Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 19, 2012

MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK: Semi-sweet! Bite into it

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

ASHLAND — Upon receiving the news of Fairview’s entrance into the state semifinals, my first inclinations were to write “Get used to this.”

That’s because Raceland and Fairview have a legitimate shot to get this far every year considering the KHSAA’s current football alignment.

But then I began to think about the past. No current Class A school in our immediate area (discounting Paintsville) had ever broken through to this round.

So, instead of taking it for granted that this is one of many to come, I think this area should embrace the opportunity to pay witness to it.

Westwood is abuzz right now, and it certainly will be on Friday night when Fairview meets defending state champion Hazard with a state championship game berth on the line.

Coaches might tell their players, “don’t get too wrapped up in the moment,” because that lends itself to a diminished level of pure focus.

On the other hand, the area should get wrapped up in the moment. Clothe yourself in it like it’s a fine Cashmere sweather.

You may not be an Eagles fan, and that’s fine. Fairview Stadium has a visitor’s side too.

Just take advantage of the opportunity to watch an area school compete in the Final Four. You never know how often the chances will come around.

Russell was the last northeastern Kentucky school to reach this point (in 2006). That was on the road.

In 2005, the Red Devils hosted their state semifinal win over Belfry at Henry R. Evans Stadium. They went on to win the Class 2A championship the next week in Louisville.

Fairview is peaking at the right time. The Eagles committed a bevy of mistakes (some possibly unwarranted, as coach Nathan McPeek said), but easily overcame them with superb offensive play — they had 625 yards on the ground.

McPeek pointed to his seniors and offensive line as huge factors in the victory.

The seniors who have played at Fairview since they were freshmen are now 44-7 overall — the losses came to Lexington Christian (four), East Carter (one), Raceland (one) and Pikeville (one).

Glancing at Hazard

Fairview’s next opponent is extremely balanced. Hazard (9-3) has 2,541 yards rushing and 2,333 passing on the season.

The Bulldogs allow just 130 rushing yards a contest and they just shut out a team that was averaging 45 points a game in Williamsburg.

Their losses came early and against solid competition (Somerset 9-17, LCA 20-27, Breathitt County 7-15).

Salmons effect

Just like the fish, the coach bearing the same name swims against the current.

Luke Salmons, former offensive lineman teammate of McPeek’s at Marshall, is once again making a monstrous splash on the coaching scene, this time in West Virginia.

Most in this area recognize Salmons’ name for what he accomplished in very little time in Louisa. At Lawrence County, Salmons’ first team went 0-11 in 2008. His second year encompassed one of the best turnarounds in state history, as the Bulldogs marched to a 12-1 mark.

Salmons has his current Cabell Midland squad ranked No. 1 in AAA in West Virginia. The Knights, fresh off a 28-26 defeat of Spring Valley on Friday, will face Morgantown at home in the state semifinals.

Man, these Marshall guys know how to coach.

McPeek-ing

There’s a term to describe what’s transpiring on the national college and local high school football landscape at the moment. It’s based on the connoissuership of Notre Dame and Fairview football shown by both Nathan McPeek and Garry McPeek, Fairview High School’s principal and an Eagles assistant coach.

McPeeking (n.) [mik-peek-ing] — A phenomenon which occurs when both Notre Dame University’s and Fairview High School’s football teams are unbeaten for the season by the month of November.

Sentence: With Notre Dame and Fairview a combined 24-0, we’re witnessing a McPeeking.

Road to BG

In a minor upset, Beechwood took down Frankfort to punch a ticket to its 100th state semifinal appearance. (Just kidding, it only seems that way). The tradition-rich Tigers are back on the prowl — they haven’t won a state title since 2008, when they beat Hazard.

Mayfield, Beechwood’s semifinal opponent for the fourth straight season, has been ranked atop Class A in the Associated Press poll all season long. The Cardinals are likely favored to win it all.

This game has the makings of a great one, as most do at this juncture. Mayfield won this identical matchup 19-14 a year ago.

If Fairview beats Hazard, the Eagles will have their hands fuller than a large cup of soda that the fast food worker can’t seem to pack enough ice in.

Then again, they would be in the state championship game, which is slated for Friday, Nov. 30, at 11 a.m. in Bowling Green.

Semifinal Rundown

Class 6A: Even though highly touted receiver James Quick exited due to injury, Louisville Trinity survived, 15-14, against Louisville St. Xavier at University of Louisville’s Papa Johns Stadium. Trinity (12-1) tussles with Scott County (12-1), with Pleasure Ridge Park (13-0) looking to stay perfect against Eastern (11-2).

Class 5A: Unbeatens Bowling Green (13-0) and John Hardin (13-0) do battle this Friday. The winner will take on the survivor between Cooper (12-1) and Harlan County (12-1).

Class 4A: In a much-anticipated matchup, Highlands ousted Covington Catholic, 28-13, to move on to the semis. The Bluebirds (12-1) have Lexington Catholic (11-2) next. On the other side of the bracket, it’s Warren East (13-0) and Collins (10-3).

Class 3A: Bourbon County quickly dashed Mason County’s hopes of a regional title. The 13-0 Colonels hit the road to red-hot Belfry (11-2), which hasn’t lost since Ashland beat the Pirates on Oct. 5. Also, Monroe County (12-1) squares off against Louisville Central (11-2).

Class 2A: The matchups are Somerset (11-2)-Newport Central Catholic (9-4) and Caldwell County (10-3)-DeSales (9-4).

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AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.