You’d think after six years of covering Kentucky high school football, I would stop making rookie mistakes.
But even the veterans were jolted by this one.
Johnson Central had disposed of every team on its schedule by 22 or more points this season. It consistently churned out two or three 100-yard rushers behind a dominant offensive line, threw in a few nice pass plays here and there and presented a rock-solid case on defense. The Golden Eagles appeared untameable.
But, like a Bluegrass broken record, another mighty foe from the Greater Cincinnati area prevailed in an all-too-familiar tune for teams in this part of the state.
Covington Catholic didn’t just beat Johnson Central, the Colonels clobbered the Golden Eagles, setting up a CovCath-Highlands rematch. Here’s what’s amazing: Highlands drilled CovCath, 42-6, earlier this season.
I look like a fool for thinking Highlands could be taken down by anyone, not just Johnson Central. CovCath prevented the matchup from even happening, squashing the notion with a loud stomp.
The Bluebirds — who still need to come up with a more intimidating mascot — blitzed Ashland, 56-6, to end the Tomcats’ season.
Highlands is basically like Alabama. Throughout the entire season, fans, sports writers, TV analysts and opposing players gradually grow to think that a team from another conference can outduel the SEC’s best come bowl time. Then, the Tide deliver the truth and it hits everyone like a ton of bricks.
So, I admit it. I was blinded by the light (revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night; Manfred Mann, 1976).
Here’s my new prediction: Highlands will roll to its seventh straight state championship.
According to MaxPreps, such a streak would be the longest ever in American high school football.
As far as Ashland and Johnson Central go, Friday night should not define their 2013 seasons.
The Tomcats accomplished much more than many thought they would with almost a whole new slate of starters and a slew of injuries under first-year coach Tony Love.
Love summed it up well on Friday. “Sometimes that last loss clouds what your team has achieved, and these guys have achieved a lot,” he said of his 8-4 Tomcats.
Johnson Central still has a lot returning next season from an
Last Team Standing
It didn’t take long for me to come to the realization that The Independent had just one area team left to cover this postseason.
Raceland (10-2) marched past Paintsville into a regional final with Pikeville. Kickoff is Friday night at 7:30 at Rams Stadium.
How will Raceland’s widespread experience and size up front fare against the speedy Panthers of Pikeville? Time will tell, but one thing is for sure: These Rams are motivated to become the football program’s first region winner.
“We want this bad,” said senior Nevan Johnson. “It’s our time to take our regional championship and make school history.”
Read more about Raceland, including a feature story on its impressive defensive line, this week in sports.
Got Any “Since?”
-This Friday will mark Raceland’s T.J. Maynard’s first appearance in a regional final game as a head coach since ... ever. Maynard spent seven seasons (1998-2004) as the head man at Greenup County, but the Musketeers never won a playoff game in that stint. He’s in his fourth year at the helm of the Rams.
-Russell suffered its most lopsided playoff loss since ... ever. The Red Devils’ 49-0 defeat at the collective hands of Bourbon County moved the program’s overall postseason record to 44-28. Each and every one of those contests was coached by Ivan McGlone.
Playoff Helmet Stickers
Four: Daylin Beach (Raceland).
Beach amassed 195 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The motor of the Rams’ offense surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in his senior season.
Three: Lane Daniels (Paintsville).
Two: Adam Elkins (Raceland), Mark Fannin (Paintsville), Bryce Workman (Johnson Central).
One: James Queen (Ashland), A.J. Cyrus (Lawrence County), Josh Young (Raceland), Jordan Young (Johnson Central).
Did you miss it? The following are area high school football scores from this past weekend: Highlands 56, Ashland 6; Covington Catholic 42, Johnson Central 14; Raceland 42, Paintsville 12; Bourbon County 49, Russell 0; Belfry 42, Lawrence County 6.
Since the number of area teams has significantly dwindled, here’s another game to keep a close eye on this Friday: Mason County-Bourbon County.
The Royals (12-0) and Colonels (12-0) will do battle in Paris.
Mason County has beaten its opponents by an average of 26.9 points per game. The Royals are led by Rashon Nelson (1,248 rushing yards, 24 TDs), Jake O’Mara (1,680 passing yards, 13 TDs), Tee King (505 receiving yards) and John Combs Buchanan (97 tackles).
Bourbon County has obliterated its opponents, winning by an average margin of 41.9 points.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.