High school football in Kentucky is an unlimited well of great personalities and storylines. Interest in the sport is just as deep.
I have selected 10 stories from the 2017 regular season worth revisiting before the playoffs get underway. The selections were made based on a number of factors: the newsworthiness of the reporting; the uniqueness of the story and/or its personalities; the presentation of the story and its multimedia elements; and overall reader interest in the story at the time it was originally published.
The headlines (with original online publication date) are listed below with links embedded.
1.) My first date with Kentucky’s biggest high school football rivalry (Oct. 2, 2017): The Trinity-St. Xavier rivalry is the state’s largest — both in terms of its participants and the crowd it draws. I wrote about my experience seeing it for the first time this year.
2.) High school kicker didn’t show up until halftime. He hit the winning field goal. (Sept. 1, 2017): The Boyle County-Danville rivalry is another that seldom fails to live up to expectations, and this year’s bout was no different.
3.) He once was recruited by SEC schools. Now one of state’s top players is ignored. What’s going on? (Oct. 26, 2017): Madison Southern star Carter Smith has had a rollercoaster ride of a recruiting process. His story highlights the difficulties high school athletes face when it comes to earning a high-major college offer.
4.) Former UK star drove to the hospital after being shot. Now he’s coaching again. (Sept. 7, 2017): David Jones, the head coach at Phelps High School, was shot in July and managed to make it back to the sidelines in time for the regular season to kick off.
5.) ‘Every day it gets better’: New Douglass High building a football program from scratch (July 14, 2017): A ton of fanfare surrounded the opening of Frederick Douglass High School, Lexington’s first new high school in 27 years. Josh Sullivan wrote this preseason piece detailing the early days of this first-year football program — now ranked in the top 10 in Class 6A.
6.) Lexington football coach back on the sidelines after unexplained absence (Oct. 5, 2017): Earlier in October, controversy surrounded Douglass’ program after its head coach was absent from the sidelines and no official explanation was offered. It enabled undesired attention for a high school that had already fended off one controversy (the naming of its school mascot) before the doors even opened.
7.) UK offered Jairus Brents when he was 13. Now a senior, he remains undecided. (Aug. 20, 2017): This profile of Waggener’s still-uncommitted star was written by freelancer Hayes Gardner, who’s based out of Oregon but got the opportunity to watch Brents in person early this season.
8.) Hurricane rains won’t keep eastern Kentucky’s best from visiting Lexington this week (Aug. 30, 2017): Torrential rain stemming from the landfall of Hurricane Harvey entered Kentucky during the third week of the season and wrecked havoc on games schedules across the state. Mountain contenders Belfry and Johnson Central didn’t let it interfere with their plans, though.
9.) Some of Kentucky’s smallest schools could produce the most exciting postseason football (Sept. 21, 2017): This midseason look at Class 2A’s top programs could just as well have been written in the final week of the season; there’s little reason to believe the state’s second-smallest class won’t yield an exciting playoff.
10.) The 50 best high school football players in Kentucky this year ... and a few more (Aug. 11, 2017): Finally, have a look at whom the coaches considered the best players coming into 2017 and compare it against the actual results from the season.