ATLCat's Avatar
It is very easy to take a blind stab at the Top 25 or so programs in Kentucky that have been able to sustain success for decades. If no other thing is true, it is usually a fact that the better programs in the State have staying power at the top.

This begs the question though, "Will it always stay this way?"

The programs that dominate the landscape currently can be divided into two groups. Those that have always been very good (ex: Mayfield, Danville, Highlands, Trinity) and those that had to find the right mix before they exploded onto the scene (Ex: Boyle County, Belfry, DeSales).

When looking at the landscape of Kentucky Football, what teams could potentially join this group and suddenly explode onto the scene?

First a little criteria:
- This program must not have played for a State Championship since the start of the 2000's.
- This program must have been in existence over 5 years.
- The program has had to have had recent success to validate their possible trajectory
- The program must have less than 4 Regional Finals appearances in the last 10 years.

With that in mind, here are the five programs most apt to be a "Sleeping Giant"

5. Spencer County Bears
The Bears' first full season came in 2005 as they are one of the state's relative "youngblood" programs. It took until 2011 before the Bears won their first playoff game.Four consecutive winning seasons have led Spencer County to the 2016 season capped off by a sterling 10-2 record last season.

For fans of smashmouth football Spencer is a team to enjoy. The Bears have built one of the most prolific ground and pound styles in the State and with a solid feeder program now humming along and refilling their system the future looks bright. Spencer has also benefited from some population dynamics as Taylorsville has became a popular destination for families wanting access to Louisville while still having the calmness of the country


4. Scott Eagles
Dan Woolley has something going in Taylor Mill. Scott was the long time doormat of NKY and no better representation of that would be their 21-83 record between 2000 - 2009. Wooley's first season with the Eagles was 2012 where he led them to a 5-6 record, their highest win total since 1990. He then followed that up with three consecutive winning seasons and a 10-3 highwater mark last year and a narrow defeat in the Regional Finals. Wooley has won more games and more playoff games in his four seasons as Head Coach than the 12 years combined before his arrival.

It will be interesting to see the trajectory the program stays on as they enjoy a run of positive momentum and winning for the first time in recent memory. To aide them further, reclassification has put them in 4A and away from a lot of the other tradition rich NKY powers.

3. Fern Creek Tigers
What a difference a class drop makes! Fern Creek has been far from a "bad" program over roughly the past 25 years, but sustaining success has not came easy. For years the Tigers had the arduous chore of competing in the State's largest classification and furthermore competing in the dominant area that was ruled by "The Big Three". In 2015 Fern Creek was finally freed of their chains as they moved down to 5A. Immediately the results translated on the field with a 12-2 finish losing only in the Semi-Finals to eventual State Champ Bowling Green.

The alluring side of Fern Creek is the fact that talent has never been the issue, just the depth of talent needed to compete with Kentucky Football Royalty in Jefferson County. With a more conducive path to the Finals now open, coupled with a lack of a dominant program in Southeast Louisville, expect to seethe Tigers continue momentum.

2. Paintsville Tigers
Unlike the other teams on the list, Paintsville's older alumni have memories of State Finals to recall. Paintsville has managed to maintain a respectable level of their program, ebbing and flowing as most small schools do, but have struggled to plant their flag as a powerhouse on the statewide scene in the modern era. So what is the catalyst that earns them such high marks? Joe Chirico!

Prior to Chircio's arrival in 2013 the Tigers had went 11-33 over 4 seasons. In his three seasons they have ascended to a 31-8 record and may very have been a key injury away from a State Championship. Chirico has fostered a winning culture and is making Paintsville a destination to get young athletes to the next level. He coached Army All-American and Mr. Football Kash Daniel, and in 2016 has Kent Phelps who you will most likely see playing on Saturday's after his Senior Season.

The other X-Factor benefiting the Tigers is their larger rival program down the street. Johnson Central's program is booming and the effects of one of the State's top feeder systems has trickled into the Independent District. Simply put, for kids looking for immediate playing time Paintsville has became an alluring option for their Prep Career.


1. Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions
CAL has tasted it. The Centurions have arguably been the #1 team in 2A during the regular season for the past three years and have done so by beating numerous larger schools. CAL has owned the early season history with rival DeSales, but unfortunately it has been the Colts with the last laugh in the playoffs. CAL has yet to play in a State Semi-Finals game in School History.

There is no secret Coach Stefan LeFors has the CAL program at the cusp of greatness. The Private School in East Louisville continues to draw excellent talent and sits in prime real estate to maintain year's of on-field success. The CAL Middle School program is extremely strong and has played for a handful of State Titles, including winning a title in 2015.

CAL is loaded with young talent. Even though their path to a title may be the most difficult of any team on the list, CAL is also the team that I would be least surprised to see rip off a string of State Titles starting in 2016. Lots of schools in Kentucky wish they had some of the luxuries that CAL has in place to build their future moving forward.