Ashland's Quinton Baker

Ashland running back Quinton Baker tries to evade a Johnson Central tackler on Friday night in Paintsville. Baker verbally committed to the University of Kentucky on Saturday.

A dozen seasons after Al Baker amassed 1,097 yards of offense and 12 touchdowns for Kentucky in 1990, Arliss Beach arrived in Lexington.

Fourteen years after Beach switched out Ashland maroon for Kentucky blue in 2002, Quinton Baker — Al’s son — will follow suit.

The Tomcats’ junior running back verbally committed to the University of Kentucky on Saturday.

Donning the same number as Beach wore at UK, “Q” has left few questions as to whether he’s a Division-I runner.

The shifty, elusive Baker has unpredictable explosiveness. His sly spin move might as well be patented.

Now, is he SEC quality? The Wildcats sure think so. They offered the three-star recruit this past spring.

“I’ve known from Day 1 that I was going to end up at UK,” Baker said on Sunday. “I just knew it was the place I wanted to play at. The whole time during the recruiting process, they’ve made me feel really welcome.”

Baker said Saturday’s visit was his third or fourth on campus. He witnessed the Wildcats’ valiant effort, albeit a losing one, against No. 1 Mississippi State.

Kentucky is 5-3 in its second season under the direction of Mark Stoops. It stands one win away from a probable bowl berth, which would be the program’s first since the 2010 season.

“They just came out with a brand new swagger (this year),” Baker said. “The past few years, you could tell that not everybody was all in it. Now, it’s easy to tell that they’re all in. I love it.”

Both Al, who is a Trigg County High School alumnus, and mother Nikki are Kentucky graduates. Al and Nikki placed no extra pressure on Quinton to make a decision.

“My parents just kept saying it was up to me, to go where I think I would fit in,” Quinton Baker said. “They’re going to support whatever I do.”

Baker said he wouldn’t have reached this point without his teammates, coaches and family.

Other schools that have expressed interest, but had not extended offers, were Tennessee, Notre Dame, Purdue, Louisville and Florida State, Baker said.

Baker is on pace to break three records currently owned by Beach.

Beach’s marks: 4,711 rushing yards; 5,073 yards of offense; and 426 points.

Baker’s up-to-date statistics: 3,823 rushing yards; 4,166 yards of offense; and 314 points.

The comparisons don’t begin and end with the numbers.

Perhaps Baker said it best. His “vision and balance” have improved immensely over the last three seasons at Ashland — two attributes also undoubtedly possessed by Beach.

Said Baker about the prospect of being in the same company as Beach: “It’d be an honor. It would mean a lot, but at the same time, I’d rather our team win than me just doing my thing out there.”

Baker and the Tomcats have this week off to prepare for a home playoff game with Covington Holmes on Nov. 7.

Got Any “Since?”

-The Raceland defense’s five games of allowing six or fewer points is the most for the Rams in a single season since ... 1987. The Rams held opponents under seven a whopping seven times, including a string of five shutouts in six contests.

Raceland heads to Ironton on Friday. The Rams blanked the Fighting Tigers, 17-0, last season.

-Greenup County earned its first district win since ... 2010. Coach Chris Mullins took over prior to the 2011 season, so Friday’s victory over Boyd County marked his first district win as well. And, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The Musketeers earned the No. 3 seed and will avoid a trip to Highlands. They will travel to Covington Catholic for an afternoon playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 8.

-With a win over Belfry this Friday, Johnson Central coach Jim Matney would be the first area coach to 230 career wins since ... Ivan McGlone in 2001. McGlone finished his illustrious with 344 wins, with 316 of them coming at Russell. Matney owns 124 victories at Sheldon Clark. The rest were won with the Golden Eagles. His overall career record: 229-121.

Helmet Stickers

Four: Tyler Mustard (Lewis County), Tristan Mitchell (West Carter).

It was Mustard with the candlestick in the conservatory. Sorry, had to do it. Mustard certainly did give us a clue of how talented he is on Friday night, going for 180 yards of offense and three touchdowns.

Mitchell tallied 11 carries for 147 yards and two scores on the ground in an important win for the Comets.

Three: Connor Messer (Raceland), Bryce Workman (Johnson Central), Antwan Washington (Fairview), Jacob McKee (Russell), Jared Hunt (Greenup County).

Two: D’Angelo Palladino (Ironton), Ethan Coldiron (Greenup County), Bronson Korzep (Russell), Tyler Pack (Johnson Central), Jake Boyd (Fleming County), Nick Conley (Russell), Bailey Walker (Raceland), Logen Thovson (Boyd County).

One: Zac Bruner (Boyd County), Hunter Prince (Ashland), Wilder Williams (Fleming County), Taylor Hickle (East Carter), Garion Robinson (Russell), Kane Snyder (Raceland), Blake Smith (Fairview), Ryan Byrd (Greenup County).

Snyder’s NEKY 

Super Seven

1. Johnson Central (9-0)

2. Russell (8-1)

3. Raceland (8-1)

4. Ashland (5-4)

5. Lawrence County (7-2)

6. Fleming County (7-2)

7. Greenup County (3-6)

Knocking on the door (next two in): Paintsville, West Carter.

Wide Right

Did ya miss it? Here’s a recap of local scores from this past weekend: Greenup County 18, Boyd County 17; Russell 47, East Carter 12; Fleming County 16, Mason County 9; Jackson 33, Ironton 21; Johnson Central 42, Ashland 7; West Carter 34, Lewis County 30; Fairview 48, Nicholas County 28; and Raceland 32, Paintsville 0.

Halftime Prep Talk

Watch “Halftime Prep Talk” on Thursday afternoons at dailyindependent.com, YouTube or The Independent’s Facebook page. The show, which I host, features special guests from area schools sports programs. Co-hosts deliver segments such as “Two for the Road,” “Game Balls” and “Top 3 Games of the Week” in each episode.

HTPT is sponsored by Fannin Automotive Family.

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

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