The football rivalry between Mayfield and Paducah Tilghman is always a big deal in far western Kentucky, where the annual showdown generates (mostly) good-natured trash-talking between fans and a week's worth of fun and hype at both schools.
It's been that way for almost 100 years.
Mayfield and Paducah Tilghman, who played for the first time in 1911, meet for the 98th time Friday night in Paducah.
The rivalry doesn't draw 35,000 fans like the annual St. Xavier-Trinity bloodletting in Louisville, and it's not as old as the Male-Manual series, which began in 1893.
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But Mayfield-Tilghman is special because it's town vs. town, 25 miles separating Mayfield and Paducah, their storied programs and their die-hard fans.
The head coaches fully appreciate the game because both are part of its history.
Joe Morris played for Mayfield in the early 1980s, was an assistant to his dad, legendary Cardinals coach Jack Morris, for 12 years, and is now in his 13th season as head man. He led Mayfield to state titles in 2002 and 2010.
Randy Wyatt starred for Tilghman in the mid-1980s, was an assistant for four years and is now in his fourth year as head coach. He led the Blue Tornado to a state championship in 2009.
"You couldn't find two better people to explain the rivalry to their players than Coach Morris and me," Wyatt said, "because we've lived it."
While the competition is always heated and intense, Morris said "it's a 'respect' rivalry more than a 'hate' rivalry. These have been two of the best programs in the state for a long time.
"If we're not playing Tilghman, I'm pulling for them."
Wyatt feels the same way. "Mayfield is easy to root for," he said. "If I wasn't the coach at Tilghman, I'd like to coach at Mayfield. I love and respect their program."
Mayfield has won eight state titles and been runner-up seven times. Tilghman has won three championships and been runner-up five times.
Tilghman leads the rivalry 47-40-10, but Mayfield has won the last five meetings, including a 23-20 overtime victory last year. The series has had plenty of highlights. Morris likes the story from a game in the 1920s. Mayfield won 3-2, and a kid named Nappy Yates accounted for all the scoring. He kicked a field goal for the Cards, and was tackled in the end zone for a Tilghman safety.
■ Bowling Green Coach Kevin Wallace said it's easy to be a fan of senior quarterback Scooter Hollis. "He's a 4.0 GPA, 30 ACT guy. He's very bright, very talented and very easy to coach." Hollis, who led the Purples past Henry Clay last Friday, has thrown for 2,700 yards and 31 TDs, and run for 700 yards and 11 TDs in his career. The 6-1, 175-pound senior could end up at an Ivy League school. He has visited Columbia and talked to Harvard. "He's a very good baseball player, too," Wallace said. "He'll go to college where his goals fit with what he wants to do academically." Bowling Green, No. 1 in 5A, visits St. Xavier, No. 2 in 6A, Friday. This is the seventh year in a row the Purples have played either St. X or Trinity. "Our kids love the competitiveness of these kind of games," Wallace said. "St. X may kill us, but we'll get the attention of our kids. There's not a weakness we don't find by playing St. X or Trinity."
■ Louisville Central Coach Ty Scroggins says his speedy senior, Anthony Wales, is the top runner in the state. Wales, who has scholarship offers from UK and Louisville, backed up his coach's claim in a 47-34 win over Goodpasture, Tenn., last week. He ran 27 times for 261 yards and four TDs. The 5-10, 180-pounder also scored on a 73-yard pass play, and returned an onside kick 50 yards for a TD. Scroggins said Wales' "vision is his best asset. Everybody knows he has (4.2) speed. Now he knows the angles and where the defenders are going to be. His lateral movement is better than anybody's." Wales has 5,856 career yards, leaving him 2,368 shy of Derek Homer's state record.
■ Trinity is rated No. 7 in the nation by Rivals.com after its 66-20 rout of Montgomery Bell Academy of Nashville. Junior quarterback Travis Wright hit 16 of 17 passes for 336 yards and five TDs. Junior receiver James Quick had nine catches for 153 yards and three TDs. Trinity has an open date this week. It visits Cincinnati Elder next Friday.
■ Bourbon County junior Kentayvous Hopkins carried 15 times for 365 yards and five TDs in a rout of Madison Southern.
■ Garrett Vinegar rushed for 309 yards and three TDs to power Bath County past West Carter.
■ Rockcastle County senior Clarke Rowe has become the school's all-time top rusher with 4,420 yards.
■ Michael Brooks had 17 tackles (12 solo) and threw a TD pass to lead Collins past Mercer County 56-13 and earn MVP honors in the Stuart Powell Bowl at Boyle County. The 6-foot, 215-pound senior linebacker, whose dad Michael was Class 4A player of the year his senior season (1995) at Shelby County, is getting looks from UK and Louisville. In Collins' first-week loss to Meade County, Brooks had 10 tackles, forced a fumble and returned it for a TD.
■ Perry Central rallied from an early 20-8 deficit to beat Johnson Central 35-27. Commodores' QB Kyle Huff threw for 233 yards and two TDs, and Darryl Beatty had 267 all-purpose yards. Matthew Robinson led the defense with 20 tackles. Huff had two picks on defense. Johnson Central star J.J. Jude was "limited" to 135 yards and three TDs on 31 carries. Jude is about 50 yards shy of 6,000 for his career, and about 2,200 shy of Derek Homer's state record.
■ Woodford County QB Matt Couch threw for three TDs, ran for another and had almost 300 yards combined in a win over Nelson County.
■ Nicholas County's Caleb Pope carried 33 times for 287 yards and six touchdowns, totaled 408 all-purpose yards, and ran for the winning two-point conversion in a 46-45 win over Fleming County. The Bluejackets trailed 45-26 going into the fourth quarter.
■ Rowan County outlasted Southwestern 59-51 in a shootout in the Ray Correll Bowl in Somerset. Stephen Williamson ran for 280 yards and four TDs. Adam Wing threw for 183 yards and three TDs, and Phillip Hodge had 11 catches for 113 yards and two TDs. Rowan County led 45-21 then had to hold off the Warriors. Southwestern's Logan Starnes passed for 238 yards and two scores, both to Alan Williams, who had eight catches for 128 yards.
■ Corbin's Josh Jewell had a school-record 17 catches for 167 yards in the season-opening loss to Clark County.
■ Lance Lockridge's 70-yard interception return for a TD helped Montgomery County beat Mason County 31-14 in the Recreation Bowl.
■ Middlesboro's Chase Roark passed for 320 yards and five TDs, and ran for 70 yards and two TDs — all in the first half — in a 62-7 rout of Hancock County, Tenn.
■ Monroe County junior RB Corey Shirley had 171 yards and four TDs on just six carries — all in the first quarter — in a 48-6 rout of Metcalfe County.
■ Grayson County had three running backs top 100 yards in its win over Elizabethtown: Dalton Logsdon (152 yards), Ethan Hinson (145) and Dustin Crain (101).
■ Having covered more than 600 high school football games over the last 37 years, I'm not sure if I'd ever seen a team have two players rush for more than 200 yards apiece. That was before Harlan County's Jake Middleton (220 yards) and Marcus McMillian (214 yards) shredded Paul Dunbar last week. Together they averaged 10.5 yards per carry.
■ Due to CBS' coverage of U.S. Open tennis, the Scholastic Ball Report on WKYT-TV will air at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. It will return to its regular 11:30 a.m. time slot next week.
■ John Finn has retired as Simon Kenton's baseball coach after more than 30 years and 564 victories. He was inducted into the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998.
■ The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches' fall clinic, Sept. 23-24 at the Lexington Hyatt Regency, has an impressive list of guest speakers. Brad Stevens, who's coached Butler to back-to-back NCAA title games, heads the list that includes former UK player Dwane Casey, an assistant on the Dallas Mavericks' NBA championship team and now head coach of the Toronto Raptors; Scotty Davenport, who led Bellarmine to the NCAA Division II title; Morehead State Coach Donnie Tyndall; Kelly Wells, who led Pikeville to the NAIA title; Kelly Stovall, who coached Christian County's boys to the Sweet Sixteen title, and girls' state championship coach Chrysti Noble of Rockcastle County. The clinic is open to all coaches and the general public. For more information go to www.kentuckybasketballcoaches.org.