Monday, December 7, 2015

State Champs and Awards

The KHSAA Football Playoffs are finally finished.  Here are your six state champions:

1.  In Class 1A, Pikeville (13-2) won its first title since it took the old A title in 1989.  The Panthers beat Beechwood 42-28 in the final.  That was the closest game Pikeville played in the whole tournament.

2.  In Class 2A, Mayfield (14-1) won its fourth state championship in a row -- the Cardinals took the 1A title in 2012, 2013, and 2014, and have now won 20 playoff games in a row.  Mayfield beat Newport Central Catholic 17-7 in the final.  It was NCC"s fourth consecutive trip to the final -- they've lost the last three in a row.  To win the title, Mayfield had to beat three private schools in a row -- including both of the finalists from last year's 2A tournament (NCC and Louisville DeSales).  Here's what the Cardinals did:

11/20:  Mayfield 24, Owensboro Catholic 13
11/27:  Mayfield 24, Lou. DeSales 19
12/06:  Mayfield 17, Newport Cent. Catholic 7

I have always been impressed by Mayfield's football team, but I think this year's title -- in which they became the first public school to win the 2A crown since 2009 -- may be the Cardinals' greatest accomplishment.

3.  In Class 3A, Belfry (14-1) crushed Lexington Catholic 43-0 to win its third title in a row.  Belfry lost to Louisville Central in the 3A title game three times running from 2010 to 2012, but the Pirates just kept getting better.  Now they are utterly dominant.  This year, in five tournament games, Belfry outscored its opponents by a total of 241-38.  I would also note that back in September, they beat Newport Central Catholic 28-10.  I'd love to see a Belfry-Mayfield game.

4.  In Class 4A, South Warren (15-0) completed a perfect season with a 36-6 win over Johnson Central.  It was the Spartans' first state title (the school only opened in 2010).  Like Pikeville and Belfry, South Warren was simply on a different plane from the other teams in their class.  In five tournament games, they outscored their opponents 188-34.  It's too bad they didn't get to play Bowling Green -- or Lone Oak.

5.  In Class 5A, Bowling Green (14-1) won its fourth title in the last five years, beating last year's 5A champ -- Pulaski County -- 21 to 7.  This was not a vintage BGHS team -- the Purples lost to Louisville St. X 45-19 -- but they were far too good for anyone else in Class 5A.  Let's hope they schedule South Warren next year.

6.  In Class 6A, Louisville Male (15-0) topped off one of the greatest seasons in their long and proud history with a 41-14 win over Lexington Lafayette.  The Bulldogs take their first state crown since they captured the old AAAA title back in 2000.  Of course, this year's title was decided two weeks ago, when Male edged Trinity 20-19 in one of the all-time great playoff games.  The Bulldogs finished the year with two wins over Louisville Manual (their ancient rival), two wins over Louisville Trinity (which is unheard of), and a 27-24 win over Louisville St. X.  It's hard to imagine how Male's season could have been more satisfying.

Once again, I believe the playoffs show that six classes are at least two classes too many in Kentucky football.  Only an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime sort of team should be able to win the state title with five blowouts in a row.  We have two or three of those every year.

And now we can hand out our awards.  (I'm pretty sure I failed to hand these out last year, and I apologize for that):

Best Team in the Commonwealth:
Louisville Male.  They beat Trinity twice.  (For the record, this trophy would have gone to Trinity last year.)

Coach Rodney Bushong Trophy (for the Best Team in the Jackson Purchase):
Mayfield.  Yes, I know that McCracken County beat Mayfield, but the Mustangs also lost to Tilghman (who lost to Mayfield).  And attention should be paid for the rough road faced by the Cardinals in the 2A playoffs.

Al Baker Trophy (for the Best Team between Louisville and the Purchase):
Bowling Green.  This is not an easy call.  The Purples won the 5A title with a 14-1 record, and outscored their opponents 574-188.  But the South Warren Spartans won the 4A title with a 15-0 record, and outscored their opponents 554-89.  Bowling Green and South Warren did not play each other, but they did have three common opponents:  Warren Central, Central Hardin, and Greenwood.  BGHS beat those schools by a combined score of 123-27.  SWHS beat the same schools by a combined score of 105-16.  So I give a slight edge to the Purples, but it's a real shame these two teams didn't play.

Paul Hornung Trophy (for the Best Team in Jefferson Co.):
Louisville Male (see above)

Jim Bunning Trophy (for the Best Team in Northern Kentucky):
Simon Kenton.  Unusually, no team from Northern Kentucky won a state title.  But Simon Kenton did go 13-0 before losing in the 6A semi-finals to Lexington Lafayette, and the Pioneers beat Highlands 42-3.  So we're giving this award to them.

Coach Blanton Collier Trophy (for the Best Team in the Bluegrass):
Lexington Lafayette.  The Generals and Lexington Catholic both made their respective state title games, but naturally they didn't play each other.  Nevertheless, we give the edge to Lafayette, in large part because of their huge win over Simon Kenton to reach the title game.

Tim Couch Trophy (for the Best Team in the Mountains):
Belfry.  Both Belfry (3A) and Pikeville (1A) won their respective state title games, and fortunately for us they actually did play each other.  (There's a lesson here for the schools in Warren and Fayette Counties.)  Belfry beat Pikeville 34-8, so I don't think the Panthers can really contest Belfry's claim to being the best team in the mountains.

Belfry also wins the Certificate for Team that Should Be Forced to Move Up to a Higher Level of Competition.  We gave this to Mayfield two years ago, and look what they did in 2A this year.

Now, on to basketball!

1 comment:

  1. I agree with all of these awards, though I probably would've gone with South Warren over Bowling Green for the AlB because of the undefeated.