, going back to 2008.
■ Ryle had its own backup QB hero in Ryan Hill in a victory over Dixie Heights last week. Hill took over after Nathan Davis hurt his ankle in the second quarter. Hill, a 5-foot-5, 150-pound sophomore, ran 27 times for 254 yards and three TDs, and threw a TD pass. "He's not big, but he can flat fly and he can move," Raiders Coach Bryson Warner said. "Our offensive line did a great job, and I think (Dixie Heights) had trouble seeing him." Ryle (6-3) recovered nicely after losing star RB/LB Travis Elliott to a knee injury in the second game of the season. It finished second in its 6A district. "We knew we'd be a different team without Travis, but we still felt we could be an effective team. That's why we're coaching football, teaching how you have challenges you have to get through in life." Ryle will be shorthanded against Highlands on Friday. The Raiders will be missing four starters (Davis and three offensive linemen).
■ Franklin County (10-0) beat Montgomery County last week for its first unbeaten regular season in 32 years. The 1979 Flyers beat Bullitt Central in the first round of the 4A playoffs, but lost to Owensboro in the quarterfinals to finish 11-1.
■ Bardstown rallied past DeSales 38-31 behind Jordan Brewer, who ran for 114 yards and threw for 121. All eight of his pass completions went to Anthony Myrks. No surprise Brewer and Myrks have that kind of connection. They're brothers. Bardstown basketball coach James "Boo" Brewer, Jordan's dad, adopted Anthony when he was in the sixth grade. "He and Jordan are inseparable," Brewer said last March when the Tigers reached the Sweet Sixteen. "If you see one, you'll see the other. They're very close, almost like twins."
■ When Somerset had its 23-game regular-season winning streak snapped in mid-September and went on a three-game losing streak (to Breathitt County, Glasgow and Whitley County), the Briar Jumpers seemed to have lost their hop. But Coach Rob Lucas' team bounced back strong, beating Danville, LCA and Middlesboro to win its 2A district title. Somerset QB Alex Lange has rushed for 916 yards and eight TDs, and passed for 752 yards and eight TDs. The Jumpers close the regular season at Perry County Central on Friday night.
■ Bourbon County junior Kentayvous Hopkins ran for 235 yards and four TDs in a 36-29 win over Bath County. Hopkins has 2,366 yards and 33 TDs this season. Bath County junior QB Clark Kissick threw for 311 yards and ran for three TDs.
■ Manual beat Male 23-14 in the 129th game in the state's oldest rivalry. Male leads the series, which began in 1893, 80-43-6.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar senior Lee Kiefer is in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" this week for winning the bronze medal in women's fencing in the Senior World Championships in Italy. Kiefer is ranked No. 6 in the world.
■ Danville 5-10 junior sharp-shooter Kasey Young, who averaged 15 points last season, has committed to play basketball at EKU.
■ Dunbar junior basketball standout Mike Smith, a transfer from Sayre who led the city in scoring the past two years, has made unofficial visits to EKU, IUPUI and Bowling Green State, and has been invited to Gardner-Webb's "Bulldog Madness" Friday night.
■ Former Lafayette and Lipscomb baseball standout Scott Shannon, who lost his battle with cancer at age 21, will be remembered next week on the 20th anniversary of his death. Shannon drew the attention of pro scouts when he had a 27-9 career record at Lipscomb. Six months later, he died from cancer. On that date this year (Nov. 5), Lipscomb is having a reception and memorial celebration of Shannon's life. The school also has a scholarship named in his honor. Donations can be made online at http://www.lipscombsports.com/give/online/