If you're going to Bowling Green for the state football finals, you can make a side trip to Dinosaur World, just a few miles off Interstate 65 in Cave City. Or you can keep driving and see a couple of dinosaurs face off in the Class 6A finals Friday night.
That's how Meade County Coach Larry Mofield described his team's matchup with Scott County. In this age of pass-happy offenses, the Cardinals and Green Wave prefer old-fashioned football. "It seems like everybody's chucking it around 40, 50 or 60 times a game, in the NFL, colleges, and it's trickled down to high schools," Mofield said. "But you might see dinosaurs roaming the sidelines Friday night because it might be the last time two Wing-T teams get after it."
Meade County and Scott County aren't the only run-first finalists. Belfry and DeSales also prefer to grind it out, which could come in handy if the weather turns nasty.
■ Johnny Hines was a tight end/linebacker on the Somerset team that lost in the 1978 state finals to Mayfield. "That sticks with you for a lifetime," Hines said. "It was a heartbreaker." Thirty-five years later, Hines returns to the finals as Pulaski County coach. The undefeated Maroons face two-time defending 5A champ Bowling Green. Hines joked that he's hoping the Purples "can't get out of their locker room. They're a tremendously talented team, not only (wide receiver) Nacarius Fant, but (quarterback) Devin Hayes, (linebacker) Lincoln Quick, (running back) Blue Tisdale ..." Youthful Pulaski County, in the finals for the first time, starts five freshmen after starting six last season. Sophomore quarterback Riley Hall directs the high-powered offense.
■ Bowling Green's 43-game winning streak is the third longest in state history, and the Purples are trying to become the 10th team to win three titles in a row. Coach Kevin Wallace also hopes Nacarius Fant, his star wide receiver, can get his third championship ring and enhance his chances of winning Mr. Football. "I hope that happens for him," Wallace said. "But he knows he doesn't get it done without the other people around him." A Bowling Green victory would also serve as a nice tribute to Dan Haley, who died in late October. Haley coached the Purples for 12 years, capped by a state title in 1995. Wallace was his assistant that season before taking over the reins.
■ Belfry senior Sani Warren will start in his fourth consecutive state championship game when the Pirates play Wayne County. Warren started at defensive back as a freshman and sophomore when Belfry lost to Central in the finals. He played quarterback/defensive back in last year's loss to Central, and will be on both sides of the ball again Friday afternoon. "That's something. I know Sani's excited about it," Coach Philip Haywood said. After losing to Central in the finals in 2007, '10, '11 and '12, Haywood admitted it'll be strange not facing the Yellow Jackets again. But he doesn't have to worry that his players will take Wayne County lightly. "They know Wayne County beat Central (two weeks ago)," Haywood said. "That got their attention."
■ Dale Mueller, in his 20th year as Highlands' head coach, got his 250th victory with the Bluebirds when they beat Lexington Catholic last week. Mueller has led Highlands to 11 state titles, including six in a row. If the Bluebirds beat Pulaski County in Saturday's finals, they will have 23 state championships — one more than that other juggernaut, Trinity. Mueller's overall record is 309-66, including a 250-35 mark at Highlands. The Bluebirds have won 45 consecutive games against Kentucky competition. Since 2007 they are 94-1 against in-state teams.
■ If Scott County, averaging 54 points a game, gets 43 against Meade County, it will be the third team in state history to score 800 in a season. Highlands had 849 in 2011 and 801 in 1998. Scott County's Palmer Ward, who has a single-season, state-record 99 conversion kicks, needs four more to break the career record of 297 set by Jack Coorts of Lone Oak 2007.
■ Williamsburg Coach Jerry Herron knows his team is a big underdog against Mayfield. Williamsburg is in the title game for the first time. Mayfield, a nine-time state champ, is making its 19th appearance in the finals. But Herron remembers that his Yellow Jackets lost to Hazard in the 2011 playoffs, and the Bulldogs went on to beat Mayfield for the 1A title. "Hazard left our field and went on to win a state championship, so our kids have played against a team with state championship quality."
Herron said nobody is more excited about the Jackets' success than Stan Lovett, who has teamed with Rick Campbell on radio coverage of Williamsburg football for the last 15 seasons. Lovett played for the Jackets more than 50 years ago, and his loyalty has never waned. Herron had Lovett record a greeting on the coach's cellphone eight years ago, and it's still there. Lovett's enthusiasm sounds even more meaningful these days when he concludes the message with a booming "Go Big Orange!"
■ DeSales Coach Harold Davis played for the Colts when they lost to Henry Clay in the Class 4A finals in 1981.
■ Male senior Marque Northington, who had a single-game record 26 catches against St. Xavier in the playoffs, had four against Scott County last week. He finished the year with 104, two shy of tying the state record set by Lone Oak's Jamarielle Brown in 2007.
■ David Bouvier finished his career as Lexington Catholic's all-time leader in receptions (215) and receiving yards (3,156). Senior linebacker Josh Mesmer had the second most tackles (298) in school history, behind Doug Wolford (351).
■ Bryson Warner has resigned as football coach at Ryle. He had an 11-year record of 73-58, including a state runner-up finish to Trinity in 2006. Ryle went 2-9 this season and 3-8 last year.
■ Jeff Garmon of Glasgow has been chosen assistant football coach of the year in Kentucky by the Kentucky High School Coaches Association. In Garmon's four years at Glasgow, the Scotties have a 42-9 record, including a 2A state runner-up finish.
■ Wayne County will celebrate "Monticello Night" when it plays host to Whitley County in boys' basketball Saturday night. Cardinals Coach Rodney Woods has been planning the event for months. It was originally scheduled for Friday, but Wayne County's appearance in the football finals pushed it back a day. Monticello closed at the end of last school year and merged with Wayne County. Woods wanted to preserve Monticello's rich basketball tradition, which includes almost 1,300 victories, 16 region titles and a state runner-up finish in 1960. Wayne County will wear Monticello uniforms, white, trimmed in blue, against Whitley County. More than 150 former Monticello players are expected to attend. Woods said Monticello's trophies are now on display at Wayne County, and banners documenting the Trojans' region titles are hanging in the gym.
■ With high-profile players in high demand, Tates Creek Coach Wayne Breeden put together a strong Mr. Basketball Classic that the Commodores will host on Friday. Dixie Heights plays Johnson Central at 6 p.m., followed by Henry Clay taking on Perry County Central. Each team has a player rated in the top 10 in the state: Johnson Central's Shane Hall (Marshall signee), Perry Central's Justin Johnson (WKU), Henry Clay's Jordan Green (undecided) and Dixie Heights' Brandon Hatton (Vermont).
■ Defending 10th Region boys' basketball champ Montgomery County will host the inaugural Bart Rison Classic on Saturday: Bath County vs. Bourbon County, 1 p.m.; Estill County vs. South Laurel, 3; Ashland Blazer vs. Montgomery County, 5.
■ The Roland Wierwille Classic is Saturday at Berea College. The boys' quadruple-header: Buckhorn vs. Berea, noon; Oldham County vs. West Jessamine, 1:45; Henry Clay vs. Danville, 3:30; Bryan Station vs. Owen County, 5:15.
■ Perry Central's Randy Napier is on the verge of becoming the state's all-time winningest girls' basketball coach. He has 792 career victories, one shy of the record set by Marshall County's Howard Beth, who retired in 2010. Napier can tie Beth's record if Perry Central beats Somerset on Friday night. Napier coached M.C. Napier to the state championship in 1994, and the school was consolidated into Perry Central the next season.
■ Collins freshman Gabriella Karas, a three-time state cross country champ, finished fourth in the Foot Locker Cross Country South Regionals last Saturday in Charlotte, N.C. Karas was clocked in 17:07 and earned a spot in the Foot Locker national finals in San Diego on Dec. 14.
Schools with at least 5 state football titles
Highlands, Trinity 22
St. Xavier 12
Boyle County 7
Covington Catholic, Fort Campbell, Male 6
Central, Newport Central Catholic 5
Madison Southern star Gatorade player of year
Madison Southern junior running back Damien Harris has been named Gatorade's high school football player of the year in Kentucky.
Harris received his award in a ceremony at the school Thursday.
Harris, who has committed to Michigan, rushed for 2,621 yards and 42 touchdowns this season while leading the Eagles to a 10-2 record and the region finals.
He has run for 5,274 yards and 90 TDs in his career.