Monday, December 6, 2021

KHSAA Football: Final Rankings and Awards

 Here is the final MaxPreps top 20 for KHSAA football in 2021.  Teams that won a state title are in bold:

1.  Lou. St. Xavier:  14-1 (6A Champs)
2.  Lou. Male:  13-1
3.  S. Warren:  14-1 (5A Champs)
4.  Boyle Co:  14-1 (4A Champs)
5.  Lex. Douglass:  13-2
6.  Beechwood:  15-0 (2A Champs)
7.  Lex. Christian:  14-1
8.  Johnson Cent.:  12-2
9.  Lou. Trinity:  6-7
10.  Madison Cent:  10-4
11.  Woodford Co:  13-1
12.  Lou. Manual:  8-4
13.  Cov. Catholic:  9-4
14.  Pikeville:  14-2 (1A Champs)
15.  Owensboro:  12-2
16.  Ryle:  9-4
17.  Corbin:  12-1
18.  Southwestern:  11-2
19.  Lex. Bryan Station:  10-2
20.  Lex. Catholic:  9-3

Belfry, the 3A Champ, finished with a rank of 32.

This was the first time St. X has finished with the number-1 ranking since 2009.

So now it's time to hand out our awards.  We don't do these every year, but this year we remembered:

Best Team in the Commonwealth:
Louisville St. Xavier.  (See above)

Coach Rodney Bushong Trophy (for the Best Team in the Jackson Purchase):
Paducah Tilghman.  Yes, I know that Mayfield went 12-2 and beat Tilghman in the regular season.  But the Blue Tornado was only five points shy of a state championship, and that deserves the trophy.

Al Baker Trophy (for the Best Team between Louisville and the Purchase):
South Warren.  5A Champs and number-3 team in the Commonwealth.

Paul Hornung Trophy (for the Best Team in Jefferson Co.):
Louisville St. Xavier (See above).  It's a shame that Male can't get something for being the best public school team, but that's not how these awards work.

Jim Bunning Trophy (for the Best Team in Northern Kentucky):
Beechwood.  They not only won the 2A title with an upset of Lexington Christian, they were ranked number-6 in the Commonwealth, seven spots ahead of Covington Catholic.

Coach Blanton Collier Trophy (for the Best Team in the Bluegrass):
Boyle County.  I wasn't sure that Boyle County was really in the Bluegrass, but Google tells me that the Art Center of the Bluegrass is in Danville, so that's close enough for me.

Tim Couch Trophy (for the Best Team in the Mountains):
Johnson Central.  There's no shame in losing to Boyle County.

Certificate for Team that Should Be Forced to Move Up to a Higher Level of Competition:
Boyle County.  The Rebels played five games in the 4A playoffs, and the scores were 52-12, 47-13, 51-14, 54-16, and 30-13.  This was their third 4A title in a row.  Time for a new challenge.

And now, on to basketball!

The NCAA in 16 Regions

 If NCAA mens' basketball was divided into 16 regions, like the KHSAA, this would be the current favorite in each region (Ken Pom ranking in parentheses):

1st:  Connecticut (26)
2d:  St. Bonaventure (42)
3d:  Villanova (6)
4th:  Virginia Tech (33)
5th:  Duke (7)
6th:  Alabama (9)
7th:  LSU (15)
8th:  Tennessee (10)
9th:  Ohio St. (21)
10th:  Purdue (2)
11th:  Illinois (19)
12th:  Kansas (5)
13th:  Baylor (3)
14th:  Arizona (12)
15th:  Gonzaga (1)
16th:  UCLA (8)

And here are the teams most likely to make the 8th region tournament:

29th District: (16) Kentucky, (138) Morehead St.
30th District:  (39) Louisville, (99) Murray St.
31st District:  (10) Tennessee, (102) Chattanooga
32d District:  (35) Memphis, (58) Belmont

Which would give us the following quarter-finals:

Louisville v. Morehead St.
Tennessee v. Belmont
Memphis v. Chattanooga
Kentucky v. Murray St.

Cats are Number 10

 After playing only one game last week, the Cats drop back to number 10 in the AP Poll.  Meanwhile, with Alabama's victory over Gonzaga, Ken Pom's interpretation of the SEC is looking more and more dramatic.  The SEC now has seven teams -- exactly half the league -- ranked between 9 and 25:

9.  Alabama:  7-1
10.  Tennessee:  6-1
14.  Auburn:  7-1
15.  LSU:  8-0
16.  Kentucky:  6-1
19.  Florida:  6-1
25.  Arkansas:  8-0

To put that list in perspective, here's UK's schedule in mid-to-late February (home games in all caps):

2/12:  FLORIDA
2/15:  at Tennessee
2/19:  ALABAMA
2/26:  at Arkansas

Ken Pom thinks that all five of those games will be decided by four points or less.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

State Champs in Football

I thought it was a very entertaining KHSAA football season -- the state playoffs seemed much more competitive than usual.  Thanks to Eric for his coverage of Russellville and Tilghman.  Here are your six state champions:

1.  In Class 1A, Pikeville (14-2) beat Russellville 30-27 for its third state title in recent years.  Pikeville also went all the way in 2015 and 2019.

2.  In Class 2A, Beechwood (15-0) stunned Lexington Christian 23-21 to win its second consecutive 2A title.  Last year, Beechwood beat Lexington Christian 24-23 in overtime, and this year they won the rematch.  Lexington Christian beat 1A Champion Pikeville (31-14), and 4A Champion Boyle County (35-28), but could not win the 2A title.

3.  In Class 3A, Belfry (9-6) started off by losing four games in a row to Pulaski County, Covington Catholic, Lou. Central, and Pikeville.  They also forfeited a game to Lexington Christian.  So on September 23, the Pirates had a record of 0-5.  But they went 9-1 the rest of the way, and beat Paducah Tilghman 33-28 in the final.  Belfry once lost the 3A title game to Louisville Central three years in a row:  2010, 2011, and 2012.  Since then, the Pirates have won it six times:  2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019, and 2021.  This was Tilghman's first appearance in the final since the Blue Tornado won it all in 2009.

4.  In Class 4A, Boyle County (14-1) lost only to Lexington Christian back in August, and had all blowouts in its last eight games.  The Rebels pounded Johnson Central 30-13 for its third consecutive 4A title, to go with previous titles in 2010 and 2009.

5.  In Class 5A, South Warren (14-1) continued Bowling Green's long tradition of excellence with a 38-26 win over Lex. Douglass.  The Spartans also won it all in 2018.

6.  In Class 6A, Lou. St. Xavier (14-1) had lost to Lou. Male 28-21 back on September 3.  But in the Game of the Year in Kentucky, the Tigers got their revenge when it mattered, beating Male 31-21 for the 6A title.  It was the first title for St. X since 2009.  But it was the sixth title for Kevin Wallace, who won the 5A title while at Bowling Green in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016.  Wallace agreed to come to St. X a few years ago, and this year that really paid off.

For years, I've complained that we have too many blowouts in the KHSAA playoffs, and I still wish we would go back to four classes instead of six.  But five of the six title games this year were really good, and I'm so happy that everyone got to have a full season.

We will hand out our final awards once MaxPreps issues their final rankings for the 2021 season.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Music of Your Life (Mine, Too, Of Course)

I enjoyed tracking my personal relationship to the mainstream over the course of this time frame, and I thought you might, too.