What happened on the second Friday night of high school football season? Here are five observations from this week.
1.) Scott County reclaimed its throne
Scott County ruled the roost among central Kentucky’s Class 6A programs until the last couple of seasons, both of which ended at the hands of Lafayette in the postseason. Based on a 31-21 road win over the Generals, Scott County’s preseason ranking as the area’s best team was not a slip-up.
It took a possession before the Cards ramped up offensively, but their first play from scrimmage was a sign of big things to come: Josh Davis launched a pass that would have gone for about a 70-yard touchdown had it not fallen out of Glenn Covington’s hands (Covington was still kicking himself over the drop well after the final horn sounded).
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Davis threw only two more times out of the Cards’ backfield, both going for big third-down completions to Landon Easley. Scott County isn’t going to shake up its identity — when you can regularly rack up 300-plus yards of offense on the ground, why would you? — but it does have the pieces to keep teams on its toes when they start overplaying the run.
“When you hear a pass play’s to you, the adrenaline gets pumping,” said Easley. “But you gotta take it by steps. First you gotta get off the line, cause we’re in the Wing-T and I’m a tight end. Then you gotta worry about getting open. So you gotta take it step-by-step, but it’s very adrenaline-pumping”
Looking back over his time at Scott County, head coach Jim McKee doesn’t think a team other than Trinity had defeated the Cardinals three times in a row before Lafayette last November got its third straight victory in the series (officially, at least — the second win in that stretch was a forfeiture of a game that Scott County led at halftime and was not resumed).
“Henry Clay, maybe in the late 90’s, early 2000’s?” McKee said. “ ... We’re gonna keep getting better and we’re gonna be playing our best football in November.”
At this point, Scott County’s playing the area’s best football now. November could be scary.
2.) Class 5A could open up
Pleasure Ridge Park’s 35-21 win over Bowling Green ended the Purples’ 28-game win streak. It would be over-reacting to give up on Bowling Green’s chances of winning a sixth title in seven years following a loss on the road to whom many consider to be Louisville’s strongest public school this season, but the door may appear a little more cracked than it was before.
Covington Catholic, a perennial contender, won 48-2 at Lexington Catholic, further establishing the Colonels as a favorite to take the Class 5A crown this year.
Head coach Eddie Eviston became aware of the Bowling Green result after the game. He was asked after the win over LexCath how he felt about the assessment that his team is looming right behind the Purples.
“I don’t feel at all about it,” Eviston said with a laugh. “We’re just concentrating on Cooper. We’ll put this one to bed tonight and we’ll go to work tomorrow. All our focus will be on Cooper and we’re not gonna think about any of that.”
3.) The hills are alive
Johnson Central started its title defense with a bang, defeating Capital (W.Va.), 31-20. Capital, located in Charleston, plays in the state’s largest division, Class 3A, and has about 500 more students than Johnson Central, a Class 5A school in eastern Kentucky. The Cougars have won four state titles, the last coming in 2014; Johnson Central won its first last December.
Golden Eagles Coach Jim Matney said when he signed Capital to a four-year agreement to play in Johnson Central’s annual bowl game, he thought his team would be fortunate to come away with one win. So far Johnson Central is 2-0 against a program that before last season had never ventured out of the state to play a football game.
“I can’t help but feel pretty good about that,” Matney said. “But now, we’ve got a long way to go. We are not a good football team yet. I hope we turn into a good football team.”
4.) Comeback kings
Ryle, which rallied from a 21-0 to defeat Henry Clay in overtime, wasn’t the only northern Kentucky team to come from behind to win.
Highlands improved to 2-0 with a 27-20 win over Campbell County in overtime, avenging a 24-21 loss to the Camels last season. The Bluebirds trailed 14-0 but were able to force overtime on an interception returned for a TD by Bailey Armstrong. Cooper Schwalbach, a junior, scored the winning TD for Highlands.
5.) Big ‘D’ from little ‘E’
Eminence, one of the smallest football-playing schools in the state, is among only eight schools that have yet to allow a point this season. The Warriors defeated Berea, 58-0, one week after beating Trimble County, 28-0.