High School Football

Pre-season coaches' polls

Highlands' football players carried the Class 5A championship trophy into the stands with the students after their 35-7 win over John Hardin last season.
Highlands' football players carried the Class 5A championship trophy into the stands with the students after their 35-7 win over John Hardin last season. ASSOCIATED PRESS

It's a match race between Highlands and Louisville Trinity to see who'll be the first to win 20 state football titles. Kentucky's most powerful programs have 19 championships apiece.

Highlands won its third consecutive title last year to tie Trinity, which lost to archrival St. Xavier in its finals. Going into this season, the coaches pick Highlands No. 1 in Class 5A, and Trinity No. 2 (behind St. X) in 6A.

Highlands is on quite a roll. The Bluebirds, who finished last season No. 3 in USA Today's national ratings, have won 28 consecutive games, 41 in a row against Kentucky competition.

Class 6A

1. St. Xavier (14-1)Tigers seek repeat for first time in 35 years

2. Trinity (10-5)Rocks have most wins (126) since 2000

3. Fern Creek (7-4)Talent-stocked Tigers try to make an impact

4. Ryle (8-4)QB Conner Hempel leads veteran Raiders

5. Scott County (10-4)Looking for third 10-win season in a row

6. Henry Clay (10-3)Speed at skill positions is Devils' strength

7. Ballard (8-4)DeVante Parker may be best WR in state

8. Male (10-3)Chris Wolfe succeeds Bob Redman as coach

9. Simon Kenton (11-2)Pioneers try to maintain new-found success

10. Manual (5-7)Oliver Lucas left Bryan Station for Crimsons

Class 5A

1. Highlands (15-0)Bluebirds try to become first to win 20 titles

2. John Hardin (14-1)Bulldogs have averaged 11 wins last 5 years

3. Owensboro (9-3)2000 was last time Red Devils reached finals

4. Johnson Central (8-5)J.J. Jude will be spotlighted running back

5. Covington Catholic (6-6)'06 titlists still re-establishing themselves

6. Bowling Green (11-3)Kevin Wallace needs 4 wins to reach 200

7. Dixie Heights (5-7)Junior QB Zeke Pike creating lots of buzz

8. Christian County (8-5)Colonels' talent pool one of deepest in 5A

9. Warren Central (8-5)Dragons been on the up-tick after '08 swoon

10. Pulaski County (10-4)QB Zach Eastham main man for Maroons

Class 4A

1. Boyle County (15-0)Last season Rebels won 6th title in 11 years

2. Bell County (12-2)Dudley Hilton and son John Dudley lead Bobcats

3. Lone Oak (14-1)Purple Flash proved in '09 they're no flash in pan

4. Lexington Catholic (8-5)Young Knights figure to grow into contenders

5. Allen Co.-Scottsville (11-1)Patriots return starters at 15 of 22 positions

6. Marion County (11-3)Knights have talent to repeat last year's success

7. Western (7-6)Coach Lavell Boyd's son Jalen is junior WR

8. Franklin-Simpson (9-3)Last season's victory total most in 10 years

9. Holmes (9-3)Bulldogs impressed in 4A debut last season

10. Knox Central (7-5)Starters returning at 19 of 22 positionsClass 3A

Class 3A

1. Mason County (11-1)Royals have the look of a title contender

2. Central (8-6)Jackets have been class of 3A since 2008

3. Paducah Tilghman (9-6)Tornado took twisting path to '09 title

4. Somerset (14-1)Can Jumpers follow up last year's run to finals?

5. Henry County (10-3)Late change in coaches may not hinder Cats

6. Belfry (8-4)Perennial power Pirates usually in title conversation

7. Russellville (8-5)Panthers almost beat Tilghman in '09 playoffs

8. Sheldon Clark (9-5)One step further in playoffs last four years

9. Breathitt County (7-6)Bobcats hope to rediscover '08 title mojo

10. Russell (6-5)Ivan McGlone needs 11 wins to join 300 club

Class 2A

1. Fort Campbell (15-0)Three-time defending champs obvious pick

2. DeSales (11-4)Colts' running game carried them to '09 finals

3. Danville (5-7)Sam Harp one victory shy of joining 300 club

4. Murray (12-1)Tigers scared Fort Campbell in '09 playoffs

5. Newport Catholic (7-6)Eddie Eviston succeeds Bob Schneider

6. Green County (9-4)Beat Danville 62-22 in playoffs last year

7. Corbin (10-3)Hard-nosed Hounds have 100 wins since 2000

8. Owensboro Catholic (3-8)Aces bouncing back after 2 tough years?

9. Monroe County (10-4)QB Jackson Arnett wings it for Falcons

10. Prestonsburg (13-1)Rebuilding Blackcats still a top-10 team

Class A

1. Mayfield (13-2)55-19 title loss to LCA spurs veteran Cards

2. Beechwood (9-5)Five losses in '09 most in more than 20 years

3. Lexington Christian (14-1)Ray Graham takes over as Eagles coach

4. Lou. Holy Cross (6-6)Cougars return starters at 18 of 22 spots

5. Hazard (9-5)Bulldogs figure to be power in mountains again

6. Pikeville (6-6)Alum Chris McNamee tries to rekindle tradition

7. Raceland (8-5)New coach T.J. Maynard will keep Rams rolling

8. Fairview (8-4)Eagles will be Raceland's district nemesis

9. Frankfort (8-4)Panthers have averaged 9 wins over last 7 years

10. Crittenden County (10-3)25th anniversary of Rockets' state title