By now, it’s the matchup that everybody wants to see.
Actually, after Friday, there are two clashes (maybe more) worth clamoring for.
Regional finals week could provide area fans with a pair of doozies — Johnson Central at Highlands and Pikeville at Raceland.
Is this the Golden Eagles’ year to knock off the mighty Bluebirds?
Most “experts” (and yes, that includes myself) believe the winner of that showdown will hoist the state champion crown.
In 2010, the Golden Eagles were excruciatingly close to tackling the improbable feat of toppling Highlands. Who knows? Maybe ‘13 is Central's lucky number …
Speaking of numbers, did you see the Highlands-Warren Central score? The Bluebirds won 71-69!
Pikeville piled up a few points of its own, slinging 56 onto the scoreboard at Russell. If that performance is any indication, the Rams — if Raceland and the Panthers advance that far — will have their work cut out for them on Nov. 22.
OK, so we’ve mentioned crowns and gone over possible state and region kings … that brings us to the annual presentation of the QB's “Helmet Sticker King.”
The coveted title has been claimed by a top player in the area since 2009. Comprising the group of winners, in chronological order: Shane Pack (Lawrence County), Corey Lyle (Greenup County), Sam Hunter (Ashland) and Quinton Baker (Ashland).
In 2013, a total of exactly 100 players and/or offensive line or defensive line units received a sticker-slap on the noggin.
Let’s count down the top 10, along with their amount …
10. Daymion Belcher (Johnson Central) 13; t9. Jordan Young (Johnson Central) 14; t9. Daylin Beach (Raceland) 14; 7. Nick Conley (Russell) 15; 6. Ryan Byrd (Greenup County) 16; t5. Armonde Yetts (Fairview) 17; t5. A.J. Cyrus (Lawrence County) 17; 3. Isaac Weddington (Lewis County) 18; 2. Connor Messer (Raceland) 22; and…
Drumroll please …
1. Quinton Baker (Ashland) 25.
Baker becomes the first ever back-to-back “Helmet Sticker King” and also the first repeat winner. Congratulations to Quinton Baker “The Touchdown Maker,” an Ashland sophomore.
Got Any “Since?”
‰Lewis County achieved just its second seven-win regular season since … 1988. The Lions went 8-2 in 2011 before falling in the first round of the playoffs. In all, Lewis County has now recorded seven regular seasons consisting of at least seven wins since 1973. Three of those came in the 1970s.
‰Paintsville accomplished its first seven-win campaign since … 2005. The Tigers went 10-3, including two playoff victories, under the direction of Bill Mike Runyon. In his first year, Joe Chirico has his players’ attention, apparently.
‰Raceland became the first northeastern Kentucky football program to the 500-win mark since … Paintsville in 2005.
Northeastern Kentucky’s 500-win football programs: Ashland (652), Russell (566), Paintsville (547) and Raceland (501).
Four: Maverick Dixon (Raceland), Jordan Young (Johnson Central), Isaac Weddington (Lewis County), Tyler Mustard (Lewis County).
Dixon spearheaded Raceland's superb defensive effort in a shutout of Ironton on Friday. The junior swiped three balls from the Fighting Tigers, all in the form of interceptions.
Young’s stat line: 26 carries, 249 yards, five TDs. Those kinds of numbers never get old.
Weddington is a back-to-back four-sticker recipient following a 461-yard passing outburst to go with five total touchdowns — four were through the air.
Mustard caught nine of Weddington’s 22 completions for 262 yards and two scores.
Looks like the Monday Morning Quarterback is trying to make up for something, huh? Why doesn’t he go ahead and send an apologetic bouquet the way of the Lions?
Nah, I’ll just give them stickers and come out smelling like roses.
Of course, they deserve them anyway.
Three: Raceland defensive line, Matt Lawson (Greenup County).
Two: Kane Snyder (Raceland), Nick Conley (Russell), Chase Parker (Lewis County), Connor Messer (Raceland), Jason Smith (Boyd County), Billy McCoy (Boyd County), Lane Daniels (Paintsville).
One: Jacob McKee (Russell), Bronson Korzep (Russell), Adam Elkins (Raceland), Cole McClain (East Carter), Daymion Belcher (Johnson Central), Jordan Ratcliff (East Carter), Mark Fannin (Paintsville), Kent Phelps (Paintsville).
‰The QB didn’t receive statistics from Fairview.
1. Johnson Central (10-0)
2. Raceland (8-2)
3. Ashland (7-3)
4. Fairview (5-5)*
5. Russell (6-4)
6. Lawrence County (7-3)*
7. Lewis County (7-3)
* = Records affected by Friday’s ruling by the KHSAA that Fairview had to vacate four wins this season.
Did you miss it? The following are area scores from Friday: Tolsia (WV) 21, Boyd County 16; Pikeville 56, Russell 28; East Carter 13, Greenup County 12 (OT); Fairview 49, Gamble Montessori 18; Raceland 17, Ironton 0; Johnson Central 54, Belfry 28; Prestonsburg 20, Lawrence County 14; Montgomery County 33, Rowan County 14; Paintsville 48, West Carter 7; Lewis County 49, Magoffin County 33.
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
By now, it’s the matchup that everybody wants to see.
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