Saturday, September 10, 2016

Football in Western Kentucky

The NFL starts in earnest tomorrow, but they've been playing serious football in Western Kentucky for almost a month.  This is actually the best time for high school football in Western Kentucky, because this is when most of the rivalry games are played.  Once you get to district play, the weather is better, but the typical score is something like 50-6.  Anyway, here are the stories so far:

Mayfield is going for its fifth state title in a row.  The Cardinals will have to be very good to run the gamut of private schools in Class 2A, and they've been great so far, with four easy wins, including wins over Tilghman (48-26) and McCracken Co. (46-41).  (I can remember when the Tilghman/Mayfield game was a big deal, but then I'm really old.)

McCracken Co. has no chance of winning a state title, since they are stuck in Class 6A.  Last year, for example, they made it all the way to the 6A quarter-finals, before losing to Central Hardin by a score of 10-7.  Sounds pretty competitive, right?  Like the Mustangs aren't that far from going all the way.  Well, the next week Central Hardin lost to Louisville Male by the score of 50-0.  That's the gap between Louisville and the rest of the Commonwealth when it comes to football.  Anyway, the Mustangs and their fans can still enjoy a good regular season.  They crushed Tilghman 41-6, and put a late scare into Mayfield.  They also buried Warren Central (!) 55-18, and beat Madisonville 72-7 (!).  So Mustang fans should have a fun time -- until the playoffs start.

Hopkinsville went 10-2 last year before losing in overtime to Franklin-Simpson in the second round of the 4A playoffs.  This year, the Tigers look even better, with blowout wins over Graves Co. (44-22), West Creek (Tenn.) (42-14), Fort Campbell (41-0), and Murray (43-7).

Christian Co. is stuck with Bowling Green in Class 5A, so they don't have much to look forward to in the playoffs -- in fact, they lost to the Purples 42-22 in the second week of the season.  But the Colonels have had easy wins against Caldwell Co. (50-34), Henderson Co. 41-7), and Fort Campbell (44-3).  Their game next week at Hoptown should be a cracker.

Paducah Tilghman has a new coach (Kurt Barber) and it's not going well so far.  The Tornado are 0-4 after last night's 43-42 loss to Graves Co.  (One of the things I've noticed about sports in Western Kentucky is that each year, the football scores and the basketball scores get closer to each other.  If you told me that Graves beat Tilghman 43-42 in the First Region basketball tournament, I wouldn't be surprised.)

Caldwell Co. reminds me a lot of the Heath teams of the late 1970's and early 1980's.  In 2012, the Tigers went to the final of the 2A state playoffs, and lost to Newport Central Catholic.  Over the next three seasons, Caldwell County went 33-6, but lost in the state quarter-finals every year.  This year, they lost their first three games to Christian County, Franklin-Simpson, and North Hardin, but then crushed Crittenden Co. 49-0.

Graves Co. made a surprising run to the Class 5A title game in 2014, before losing to Pulaski Co. 14-7.  Last year, the Eagles had their much more typical 5-6 campaign.  This year, Graves lost to Hoptown in the first game of the year, but has followed up with wins over Trigg Co., Murray, and Tilghman.

Murray appears to be headed for a down year.  The Tigers are 1-3, with losses to Calloway, Graves, and Hoptown.  They have been outscored 33 to 95.

Hopkins Co. Central has long been one of the worst teams in the Commonwealth.  From 2011 to 2015, the Storm had a record of 3 and 50.  But this year, the Storm have a new coach (Stephen D. Wood), and Coach Wood has a record of 3 and 1, with wins over Webster Co., Crittenden Co., and Breckinridge Co., and a loss to Muhlenberg Co.  I would to know more about what the folks over on Hopkinsville Road make of this development.

Madisonville-N. Hopkins got off to a rough start, losing its first three games to Evansville Harrison (Ind.), Owensboro, and McCracken Co.  But this week, Madisonville beat Union Co. 31-21.

Crittenden Co. won its first game (against Todd Co. Central), but has since lost to Hopkins Co. Central, McLean Co., and Caldwell Co.

Russellville no longer has to worry about playing Mayfield in Class 1A.  Last year, the Panthers went all the way to the state semi-finals before losing to Beechwood (another school that was glad to see the back of Mayfield).  This year, the Panthers have roared out to a 4-0 start, and have outscored their opponents 186 to 62.

If I haven't mentioned your school, then I suggest that your school should start taking football more seriously.

Putting it all together, and treating the teams in Western Kentucky as if they were all in one, giant league, the standings look like this:


Rivers Division
Mayfield:  4-0
McCracken County:  3-1
Graves County:  3-1
Ballard Memorial:  2-2
Fulton City:  1-3
Fulton County:  0-3
Paducah Tilghman:  0-4

Lakes Division
Marshall County:  2-1
Calloway County:  2-1
Union County:  2-1
Trigg County:  2-2
Caldwell County:  1-3
Murray:  1-3
Crittenden County:  1-3


Pennyrile Division
Hopkinsville:  4-0
Christian County:  3-1
Hopkins County Central:  3-1
Webster County:  1-2
Madisonville-N. Hopkins:  1-3
Henderson County:  0-3
Fort Campbell:  0-4

Coal Division
Muhlenberg County:  4-0
Russellville:  4-0
McLean County:  3-1
Ohio County:  1-3
Todd County Central:  0-4
Logan County:  0-4


  1. I loved reading over these divisions and this whole post. The only hiccup from my perspective is naming the two Eastern Conference divisions as arranged "Pennyrile" and "Coal," because I think it might be true now that more coal comes out of Hopkins, Webster and Henderson counties than Muhlenberg and McLean. But I don't know that for sure, and I don't have a good alternative--anyway, thanks for posting this.

    I am most interested in Class A this season.

  2. I had a hard time naming the "Coal" division. The other three were pretty easy. If you can come up with a better name for the "Coal" division, I will take it.

    But if we are going to name one division the "Coal" division, then it's going to be the one with Muhlenberg County, because of that song.

    1. Yeah, like I said, I couldn't think of a preferable alternative. Maybe it could be the "Violence" and "Music" divisions, respectively, because it feels like that's what the people in those two divisions have more frequently or famously resorted to when they couldn't make sense of this world. But, in my scheme, the people who really know Logan County would probably immediately petition for realignment, so I'm happy to roll with "Pennyrile" and "Coal."

  3. I don't think I'm going to pay much attention to the various classes -- I'm going to follow my four divisions.