High School Football

Playoff bind

Lawrence County football coach Luke Salmons is accenting the positive as his winless team makes the 3½ -hour trip to Log Mountain on Friday to face unbeaten Bell County in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

"We are happy to have the opportunity to practice and play another game," Salmons said in an email. "We're telling the kids to compete and play four quarters. We are huge underdogs. It would be an upset for the ages."

But, Salmons added, he thinks the playoff format "needs to be looked at."

Glasgow Coach Billy Lindsey, whose Scotties are 0-10, feels the same way. He welcomes the chance to practice another week, but he's not sure his team deserves to be playing Danville in a first-round 2A game. "I feel if you don't win a game, you shouldn't be in the playoffs. But this is the format, and we must adhere to it."

When the KHSAA expanded football to six classes, it increased the number of playoff qualifiers from 128 to 192. A lot of those teams earn their way in; a lot are given a free pass because they are in four-team districts.

Bob Schneider, who coaches Newport Central Catholic and is on the KHSAA Board of Control, said there is talk around the state that the format might need to be tweaked. "People are starting to realize it's not very fun to be 0-10 and having to face a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. I think there's enough unrest that it will be discussed (by the KHSAA). If my team was 0-10, I don't know if I'd want to make that trip."

Schneider said one solution would be to have only the top two teams in each district make the playoffs instead of the top four.

Lawrence County isn't the only winless team playing an undefeated power in the first round. Pendleton County visits unbeaten Boyle County, but Wildcats Coach Lee Teegarden doesn't mind: "I support the current playoff system due to the fact that there have been many (No. 4) seeds upset (No. 1) seeds in the past. As far as our situation, I push our kids to keep their heads up, play with pride, and give it everything they have."

Schneider wanted to make it clear that he isn't being critical of the 0-10 teams. "It's the system I wonder about," he said.

■ Allen Central won a school-record seven games this fall for its first winning season since 1990. The Rebels were only a few points away from going 9-1. They lost to Pikeville by two points and to Berea by one. "It has been a great season, no doubt," Coach Jeremy Hall said. "Our boys also know we have only two seniors ... so the younger boys know their best is still to come." The Rebels' next challenge is to win a playoff game for the first time when they visit Harlan Friday night. Allen Central, which is in Floyd County, has a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in twin brothers Logan and Hunter Crowder, who have combined for 2,563 yards and 26 TDs.

■ When Lafayette hosts Simon Kenton Friday night, it will celebrate the history of the Generals' program and Ishmael Stadium. The facility, built in 1959, is named after Lafayette's first coach who went on to become the school's principal. It will be razed after the season to make room for a new stadium with artificial turf. (If the Generals beat Simon Kenton, they also will host a playoff game next week.) Friday's festivities will include a blast from the past. Members of Lafayette's first football team (1946) will be introduced before the game, and other former players and distinguished alumni will be recognized at halftime. Jim Humphrey, who played for the '46 Generals, has written a book, Lafayette's First Eleven, about that team. It includes a year-by-year listing of wins and losses. Lafayette's all-time record is 320-300-18.

■ Junior tailback Quan Weaver ran 18 times for 326 yards and three TDs and threw a 33-yard TD pass to lead Frankfort past Garrard County 54-7.

■ Bell County posted its fifth consecutive shutout by beating Tates Creek 38-0. The Bobcats have given up only three TDs all season. They had three 100-yard rushers against Tates Creek. Dominic Carton had 142, Matt Simpson 108 and Spencer Greer 103.

■ Jessamine County's teams won't have to do much scouting in preparation for the first round of the playoffs. A scheduling quirk has East and West Jessamine playing the same opponents Friday that they played on Halloween. East has a rematch with Franklin County, which it lost to 41-31 on Oct. 31. West has a rematch with Harrison County, which it upset 26-23.

■ Knox Central beat Covington Holy Cross for its seventh win this season, tying a school record. Chad Merida rushed for 142 yards to lead Wayne Mills' Panthers.

■ Newport Central Catholic handed Beechwood its first loss, 31-20, in a battle of northern Kentucky small-school powers. Don't be surprised if both teams make the state finals — NewCath in 2A and Beechwood in 1A.

■ Don't count out Mayfield just because the perennial power has struggled to a 5-5 record. The Cardinals also had a .500 regular season in 2001 and 2004, but they advanced to the state semifinals both times.

■ When football expanded to six classes, it meant that 32 of the 33 teams in 2A would make the playoffs. Poor Reidland. For the second year in a row the Greyhounds are the only 2A team that didn't qualify for the post-season. They finished fifth in their district behind Trigg County, Murray, Caldwell County and Heath.

■ Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, which beat Lexington Catholic in the Knights' season opener, is in Indiana's Class 3A region finals. The Trojans are 10-1 and rated No.1 in their class. The four teams that beat Lexington Catholic this season (Chatard, Boyle County, Highlands and St. Xavier) are a combined 38-2.

■ Raceland was No. 1 in Class A in this week's Associated Press poll, the first time it has ever held the top spot. Randy Vanderhoof's Rams wrapped up a 10-0 regular season (its first since 1996) by beating West Carter 40-0.

■ Defending 2A champ Fort Campbell's state-best 22-game winning streak came to an end with a loss to Franklin-Simpson.

■ Henderson County upset Bowling Green last week, ending the Purples' six-year, 55-game regular-season win streak against public schools.

■ Paintsville junior Nehemiah Doderer rushed 15 times for 205 yards against Sheldon Clark. On the season he has 1,104 yards (averaging 10 yards a carry) and 12 TDs.

■ Harlan County's win over Somerset marked the first time since 1992 that a Harlan County school beat the Briar Jumpers.

■ Winston Hines has become Pulaski County's all-time top tackler. He has 128 tackles this season and 363 in his career. Maroons QB Chris Muse has rushed for more than 1,000 yards and passed for more than 1,000 for the second year in a row.

■ Tates Creek grad David Akers was mentioned in Sports Illustrated last week in a story about how NFL kickers are much better athletes nowadays. SI noted that Akers, a 10-year veteran with the Philadelphia Eagles, trains in Brazilian jujitsu. When Akers kicked for Tates Creek, Coach Roy Walton said on more than one occasion that Akers was the best athlete on the team.

■ Brad Nahra, an All-City basketball player at Sayre in the late 1990s who played at Arizona State, is getting back in the game. He is the new radio color analyst for ASU. The Sun Devils open the season Friday against Mississippi Valley, which is coached by former UK player Sean Woods. ASU Coach Herb Sendek is a former UK assistant. As a senior at Sayre, Nahra led the city in scoring (27 ppg) and helped the Spartans reach the 11th Region semifinals.

■ Madisonville's Jon Hood, Lexington Catholic's Vee Sanford, Clark County's Vinny Zollo, Manual's Jacob Jenkins, Adair County's Darren Ballou and Hopkins Central's Chuck Jones are among the basketball standouts who will play in Lexington Catholic's Holiday Classic that tips off Dec. 26. First-round pairings: Hazard vs. Fort Myers, Fla.; Manual vs. Adair County; Clark County vs. Hopkins Central; Trinity vs. Boone County; Perry Central vs. McCreary Central; Lexington Catholic vs. Newport Catholic; Madisonville vs. St. Xavier; and Lexington Christian vs. Knott Central.

■ Whitey Simpson, who retired as Washington County boys' basketball coach in 1995, is back on the sidelines as girls' coach at Bethlehem. Simpson, who has taught at Bethlehem the last 11 years, stepped in as a replacement for Terry Janes, who resigned last week. Simpson coached Washington County for 17 years, highlighted by a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 1985. His highest-profile player was Kevin Ellery, who contended for Mr. Basketball in 1987 when John Pelphrey won the honor. Ellery played for Notre Dame. Simpson, 67, has his sense of humor as he rekindles his coaching fire. "Used to be, people thought I didn't know what I was doing. This may remove all doubt," he said with a laugh.

■ Zack Butler, who led Paul Dunbar to top-10 finishes in the state golf tournament the last two years, will sign with Eastern Kentucky. He tied for eighth in the state last month and Dunbar finished fourth. As a junior, he tied for 18th individually and the Bulldogs tied for fifth.

■ Rockcastle County left-hander Tanner Perkins will play at Western Kentucky. His career statistics: 20-9 record, 1.92 ERA and 260 strikeouts and 34 walks in 164 innings.