It’s playoff time. One slip, and you’re out. Gone into the empty months that lie ahead.
So, what does a team that suffered three year-ending injuries to three running backs this season do?
Surprisingly enough, it runs.
What does a senior defensive captain who’s frustratingly been part of a defense allowing 36 points a game do?
He takes it upon himself to not let it happen again.
What do heavy favorites facing helpless opponents do?
They score and scoot, meaning, they let their starters do quick damage and rush them to the sidelines to avoid unnecessary risks to injury.
Those are three questions the QB saw answered thoroughly this past weekend.
Ashland, which lost tailbacks Cody Watts, Jeremy Jackson and Quinton Baker throughout the course of the season, piled up a staggering 50 carries for 341 yards, the Tomcats’ third-highest output of the season. Malik Massey (155) and Aaron Elam (145) led the way.
Can someone please check Jordan Wellman’s birth certificate?! (Google “James Nash, Mt. Pleasant High School”).
I’m just joking, but Wellman looked like a man among boys during his Lawrence County Bulldogs’ 22-14 win over Morgan County on Friday.
The senior linebacker with curly red locks tallied 35 tackles (14 solo), likely a school record, and a forced fumble.
Wellman had 80 tackles in eight games during the regular season. He was All-State Honorable Mention as a junior in 2011.
Fairview, Johnson Central and Raceland each made those watching feel sorry for its opposition. The Eagles, Golden Eagles and Rams scored 69, 68 and 60 points despite limited action by regular players.
Also, there was the case of Fleming County and Bath County, when a coach was forced to live with a decision which would follow him, for better or worse, all offseason. Read further for details about a chaotic finish.
While some are anxiously anticipating the season premiere of the Monday Morning Point Guard — you’ll have to wait until Monday, Nov. 26, by the way — several teams still have unfinished football business to attend to.
Here’s a glance at this week’s matchups for area teams:
Ashland (9-2) at Highlands (10-1): Everyone knows Highland’s resume by now. Ashland’s last win over the Bluebirds came in 1954. Tomcats coach Leon Hart was 3 years old.
Covington Catholic (8-3) at Johnson Central (9-2): This familiar postseason matchup has happened four of the past six seasons. Central won three of them. The Golden Eagles and Colonels absolutely poured it on their opening round opponents, scoring 68 and 67, respectively.
Lawrence County (5-6) at Belfry (9-2): In the regular season meeting, Belfry running back Trenity Carr gave the Bulldogs fits. He had 169 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries during Belfry’s 41-6 win.
Nicholas County (7-4) at Fairview (11-0): The Bluejackets came into Westwood and gave the Eagles a bit of a scare a year ago. Mostly due to the play of Chris Brewer, Fairview advanced to its second consecutive regional championship. It’s looking for No. 3.
Raceland (9-2) at Pikeville (6-5): Pikeville is on a five-game winning streak, but that’s mostly due to a weak district. The Rams won this regular season meeting, 54-14, but it was at home.
Ironton (7-3) vs. Johnstown Monroe (9-2), at Athens, Ohio: Ironton’s three losses came in succession against teams with a combined record of 27-6. The Fighting Tigers hope their tough schedule pays off.
Did you miss it? The following are first round playoff scores from this past weekend: Ashland 41, Holmes 14; Garrard County 12, Russell 7; Highlands 56, Boyd County 14; Fairview 69, Phelps 0; Raceland 60, Allen Central 0; Lawrence County 22, Morgan County 14; Pikeville 63, Paintsville 24; Johnson Central 68, Harrison County 14; Bourbon County 56, Lewis County 12; Covington Catholic 67, Rowan County 3.
Tweet the QB
Follow the Quarterback on Twitter, @DindependentQB, for playoff scores on Friday nights and news throughout the week. Contrary to what my “Extra Points” friend Kyle Hobstetter wrote, there will be no tweets about Ross Perot. I’m actually more of a Ralph Nader guy. There’s no party like a Green Party! As for Tuesday’s election, why not go with Independent candidate Stephen Rollins?
Johnson County Middle School captured the seventh grade state middle school football championship while Raceland Middle School finished second in the eighth-grade division on Sunday.
Johnson County downed Bowling Green Middle School 20-8 in the championship game at Lexington Catholic High School.
Butler County Middle School denied the Rams’ bid for a title, winning 44-8. Raceland drove for a touchdown and 8-0 on the game’s opening possession but Butler County dominated from there behind star Rex Henderson.
On a playoff weekend chock full of first round stinkers, Fleming County and Bath County locked up in a barnburner.
Fleming County held a seemingly comfortable 29-0 lead at halftime only to see the Wildcats storm back to seize a 36-29 lead with three minutes to go.
Despite the remarkable rally against them, the Panthers weren’t lifeless.
According to the Maysville Ledger-Independent, Fleming County quarterback Desmond McAdams found Maverick Burnett for a 7-yard touchdown, leaving Panthers coach Bill Spencer the decision of whether to go for the win via a two-point conversion or try to tie it up with the extra point.
As it turned out, he made the decision long before the final seconds.
“On the road you go for two,” Spencer told the newspaper. “Really, we didn’t even discuss it ...
“... We got lucky and we got it.”
The Panthers went to their go-to combination, McAdams-to-Burnett, for the game-winning conversion in a 37-36 victory.
Fleming County travels to Mason County this Friday.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
It’s playoff time. One slip, and you’re out. Gone into the empty months that lie ahead.
- Local Sports
Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)