Franklin County's football Flyers are still flying high — undefeated and putting up big offensive numbers — even though Ryan "Touchdown" Timmons has moved on to play for Kentucky.
Franklin County (5-0) is averaging 47 points and 430 yards a game, not far off its production the previous two years, when Timmons was the catalyst and Logan Woodside was the triggerman. The Flyers averaged 50 points and 480 yards in 2011; 57 points and 445 yards in 2012. Timmons is starting at wide receiver for UK, and Woodside started at QB for Toledo last week, but Franklin County now has other playmakers. Flyers Coach Chris Tracy said this year's team wanted to prove it could maintain the program's winning ways.
"Everybody was telling them they couldn't be very good because they didn't have Ryan and Logan anymore. But people didn't understand they had a great supporting cast. Now those guys are getting a chance to show what they can do."
Lorenzo McCaskell and Chris Roberts are the main offensive weapons. McCaskell, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound senior running back and receiver, has rushed for 558 yards and 10 TDs, and he has 18 catches for 294 yards and two TDs. Roberts, a 6-3, 260-pound running back, has run for 554 yards and seven TDs, and has 10 catches for 144 yards and three scores.
Sophomore Barrett Sanderson has stepped in at quarterback. He has completed 70 percent of his passes for 877 yards and 11 TDs.
A veteran offensive line is anchored by seniors Zane Stone, Alex Prado and Michael Hudkins.
Franklin County's downfall in recent years has been its defense. But the Flyers are showing marked improvement on that side of the ball. After giving up 31.5 points and 424 yards a game last season, they've reduced those numbers to 22 and 285 this year. "We spent lot of time in the spring on our defense," Tracy said. "We're still not perfect, but we've got a group of kids who've really taken to playing it."
McCaskell and Roberts are defensive standouts, too.
■ Corbin (5-0) has had a running clock the last four weeks in lopsided victories over Perry Central (36-8), Trimble County (55-6), Danville (55-7) and South Laurel (53-0). The Redhounds have an open date this week as they get ready for a big district showdown with Wayne County next Friday. While Coach Steve Jewell likes that his team has won comfortably, he doesn't like it that his starters are getting shortchanged on playing time. "That's a concern," he said, "and that's why this off week we've been working a lot on conditioning."
Jewell tweaked his offense this season by moving Taylor Waddle from quarterback to tailback, bolstering a running attack that also features Jake Coppock and Cai Jackson. Junior quarterback Corey Taylor continues to get better, and the Redhounds' offensive line has been solid.
Corbin's defense has done its job, led by linebacker Tanner Powers.
"He's my quarterback on defense," Jewell said. "I've gotta have eyes on the field, and Tanner took that role and ran with it."
■ Perry Central Coach Justin Haddix was back in familiar surroundings when he took his team to Breathitt County last Friday. Haddix quarterbacked Breathitt County to an undefeated state title in 2002 and was a Bobcats assistant in 2008 and '09. Haddix coached Perry Central to a home-field win over Breathitt County in 2010, and he improved to 2-0 against his former team with a 20-14 victory last week. Commodores' junior quarterback Nathan Pray ran for 214 yards and a TD, and threw for 126 yards and two TDs, including the game-winner with :07 left.
■ Bowling Green won its 34th game in a row, but it wasn't easy. The Purples trailed McCallie School, Tenn., by 11 points in the third quarter — the largest second-half deficit they've faced during their winning streak — before rallying for a 40-36 victory. Nacarius Fant had 12 catches for 229 yards and three TDs, and had a 99-yard kickoff return for a score. Fant has 3,402 receiving yards in his career. That's seventh on the state's all-time list. He ranks 14th in receptions with 174 and TD catches with 37
■ John Hardin's Matt Elam, a 6-6, 355-pound defensive tackle, had a big game in helping the Bulldogs beat Pleasure Ridge Park last week. Chuck Jones of the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise reported that Elam had 13 tackles (10 solo) and caused havoc in PRP's backfield. Elam is a prime recruiting target of Alabama and UK, among others.
■ Madison Southern's Damien Harris and West Jessamine's Devin Taylor, two of the top running backs in the state, had strikingly similar statistics in games against their arch-rivals. Harris carried 31 times for 315 yards and three TDs in a 34-27 win over Madison Central. Taylor carried 31 times for 330 yards and three TDs in a 35-33 win over East Jessamine.
■ Clay County junior tailback Sam Carr got off to a slow start this season because of illness, but he looked robust in leading the Tigers past Whitley County 42-36 last week for their first win of the season. After rushing for 326 yards in Clay County's first four games, Carr ran for 332 yards and two TDs against Whitley County. Tigers Coach Evan Napier considers Carr one of the top backs in the state. "He has legit 4.5 speed, great feet and vision," Napier said.
■ Caldwell County beat Fort Campbell 48-35 in a game that featured more than 1,100 yards of offense. Caldwell County junior quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who has an offer from UK, threw for 380 yards and six TDs, pushing his season totals to 1,224 yards, 18 TDs and two interceptions. Fort Campbell's Triston Luke rushed for 227 yards and four TDs, and had a 37-yard TD catch.
■ After Hart County's Tyler Shirley kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired against South Warren last week, he and his teammates celebrated. They didn't win. They lost 47-3. But they avoided becoming South Warren's fifth consecutive shutout victim. The Spartans have outscored their five opponents 205-3.
■ The best team in the mountains might not be decided until the last week of the regular season when Johnson Central visits Belfry. Johnson Central stayed unbeaten with a surprisingly easy 36-14 win over Harlan County. The Golden Eagles led 36-0 at halftime, so the second half was played with a running clock. Daymion Belcher led the winners by rushing for 158 yards, including an 84-yard TD. Belfry stayed undefeated with a 56-20 rout of Pikeville. The Pirates' Justin Johnson and Austin Hatfield have combined for 800 yards and seven TDs rushing this year.
■ Highlands senior QB Drew Houliston leads the state in passing with 1,547 yards, 21 TDs, one interception. Those are better passing stats than Patrick Towles had in five games as a senior at Highlands: (1,384 yards, 13 TDs, one interception)
■ Former Ryle quarterback Conner Hempel (Class of the Commonwealth in 2010) was impressive in his first start for Harvard. The 6-3, 210-pound junior completed 25 of 34 passes for 345 yards and four TDs in leading the Crimson to a 42-20 rout of host San Diego last Saturday. Hempel's high school career included a victory over Highlands in 2010 that ended the Bluebirds' 37-game winning streak. Hempel committed to Harvard earlier that day.
■ Bell County basketball standout Maci Morris, who committed to UK last week, comes by her talent naturally. Lewis Morris, her dad, was a baseball and basketball star at Cumberland High School, and was Associated Press high school male athlete of the year in 1985. He averaged 24 points and 11.5 rebounds his senior year in hoops, and he had a 31-3 career pitching record in baseball. He had an offer to play baseball at UK, but signed to play basketball at East Tennessee State. He later transferred to Cumberland College. Patti (Myers) Morris, Maci's mother, was a 1,000-point scorer at Harlan and helped the Green Dragons to the 1987 Sweet Sixteen. She played college hoops at Transylvania.
Morris said when he was in grade school, his hero was Kyle Macy, who helped UK win the 1978 NCAA title. So is Morris' daughter Maci named after Kyle Macy? "That's the way I looked at it," Morris said. "I don't know if her mom would say that or not. But her mom told her Maci ought to wear No. 4 at UK, like Kyle Macy did."
■ The Capital City Classic Rumble, set for Dec. 14 in the Frankfort Convention Center, will feature six boys' basketball games and one girls' game. The matchups will include Henry Clay vs. Trinity. Franklin County, Hargrave Military, Johnson Central and Woodford County will also participate. A schedule will be finalized in the coming weeks.
■ High school region golf tournaments are Monday. Lexington boys' teams will play in the 9th Region at Kearney Hill Links; Lexington girls' teams will play in the 7th Region at Danville Country Club. Defending state boys' champion West Jessamine will compete in the 4th Region at Campbellsville Country Club.
■ Henry Clay soccer will host its third annual "Pink Out for Pyddney" night when the Blue Devils' boys host Paul Laurence Dunbar on Tuesday night. Donations will be accepted for the Susan G. Komen for Cure in honor of Pyddney Jones, a Henry Clay soccer parent who died from breast cancer in 2011. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month.