Class 5A looks to be the class of the classes in Kentucky high school football this season. There are six undefeated teams in 5A, and all six have been impressive in mowing down the competition, often with a mercy-rule running clock in the second half of their blowouts.
Bowling Green (7-0) and John Hardin (6-0) seem to be a consensus 1-2 in the 5A ratings, while Christian County (7-0), Warren Central (7-0), Harlan County (6-0) and Franklin County (7-0) are earning notice, too.
Those six schools have won their 40 games by an average score of 44-12.
"There do seem to be a lot of powerful teams in 5A," John Hardin Coach Mark Brown said. "Bowling Green looks like the favorite."
Bowling Green's victory over 6A St. Xavier might give the Purples a slight edge over John Hardin, but not much. Brown's Bulldogs look as good as anybody, with the exception of Trinity.
John Hardin did not allow a point in September, shutting out Meade County, two-time defending champ Boyle County, Iroquois and Central Hardin by a combined score of 183-0. Not bad for a defense that was a huge question mark after graduating eight starters last year. "We had no idea we'd be at this point defensively," Brown said. Hunter Holloway and Patrick Crowe have anchored the defensive line, and 6-foot-5, 325-pound Matt Elam has made an impact. Brown said Elam is still developing stamina. "He's been good the first quarter or first half, but he kind of wears down, dies out after that."
John Hardin's offense has been spectacular. The passing attack, led by quarterback Eli Mitchell, has been a perfect complement to the running game, powered by Jeremy Harness and Quensie Brown.
John Hardin has won 50 of its last 51 regular-season games, but is still looking for its first state title. If the Bulldogs reach the semifinal round this year, they'll probably run up against Bowling Green, Christian County or Warren Central.
■ Perennial 1A power Beechwood makes a habit out of beating bigger schools. So far this year the Tigers have knocked off 6A foes Dixie Heights and Simon Kenton, 4A Holmes, 3A Elizabethtown and 2A Covington Holy Cross. Its only loss was to 4A power Covington Catholic.
The next three Fridays figure to be easy district victories against Bellevue, Dayton and Ludlow before Beechwood finishes the regular season against defending 2A champ Newport Central Catholic.
Beechwood Coach Noel Rash said the pros and cons of playing bigger schools might enter his mind when he's signing two-year contracts. "You ask yourself how many times do you put your kids through the numbers game, and whether they'll get better or get banged up. There's that line. But once you put on the helmets in July and the equipment on in August, the fact you're playing bigger schools doesn't factor in at all."
Beechwood is led by Cameron Vocke, who rushed for more than 1,800 yards as a junior and is on track to do it again this season. "It's become common to watch him do uncommon things," Rash said. "He's got vision, balance and strength. He's only 175 pounds, but he's got tremendous lower body strength, and you don't realize how many tackles he breaks."
■ Trinity ran its record to 6-0 with a 41-6 win over archrival St. Xavier last week. The Shamrocks continue to be in contention for a national title. They're rated No. 2 by Rivals.com, No. 3 by MaxPreps and No. 4 by USA Today.
■ Southwestern's Dustin Powell rushed for a school-record 331 yards and four TDs and caught a 35-yard TD pass in a win over South Laurel.
■ East Jessamine's Cameron Thomas ran for 373 yards and three TDs in a 40-29 loss to Franklin County. The unbeaten Flyers outscored East Jessamine 33-8 in the second half.
■ J.J. Jude of Johnson Central and Anthony Wales of Central, both in pursuit of Derek Homer's state career rushing record, didn't play last week. They should make up for lost time when they go against winless teams Friday. Johnson Central plays Greenup County, and Central plays Elizabethtown. Jude is 1,068 yards behind Homer's record of 8,224. Wales is 1,549 shy of the mark.
■ A whole lot of rushin' was going on in Harlan County's 57-36 win over Clark County. Harlan County had two players run for more than 200 yards — Jake Middleton had 264 yards and two TDs, and Marcus McMillian had 226 and 2 TDs. Clark County's Pokey Harris ran for a school-record 377 yards and four TDs against a Black Bears defense that had been giving up only 65 yards rushing per game.
■ Belfry Coach Philip Haywood is closing in on the state record for career victories. The Pirates beat East Ridge last week, giving Haywood 343 wins, two shy of the record shared by Bob Schneider and Dudley Hilton, both retired as high school head coaches.
■ Russell Coach Ivan McGlone got his 300th victory with the Red Devils when they beat Fleming County last week. It was typical of a McGlone win. His team rushed for more than 500 yards, led by Logan Dehoff's 170 yards and two TDs. It'll be a few more years before another coach joins the 300 Club. Harlan County's Tom Larkey is the next winningest active coach with 266 victories. Behind him are Breathitt County's Mike Holcomb (255), Boyle County's Larry French (253) and John Hardin's Mark Brown (252).
■ Garrard County hasn't won more than five games in a season since 2003, but the Golden Lions could get their sixth victory this year if they beat 3A district rival Bourbon County Friday night. Mark Scenters' team is 5-1, with its only loss a close one (22-14) to Danville. Garrard County ripped previously unbeaten Powell County 57-27 last week as Markell Hayes and Cory Wilson combined to rush for 355 yards and five TDs.
■ A week after he rushed for a school-record 408 yards and six TDs against Western Hills, Bourbon County's Kentayvous Hopkins had 328 yards and a school-record seven TDs at Estill County.
■ Tim Schlosser got his 100th win as Franklin-Simpson football coach two weeks ago. In 14 years with the Wildcats, Schlosser has an overall record of 101-57.
■ Dylan Sheffield of Wichita Falls (Texas) High School threw for 687 yards and seven TDs in a 53-49 win over Denton (Texas). Sheffield's passing yardage ranks second in the national record books. David Koral of Pacific Palisades (Calif.) threw for 764 yards in one game in 2000.
■ Tates Creek grad Ryan Fucci, a freshman baseball player at Western Kentucky, had shoulder surgery last week, the same shoulder he had surgery on in June 2010. Dom Fucci said his son will wait to see how quickly rehab goes before deciding whether to redshirt next spring.
■ A tip of the baseball cap to Alan Stein, who retired as CEO of the Lexington Legends this week. Stein didn't just bring professional baseball to Lexington, he made Whitaker Bank Ballpark (formerly Applebee's Park), the permanent (we hope) home of the KHSAA State Baseball Tournament. Stein was also a driving force behind the state tournament expanding to its current 16-team format.
■ Condolences to the family of Ken Caudill, who died Friday. He was 81. Mr. Caudill taught at Lafayette for 38 years and was head of the science department. He also served as basketball and baseball coach. "He had an impact on a lot of people," said former Lafayette teacher and athletics director Karen Vanover. "He was very well thought of from a teaching and coaching aspect."
■ Scott County basketball standouts Tamron Manning and Isaiah Ivey have made their college choices. Manning committed to Marshall, and Ivey to Gardner-Webb.
■ Lexington teams have won three of the last six boys' state golf titles. Henry Clay took the championship in 2006, and Lexington Christian has won it all the last two years. Before this recent flurry of success, Tates Creek was the last boys' champ from Lexington in 1980.
■ How much has high school golf improved in Kentucky? Marty Donlon, who guided St. Xavier to 18 state titles in 45 years as coach, was in Bowling Green for this week's state tournament. He noted that when St. X took the title in 1982, its winning score was 653. When the Tigers won the state in 2008, their total was 582. "That's more than a 70-stroke improvement," Donlon said.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar alumna Katie Rose, a senior at Lipscomb, was named volleyball player of the week in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Rose had a pair of double-doubles, totaling 25 kills and 28 digs against Evansville and East Tennessee State. She had 10 kills against South Carolina Upstate. "Her all-around game sets her apart and was huge in our three victories," Coach Brandon Rosenthal said.
■ Assumption volleyball player Katie George is featured in Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" feature this week. The senior setter/outside hitter led the Rockets to victory in the Durango Classic in Las Vegas. George has signed with Louisville.