The Smith family is undefeated halfway through high school football's regular season. Chuck Smith's Boyle County Rebels are 5-0, and Brandon Smith's South Warren Spartans are 5-0.
If Jackie Smith, Chuck's wife and Brandon's mom, were in a last-man-standing contest, would she pick her husband or her son to stay undefeated longer?
"Oh, I know without a doubt she'd pick me," Brandon said with a laugh. "That's just how she is. And the thing about it is, she would have no problem letting my dad know it, too." Chuck Smith agreed that his wife would take sides with Brandon. "That's her baby, and she's going to take care of him," he said. "I'm really proud of him. He's just eat up with football, and works at it 24/7."
Brandon is in his first season as South Warren's head coach after distinguishing himself as the Spartans' defensive coordinator on Mark Nelson's staff the last few years. South Warren led the state in scoring defense last year, giving up only 56 points in 13 games.
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The Spartans graduated seven of 11 defensive starters, including University of Kentucky signee Adrian Middleton and Western Kentucky signee Joel Iyiegbuniwe. But they're among the stingiest teams in the state again this season, having given up only 30 points in five games. "Playing good defense is something the guys take pride in," Smith said. "They have a desire to keep that reputation and sometimes that can cause you to play at another level." South Warren reached a new level this week by being rated No. 1 in Class 3A by The Associated Press for the first time in the program's five-year history.
Brandon was a star quarterback for his dad at Boyle County, where Chuck Smith's forte was defense. Chuck coached linebackers at UK for eight years before returning to Boyle County this year.
"Brandon learned defense the Boyle County way, but he's kind of done his own twist with it," Chuck said. "Whatever he's done, it's working." They talk at least once a week and bounce ideas off each other. "We have a great relationship," Brandon said.
Is there any chance Boyle County and South Warren might schedule each other so father and son could match wits on the sidelines?
"Our athletic director, Chris Decker, is asking me all the time about that — he wants that gate money," Brandon said with a laugh. "But I'd like to avoid that."
■ After three years at the University of Pikeville, Dudley Hilton's return to high school football was a winning one as he guided Taylor County to a 41-30 victory over LaRue County last Friday. It was Hilton's 346th career win, breaking a tie with retired Newport Central Catholic Coach Bob Schneider for second place on the state's all-time list. Belfry's Philip Haywood is No. 1 with 379 victories. In its last game before Hilton took over, Taylor County lost to Campbellsville 42-6. Against LaRue County, the Cardinals rushed for 504 yards, with Brandon Williams carrying 21 times for 246 yards. Hilton's assistants at Taylor County include former Corbin coach Larry "Cotton" Adams. Hilton is 66, Adams is 67. "Some people call us 'The Golden Boys,' but sometimes we say we're 'Dumb and Dumber,'" Hilton deadpanned. Adams led Corbin to a state title in 1982 and state runner-up finish in 1990. He was an assistant at Whitley County a few years ago. "It was a no-brainer for him to get back into coaching," Hilton said. Taylor County plays at Boyle County on Friday night. Hilton's last loss as a high school coach was to Boyle County in the 2010 playoffs.
■ Oldham County ended a 10-game losing streak by outgunning North Bullitt 55-54. Colonels quarterback James Harding completed 31 of 50 passes for 387 yards and seven TDs, including a game-winning toss to Carson Axtell with 10 seconds left. Allan Farrow and Trey Tucker each had more than 100 receiving yards. It was Oldham County's first victory under first-year coach Mike Shatzer. North Bullitt junior Logan James set school records for completions and TD passes. He was 17 of 24 for 237 yards and five TDs. Nate Johnson had 10 catches for 127 yards and three TDs.
■ Pikeville ended a 13-year losing streak to Belfry by beating the 3A state champs 29-20. Daric Pugh ran for 152 yards and three TDs, and Austin Charles threw for 120 yards as the Panthers improved to 5-0. That's their best start since they won their first seven games in 2000 and reached the Class A semifinals. Pikeville Coach Chris McNamee said the rivalry with Belfry hadn't been much of a rivalry in recent years. "It seemed like they blew us out every time. It was getting to where it was no fun anymore." Belfry won the previous seven games by an average score of 52-13. McNamee was pleased with how his defense limited the damage from Belfry's running game. Pikeville can't enjoy its big victory for long. It visits unbeaten Middlesboro on Friday night.
■ As a junior receiver at Highlands last season, Jensen Feggins had 51 catches for 1,100 yards and 15 TDs. Feggins transferred to Warren Central for his senior year to play for his dad, Howard Feggins, the Dragons' new coach. In five games this season, Jensen has 43 catches for 522 yards and three TDs.
■ Cincinnati Moeller, No. 1 in Ohio's Division I classification, has whipped a couple of highly rated Kentucky teams. It beat No. 6 Covington Catholic 39-0 and No. 8 St. Xavier 26-0. Moeller hosts Trinity in the regular-season finale on Oct. 31.
■ After three-time defending Class 5A champion Bowling Green's 48-game winning streak ended with a 21-20 loss to McCallie School of Tennessee, Purples Coach Kevin Wallace told the Bowling Green Daily News: "My perspective is that they don't give rings for a streak."
■ Defending Class 6A champ Scott County's 20-game winning streak is the longest in the state, and 16 of those victories have been mercy-rule blowouts. Since 2011, Jim McKee's Cardinals have a 46-3 record. Two of the losses were to Trinity in the playoffs. The other was to Highlands. Defending 2A champ DeSales' 12-game winning streak is second longest in the state.
■ Hopkins Central has the longest losing streak in the state. The Storm have dropped 31 games in a row, including 14 shutouts. Hopkins Central's last victory was on Sept. 23, 2011, against Muhlenberg County.
■ Highlands celebrated its 100th year of football with a reunion before last week's game against Paducah Tilghman. Former Bluebirds coaches Homer Rice, Owen Hauck, Roger Walls, Mike Murphy, Bill Herman, Jack Eicher and Dale Mueller were there, along with Mr. Football quarterbacks Jared Lorenzen and Patrick Towles. Highlands has 22 state titles, which ties it with Trinity for most in state history. The Bluebirds' 859 victories are second most in the national record books. Highlands has a 23-9-2 record against Lexington teams (4-1 against Bryan Station, 2-2 against Henry Clay, 9-5-2 against Lafayette, 6-1 against Lexington Catholic, and 2-0 against Paul Laurence Dunbar.
■ Bullitt Central senior Trevor Carnell is averaging 212 rushing yards this year, and has pushed his career totals to 5,603 yards and 62 TDs.
■ Caldwell County's Elijah Sindelar threw for 360 yards and four TDs in a 55-7 rout of Fort Campbell. Sindelar's 119 career TD passes tie him with Brian Brohm of Trinity for sixth most in state history. Sindelar's 10,606 passing yards rank fifth all-time.
■ This week in high school football in 1974, Kreis McGuire's 35-yard field goal with five minutes left was the difference as winless Lafayette stunned unbeaten and top-rated Tates Creek 10-7. McGuire, who now lives in Bowling Green, said in an email this week that he credits kicking coach George Barber for giving him the confidence to "conquer any hurdle that was in front of me." McGuire went on to kick at WKU. McGuire also noted that Barber worked with Jordan Gay, a Centre College grad who is now with the Buffalo Bills. "His magic is still working 40 years later," McGuire wrote of Barber.
■ Henry Clay's girls will go for their third straight title when the 7th Region golf tournament is held at Kearney Hill Links on Monday. Blue Devils junior Leslie Ginter is defending medalist. The Leachman/KHSAA girls' state tournament is Oct. 7-8 at Bowling Green Country Club. Clark County's boys will try to defend their 9th Region title Tuesday at Gibson Bay in Richmond. The boys' state tournament is Oct. 10-11 at Bowling Green Country Club.