The calendar says it's mid-November, but the weather feels like mid-December, putting a real chill on the football playoffs. And we're only in the second round.
Are there any coaches, players or fans who love adverse conditions?
"I know I'd much rather it be sunny and 75, like that country music song says," Scott County Coach Jim McKee said. "Anybody who says they like football in rain, cold or 90-degree heat is nuts."
It'll be freezing in Georgetown on Friday night when Scott County hosts Meade County in a rematch of last year's Class 6A finals. Scott County outlasted the Green Wave 21-14 to win the state championship.
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It'll also be a rematch of quarterback cousins — Scott County's Clay McKee and Meade County's John Wilson. Clay's grandmother Patsy Palmer Hampton is the sister of John's grandmother Joan Palmer Wilson.
Clay McKee committed to Georgetown College this week. He'll graduate early and enroll in college in January. "I think it's a perfect fit," Jim McKee said. "They're all class guys at Georgetown, and they have a championship program."
Clay has a 37-3 record while orchestrating the Cardinals' wing-T. He's thrown for 3,600 yards and 66 TDs, and run for 11 TDs.
■ Most first-round playoff games last week were lopsided. The average score was 44-13, and only about a dozen of the 95 games were competitive. If you're keeping count, winless teams are now 0-32 in the first round of the postseason, another argument for cutting back on the number of teams in the playoffs and trimming the postseason by a week.
■ Estill County won its first playoff game in five years by rallying to beat Mason County 37-35. Senior quarterback Trevor Jones engineered the Engineers' victory by rushing for 295 yards and two TDs, and passing for 145 yards and a score. Jones started at quarterback as a freshman but missed his sophomore year with an ACL injury. He's been a dual threat the past two seasons. As a junior he threw for 1,351 yards and 13 TDs, and ran for 1,180 yards and 14 TDs. This year he's run for 1,467 yards and 25 TDs, and passed for 865 yards and 11 TDs. Estill County Coach Mike Jones, Trevor's dad, is understandably proud. "He's something else to watch. He reminds you of (Johnny) Manziel. Golly, he can throw it and he can run it." Trevor, 5-10 and 170 pounds, wants to play receiver in college. He has offers from Morehead State and Pikeville, among other smaller schools. Kentucky wants him to walk on. Estill County's offense also features Chipper Hitchcock, who's rushed for 1,027 yards and 17 TDs. The Engineers visit Russell on Friday night.
■ Wayne County made an undefeated run to the 3A finals last year before losing to Belfry 3-0. After graduating most of its starters, the Cardinals figured to face a learning curve. Then early injuries to senior star receiver Logan Gardner and sophomore running back Chase Jackson made things even more difficult. After a season-opening win over Monroe County, Wayne County lost six in a row. "But the kids still showed up every day with a good attitude," Coach Shawn Thompson said. "We kept on them to keep believing and keep grinding." The Cards have won four in a row, including a 33-27 win at Elizabethtown in the 3A playoffs last week. Gardner, who is back from his high-ankle sprain, had 101 receiving yards and a TD. Freshman quarterback Stetson Simpson has improved steadily. Senior Jared Philpot has anchored the offensive line. And senior linebacker Joe Pierce is close to the school record for career tackles. Wayne County's next challenge is a big one. It visits Corbin on Friday night. Corbin beat the Cards 48-7 in the regular season.
■ Garrard County hosts Bourbon County in the 3A playoffs Friday night. The Golden Lions beat Bourbon County 32-12 last month. Garrard County Coach Jerry Perry has been around long enough to know these rematches in the playoffs are unpredictable. "I've been on both ends of it," he said. As a longtime assistant at Danville, he recalled the Admirals having good and bad luck in the second go-rounds. "I think the key is the kids just have to know it's a brand new ball game," Perry said. Garrard County is led by Jacob Foley and Devan Logan, who've rushed for 2,200 yards and 26 TDs between them.
■ Pulaski County's Mason Helton was forced into duty at quarterback last week and led his team to a 42-20 win over Harlan County. Helton, a 6-2, 225-pound junior linebacker, was the fifth player the Maroons have used at quarterback in the past month. Riley Hall, who quarterbacked Pulaski County to a state runner-up finish last season, has been out with a broken collarbone. Coach Johnny Hines has shuffled players into the position since then, Helton being the latest. "Mason lined up at quarterback for the first time in his life at practice that Monday," Hines said. "He's a very intelligent kid, and he's a very aggressive, hard-nosed runner. He did a great job." Helton ran 19 times for 160 yards and two TDs. Helton will be back at quarterback this week when Pulaski County visits Letcher Central. Hines hopes to expand the passing game, with Helton looking to throw to standout receivers Jake Johnson and George Gregory. Hines said Hall was close to being ready to return to action.
■ Jack Haskins has resigned as McCracken County football coach. He had an overall record of 275-124-2 in 36 years at Heath, Ballard Memorial, Calloway County, Lone Oak and McCracken County. He had three state runner-up teams: Heath in 1975, and Lone Oak in 2007 and '09. He was an assistant at Paducah Tilghman when his son Billy Jack was a star quarterback and Mr. Football. "I've had a lot of great kids and a lot of fun, but it's time to hang it up," Haskins said. "I'm 71, and it gets to the point where they need a young guy in there."
■ Ashland Blazer junior running back Quinton Baker, who has committed to the University of Kentucky, ran for 181 yards and five TDs in the Tomcats' 49-14 playoff rout of Holmes. Baker has eclipsed 4,000 yards rushing in his career.
■ Damien Harris' high school career is over after Madison Southern's 49-18 loss to Letcher County Central. Harris, rated the top running back in the nation, missed a month of the season with a knee injury before returning for the first round of the playoffs last week. He was limited to 52 yards on nine carries. Harris finished his career with 6,746 rushing yards and 113 rushing TDs.
■ Caldwell County quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who has a state-record 141 TD passes in his career, can set another state record when the Tigers play Ballard Memorial on Friday night. Sindelar has a TD pass in 39 consecutive games, tying the record set by Lexington Catholic's Jacob Doss in 2002. Sindelar, who's committed to Purdue, is third on the state's passing yards list with 12,319. He's 257 yards shy of overtaking Ricky Bowling of South Laurel for the No. 2 spot.
■ When McCracken County played in the state volleyball tournament last week, its fans were led in cheers by a guy wearing a cape, boxing gloves, sunglasses, a Mustangs T-shirt and a University of Louisville cap. He was also carrying a small stick-horse. The guy in the get-up was none other than Winston Bennett, the former UK basketball star. His daughter Jasmine was a senior star for McCracken County this season. The 6-2 outside hitter signed with Louisville this week. Mustangs Coach Tim Whitis said Winston led cheers the past four years. "He's awesome." Bennett said his daughter was "long and athletic and loves volleyball. And she's a 4.0 student. She's brought us so much joy." He finds it difficult sitting still and watching Jasmine compete. "So I put all my nerves into cheering as hard as I can," he said. Bennett stepped down as basketball coach at Mid-Continent University in Mayfield last year. He now sells insurance.
■ Lafayette senior Dee Givens, who averaged 17 points, seven rebounds and four steals last season, signed with Western Kentucky. Generals' 6-3 senior center Ashanti Thomas, who averaged 10 points and eight rebounds last season, will sign with Penn State on Monday.
■ Bourbon County's Asia Sims has signed to play basketball at Tennessee State. She's the first girls' player in school history to sign with a Division I school. Asia, on pace to score more than 2,000 points, is the daughter of former Paris and University of Louisville standout Alvin Sims.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar senior Kailey Miller is headed to Central Michigan on a gymnastics scholarship. She's thought to be the first Lexington gymnast in more than a decade to sign with a Division I school. Kailey, who trains at Premier Athletics in Lexington, qualified for the Junior Olympic Nationals the past two years.