Somerset football coach Rob Lucas has never watched the video of the Briar Jumpers' 21-0 loss to Paducah Tilghman in the Class 3A high school state finals last December. It would be too painful to revisit the Briar Jumpers' nightmarish, seven-turnover performance that spoiled an undefeated dream season.
That doesn't mean Lucas or his players have forgotten that cold afternoon in Bowling Green. Memory is motivation. "It's definitely been a driving force for us," Lucas said. "We're realistic and understand those opportunities don't come along very often. But we'd like to get back there and play like we're capable, and see how it shakes out."
Somerset is playing like a team on a mission. The Jumpers are 5-0, including impressive wins over Southwestern and Danville. They are a unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press 3A poll. And they have a group of returnees, led by quarterback Erik Manning, determined to go one step further this year.
Lucas said Manning "got hung out to dry media-wise" following the title game because he threw four interceptions. "But it wasn't just him. You've gotta give Paducah Tilghman credit. They were very athletic, very fast and made several nice plays. Like I said after that game, I wouldn't trade Erik for any quarterback in the state."
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Manning worked tirelessly in the off-season in the weight room, adding 20 pounds of muscle. It seems to have paid off. He's already thrown for 1,061 yards and 11 TDs. He passed for 2,363 yards and 28 TDs last year.
His supporting cast has been terrific, too, notably running backs Derrick Jackson and Alex Lange, receivers Storm Wilson and J.P. Henderlight, and defensive lineman Trey Slaughter.
For Lucas, this season has a different feel to it. He became Somerset's interim head coach last year when Jay Cobb resigned just two weeks before the first game. Lucas was Cobb's assistant for more than a decade, so he wanted more than anything to win a state title for his former boss. "The most difficult thing last year was that Coach Cobb couldn't be here to be part of what the kids accomplished."
This time around, Lucas said he feels "a lot more ownership" of the team, but added that he's just a cog in the wheel. "It's the kids who pull together and get things done," he said.
The Jumpers' goal this season, of course, is to earn a return trip to Bowling Green and get things done there.
■ It should have been noted here last week that Corbin will be among the high-profile football programs changing classes in the upcoming realignment. The Redhounds will move from Class 2A to 3A. It will be odd to see Corbin out of 2A. While traditional powers such as Bardstown, Danville, Highlands, Mayfield and Newport Central Catholic have gone up and down in class, the Redhounds have been in 2A since the playoff system was put in place in 1959. Corbin has won three 2A titles (1976, '80, '82) and been runner-up four times (2002, 1990, '77, '62).
■ Defending 4A champ Boyle County plays host to crosstown rival Danville Friday night. Larry French's Rebels have won 19 games in a row and 32 of their last 33. Boyle County played on its new artificial turf for the first time last week and routed Mercer County. The Rebels have beaten Danville eight of the last 11 years, including a 49-9 romp last season.
■ Henry County senior QB Luke Magness had a monster game in last week's win over Anderson County. He ran for 104 yards and four TDs, and threw for 416 yards and two TDs. For the season Magness has passed for 1,201 yards and seven TDs, and run for 202 yards and eight TDs. Last year he threw for 1,744 yards and 23 TDs and ran for 620 yards and 11 TDs.
■ Paducah Tilghman receiver Josh Forrest, who has committed to UK, had four TDs to lead the Blue Tornado past Fort Campbell 41-10 in a matchup of reigning state champs. Forrest, a 6-4, 215-pounder, had two TD catches, returned an interception 43 yards for a score, and returned a fumble 40 yards for a TD. For the season Forrest has 19 catches for 249 yards and seven TDs. He also has four interceptions.
■ Jon Davis, who has committed to UK, ran for 132 yards and four TDs to spark Eastern past Fern Creek 60-20. Eastern plays host to Highlands on Saturday at noon. The Bluebirds are on a 33-game winning streak, and have won 46 in a row against Kentucky competition.
■ Manual's DarMonte Ward ran 24 times for 400 yards and three TDs in a 31-21 win over Central. The 400-yard plateau has been reached at least 20 times in state history, but only Jeremy Britt did it for two schools. As a junior at Warren East, Britt carried a state-record 57 times for 486 yards against Owensboro. After transferring to Danville for his senior year, Britt ran 35 times for 437 yards against Shelby County.
■ Defending 6A champ St. Xavier rallied from a 7-0 halftime deficit and beat Male 14-7 on UK recruit Daylen Hall's 4-yard TD run with 18 seconds left. St. X played without top running backs Lamont McMurry (injured) and Jeonta Hayden (suspended).
■ Hopkins County Central junior QB Lucas Crawley rushed 25 times for 278 yards and four TDs, including scoring runs of 80 and 90 yards, in a win over Boonville, Ind. He also passed for 117 yards.
■ Southwestern rallied from an early 13-0 deficit to beat Danville 22-19. Dustin Powell and Cody Mote each had more than 100 yards rushing as the Warriors beat Danville for the second year in a row.
■ Mayfield whipsawed Graves County 36-0 in the second half to win 43-18. Joe Morris's Cardinals improved to 5-0, and look like a cinch to make it to 7-0 without much trouble. Mayfield's next two games are against Fulton County, which has lost 23 games in a row, and Fulton City, which is on a seven-game losing streak. Mayfield beat the two Fultons by a combined 100-0 last year.
■ Mason County RB/LB Josh Harris, who is drawing notice from Division I schools, rumbled for 136 yards and a TD to lead the Royals past Rowan County 20-7. Harris, a 6-2, 185-pound junior, has 452 yards and seven TDs in four games this year. As a sophomore he ran for 1,319 yards and 19 TDs.
■ Christian County beat archrival Hopkinsville for the fifth year in a row, tying their rivalry series 22-22. Colonels QB Anthony Hickey ran for 177 yards and two TDs and threw for 135 yards and three TDs in last week's 42-15 win over Hoptown.
■ Sheldon Clark ended Lawrence County's 13-game regular-season winning streak by beating the Bulldogs 12-6.
■ The KHSAA Delegate Assembly voted this week to make it easier for football coaches to schedule spring practice. In the past, schools had to begin spring drills the Monday after their basketball teams were eliminated from post-season play. The change will allow 10 spring practices to be held during a three-week period between the end of basketball and the end of the school year. The KHSAA Board of Control and the state Board of Education still must approve the rule change, which can't go into effect until 2012.
■ Region golf tournaments are next week. The top finishers qualify for the boys' and girls' state tournaments in Bowling Green in two weeks. Franklin County's girls will try to defend their region title Monday at Juniper Hills in Frankfort. Lexington Christian's boys try to repeat as region champ Tuesday at Winchester Country Club. Several of the top boys' teams in the state will tune up for the region by competing in the Henry Clay Invitational Tournament at Lakeside on Saturday. The field includes defending champ St. Xavier, Lexington Christian, Paul Laurence Dunbar and the host Blue Devils.
■ Bryan Station soccer siblings — Ross and Hannah McGoodwin — put their best foot forward on the same day last week. Ross, a senior, had the only goal for the Defenders' boys in a home-field tie with Lincoln County. Hannah, a sophomore, had two goals for Bryan Station's girls in a 4-2 win at Bath County.
■ The Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic boys' and girls' basketball finals will be Feb. 6, 2011. That's Super Bowl Sunday. The small-school tournament is a week later this year because of schedule conflicts with EKU.
■ Sacred Heart's Emma Brink will run college track and cross country at North Carolina. She was also recruited by Stanford, Florida, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Ohio State and N.C. State. Brink is a three-time defending state cross country champ, and a multiple state track titlist in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.