Some thoughts and observations following the release of this week’s Associated Press high school football polls.
1. Mountain mania: Three schools who ranked at the top of their class — Johnson Central (4A), Belfry (3A) and Paintsville (A) — are located in Eastern Kentucky. Belfry has been a prohibitive favorite in Class 3A since the preseason. Paintsville jumped from the No. 4 spot to the top in the Class A poll after beating Pikeville on the road last week. Johnson Central, ranked second last week, dominated Lexington Catholic — a top-five team in Class 3A — while previous Class 4A No. 1 South Warren lost to Greenwood.
2. Class A cat fight: Beechwood received one more first-place vote than Paintsville, but the mountain Tigers finished five points ahead of the northern Tigers in overall points to take the No. 1 spot this week.
3. Marooned: Pulaski County didn’t play this week but fell out of the top 10 for the first time in quite a while. The Maroons (1-1) likely lost some luster among voters after Harlan County, whom they defeated in their opener, got waxed at Belfry on Friday. Madison Southern, the top-10 newcomer who bumped them, has picked up impressive wins over Class 3A foes Garrard County and Western Hills the last two weeks. The Eagles host Pulaski County on Sept. 23.
4. Mayday in Class 3A: While Belfry and Corbin have booked extended stays in the top two slots, the rest of the Class 3A voting is all over the place. LexCath, Central and Boyle County — ranked third, fourth and fifth last week — all dropped two spots after losing last week. Central and Boyle County are 0-6, but five of those losses are to teams currently ranked in the top five of their respective classes. Lexington Catholic is 1-2 and with losses to St. Xavier (No. 6 in Class 6A) and Johnson Central (No. 1 in Class 4A).
5. Cantrall conflicts: Dave Cantrall’s first edition of “Rating the State” came out Monday. Of course there were some notable distinctions between that formula and this week’s AP poll ...
▪ Male and South Warren were rated No. 1 in Class 6A and Class 4A, respectively. Trinity and Johnson Central, No. 1 in those polls, have not played enough games against Kentucky competition to be rated yet.
▪ Henry Clay’s one of the top 15 teams in the state according to Cantrall, but the Blue Devils didn’t receive a single vote in the Class 6A poll this week.
▪ McCracken County is another undervalued team by voters according to the ratings. The Mustangs were ranked ninth by voters in the poll but were just a tenth of a point behind Simon Kenton, good for third in the Class 6A ratings (fourth overall in the state).
▪ Class 3A is just as crazy in Cantrall’s ratings. Belfry’s No. 1 there by a wide margin (the Pirates are ninth best in the state by his formula), but teams No. 2 (Elizabethtown), No. 3 (Paducah Tilghman) and No. 4 (Caldwell County) aren’t even ranked in this week’s poll.
▪ Cantrall’s formula really likes Louisville Christian (2-1), ranked fourth in the AP poll. The Centurions bested Mayfield by nearly a point in his rating system. Another Class 2A team undervalued by voters but favored by Cantrall? Lloyd Memorial (2-1), which was unranked in the poll but rated eighth.
▪ Pulaski County still got respect from the numbers; the Maroons were rated No. 7 in Cantrall’s Class 5A rankings.
▪ The team pollsters are giving more credit than the numbers do? Leslie County. The Eagles (3-0) received one first-place vote and were ranked eighth in Class 2A, but rated 15th overall in Class 2A on the Cantrall scale.