The Male Bulldogs are looking like Alpha Male Bulldogs after taking down St. Xavier and Trinity in football the last two Friday nights.
"It's an amazing ride," Male Coach Chris Wolfe said.
Male beat Trinity 24-14 last week and St. X 44-40 the week before. It's the first time a Kentucky team has knocked off the perennial powers back-to-back since Clark County did it in the 1991 playoffs. The Cardinals beat Trinity 28-20 in the Class 4A semifinals and St. X 28-21 in the finals. (Cincinnati St. X beat the Tigers and Shamrocks in consecutive weeks in 2010).
After Male beat St. X two weeks ago for the first time in seven years, Wolfe worried that the breakthrough victory might leave his team feeling satisfied. Instead, it gave the Bulldogs confidence that they could topple mighty Trinity, too. They did, rocking the Rocks for the first time since the 2000 state finals.
There's no letup for Male this Friday. The Bulldogs visit Manual in the oldest rivalry in the state. The Crimsons are also one of the top teams in Class 6A. They lost to Trinity 38-30 and St. X 24-23.
Male is led by twin senior captains and linebackers Malik and Mike Malone, but sixteen of its 22 starters are underclassmen. "You worry about that (youth) when you get into district play," Wolfe said, "but these guys are seasoned. They don't have that deer-in-the-headlights look."
It's likely Male will run up against either St. X or Trinity again in the playoffs. But by beating both of them already, the Bulldogs have sparked discussion about who's No. 1 in 6A: Male or Scott County? That question is foreign to the ears. The last time neither Trinity nor St. X reached the state finals was 1998. The last time neither of them made it to the semifinals was 1993.
■ Bowling Green beat Warren Central 48-14 to clinch its 10th district title in 11 years and stretch its winning streak to 37 in a row. Nacarius Fant pushed his career totals to 188 catches (eighth most in state history) for 3,713 yards (fifth most) and 42 TDs (seventh most). The Purples play Greenwood on Friday. It will be the 1,000th game in Bowling Green's history. Its overall record is 636-328-35.
■ Scott Daniel, Scott County's Mr. Versatility, has topped 1,000 all-purpose yards again this season. He has 234 career touches in 37 games and generated 4,451 yards and 49 TDs rushing, receiving, passing, and returning punts, kickoffs and interceptions. Scott County kicker Palmer Ward has made 64 of 67 extra points, giving him 259 in his career. That's second most in state history behind Jack Coorts' 297 for Lone Oak in 2007-10. Ward is also a weapon on kickoffs. He's booted 52 of 74 into the end zone for touchbacks.
■ Conner quarterback Drew Barker, who has committed to play at Kentucky, is the fourth player in state history to pass for 50 touchdowns and run for 50. He has thrown for 54 and rushed for 50. Two of the other three 50-50 guys won Mr. Football honors: Fort Campbell's Antonio Andrews (56 rushing, 50 passing) and Hancock County's Travis Atwell (75 rushing, 67 passing). Franklin County's Kaelin Ammons (109 passing, 52 rushing) was the other to do it.
■ Pikeville will mark the 25th anniversary of its state championship team before Friday's game against Allen Central. Hillard Howard's 1988 Panthers, led by running backs Greg Hackney and Bobby Deramus, went undefeated and gave Pikeville the second of its then-unprecedented three consecutive state titles.
■ Bellevue visits Dayton Friday for the 134th game between the Northern Kentucky schools. Bellevue has won the last six meetings and leads the series 88-42-3.
■ Anderson County ended Franklin County's 32-game regular-season winning streak by beating the Flyers 35-21. The Bearcats rallied from a 21-7 deficit and shut out high-scoring Franklin County in the second half. Ross Cox ran for three TDs and Zach Carmichael passed for 162 yards and a score to lead Anderson County.
■ Fairview's 28-game regular-season winning streak came to a halt with a 36-14 loss to district rival Raceland. After Fairview took a 7-3 lead, the Rams ran off 26 consecutive points, capped by Maverick Dixon's 62-yard interception return in the third quarter.
■ Longtime football coach Dan Haley, who died last week at age 73, had his most success at Paducah Tilghman (state title in 1973) and Bowling Green (state title in 1995). But he always had a special place in his heart for Bryan Station, where he got his first head coaching job in 1966 and led the Defenders to a state runner-up finish in 1969. His Bryan Station assistants included three guys who won state championships themselves: Terry Clark (Bryan Station), Roy Walton (Tates Creek) and Jake Bell (Henry Clay). "The happiest years I've had in coaching were (at Bryan Station)," Haley said in a 1989 interview. "The closeness we had there was unbelievable. The closeness of the team, the coaching staff, the faculty. it was a great environment. We also had the greatest principal in the world in R.L. Grider." Haley had a career record of 253-79-3. He was also an assistant at Morehead State and Western Kentucky, and was head coach at the University of the Cumberlands.
■ Washington County senior Tylyn Byas ran 41 times for a school-record 361 yards and tied a school record with five TDs in a 42-39 win over Shawnee. Byas, who also threw for 65 yards and a score, ran for the game-winning TD with 36 seconds left.
■ Warren East junior linebacker Eli Brown is no longer committed to go to Vanderbilt, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. When he committed to Vandy this summer, Brown also had offers from Kentucky, Ohio State and WKU.
■ Sportsmanship and compassion came into play in the closing minutes of the Tates Creek-Madison Central football game two weeks ago. Tates Creek's TaVon Dunn was injured while recovering an onside kick. "It was extremely scary because TaVon was unresponsive for a long time," Commodores Coach Mike Harmon said. "You could hear a pin drop in the stadium." While everyone waited for emergency personnel to arrive, Harmon and Madison Central Coach Bert Browne got the teams together at midfield and said a prayer. After the game, "the teams didn't just shake hands, there was a lot of consoling among the players," Harmon said. "It was an unbelievable display of sportsmanship." The best news is that Dunn appears to be OK, although at midweek he had not yet been cleared to play again.
■ Corbin has been shut out only twice in its last 84 games over the last seven seasons. Bell County has done it both times: 7-0 last week and 34-0 last year.
■ It's impossible to get toothpaste back in the tube once it's been squeezed out, and it's impossible to erase bad publicity once the modern media gets hold of it. That was the case with KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett's "suggestion" that schools consider eliminating post-game handshakes. Tackett quickly amended his comments to say there was "no ban or prohibition on such activity today or contemplated for the future." But the damage was done. A colleague of mine was on vacation in Toronto two weeks ago when a waitress asked where he and his family were from. He told her Lexington, Ky. Her response: "Oh yeah, I saw on CNN that high schools in Kentucky are banning the handshake after games. Isn't that crazy?" Then there was Sports Illustrated's "Sign of the Apocalypse" last week: "Citing more than 24 fights over the last three years, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association advised teams not to engage in postgame handshakes."
■ There was a good turnout for the reunion of Tates Creek's three state championship baseball teams (1978, '80, '86) last weekend. Ron Cole, who coached the title teams, reminisced with his former players, including Tony Mack, Kevin Kearns, Brad Redmon, Brad Walls, Kevin Jarvis and Brian Lane. Among those traveling the farthest for the reunion was Dr. Landon King, who played on the '78 team and is now the executive vice dean of medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
■ Hanover College freshman Elaine Simpson, who helped Tates Creek win the girls' state soccer title last fall, has been named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's soccer player of the week. She assisted on the game-winning goal in the Panthers' 2-1 victory against Earlham, and got her first two collegiate goals to seal Hanover's 4-0 win over Bluffton.
■ Sydney Golden, a former soccer standout at Paul Laurence Dunbar, is in her fourth year as a starter at Radford, the two-time defending Big South Conference champs. Golden, a defender, has helped the Highlanders post 44 shutouts in the last four years. They are 12-1-1 this season, the best start in school history.
■ A shout-out to former Lexington middle school and high school basketball coach Dave Cravens, who ran the Indianapolis Marathon last weekend. It was the 31st time he's completed a 26.2-mile race. Cravens, 68, ran his first marathon in 1995. The next year he was seriously injured when he fell from a ladder while cleaning out the gutters at his home. But he recovered quickly and within a few months he started his first season as head coach at Lexington Christian after 27 years at Southern Middle. Cravens ran in the Boston Marathon three times with his good friend, the late R.J. "Rick" Corman.