West Carter’s Dylan Roe does curls on the sideline during the Comets’ 53-12 win at Bath County on Oct. 2.

Orry Perry, Leetavious Cline and company figured it would be easier to get forgiveness than permission. That’s how a weightlifting bar and Comets doing curls ended up on West Carter’s sideline in its season opener.

As long as the Comets keep winning and getting along while they’re doing it, Daniel Barker doesn’t mind.

“They snuck it up,” West Carter’s coach said of the workout station, “but they know how I am. Anything that’s like that that’s not a distraction that’s team-oriented, I’m for.

“I’m not really the easiest guy to play for between the whistles, so at the same time I like for them to have fun, because it is about them. Anything that is team-oriented, I’m all about.”

Perry said he and Cline came up with the idea while they were lifting over the summer. It’s in the same vein as Miami’s turnover chain, which has been mimicked many times since — but perhaps not yet as originally.

“Every time you make a big play, touchdown, interception, fumble recovery, a big hit, two-point conversion, whatever it is, you go over there and you hit some curls,” Perry said. “And if you get a touchdown, you do six. ... We wanted something different that you don’t really see a lot of, and I don’t know of anybody that has a curl bar.”

The Comets settled on 65 pounds because they’d put a little too much on the bar, Perry said, in Week 3 against Shelby Valley.

“Blake (McGlone) scored and he got over there and picked it up and went to curl it and it didn’t move,” Perry said, laughing, “so he just started dead-lifting it.”

The Comets’ playmakers have had plenty of opportunities to work on their biceps. West Carter averaged 49.4 points per game in its first five outings before its first misstep, a 34-12 loss at Paintsville more competitive than that score might indicate, and a 26-13 victory at Boone County.

And then, one of the Comets’ top wins in school history, by any measure, both because of how they won it and what it signified: a 25-21 victory at Russell on Friday.

West Carter beat the Red Devils, long a measuring stick for schools in northeastern Kentucky and beyond, for the first time in their 28 meetings when Gage Leadingham caught a carom of Perry’s 32-yard pass with no time remaining.


• Fairview’s 8-6 victory over Lewis County on Friday night yielded few, if any, notable offensive numbers. Gracin Smith still stuffed the stat sheet.

The Eagles’ senior linebacker was credited with a whopping 33 tackles — 14 solo, 19 assisted — to surpass the 300-career tackle mark.

“Gracin has earned each of his 300-plus varsity tackles in the offseason and practice field,” Fairview coach Daniel Armstrong said. “He has worked tirelessly to perfect his skills. So often on film we see a play that looks exactly like a scrape and engage drill that we rep in practice. It also doesn’t hurt to have a good amount of God-given natural talent for finding the football.”

Smith also has nearly double the number of totes as the second-most-frequent Eagles ballcarrier. Despite that pounding — taking it on one side of the ball and administering it on the other — Smith hasn’t missed a start, Armstrong said. The coach attributes that partially to the weight room and partially to Smith’s nature.

“To be a four-year starter and not miss a game playing inside linebacker at 5-8, 165 pounds, you have to have some grit and toughness,” Armstrong said.

• If it seems Keontae Pittman and JT Garrett are responsible for an outsized percentage of Ashland’s production, they are. The speedy senior duo has rushed for 1,103 of the Tomcats’ 2,017 ground yards, and Garrett by himself owns 425 of Ashland’s 688 receiving yards. And Pittman and Garrett have scored 24 of the Tomcats’ 37 touchdowns.

And that’s logical, based on Pittman and Garrett’s playmaking ability and that they were the most known quantities entering the season on an offense that replaced its starting quarterback and four offensive lineman.

But if Friday night was any indication, opposing defenses doubt first-year starting QB Brett Mullins at their own peril.

Rowan County sold out twice to stop Garrett, first on a faked screen and second on a feinted jet sweep. Each time, Mullins took advantage by hitting wide-open Tomcats receivers for touchdowns.

Ashland’s passing numbers this season haven’t always been great, but they were in the second quarter Friday. Mullins completed five passes for 136 yards and the aforementioned two scores.

Mullins threw for more yardage in that quarter alone than in any other game this season except one, and as many completions in that frame as the previous two games combined.

The Tomcats didn’t need Mullins to be brilliant against Russell or Bell County. But Ashland certainly won’t turn down another threatening component to its offense.

“You love to have a guy back there that’s as big a competitor as Brett is,” Tomcats coach Tony Love said. “He’s hard on himself — you have to tell him occasionally to not beat himself up so much, because he wants to do really well — but his skill set is about development right now and figuring out exactly what he does best.

“You see he’s getting better and better. You see that he’s assessing and the game is starting to slow down for him, and he just needs to continue that march.”

• The KHSAA Board of Control voted in January to use its ratings percentage index (RPI) to break three-way district ties, replacing the strength-of-victory system in place.

The old system annually caused mad calculations on the last Friday night of the regular season, deciphering which victories were worth more based on how many other teams those vanquished opponents had defeated.

The KHSAA’s computers do all that now. There is only one northeastern Kentucky team that might have to apply that this season: Boyd County — which, if its RPI and Rowan County’s remain where they are, will fall into a three-way tie for third place in Class 4A, District 6 with Harrison County and Scott at 1-3.

The Lions beat the Thorobreds, who beat the Eagles, who beat the Lions.

The Lions-Vikings game rescheduled for Friday was canceled because all activities are off at Rowan County, which is red on the COVID-19 map this week, according to athletic department staffer Randy Wallace.

So, according to the KHSAA’s protocol for determining the seeding result of games called off due to the coronavirus, the team with the highest RPI between the two gets a “win” — in no official capacity except for the purpose of determining seeding. As of Wednesday night, Rowan County’s RPI is .50235 and Boyd County’s is .44354.

That scenario would assure the Vikings the No. 2 seed and a home game in the first week of the playoffs.

It would seem Boyd County remains in good shape to claim one of the district’s two remaining unclaimed playoff spots. The Lions’ RPI is less than Harrison County’s .47736 but higher than Scott’s .38682.

Helmet Stickers

Three: Leetavious Cline (West Carter), Orry Perry (West Carter), Dylan Preston (Johnson Central).

Two: Reid Carrico (Ironton), Ethan Melvin (Raceland), Grant Rice (Johnson Central), Gracin Smith (Fairview), Carter Stephens (Boyd County), Caleb Tackett (Ashland), Charlie Terry (East Carter).

One: Isaac Bond (West Carter), Jackson Bond (West Carter), Arian Brown (Rowan County), Cody Caldwell (Fairview), Tayden Carpenter (Ironton), Parker Fannin (Raceland), Austin Gibbs (Boyd County), Gavin Gibson (West Carter), Trent Hacker (Ironton), Devin Hall (Paintsville), Jake Heighton (Raceland), Austin Howard (Lewis County), Conner Hughes (Raceland), Paul Humphrey (Ashland), Jake Hyden (Paintsville), Luke Hyden (Paintsville), Charlie Jachimczuk (Russell), Tanner Johnson (Fairview), Kanyon Kozee (East Carter), Gage Leadingham (West Carter), Mason Lovely (Paintsville), Brett Mullins (Ashland), Landyn Newman (Raceland), Ethan Oborne (Russell), Keontae Pittman (Ashland), Karsten Poe (Paintsville), Dylan Roe (West Carter), Cole Wallace (Rowan County), Ironton front seven.

Extra! Extra!

Don’t forget to check out “Halftime Prep Talk” later this week at or the show’s Facebook page! And “Eleventh Hour” will air at or about 11 p.m. on Friday night on The Daily Independent’s Facebook page, recapping the night’s events.

Reach ZACK KLEMME at or (606) 326-2658. Follow @zklemmeADI on Twitter.

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