What happened on the fourth Friday of high school football season? Here are five observations from this week.
1.) Cramping style
Lexington Christian had never defeated Lexington Catholic before toppling the Knights, 56-36, on Friday night. It managed to do so while fighting off cramps suffered by more than two dozen players who saw the field.
LCA is a Class 2A school with a roster about two-thirds the size of Lexington Catholic’s. Many of its key players were seeing time on offense and defense in the first renewal of the series since 2010 (Catholic leads all time, 3-1).
“We snapped the ball a lot tonight, they snapped the ball a lot tonight, so there’s gonna be some cramp issues,” LCA Coach Ethan Atchley said. “They had some too, not nearly as many as we did, but that’s what happens sometimes in a big-time game when you’re giving your heart and effort for everything.”
The Eagles are 4-0 for the third straight season under Atchley. They took an undefeated record into the postseason before falling at home to Danville, 34-28, in the region finals.
This year’s 4-0 is a little bit more revealing than the last couple. It includes a win over Waggener (which has a Mr. Football threat and future FBS athlete in Jairus Brents), a road win at Pikeville, an out-of-state victory in Indiana and now a 20-point decision against a perennial Class 3A contender.
“I think we’re off to a great start,” said senior Drayden Burton. “It’s the same start as last year but we’re playing a lot better teams this year, so, I think when district rolls around we’ll be more ready than we were last year.”
2.) Tiny titans
Small-town schools had strong showings on the road last night.
Danville traveled to Pulaski County — which has played in four straight Class 5A finals — and didn’t miss a beat in its first true road game of the season. Dmauriae VanCleave had nine catches for 111 yards and a TD and rushed for 56 yards on three carries — 54 of those yards coming on a TD run to put the Maroons away, 34-13, in the fourth quarter.
After handling Bryan Station on the road last week, Belfry made the four-hour drive to Newport Central Catholic. It made the trek home with a 54-29 victory in its pocket; Pirates star Taveon Hunter had three TDs — one receiving, one rushing and one on a kickoff return — that were highlight-reel worthy.
Class 2A Mayfield toppled Class 6A McCracken County, 49-27, to improve to 4-0 and take a 3-2 edge in that series. The Cardinals outgained the Mustangs 517-365 in total yardage.
Paris scored a 41-7 victory at Class 4A Harrison County, putting its most points on the board since losing at home, 43-41, to Bracken County on Sept. 30 of last year. Somerset (Class 2A) showed up at Hazard (Class A) and handed the Bulldogs their first home loss since 2015.
3.) Real road warriors
Four teams went out of the state this week for games; Kentucky went 4-0.
The marquee matchup took Johnson Central, No. 1 in Class 4A, to South Charleston, the seventh-ranked team in West Virginia’s highest class. Blake Gamble rushed for 139 yards and a TD while Devin Johnson had 113 yards and two TDs in a 41-28 win for the Golden Eagles.
Covington Catholic handled Kings (Ohio), 35-14. Owensboro Catholic won 55-14 at South Spencer (Ind.) and Pike County Central earned a 42-16 victory at Hurley in Virginia.
4.) Royal twins
Mason County seniors Chandler and Leevi Dunaway — who are brothers — had two huge nights in a seven-day span. Chandler, a quarterback, is 31 of 47 for 548 yards and 10 TD passes in the Royals’ last two games. Leevi has reeled in 13 catches for 274 yards and six TDs in those games, both victories: 51-16 versus Rowan County at Morehead State last Saturday and 67-14 at Morgan County on Friday.
The latest evidence that Trinity is the state’s top team? The Shamrocks, the top-ranked team in Class 6A, extended its state-best win streak to 19 games with a 22-0 shutdown of No. 4 Male. The Bulldogs managed only one yard of offense in the first half.