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1. Will Coach Weinrich right the ship in Fort Thomas?

If you follow Kentucky High School Football whatsoever you would be lying if you didn't notice that Highlands hasn't exactly been vintage form since Dale Mueller retired.

Apologists and detractors can point to numerous reasons or excuses, but the fact remains that 2017 will be the pivotal year for us to see if Highlands will return to form or be asked to make a change at the helm.


2. Has a Changing of the Guard Occurred in Class 2A?

Mayfield has seemingly ruled Kentucky Small School Football for the past decade and last year seemed to be the favorite to once again hoist the hardware. Meanwhile on the Eastern Front Newport Central Catholic has been the defacto delegate to the Finals.

The winds seemed to shift last season as CAL finally got over the hump and not only reached a State Finals with a young team, they won the whole enchilada culminating with a victory over Danville. The Admirals return the kitchen sink and will be the favorite in the East.

With CAL's program checking all the boxes and Danville seemingly returning to the dominant form has the landscape shifted? Will it be a brief interruption or will these schools take the next step to being the new face of 2A on their respective sides of the State?


3. Does Rare Company Await Belfry or Will The Field Finally Catch Up?

Only one time in Kentucky's history has a team rattled off five consecutive State Titles, that was the great Boyle County teams under Chuck Smith from 1999 thru 2003. Belfry enters 2017 with four consecutive rings and a collection of talent at the skill positions and the back third of their Defense which should allow them to contend for that coveted "Thumb Ring".

With that said, Belfry must replace five D-1 signees (three of which on their Oline) and a once in a decade type of talent on the Defensive Line. Class 3A wasn't exactly at it's strongest level last year and was littered with young teams. With Belfry having such uncertainty in the trenches is 2017 the year the gap closes?


4. Is Purple the New Black? Or is the "New" Black a Threat to the Purples?

Bowling Green is on fire! Coach Wallace's Purples have won five of the last six 5A State Titles and have transcended to elite status along the likes of even the strongest 6A programs. With a dominant feeder program and plenty of underclassman talent, it doesn't look like the train is ready to slow as well.

With that said, things may be about to get a little tougher within Warren County. South Warren is still a new program and with a 4A State Title one year removed, they will make the jump in Class and challenge Bowling Green. South took a bit of a step back last season but wills till be one of the top contenders in 5A and have plenty of potential D-1 talent on their roster.


5. Can Anyone Prevent a 1A Title Re-Match?

Until last season it had been eight years since Beechwood took home a State Title. I would say 95% of the programs in Kentucky could only dream of this feat, but for Tiger fans that was eight long years of waiting that probably seemed more like 28 years. Beechwood returns a ton off that squad and will be stout in every position grouping.

Most years when a Class 1A team has such talent and experience back from a Title Team it would be a safe bet to mail the trophy and hide it away until November, but Hazard isn't ready to flinch. The Bulldogs peaked at the right time with an equally young team and have star power galore led by one of Kentucky's finest returning rushers. Hazard gave Beechwood all they wanted in the Finals, and with the other typical EKY stalwarts experiencing some key losses we might get to see the small school version of Rocky vs. Apollo Round 2.


6. Should We Get Defensive Over Mr. Football?

This question has double meaning. The 2016-2017 Mr. Football award was chock full of choices at the Offensive Skill Positions and perhaps one of the strongest QB classes to come through the Commonwealth in quiet some time. The 2017-2018 doesn't appear to have those household names on offense, but Kentucky is heavy with Defensive Superstars with major college attention. Could this be the year a Defensive guy etches his name?

Whoever may win this award, there will certainly be eyes on the process following an extremely drawn out announcement that took nearly until Mid-Spring. The State's most prestigious individual honor deserves better than basically an announcement a few weeks before Mr. Basketball, and it may be time for Coaches, fans, and the media to demand just that.


7. How Will The Jefferson County Coaching Carousel Turn Out?

It has become routine (and not a good one) for the Coaching Carousel to spin at a break neck pace in the off-season with hirings, firings, and retirements of the forced and unforced nature. The most eye opening example this off-season was in Louisville and name after name seemed to turn over in the roster of Jefferson County Public Schools.

Perhaps the biggest shock was when five time State Champion Ty Scroggins of Central opted to step away. He was not alone though as the list of Head Coaches nearly trended toward double figures before it was said and done. In the wake expect to see a lot of new names and fresh faces in the 502 this year. Will this shift the dynamic and make the stability of the elite programs stronger? Will this push more kids to the rapidly ascending smaller Private School programs such as DeSales and CAL? Or will the "next" Ty Scorggins emerge?


8. They May Not Have a Mascot...

... But the new Frederick Douglass High School will certainly create some drama in Fayette County big-boy football in 2017. The Lexington Schools haven't exactly been setting the 6A world on fire in recent years, but with the opening of a new school it will be very interesting to see how the talent pool flows and is effected this season. Bryan Station and Henry Clay appear to be the schools most apt to see significant impact from re-districting, but all the schools in the city may have some fallout from adding a new 6A school to an already existing geographical footprint.

It is not expected that the Stallions.... err... the TO BE DETERMINED's... will immediately pick up and compete, but keep a careful eye on program such as Lafayette, LCA, and Lexington Catholic to see if the moving lines results in parents choosing to move their roots as well.


9. Little Recognition, Big Stats

What Kentucky lacks in high profile Offensive players, they make up in guys who may be off the radar with a massive opportunity to post video game style numbers from the RB position.

A few in particular who all had over 2,000 Yards Rushing and Receiving:
RB WanDale Robinson, Western Hills (2449 yards)
RB Cory Smith, Hazard (2,946 yards)
RB Joe Jackson, Johnson Central (2080 yards)
RB Brandon Troxell, McCreary Central (2296 yards)
RB Dillon Wheatley, LCA (2096 yards)

In addition throw in a handful of receivers who finished among the State's best statistically such as Daviess County's Marquel Tinsley, Knott Central's Tyler Kidd, and Southwestern's JP Vaught.


10. You Can Always Go Back Home.... Again... And Again

For nearly every off-season for the past three or four seasons you have heard the same rumors of legendary coach Dudley Hilton returning to Bell County for his third stint as Head Coach. This season, on the heels of a 4-8 season, Bell finally rung once more for Dudley and this time he answered.

Hilton has two titles at Bell and a third at Bourbon County. He previously was building Taylor County back to notability. The task though is not an easy one for the old ball coach as Bell has hit an all-time low as a program and will require a significant undertaking to rebuild and must do so in the shadows of a Corbin program that is rapidly ascending under Justin Haddix.

Will Dudley find lightning in a bottle for the third time on log Mountain, or will he be wishing he remained in the quiet and tempered expectations of South Central KY where a 8-4 season would not be considered a failure?