High-scoring offenses sometimes have trouble revving up in cold weather, but that wasn't the case in the second round of the state high school football playoffs last week.
Twenty-two of 48 winners scored 45 points or more. Franklin County lit up the scoreboard for 48 ... and lost by six touchdowns in one of the more amazing playoff games in state history.
Conner trampled previously unbeaten Franklin County 84-48. The Cougars had 835 total yards, including a state-record 745 rushing.
"I never would've thought in a million years we could do that," Coach Dave Trosper said. Conner had four players top 100 yards rushing: Jesse McKeehan, who carried twice for 12 yards in the Cougars' first 11 games, ran 13 times for 251 yards and three TDs. QB Drew Barker ran for 219 yards and four TDs. Cameron Fogle had 162 yards and three TDs before leaving with an injury in the first half. Dylan Levsey had 108 yards and a TD. "I guess you could say it was surreal," Trosper said. "But I've been telling our kids all year that it's going to be scary when we started to click. What better time than now to start clicking."
In a game that featured 1,428 total yards, 54 first downs and 19 TDs, defense was the difference for Conner as it pulled away after leading 42-40 at halftime. It did a good job doubling up on Franklin County junior star Ryan Timmons. He had 371 all-purpose yards, but only one TD in the second half. "Who the heck can contain him?" Trosper said. "I'm not sure Trinity could. The kid is phenomenal, almost impossible to stop."
When Conner hosts Anderson County on Friday, it will be the Cougars' first quarterfinal game since 1996. A victory would put them in the semifinals for the first time since they won the state title in 1983. "We've got a lot of pride factors our kids are playing for right now," Trosper said.
■ When Dale Anderson abruptly resigned as Southwestern football coach in mid-September, the Warriors were 1-3 and seemed to be headed nowhere. But then assistant Andy Stephens, a former head coach at Casey County, took over, and Southwestern began a winning streak that has carried it to the 5A quarterfinals. It will host Harlan County Friday night. "It all happened so fast, it was almost a shock factor," Stephens said of the team's reaction after Anderson stepped down. "We didn't have time to think about it. We stayed busy and kept winning." Southwestern is 8-0 under Stephens, including an upset of Christian County in the regular-season finale and a playoff victory over Perry County Central last week. "We've got a good combination of athletes and linemen," Stephens said. "And we're playing with confidence now." Dustin Powell, a 5-8, 150-pound senior running back, has been a force all season. He's rushed for 2,400 yards and 31 TDs. Alan Williams has been used at several positions, including taking snaps in the wildcat formation. He has more than 1,000 all-purpose yards. Rob Lewis, a 6-4, 290-pound lineman, will lead the Warriors up front against a big, strong Harlan County line. "They're probably one of the more physical teams we've played," Stephens said. The Southwestern-Harlan County winner will go on the road next week to face either Anderson County or Conner in the semifinals.
As for Anderson, the Somerset Commonwealth Journal reported this week that an investigation surrounding the former coach is "in a holding pattern" while the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department awaits the results of a forensic examination from the FBI. The nature of the investigation has not been revealed. Anderson has not been charged with any crime.
■ Johnson Central's loss to Highlands ended the career of J.J. Jude, the state's all-time leading rusher. Jude carried 23 times for 94 yards to finish with 8,633 yards, 409 more than Derek Homer's old mark of 8,224. Central senior Anthony Wales is third on the list. He ran for 137 yards in a win over Corbin last week to give him 7,779 yards. The Yellowjackets host Bell County Friday night.
■ Lone Oak sophomore Cole Ousley threw for 380 yards and seven TDs in a 56-19 rout of Owensboro. Ousley pushed his season totals to 3,309 yards and 52 TDs, and two-year totals to 6,681 yards and 86 TDs. If he keeps passing at this pace the next two seasons, Ousley will challenge the state career record of 13,642 yards set by Clay County's Zach Lewis, and obliterate the record for TD passes of 133 shared by Leslie County's Tim Couch and South Laurel's Ricky Bowling.
■ Trinity junior Ryan White has returned three punts for TDs this season, and four in his career. The Shamrocks, who shut out their first two playoff opponents (Simon Kenton and Manual) 127-0, moved up to No. 1 in Sports Illustrated's national power rankings. Rivals.com has had Trinity No. 1 for weeks.
■ Fort Campbell knocked off previously unbeaten Edmonson County 14-0. QB Aaron Hills had 223 yards and two TDs rushing and passing.
■ Mayfield extended the state's longest winning streak to 27 in a row by beating Kentucky Country Day.
■ Fairview, 12-0 for the first time in school history, plays Pikeville in the 1A semifinals.
■ Undefeated Owensboro Catholic had seven turnovers but still bashed Butler County 45-27. Next up for the Aces is Murray. It will be a rematch from last year's 2A quarterfinals when Owensboro Catholic spoiled the Tigers' unbeaten record with a 29-22 victory.
■ Williamsburg, which lost to Harlan 41-22 early in the season, turned things around in the playoffs by whipping the Dragons 38-6. Dalton Sizemore threw for three TDs and ran for two.
■ Anderson County beat Montgomery County as Ethan Kelly had 304 yards and five TDs rushing and receiving.
■ Nicholas County's Caleb Pope set single-season school records with 2,325 yards rushing and 35 TDs. He led the Blue Jackets to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in nine years.
■ Lexington Christian grad Domonique Hayden, a sophomore running back at Thomas More, was named player of the year in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Hayden rushed for 756 yards and 14 TDs, and had 36 catches for 424 yards and three TDs. The Saints (9-1), ranked No. 18 in Division III, visit No. 16 Franklin, Ind. (9-1), in the first round of the playoffs on Saturday.
■ Central sophomore basketball star D'Angelo Russell has transferred to Montverde, a prep school in Florida. "He's a good one. I wish him the best," Central Coach Doug Bibby said in an email. "For us, life moves forward." The 6-4 Russell has scholarship offers from Louisville, Indiana, Purdue and Xavier.
■ Defending 9th Region basketball champ Dixie Heights won't have Zeke Pike this season. Pike, a 6-foot-5 senior quarterback who's committed to play football at Auburn, will graduate early and enroll in college in January. Pike averaged 13 points and six rebounds last season. Even without Pike, the Colonels are still region favorites with returning starters Brandon Hatton, Parker Stansberry and Jordan Hassel.
■ Owensboro Catholic sophomore basketball star Becca Greenwell will miss her junior season after suffering a torn ACL in early September. That news didn't keep 18 coaches from voting her the No. 1 player in the state in the Herald-Leader's pre-season survey.
■ Bourbon County will host the Russ Day Panorama on Saturday with four basketball scrimmages: Bourbon Co. vs. Henry Clay (girls), 10 a.m.; Mason Co. vs. Bryan Station (boys), 12:30 p.m.; Henry Clay vs. Rowan Co. (boys), 3:30, and Bourbon Co. vs. Sayre (boys), 6:30.
■ Asbury University will host four scrimmages on Saturday. East Jessamine vs. Bath County (girls), 3 p.m.; West Jessamine vs. Garrard Co. (girls), 4:30; East Jessamine vs. Shelby Co. (boys), 6; West Jessamine vs. Clark Co. (boys), 7:30.
■ Lexington high school baseball had six players sign with Division I schools in the past week: Bryan Station pitcher Ryne Combs (UK), first baseman/pitcher Michael Bollmer (Louisville) and outfielder Chris LaPorte (Morehead State); Henry Clay pitcher Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt); and Lexington Catholic infielder Will Hurt (Coastal Carolina) and pitcher Zack Haynes (Indiana).
■ Lafayette senior Rebecca Hamperian, a two-time state diving champ, signed with UK this week.
■ Henry Clay softball pitcher Sarah Mathis signed with Tusculum. She had 145 strikeouts in 143 innings last year, with a 2.99 ERA.
■ Lexington Catholic tennis player Zack Lewis signed with College of Charleston.