Ricky Bowling, in his fourth season as South Laurel's starting quarterback, will go down in the record books as one of the most productive passers in state history.
He might also be one of the toughest.
As a sophomore, playing on a 3-7 team that couldn't give him much protection, Bowling was sacked 67 times. But he fought off the rush often enough to throw 27 touchdown passes. "He kept slingin' it," South Laurel Coach Jason Chappell said.
At 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, Bowling's physical skills are sometimes underappreciated. "He doesn't look overly athletic, but he's super quick, he's got a strong arm, and he's got moxie," Chappell said, noting that Bowling also plays a mean free safety.
Nobody questions Bowling's savvy at QB. "That's the best part of his game, he's so smart," Chappell said. "He's not somebody back there playing quarterback. He is a quarterback. He understands the position."
By season's end, Bowling's accomplishments could surpass those of Mr. Football QBs Tim Couch, Corey Robinson and Brian Brohm.
In three games this season, Bowling has already passed for 1,132 yards and 13 TDs. That pushes his career totals to 10,074 yards and 110 TDs.
While Clay County QB Zach Lewis is on track to smash Couch's career passing yardage record of 12,167, Bowling has a legitimate shot at Couch's state record of 133 TD passes. "That's never been mentioned in our locker room," Chappell said. "I'm sure Ricky would consider it an honor if he could break the record, but he's more concerned about playing Corbin (7:30 Friday night, streamed live on Kentucky.com)."
Bowling, a top-notch student who might want to go to medical school, might not be recruited by major colleges because of his size. But Chappell figures "there's gotta be a place for him somewhere at some level."
■ Clay County QB Zach Lewis continues to close in on Tim Couch's career record for passing yards. Lewis threw for 333 yards and three TDs in the Tigers' win over North Laurel. That increased his career yardage to 11,492, which is 675 shy of Couch's state record. The Tigers play Letcher County Central on Friday.
■ When Louisville's public schools had to cancel their Friday night football games because of damage from last weekend's windstorm, it left some teams scrambling for games. After Henderson County's game against Manual, and Bullitt East's game against Central were canceled, Henderson County and Bullitt East hooked up and will play in Shepherdsville Friday night. That's called making the most out of a bad situation.
■ Dalton Cissell did a little of everything in North Bullitt's 27-14 victory over Shelby County. He threw a 38-yard TD pass, caught a 55-yard TD pass and had a 67-yard TD run. He had 260 total yards, including 167 rushing. Cissell also sacked the quarterback and caused a fumble to end Shelby County's last drive.
■ Corbin picked up its third win of the season in easy fashion — collecting a forfeit from Bethlehem. The Eagles started the season with 26 players but lost nine to injury in the first two games. Bethlehem Coach Stan Torzewski said having to forfeit was "the hardest coaching decision I've ever had to make."
■ Mason County sophomore Neal Pawsatt has settled in as the Royals' starting QB. He has completed 36 of 63 passes for 548 yards and five TDs in three games. (He's also averaging 39 yards a punt.) Pawsatt got a taste of success last year when he quarterbacked Mason County to a win over Greenup County in the regular-season finale. He ran for three TDs and passed for 100 yards in that game.
■ Clark County RB Ryan Williams wasn't listed among the top 50 players in the state in the pre-season. That looks like a glaring omission now. Williams, who ran for about 900 yards last season after transferring from Henry Clay, rushed for 237 yards and four TDs in Clark County's win over Tates Creek. In leading the Cards to a 3-0 record this year, Williams has run for 711 yards and eight TDs. He's averaging more than 10 yards a carry. Clark County hosts Danville on Friday.
■ Pikeville's Daniel Harmon rushed for 144 yards and six TDs in a rout of Betsy Layne.
■ Daviess County outlasted Henderson County 36-33 in overtime to stay undefeated. The Panthers trailed 33-14 in the third quarter before rallying to win. Daviess County QB Cole Lanham threw for 248 yards and three TDs and ran for 123 yards and a score.
■ Shenard Holton had a big game in helping Warren East rally from a 35-22 deficit midway through the fourth quarter to beat Bardstown 36-35. Holton, who has committed to Louisville, ran for 160 yards and three TDs, including the game-winner in the closing seconds. He also had four catches for 111 yards.
■ Pulaski County junior QB Chris Muse, who suffered a knee injury in a season-opening loss to Rockcastle County, was back in the lineup to lead the Maroons past Russell County. Muse looked healthy as he ran for 134 yards and passed for 122.
■ Covington Catholic beat Dix ie Heights 49-47 as the two teams combined for more than 1,000 yards. CovCath QB Zach Isler threw for 342 yards and three TDs. Dixie RB Corey Klei ran for 226 yards and five TDs. Dixie failed on a two-point conversion with 13 seconds left.
■ Bowling Green's Max Oldham has kicked 61 consecutive extra points, the fourth-longest streak in state history. Former Bowling Green kicker Casey Tinius is third on the list with 67. Lexington Catholic's Tripp Eckerline holds the top two spots. He had successful conversion streaks of 73 and 70 a few years ago. Oldham has made 100 of 101 PATs in his career.
■ Paintsville QB Tyler Deaton ran for two TDs, threw for two, and returned a blocked punt for a score in barely half a game as the Tigers rolled over South Floyd 60-0. Nehemiah Doderer has rushed for 334 yards in 25 carries this season.
■ Fort Campbell junior QB Antonio Andrews ran for three TDs and passed for two as the Falcons beat Union County for their state-best 16th victory in a row.
■ Estill County baseball standout Drew Freeman, a second-team All-State selection as a junior last season, has committed to Wabash Valley (Ind.).
■ Henry Clay basketball senior standout Brittany Coles, who's been playing for the Lady Devils' varsity since she was an eighth-grader, has committed to Eastern Kentucky. Coles averaged 10 points and six rebounds last season.
■ The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches is trying to develop a statewide invitational middle school basketball tournament for 2009. It would be patterned after the high school playoffs, with 16 regional tournament winners advancing to a state tournament in Frankfort. The state finals would be the week after Christmas. For more information, contact Ken Trivette (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Roscoe Denney (email@example.com).
Live game: The Kentucky.com Bluegrass Gridiron Series powered by Wazoosports.com continues with streaming video of South Laurel at Corbin, 7:30 Friday.
Fields Notes: Get all the latest high school sports news on staff writer Mike Fields' blog.