Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 9, 2012

EXTRA POINTS: Teams vying to buck recent trend

Kyle Hobstetter
The Independent

ASHLAND — Local prep football history is funny. And when I say it’s funny, I actually mean it’s full of spirit-crushing facts.

If recent history repeats itself, we’ll see one or two area teams make it to next week, and then bow out to gracefully end this area’s football season for another year.

You might be asking yourself, what is he talking about?

Well, a regional championship punches a ticket to the state semifinals. And for the area teams remaining this season, the winning has recently stopped by the time final fours in each class are set.

Ashland coach Leon Hart has the second-most wins in Tomcat football history and has his name mentioned when someone talks top coaches in the area.

He’s had great teams that finished in the Associated Press Top 10, but he’s never won a region championship.

Moving to area Class A teams, nobody has had better recent years than Fairview (back-to-back undefeated regular seasons) and Raceland (six straight years with a playoff victory).

However, neither has won a region championship. Ever.

Lawrence County hasn’t seen a fourth game in the playoffs since 1999, when the late Chuke Williams was roaming the sidelines as coach.

Johnson Central and Jim Matney, the school’s all-time winningest coach, have been the only exception — the Golden Eagles won a region championship in 2006 before falling in the state semifinals.

The team that beat them in the semifinals is the team they play tonight — Covington Catholic.

But local prep history isn’t always a bad thing.

Johnson Central leads the overall series against Covington Catholic 3-1, winning the past three meetings, all in the playoffs.

The last time any area team has beaten Highlands was Ashland. It was back in 1954, but Ashland has beaten Highlands five times.

Fairview is working its way to a third straight region championship game and hasn’t lost to Nicholas County since 2002.

Raceland already has a huge win over tonight’s opponent, Pikeville, this year.

Along with the earlier bad history I mentioned, there is still great history for these teams.

But the thing is, these teams need to not let history define them. These guys need to write their own history.

That’s what is great about sports — the ability every year for these kids and these programs to rewrite history.

And the way things have happened this year, I feel like some good history will be written tonight.

Game of the week

-Covington Catholic at Johnson Central, kickoff at 7:30 p.m. It seems like all the good games the past few weeks have been in Paintsville.

This week is no different, as a very good Covington Catholic team is coming to do battle with Johnson Central in a Class 4A showdown.

Covington Catholic has just three losses on the season, one to Highlands, one to La Salle (Ohio) and a one-point loss to 5A playoff team Conner.

Whoever wins sets up a Class 4A regional final against Ashland or Highlands.

Expect fireworks in Paintsville.

Things to know playoff week 2

-With wins, Raceland and Fairview will guarantee a region title in our area. It would be the second meeting between the schools this season.

What’s at stake? A chance for each school to bring home its first region title.

If you thought it was crowded when these teams faced off earlier in the season, wait until there are playoff implications involved.

-Ashland’s meeting against Highlands is only their third meeting in 20 years. They played in 1992 and 2008, both like tonight, in the second round of the playoffs. Highlands has lost only one game since 2007 in Fort Thomas. Expect a slobberknocker.

Shameless plug

Follow The Independent’s Quarterback on Twitter, @DindependentQB. He will be tweeting scores and updates from area games tonight. He’ll also be crying because the Independent’s basketball preview is coming together and he’s not ready to turn the reins over to the Point Guard. It’s a weird situation.

For your ears only

Tonight’s Radio Coverage

Ashland at Highlands (WBVB 97.1-FM), Nicholas County at Fairview (WLGC 105.7-FM), Covington Catholic at Johnson Central (WSIP 98.9-FM), Lawrence County at Belfry (WZAQ 92.3-FM), Raceland at Pikeville (wlgcradio.com)