It's been a fabulous fall for football in Whitley County, where four teams have a combined 33-game winning streak. "It's a great atmosphere for football around here right now," Whitley County Coach Jim Black said.
The lineup of success:
■ Corbin (10-0) has wrapped up its first undefeated regular season since 2001. Coach Steve Jewell's team doesn't play this week but is preparing for the Class 2A playoffs.
■ Whitley County (8-1) has won seven in a row since losing to unbeaten Bell County the second week of the season. The Colonels host Rockcastle County on Friday before heading into the 5A playoffs next week.
■ Williamsburg (8-1) has been perfect since a season-opening loss to Frankfort. Coach Jerry Herron's Yellow Jackets host Pineville on Friday as a tune-up for the 1A playoffs.
■ University of the Cumberlands (8-1) has been on a roll since losing its opener. Coach John Bland's Patriots have risen to No. 8 in the national NAIA poll.
Corbin, which is 15 miles up the road from the other three schools, has the most football tradition, and most rabid fans. "Each win you get, the more excited people are," Jewell said. Corbin has boasted a powerful running game, even after standout Ryan Fritts suffered a season-ending knee injury a few weeks ago. Caleb Watkins and Michael Campbell have picked up the slack. "We always push our kids to step up when they're needed," Jewell said.
Whitley County already has won as many games this year as it did the previous three seasons combined. "I knew we had a shot at being this good, but a lot of things had to go right," said Black, who used to coach at Williamsburg. Jason Powers and Cody Jones have keyed a strong Whitley County ground game, combining for 1,800 yards and 34 touchdowns.
Williamsburg is led by junior QB Ryan Moses. After throwing for a school-record 3,373 yards last year, he's passed for 2,000 yards and 21 TDs, and run for 457 yards and six scores this season. Ed Lawson has run for 1,135 yards and 15 TDs for the Jackets, who are having their best season since they went 12-1 in 2004. Herron gives a lot of credit to the guys in the trenches. "When you've got almost 4,200 yards of offense, you know you've got a good offensive line," he said.
As for Corbin, Whitley County and Williamsburg all enjoying district championship seasons, Herron said, "It says a lot for our area and our kids, and how hard work pays off."
■ Powell County (6-4) is assured of its first winning season in the program's 20-year history after beating Berea last week. "Psychologically, this was a big hurdle to clear," Pirates second-year coach Mike Whitaker said. Whitaker is especially happy for his seniors. "They've been through a lot and come a long way," he said. QB Billy Rice is one of those seniors. He's thrown for 1,711 yards and 18 TDs this season. His top two targets, seniors David Crowe and Jared Barron, have combined for 74 catches for 1,300 yards and 14 TDs. Jesse Rose, who as a freshman last year was the team's leading rusher and tackler, is close to 1,000 yards rushing this season. Whitaker was a successful head coach at Leslie County, Corbin and Christian County before taking on the challenge at tradition-less Powell County. But the Pirates have taken the first steps toward establishing themselves. "I think the groundwork has been laid to turn things round," Whitaker said.
■ Frankfort Coach Craig Foley said his team got a "confidence boost" by beating Danville for the third year in a row last week. The Panthers did it in dramatic style, too. Danville, which trailed 21-0 early, came back to take a 31-28 lead on Trae Grey's 44-yard run with 40 seconds left. But Frankfort still had time to pull out the win. Keri Metcalf hit Dwight Tillman with a 29-yard TD pass with 15 seconds left. "Winning in the last seconds is a testament to the type of kids we have," Foley said. "In their minds, this solidifies what type team they are and how good they could be." Frankfort (8-1) was led by Quan Weaver, who rushed for 140 yards and two TDs. Tillman had three catches for 117 yards and two TDs. Metcalf passed for two scores, and had 10 solo tackles.
■ Washington County QB Joe Joe Simms was sensational in a 49-48 loss to Elizabethtown. Simms completed 27 of 36 passes for a school-record 454 yards and six TDs, and ran for 95 yards and a score. Lee Mudd had eight catches for 231 yards and two TDs for the Commanders. "It was a wild game, and it was tough having 643 yards on offense and getting beat," Washington County Coach Mark Perry said. E-town QB Michael Thomas threw for 364 yards and six TDs, and ran for 68 yards. Chris Gohman had 13 receptions for 252 yards and four TDs for the Panthers.
■ Highlands' QB Tony Guidugli and WR Nick Buten hooked up on a 99-yard TD pass, the 10th scoring pass of that length in state history. Highlands has another 99-yard scoring pass in its storied past. Jared Lorenzen and Josh Hassan combined for one in 1999.
■ Paris senior Tion Thomas ran for 231 yards and tied a school record with seven TDs in a win over Rowan County. Paris plays at Bourbon County on Friday in the 45th meeting between the crosstown rivals. The Greyhounds led the series 28-16, but Bourbon County won last year.
■ Middlesboro's Hunter Adams rushed for 277 yards and four TDs, caught a 50-yard TD pass, and returned an interception 47 yards for a score as the Jackets ripped South Laurel. The week before Adams ran for 292 yards and three TDs before hurting his ankle against Knott Central.
■ South Laurel QB Ricky Bowling threw three TD passes against Middlesboro. That gives him 128 career TD passes, five shy of Tim Couch's state record. South Laurel closes the regular season at East Jessamine on Friday, and visits Whitley County in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
■ Clay County QB Zach Lewis, the state's all-time leader in career passing yards, threw for 256 yards and three TDs against Morgan County last week. That pushed his career totals to 13,195 yards and 102 TDs.
■ John Scott Carver had 155 yards rushing and Bret Denton had 149 as 1A Raceland stayed unbeaten with a win over 3A Russell.
■ Covington Scott's Jacob Reyes rushed for 351 yards in a win over Ludlow.
■ Simon Kenton's Miles Simpson ran for 139 yards in a win over Covington Holy Cross, giving him a school-record 1,584 yards this year.
■ Defending 2A champion Fort Campbell won its 22nd game in a row — the longest current streak in the state — by beating Trigg County.
■ Calloway County QB Casey Brockman threw for five scores in a rout of Fulton County, giving him a school-record 59 career TD passes. Brockman has 2,222 yards and 27 TDs this season.
■ Russell kicker Jason Dolly didn't hold the state record for consecutive extra points very long. Three weeks after Dolly booted a record 75th PAT in a row, Bowling Green's Max Oldham made his 76th consecutive PAT in a win over Warren East. Oldham's next conversion try was blocked. Oldham has made 113 of 115 PATs in his career.
■ Greenup County sophomore RB Corey Lyle has busted loose the last couple of weeks. After rushing for 130 yards and a TD against Lawrence County, he had 234 yards and three TDs against Lewis County.
■ Former Lexington Catholic soccer standout Kelsey Breathitt was named SEC freshman of the week after she scored a goal in Mississippi's 3-1 win over Mississippi State last week. Ole Miss clinched its 12th straight SEC Tournament berth. Breathitt is second among the team's freshmen in minutes played.
■ Scott County's boys' basketball team is rated 14th in the nation by PrepNation.com. No. 1 Duncanville, Texas, plays Scott County in the Marshall County Hoopfest on Dec. 6.
■ Former Bryan Station star Shelvin Mack is making a good impression as a 6-foot-3, 214-pound freshman at Butler. Mack had 11 points and three assists in the Bulldogs' first exhibition game, a win over Marian College. David Woods, who covers Butler for the Indianapolis Star, speculated that Mack could be in the starting lineup by Jan. 1.
■ Jeff Hans has changed basketball jobs again. Hans coached Lexington Catholic's girls for two years before stepping down after last season to take over at Covington Holy Cross. But Hans has already left there to become an assistant with Northern Kentucky University's women's team.