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BluegrassPreps 2018 Western Kentucky Power Rankings –
Preseason Edition

In 2018, we head into our Fourth Season of BluegrassPreps weekly high school football Power Rankings for each of the regions around the state. With each week's Power Rankings, we will be looking to rank (at least) the top ten teams in each region - regardless of class - against the other teams in their region. Throughout the season, we will be accounting for the results of all the games throughout the region, including the strength of each opponent played, points scored, points allowed, along with several other statistics on each side of the ball.

Additionally, we will be highlighting a "Game(s) of the Week", and moving forward, will be re-capping the previous game(s) of the week, as well as highlighting regional "Teams Trending Up" and "Teams Trending Down" as various teams improve their performance and other teams fall back. Also look for a featured "Player(s) Of The Week". In the Preseason, I’m pretty amped up SO: Are you ready for some football? Put your cowboy hat on and head out WEST:

Western Kentucky 2017 Spotlight:
Franklin Simpson –
The 2017 Wildcats brought the Big Hardware back to Franklin after getting a little revenge from the 2016 Title game loss both against Johnson Central. Most did not give the Wildcats a chance after losing in 2016 and not adding any substantial star power. But that turned out to be unwise thinking, as the Wildcats got on a roll not losing after September 15th! BIG Congratulations to Coach Preston, the Franklin Simpson Wildcats and their fans!
Logan County – NO TEAM; NO TEAM has ever had a greater reversal of course than last season’s Logan County Cougars. Logan County broke a 42 game losing streak with a win in Week 10 of the 2016 Season vs Todd County Central. They followed that win with an 11 game win streak in 2017. AMAZING! The First Undefeated Regular Season Football Team in Logan County HISTORY!!!! What an Amazing Feat! Congratulations Coach Adler and Cougar Nation!!!

2018 Preseason Top 10:
10) Caldwell County (3A) – 2017 Recap:
(2017 Record 10-3) I think I missed more on the Tigers than I missed on any other team last season. I just didn’t think they would overcome the loss of Star QB Shane Burns, who decided to focus on baseball instead of playing his senior season. But I underestimated QB Joby Jaggers (204-297 for 2,422 yards and 28 TDs vs 10 INTs) and the Tiger offense. Not this year! The Tigers lost a closer than the score indicates game to 5A Christian County (27-10) to start last season. They then marched off 8 straight wins before falling to the Mayfield Cardinals the last game of the regular season. No shame there! Crushed Hart County and convincingly defeated a game Larue County squad before they finished the season on a down note with a thumping provided by a stellar Elizabethtown squad. Surprisingly terrific season Tigers!
2018 Outlook: On offense, this is the year Tiger Fans! Your QB, Stud RB Jameer Riley (139 rushes for 716 and 9 TDs; plus 48 catches for 474 yards and 5 TDs), and top 2 WRs return. On defense though, you lose some standout LBs including your ALL TIME Leading Tackler Hunter Vanhouser. Stud DB Trel Riley (8 INTs) and SR LB Caleb Burden (100 tackles) return to lead the way. But for Caldwell to go as far as they want to, Coach Barnes will have to find some answers on defense.
Schedule Highlight: Caldwell County has put together one of the toughest schedules pound for pound in the West considering they are a 3A squad. Out of district opponents include 5A Christian County, 5A Graves County, 4A Hopkinsville, 1A Crittenden County (very strong this season), 6A Henderson County, and 2A Mayfield – WOW!!! They ran this schedule last season only losing 2 games. If they do that again, I think they will be in good shape going into the playoffs. Watch Week 3 when Hopkinsville comes calling – will be a fantastic game! Week 1 at 5A Christian County – August 17, 2018 at 7PM. HUGE Game Tiger Nation – Get out and support your team!!!

9) Madisonville-North Hopkins (4A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 7-5) The Maroons had a solid 2017. Although I would expect they planned to beat the upstart 3A Union County Braves. Add that to the District loss to Cinderella Logan County, which began to bump Madisonville toward very tough early playoff opponents. This played out in Week 2 of the playoffs losing at 4A Champion Franklin Simpson. I don’t think Madisonville loses a lot to graduation from this past year. So Team Ground N Pound will be punishing opponents once again this season!
2018 Outlook: The Maroons return 9 on offense and 7 on defense! Of the 5 guys on defense that had 50 or more tackles last season only 1 graduated. With that said, they have terrific athletes returning including 2 1,000 yard rushers in JR RB Jariah Hightower (233 rushes for 1,528 yards and 15 TDs) and SR RB Aaron Miller (109 rushes for 958 yards and 12 TDs). And at least 2 of their better OLinemen return in JR Blake Moody (6’4” 265) and SR Roberto Cruz (6’6” 300) – WOW! So if you are a DLinemen lining up against these guys this season, you better eat your Wheaties! The Maroon D will be led by Stud DB SR James Gilbert (5 INTs, 3 Fumble Recoveries and 56 tackles from your DB is pretty dang good) and JR LB Krey Cunningham. The Maroons are in a tough District. Can Madisonville improve their district record this season? You tell me… I think they are going to be hard to stop! Will make that District an all-out war!
Schedule Highlight: I think the Maroons schedule is pretty solid to help them improve. They play 5A Old Foe Owensboro, 5A Christian County, and a scrappy 3A Union County squad to counter-balance 5A Marshall County, 3A Fort Knox, and 2A Murray. Last season you lost all the tough ones and beat the ones you were supposed to. That sounds like you’re being challenged to me and getting some wins to keep morale up. One of the most important games I’ll be watching this season is Week 4 when Union County comes calling for an encore of last season. Want to take a step forward this season Maroon Nation? You should focus on beating the Braves and use that momentum to make a statement in your district! Good Luck! Week 1 August 17 at Old Foe 5A Owensboro at 7pm.

8) Logan County (4A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 11-1) The Cougars pulled off one of the most impressive, remarkable, and unexpected runs I can ever remember in KY High School Football. Bringing the school their first undefeated regular season ever. The Cougars extended their wins into the first round of the playoffs. But when the Hopkinsville Tigers came calling a second time, it appeared they simply ran out of gas and couldn’t muster the same magic they had unleashed in previous weeks. Still a very Magical Season!
2018 Outlook: Cinderella only loses a few seniors according to our good friend @Mpb77. They return offensive stars: JR QB Tyler Ezell (rushed for 600 yards and 10 TDs and passed for over 1,600 yards for 19 TDs but 11 INTs), JR RB Gary Hardy (205 rushes for 1,261 yards and 9 TDs), and Top WR SR Dontavius Blann (28 catches for 366 yards and 7 TDs). On defense, SR DL Cade McKinnis is one of the best DLineman you have never heard of and he anchors a stout Cougar D that only gave up 16 points per game last season. It’s going to be a FUN season for Cougar Nation!!!
Schedule Highlight: Looking at the schedule; there’s not a lot of meat on the bone when you look at the non-district group of 2A Butler County, 6A Muhlenberg County, 4A Breckinridge County, 2A McLean County, and 2A Todd County Central. But your district is so tough and having just come off a 42 game losing streak, I understand having some “less challenging” games. I would strive to add another challenging game or 2 in the future if you want to be a consistent 4A threat though. I didn’t put the Backyard Brawl with Russellville in that group due to the fact Russellville is typically very good and always a tough game. I look for the Cougars to have the upper hand again this season vs Russellville. Week 1 vs 2A Butler County – August 17, 2018 at 7PM. Can you say 1 and 0 boys and girls…

7) Daviess County (6A) – 2017 Recap: [2017 Record 7-6] The Panthers came out of the gate last season like a 1974 Ford Pinto on 3 cylinders. They lost 5 of their first 8 games, but they got a season changing victory against Owensboro in Week 5. The first win vs their cross-town adversary since David Barnes (now of Caldwell County Fame) was Head Coach back in 2004. That game IMO turned the tides for the Panthers. They steadily began to improve, although they did take tough District losses to McCracken County and Henderson County. They kept fighting and traveled back to McCracken County and avenged an earlier defeat in a fantastic playoff win before bowing out to a solid Central Hardin squad. No significant offensive skill players graduate. But the defense loses some outright studs in DLineman Shae Carwile and Drew Cockrell. Add at least 5 more significant contributors to that list. But solid year for the Panthers!
2018 Outlook: Daviess County has some of the best offensive skill guys you have never heard of. Most have heard of the best WR in the State (IMO) Marquel Tinsley (76 catches for 1,447 yards and 22 TDs; plus 4 INTs on defense – WOW!), but fewer know of his SR QB Joseph Cambron (236-421 for 4,078 yards and 49 TDs vs. 11 INTs). SR RB Landon Newman rushed 140 times last season for 939 yards and 13 TDs and caught 35 passes for 535 yards and 6 TDs. I haven’t even told you of perhaps the brightest hidden gem of them all – SR WR/DB Blake Baker (caught 50 passes for 1,029 yards and 15 TDs, picked off 5 INTs, scooped up 3 fumble recoveries and made 109 tackles for the Panthers defense. That, my friends, is getting it done!!!). With 4 of 5 OLinemen returning, if Coach Brannon can get the front 7 of the defense to hold up, this is a team to watch! They have big time big play potential!
Schedule Highlight: I look for Daviess County to be the Top Dog in 6A District 1 this season, but they will have to unseat McCracken County for it. The McCracken County game is in Owensboro this year, which bodes well for Panther Nation. Week 1 August 17 vs 2A Owensboro Catholic at 7pm. This is an important game to start the season. Daviess County lost a tough one to the Aces last season 31-33 in a barnburner! It’s your year Panther Fans; come out and support your team!

6) Hopkinsville (4A) – 2017 Recap: [2017 Record 6-7] The Tigers likely encountered more obstacles in 2017 than any other team in the State of Kentucky. They were forced to switch coaches near the beginning of last season; they significantly upgraded their schedule adding the likes of Mayfield, South Warren and Caldwell County; and they had to endure and try to overcome the tragic death of teammate EJ Austin, who was an up and coming talented young man, mid-season. As a result of ALL of this, the Tigers lost 6 of their first 7 games. They turned it around and won 5 straight including road playoff wins at scrappy Warren East and the Logan County Magicians before falling at the eventual 4A Champs (Franklin Simpson). I know the coaching staff and Tiger faithful are ready to use last season as a spring board for the 2018 season.
2018 Outlook: The Tigers return 8 on offense and 5 on defense from a team that peaked right at the end of the season. After watching a competitive 7v7 match, I look for JR QB Jay Bland (2017 – 113-257 for 2,148 yards and 22 TDs vs 10 INTs) to have a big season, especially considering 4 OLinemen return. He must cut down on the INTs, as he threw 3 in the game I mentioned above vs Graves County. But he is young and improving and that was July with only experience to gain. He has a strong arm and blessed with good young receivers to throw to. He “may” be able to add another game-changer should Christian County transfer WR Ellis Dunn be ruled eligible (I’m told this is still a moving process so it will take some time to settle). Finally, SR RB JaTorion Dillard is back from a season ending ACL injury he sustained in the pre-season last year. If he can stay healthy, he is a tremendous player. Defensively, the Tigers lost their 2 most productive players (LB Andrew Kind and LB Jakevis Bryant) to graduation, so younger Tigers will have to plug the gaps here. They looked athletic and fast in the back 7 of their 7v7 squad, so the tools are there. If the young linebackers can find their way, I look for Hoptown to compete for the right to go to the Grocery Bag in Lexington and represent the West in 4A!
Schedule Highlight: Hopkinsville has a difficult schedule. I think that is a good thing. Even though they didn’t have a sparkling record last year, no one wanted to play them when they got rolling. Out of the gate this season, they start with South Warren and Mayfield (I just keep seeing the old Animal House scene “Thank you Sir, May I have another” when I think of playing those 2 back to back). I don’t expect Hoptown to win either of those games, but I expect them to compete and keep it close. That means the 3rd game of the season against Caldwell County in Princeton will be HUGE! The Tigers really need that one to build some confidence with the annual grudge match with Christian County the following week. Tough early sledding for the Tigers. Week 1 vs South Warren (5A) at the Stadium of Champions in Hopkinsville, KY 7:00PM. Great Test & Big Game for both teams. Winner gets momentum very early in the season. Get out to the Wood Shed Restaurant for some great barbeque Tiger Nation and then out to the Stadium of Champions to support your team! It’s going to be a great season!

5) Franklin Simpson (4A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 12-3) As mentioned above, Franklin Simpson climbed the 4A hill in 2017 and stood alone at the top when it was all said and done! Outstanding and Congratulations! The Wildcat offense was hard to handle last year rushing for more than 5,000 yards as a team with 3 rushers gaining over 1,100 yards each! The defense was also very effective as is highlighted by containing a high octane Johnson Central offense to only 21 points in the championship game! One for the record books Wildcat fans! With all good things, there comes a time to pay the band and that takes place in the form of graduation. Saul Brady, who seemed to play for 6 years not 4, along with QB Rylan Thomas and one stud OLineman are the major losses on offense. The Wildcat D lose 3 stalwarts in DLineman Dion Pearson, leading tackler LB Cade Harvey (141 tackles) and LB James Baker. They will be very hard to replace, but don’t count Coach Preston out!
2018 Outlook: Hard to improve on a Championship season, but why not go back to back? Two of the 3 1,000 yard rushers return in Tre Bass and Carlos McKinney. I look for Bass to be one of the leading rushers in the State this season as several key pieces of the Wildcat OLine return led by Stud SR OG Jack Randolph. Leading WR Javon Covington (29 catches for 501 yards and 9 TDs) also returns and is a real momentum changing weapon on the outside. But who is going to throw him the ball? We shall see, and that is one of my biggest concerns for the Wildcats this season. That and the reconstruction of the defense. More inexperienced players like DL Trevon Goodnight, LB Conner Rodgers, and S Gavin Finch will be called on to carry more of the defensive load this season. Going to be a fun ride in Wildcat Land this season!
Schedule Highlight: The games that catch my eye for Franklin are 3A Etown (but they lost a LOT of seniors from last season), 2A Glasgow and 1A Russellville (old rivals). But Franklin should clearly be above these three schools. That leaves a home game against super tough 5A South Warren on August 31st as the clear gem to circle on the schedule this year. Don’t forget about the Green Wave from 6A Meade County either. Know the Wildcats had a bad taste after last season’s defeat and would like to settle the score this season. Week 1 August 17 at Elizabethtown at 7PM. AWESOME GAME right out of the gate right here! Gas up the car Wildcat Fans! Head up I-65 and support your team!!!

4) Owensboro (5A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 4-7) Tough year for the Red & Black in 2017 – no doubt about it. Not since 2004 (Joe Prince’s second season as Head Coach) has Owensboro only won 4 games. As brilliant as moving to the veer was IMO in 2016, I felt it had a straight-jacket effect on the Red Devil offense in 2017. But I hear the Ides of Change are upon us (more below). Several strong Red Devils are lost to graduation including stalwart lineman Jackson Burke and super tough runner Josh Cowherd.
2018 Outlook: Word on the street is Owensboro will change back to some type of spread or more conventional offense and possibly or some say likely be led by former Owensboro Catholic Star QB Will Warren, who went through a drama plagued end of his era at Owensboro Catholic. But the QB reigns will not just be handed over to Warren, as SR Zeke Brown was the QB last year and is a stand out athlete in his own right, but will he be better used elsewhere? You tell me. Of course, the most valuable Red Devil is JR RB/S Imonte Owsley. It’s getting serious now Red Devil fans, as a talent like Owsley doesn’t come along often. He is a junior now and it’s time to make hay while the sun shines! Owsley only touched the ball 71 times last season. He’s going to need it in his hands more in my opinion to get the Red Devils where they want to go in 2018. On defense, the Red Devils are led by strongman DT Diamond Glover, SO LB Austin Gough and SR S Aerion Phillips.
Schedule Highlights: September 28 vs. 5A District 1 Rival Christian County at the Stadium of Champions has been a terrific rivalry the past couple of seasons and I look for this one to be an important piece of the 5A District 1 puzzle this year. I know Owensboro fans want to get the Purple monkey off their backs and they will get their chance in Week 4 at Rash Stadium when the Purples come calling once again. Week 1 vs old-rival 4A Madisonville-North Hopkins at Rash Stadium at 7PM.

3) Mayfield (2A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 13-2) Mayfield continues to be Team Consistency losing only 8 games from 2010 through the 2017 season (that’s 8 full seasons!!!). The Cardinals got back to the State Championship game after a 1 year hiatus after going a noteworthy 8 straight times prior to last year! Add 5 State Championships collected during that timeframe confirming your position as a fixture among all WKY football programs. I’m sure they were disappointed not bringing the big hardware back to the Purchase Area last season but Danville was simply stacked with veteran players, who lost in the 2016 State Championship game (to CAL), and Mayfield had a younger, less experienced squad. Still a Great Run in 2017 Cardinal Fans! Mayfield lost some absolute studs in standouts OL Trevor Terrell (among a few other very solid OLineman) and RB/LB Kyle Hurt, who was the heart and soul of last year’s squad. Add another LB and a couple WRs to the graduation list. However, Mayfield expects to reload every year. But when only 14 players played at least 9 games for your 2017 squad, ALL are important!
2018 Outlook: The Cardinals return 5 offensive and 6 defensive starters from a year ago. And according to our good friend @twenty4seven, Mayfield will be “STACKED” this year at the skill positions. Look for JR QB Jaden Stinson (116-183 for 2,007 yards, 24 TDs vs only 5 INTs all season) to lead the offensive charge for the Cardinals this season. And he will have a plethora of options to hand or throw the ball to lead by SR RB/WR Trey Matthews (rushed 110 times for 1,009 yards and 11 TDs; caught 34 passes for 600 yards and 11 TDs). Also look for SR WR Conner Guthrie and JR RB Travon Halliburton to expand on their production from last season. As mentioned, several talented OLinemen graduate, but look for SR Barrett Hendley to be a force for Mayfield on the OLine this season. The defense is where it becomes somewhat a work in progress. But don’t put DE in that category as Mayfield will have IMO the best DE combo in 2A (and maybe beyond). SR Brady Smith and SR Quorterrius Cherry are outstanding and get after you in a hurry! Coach Morris is a master at revamping a defense and team for that matter. He will have to tweak a couple areas for sure. But if those tweaks work and those units gel, LOOK OUT 2A!
Schedule Highlight: The Cardinals don’t take a week off, as they always schedule tough competition! Games of note this season include the border war right out of the gate with Union City, TN, and the awesome cross-state game vs Corbin (likely to be played at Lindsey Wilson College this year)! I noticed where Corbin played awfully well down in Dalton, GA during 7v7 this July coming in second place in the whole tournament! Impressive! Should be a great game! I may try to make it to this one this year!!! Make plans Cardinal fans to caravan over to Central KY to watch your team!!! It will be a great game and a great season! Week 1 August 17 at home vs. Union City, TN at 7:30PM. I always pull for Kentucky schools vs non-Kentucky schools! Let’s go Mayfield!!!

2) South Warren (5A) – 2017 Recap: [2017 Record 11-3] The Spartans came out of the 5A gate like gangbusters! Won 7 straight before losing a tough one on the road to a good Ravenwood TN squad (10-3 2017 Record) before getting their doors blown off at BG during the regular season. But to their credit rallied and went on to undefeated Christian County the second week of the playoffs and left with a full head of steam handing County their only loss of the season. Had a great week of practice and went back to El Donaldson Stadium and played IMO their best game of the season and upended BG in the 3rd Week of the playoffs 28-21. BIG DEAL HERE!!! Then hosted the Covington Catholic Colonels, the team of destiny in 5A last season. Now here me out; I honestly think South had a chance in this game. Not to win it, per se, but to keep it under a running clock. First possession of the second half, QB Spurrier hits a “wide open” receiver and he drops it. Very easily could have been a TD and a 21-14 score. Instead they got running clocked soon thereafter. But still a Great opening 5A campaign for the Spartans!
The Spartans lose some outstanding football players to graduation including WR Greg Byrd, WR Marcus Elmore, S Tryce Jackson, a real weapon in K Alex Cohron, and the sparkplug that was RB Christian Wynn (176 carries for over 900 yards and 14 TDs) will be sorely missed. But all is not lost in Spartan-land. Of the 17 Spartans who played at least 10 games last season 9 return. Led by their best player SR DT/OL and Notre Dame Signee Jacob Lacey. The young man is simply an outstanding football player that has commanded at least a double team since he was a freshman. Also back is talented SR QB Gavin Spurrier (175-286 for 2,509 yards and 21 TDs vs. 8 INTs, plus 7 rushing scores), who was a pleasant addition to the Spartans 2017 squad adding a stable passing component. SR WR/S Clayton Bush (a recent WKU commit) will look to add to his 37 catches from 2017. Don’t forget about one of the most undervalued players you will find in the State in SR LB/OL Pete Cross (If he came off the field in the second BG game I did not see it). This is a solid group no question, but MANY young Spartans will need to step up into the shoes left vacated. I’ll have my eyes most focused on the RB position as Christian Wynn was simply spectacular last season. BIG shoes to fill!
2018 Outlook: So what do I expect from South Warren in 2018 you ask… much more of the same with continued focus on better performance in the bigger games on their schedule. Coach Smith is an outstanding coach and does tremendous work with his staff getting his team prepared to win every week. South is easily one of the top two teams in the district and most likely the western part of the State in 5A, but will their tendency to play key players both ways catch up with them in the big games? You tell me… 5A Districts 1 and 2 are usually 2 of the toughest in the state. I look for that to continue this season. The first (note I’m expecting 2 meetings again this season) meeting this season with BG will be HUGE as it likely determines who will go to Rash Stadium (Owensboro) Week 2 of the playoffs. I think not playing Owensboro early could be beneficial for 1 of these 2. We shall see.
Schedule Highlight: Remember the days of criticizing South Warren’s schedule. Not anymore. Really like the makeup of their schedule with 4A State Champion Franklin Simpson on the road with 6A steady Central Hardin and solid Ravenwood (TN) coming to Nashville Road. But is it time to add a tougher game to this schedule? You tell me… The easy Highlight will be when Bowling Green comes calling on October 19th for what should account for the District Championship being on the line. But I would offer the game with Ravenwood, TN as also very important as it sets up the BG game. The Spartans couldn’t get out of the fog last year down in Brentwood and I think it really hurt their confidence going into the first BG game. Week 1 at 4A Hopkinsville – August 17, 2018 at 7PM. With Hoptown – I think they started to put it together at the end of last season and with a stacked lineup, they will be entertaining to watch. For South Warren – how will the newbies acclimate to the bright Friday night lights? I’d say there will be some adjustments needed. But I look for South Warren to be very strong and look to go deep into the playoffs.

1) Bowling Green (5A) – And here come the Purples! 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 10-3) 2017 was a good season for the Purples. All 10 wins were convincing against mostly solid teams they were supposed to beat. Got bulldozed (literally) by 6A State Runner-up Saint Xavier (by 14 points) and fell in a hole up at senior-laden 6A Pleasure Ridge Park in the first quarter and simply couldn’t recover. Came in overconfident (IMO) against a determined, capable South Warren squad and took a disheartening playoff loss on home soil. I’m sure the returning Purples have not forgotten (or been allowed to forget) that. Salty, sour taste in their mouths all off-season for sure! Many talented Purples depart to graduation, most notably WR/KR Zion Kenner, WR Nash Hightower, LB Jason Beason, RB Dazhon Blakey, Stud LB Justice Dingle (109 tackles)(who will be dressing for the Ramblin’ Wreck of Georgia Tech this fall) and DL/OLB Devan Jackson (who was a force last year). All 21 seniors will be missed, as they played extremely well for BG for multiple seasons.

Coaching Change: Not since the fall of 1996 have the Purples had to await the coming of a new Head Football Coach. But that was sort of planned, as Kevin Wallace was part of Dan Haley’s staff prior to his ascending to the Head Coach position. Well history has a way of repeating itself, as the New BG Head Football Coach, Mark Spader, has served as Defensive Coordinator since 2010. I want to take this opportunity to thank Coach Wallace for elevating the BG Football Program and wish him nothing but the best at Saint Xavier (Well - except for Week 3 of course – HA!). I also think Coach Spader will do an outstanding job as Purples Head Coach! Best of Luck! I’m pulling for you!

2018 Outlook: BG was fortunate to retain the services of Offensive Coordinator Kyle McGraw, who worked extensively with Coach Wallace on the offensive side of the ball for a number of years. The good fortune continued with the addition of Coach Chris Seabolt, former Greenwood Head Coach, as Offensive Line Coach. With the graduation losses mentioned above, focus will shift to QB Beau Buchanan, who enters his senior year campaign coming off an outstanding junior year (162-251 for 2,287 yards, 25 TDs vs. only 3 INTs). The Purples backfield will be filled by several this fall including SR Jamil Smith, who missed all of last season with an ACL injury, JR Jayvon Collins, a bowling ball back tough to bring down, SR Michael Carter, a big physical runner, and JR Vito Tisdale (a 4-Star athlete who will likely play safety in college). On the outside, the Purples WRs will be inexperienced but very talented. Elvin Fofanah, Jordan Dingle, Ivan Drobosky, and Greenwood transfer Zack Brassell all have tight end height and sure hands. Look for the Purples to incorporate the Tight End this season more than in years past. The offensive line returns 3 talented players led by 4-year standout Sam Vitale.
On the defensive side of the ball, Coach Spader promoted Secondary Coach Demont Franklin to Co-Defensive Coordinator. Coach Franklin will try to focus on stopping the run this season. Two of 3 DLineman return led by SR Durrell Grey. The linebackers were hit hard last season with 3 graduating, but Jason Beason was only able to play 1.5 quarters of the opening game of the season due to an injury, so SR Ethan Klein has significant experience as a starting linebacker. The OLBs are really good ones in Miles Smith and Evan Spader. The secondary is led by SR S Davis Tomblinson and CB Vito Tisdale, who typically shuts down half the field. BGs kicking game is better than I can ever remember. JR Dalton Major recently won the Top Prospect Kicking Camp and SO Eli Burwash is a very formidable punter.
Schedule Highlights: Wow Nellie!!! The Purples don’t take the slow lane this season as they already had 3 talented 6A schools jammed at the front of their schedule, but with Barren County heading out of the district faster than a one-legged duck in hurricane season, they add the mighty Warren Central Warriors from Indianapolis, IN! The Warriors are picked by many to finish the year ranked in the Top 10 in the Nation! Oh and this game will be played at Warren Central the week before the South Warren Game! I am all for this game as long as BG doesn’t sustain significant injuries. The most important game IMO is the Week 2 home game vs. PRP. BG has never beaten PRP in 2 previous tries and with a tough road trip to Saint Xavier the following week, negative mental mind frames could take shape. Will be a fascinating season for the Purples! Week 1 vs. 6A Central Hardin – Saturday August 18, 2018 - Rafferty’s Bowl 8PM at WKU. Got to see the Bruins in July at the Central Hardin 7v7 and they had some fine athletes. So I’m looking forward to a tough game at the Rafferty’s Bowl!

Good Enough to Make the Top 10 This Season:
11) Christian County (5A) – 2017 Recap:
(2017 Record 11-1) What a GREAT Season Colonel Fans!!! Undefeated regular seasons don’t grow on trees and I believe I’m correct in that it was Christian County’s first undefeated regular season squad! Outstanding! Christian County fans will remember last year for a long time. The Colonels were led by 4 year starter QB Kolbe Langhi who rushed the ball 100 times and completed 123 passes last season accounting for 21 TDs. That’s a lot to replace on its own. Add Purdue-signee and ultra-talented S Corey Trice, who changed games by himself last season (at Owensboro to name one) along with stud WR JaQuon Long and you have A LOT of production to replace!
2018 Outlook: Well boys, it sure feels like Christian County is the biggest teeter-totter team in the West this year. You can make a case for them being down just by the talent lost from last season’s graduation, which is the biggest reason they are down this far. But you can also make a case for them to rally around their 28 seniors and develop an “Us vs The World” mentality and play inspired physical football, which puts them in the top 4 of the Region! So what can we guestimate from this? I anticipate County will be more ground and pound this season and rely on a stout defense to carry them. I’m not the only one to carry that sentiment, as it’s clear several WRs including Stud Ellis Dunn have already transferred to Hopkinsville. Our good friend @Matt Holiday fan, also reports that 2 OLinemen, including what would have been their best returning OLineman, have transferred to a TN Prep School. Add that to former offensive coordinator Rusty Goble resigning at the first of the year and you have a lot of work to do to rebuild for the 2018 season. So can County still be good this season? Absolutely! Coach Lovelace is an excellent coach and their new QB SO Donte Abren is a super athlete, but the unknowns for this team are VERY high this season compared to previous years. So you could see the Colonels move up into the Top 10 or fall out of the Top 20; either could happen!
Schedule Highlight: Difficult schedule and difficult district ahead for Christian County! I look for the backyard brawl with Hopkinsville to be very important for County. While I don’t expect them to win the game at this point, I do expect them to compete. Let’s see what they got!!! Week 1 August 17 vs. 3A Caldwell County at the Stadium of Champions (8pm). Tough opener right here!

12) Glasgow (2A) – 2017 Recap: [2017 Record 10-4] Glasgow had a fantastic 2017 season. They competed every week with close losses to 4A Allen County Scottsville, 4A Champion Franklin Simpson, and super tough 3A Elizabethtown. They ultimately met their demise against the Danville Admirals, who were the team of destiny last year in 2A. But still a terrific year Scotties! They lose one of their talented QBs from last season in Dalvin Smith and stud RB/LB Sielverio Rescontellio (690 yards rushing with 9 TDs and a team leading 73 tackles on defense – Solid!).
2018 Outlook: The Scotties have one of the best linemen in the state in SR Tanner Bowles, who recently committed to Alabama (doesn’t get much better than that!). You notice I mentioned above one of their talented QBs graduated, but the good news in Scottie-land is that JR QB Tanner Abernathy (passed for just over 1,000 yards with 14 TDs vs only 3 INTs) will return. The Scottie backfield will likely see a lot of SR RB Dontavis Oates and JR Nick Mitchell, who both contributed last season. WRs with the second and third most receptions from last year return in JR Jaden Franklin and SR Kris Horn. Glasgow’s defense will be led by SR LB Andrew Carter, but who will fill the shoes of Rescontellio’s 73 tackles from last season?
Schedule Highlight: Nothing says “Get the season started out on the right foot” like playing 6 of your first 7 games at home. Well that’s exactly what Glasgow has engineered for this season. September 7 vs Allen County Scottsville and September 14 vs Warren East will tell us a lot about Glasgow this season. They split those games last season. Both are 4A teams, but if you expect to compete with the Big Boys of 2A, these are games you need to win. Week 1 August 17 vs 1A Russellville at 8pm in the Scottie Bowl. I look for this to be a scrappy game with Russellville coming to compete and start the season off strong, but look for Glasgow to pull away in the second half.

13) Owensboro Catholic (2A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 8-5) If I had a Team Soap Opera last season it had to be the Aces. Stellar QB Will Warren sustains what most reports describe as a concussion in the 4th game of the season. He is replaced with stellar QB Drew Hartz the next game and the next thing reported is that Will Warren is done at OCath. WOW! It didn’t end there with long time Coach John Edge moving across the river to coach South Spenser, Indiana. Guess who the Aces play 4th game of this season? You got it – South Spencer! Should be a hard hitting game!!! The Aces don’t lose any offensive skill guys and looked good in the Central Hardin 7on7. But they lose Stud LBs Nick Blair and Josh Sloan.
2018 Outlook: Hopefully the Drama will fade away for the Aces as talented JR QB Drew Hartz (117-198 for 1,805 and 26 TDs vs. 8 INTs in only 9 games), SR RB Vonn Williams (166 carries for 906 yards and 16 TDs), and Standout WR Nick Mills (68 catches for 968 yards and 14 TDs) make the Aces LOADED on offense. Coach Jason Morris will have to lean on SR LB Sam Harrington to lead the charge on that side of the ball. If the lines can just hold their own, the Aces can go a long way this season.
Schedule Highlight: The Aces can’t afford to play a weak non-district schedule with the weakness of their own district and to their credit they don’t. The Aces will play a gauntlet of tough upper classification teams including: 6A Daviess County, 5A Apollo, 5A Owensboro and go to 5A South Warren. If you want a chance to beat Mayfield in the playoffs you have to play good teams to get ready for it. As long as the Aces avoid the injury bug, I give them a shot at home. It may be a punchers shot, but that’s all you need sometimes. Week 1 August 17 at County Rival 6A Daviess County at 7pm.

14) McCracken County (6A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 7-5) The Mustangs had a somewhat uneven 2017 season opening with an OT win vs. 3A City Rival Paducah Tilghman (Tilghman missed the XP in OT is how they won – just spouting the facts!). They went on to lose the next 4 games to pretty good teams and considering the graduation losses they had and adding a new Head Coach (and I really like Coach Clark and wish him well) you suspected some setbacks. They went on to roll their district in usual fashion. Then hosted Daviess County the second week of the playoffs and were outgained by the Panthers 511 yards to 318, which produced a 32-21 season ending setback.
2018 Outlook: I’d say it’s mostly positive news in the Mustangs camp this summer, as you don’t have to teach a brand new system. Players for the most part understand what is expected of them. I think all too often, we as fans (especially of the more established programs) take this component for granted. The Mustangs return 5 on offense and 6 on defense. Of those lost on offense the biggest void will be replacing Star RB TaeShawn Allen who did it all for the Mustangs last year. That task will likely be assigned to JR Franklin Hayes. SR QB Elijah Wheat had a good season last year, but will need to cut down on the INTs to lead the Mustangs to higher ground. Add that to only 2 returning starters on both the OLine and DLine. What about depth? You tell me… I do not look for McCracken County to win their district this year (I think they have won the district every year since they were incorporated if I remember correctly), as I feel it is Daviess County’s year. Prove me wrong Mustangs…
Schedule Highlight: The Graves County game will once again be a pivotal, tough and physical game for McCracken County. This game is in a tough stretch for the Mustangs and to avoid another 4 game losing streak this may be the game to reverse those tides. This loss would be double trouble with the Mayfield Cardinals coming to call the following week. OOOFFFF!!! Week 1 at arch-rival 3A Paducah Tilghman – August 18, 2018 at 7PM. I love rivalry games and to start the season off with one is BOLD! Good luck Mustangs!

15) Graves County (5A) – 2017 Recap: (2017 Record 6-5) 2017 was a topsy-turvy year for the Eagles. Although they will fight you from the water cooler till you get back on the bus, they just couldn’t put it together in certain games, but specifically in their district last season in order to get them out of the eye of the South Warren Spartans first round of the playoffs, which is a tough spot for sure. Graduation hits the Eagles especially hard with State Stalwart WR Trevor Grant and his 65 catches with over 1,200 yards and 17 TDs graduating. But behind the scenes, the Eagles also lose 3 of their top 4 tacklers and 2 of their top 3 running backs. That’s a tough skill hit to take!
2018 Outlook: The good news is that 4 year contributor and Stephan LaFors QB Camp Invitee Ryan Mathis is back and appears healthy to lead the charge for the Eagles. But who will help him? Certainly Cody Goatley will. Goatley backed up Mathis when he was injured last season gaining over 200 yards on the ground with 9TDs (also tack on 58 tackles for Mr. Goatley). The rest of the unit will be relatively unproven with the top returning rusher gaining below 100 yards on the season and the top returning WR gaining nowhere near a third of Grant’s contributions. So Coach Gregory has his work cut out for him this season.
Schedule Highlight: The Eagles have a challenging schedule and challenging district, especially this season where they have to travel to Owensboro and Christian County (remember that fight at the end of last year’s game? I bet both teams have not forgotten it and will be ready for a physical game this season). If the Eagles want to take a step forward this season, I think Week 2 at home vs 3A Caldwell County is a good place to start. Week 1 vs 2A Murray.

Top 20 Tier:
16) Apollo (5A)
– (2017 Record 7-4) Tremendous season for the Eagles last year! I especially recall the EPIC, last second victory the Eagles snatched on home soil vs Owensboro. Very impressive! But the season ending defeat to Greenwood at home was disappointing. Some absolute Studs depart Tamarack Road via graduation led by the heart and soul of last year’s team the Peters Brothers (WR Peyton (48 catches for 724 yards and 10 TDs) and DB Presley with a team leading 84 tackles). And there’s a new sheriff in town to lead the charge. Coach Philip Hawkins comes over from Louisville Doss High School where he built a contending team where he didn’t find one when he got there. This will be a challenge for sure, but I’m a Coach Hawk fan and am pulling for him and the Eagles! I watched them compete in the Central Hardin 7on7 and was overall pleasantly surprised. They had grit and never stopped fighting, which allowed them to get all the way to the semi-finals of the tournament. But 7v7 is not Friday Night Football and there will be big challenges ahead. But considering 7 offensive and 6 defensive starters return, led by talented SR RB Mariano McKenzie, the Eagles could make their tough District race even more interesting. Week 5 vs Owensboro Catholic is a Big Game leading into District play! The Eagles need momentum heading into a very difficult stretch of District games. Week 1 August 17 at 6A Muhlenberg County at 7pm.

17) Crittenden County (1A) – (2017 Record 8-5) Don’t let the 17 fool you Rockets Fans, I am high on you this season! The Rockets are led by a very strong group of seniors including QB Hunter Boone (171-298 for 2,603 yards and 32 TDs vs. 16 INTs), RB Devin Nesbitt (189 carries for 1,289 yards and 24 TDs) and Stud WR Ethan Dossett (70 catches for 1,273 and 13 TDs). The defense lost their leader from last season (DL Adam Beavers), but return a strong group led by SR Sean OLeary and Tyler Boone. I like the Rockets schedule as it will challenge them and get them ready to play Russellville toward the end of the season and beyond. That is a road game and will be difficult to win, but you beat them last season at home so confidence shouldn’t be a problem. I think Crittenden County can go a long way this year. Campbellsville and then Beechwood would be down the road, but a lot of football between here and there. Good luck Rockets!!!

18) Paducah Tilghman (3A) – (2017 Record 5-7) First and foremost, I want to send a sincere wish for continuing improvement for Coach Duncan’s health. Coach Duncan was forced to resign within the past couple of weeks and I can’t imagine the full circle hardships this has caused for Coach Duncan and the Blue Tornado Program! I wish you all the best. Tilghman will have to pick up the pieces. The biggest piece to pick up is their stacked schedule! Very difficult! The strength of these opponents makes me think there is a chance the Blue Tornados could start the year 0 and 6. They obviously could win a few of those as well, which would have significant value for their ranking here; so maybe I’m rollin the dice by placing them here. They will look to get out of the gate at home this year against a McCracken County team that only beat them by a point last season. This puts a lot of pressure on that opening game! That game will be VERY emotional and VERY hard fought. Will be interesting! Tilghman loses 2 of their top 3 rushers from last season. They do return ultra-talented SR Makel Askew to lead the charge on offense while SR LB Colbe Crim will lead the Defense. The starters for this team will be good players, but as always I think depth will be a factor, especially in the big games. Beat McCracken County and A LOT of positives will come from that!

19) Union County (3A) – (2017 Record 8-5) Coach Derek Johns has really done a super job up in Morganfield in his 2 seasons at the helm! The Braves really came into their own last season coming out of the gate with 5 straight wins including an eye-opening win vs 4A Madisonville. The town packed the stadium for a matchup with Caldwell County and even though they haven’t climbed to those heights yet, it is inspiring to know they have the community’s support! They lose some Big Time contributors to graduation including QB Jacob Winters, RB Christopher Bledsoe, and WR James Hutchinson. It will be a rebuild on that side of the ball, but the defense should be stout! Good luck Braves!

20) Henderson County (6A) – (2017 Record 5-7) I know 5 and 7 isn’t the top of the hill Colonel Fans, but you realize you were 3 and 8 in 2016. It takes time to rebuild. And I am still a fan of Coach Josh Boston. Some of your losses (Christian County and Gipson Southern, IN) were still inspiring as you played well in those games. Much of your success this season will rest on the strong shoulders of SR QB Skip Patterson. It will be difficult, as everyone knows this and will key on him. I still think you can at least equal this record in 2018. It should be noted that you did win a home playoff game last season. Something that hasn’t happened since the 2013 Season. Small steps Colonels… small steps!

Looking for some Traction:
21) Allen County – Scottsville (4A)
– (2017 Record 7-4) The Patriots lost some outstanding seniors off a solid 2017 squad. None will be more difficult to replace than stalwart, heart and soul QB Chase Wilson, who passed for nearly 2,700 yards and 15 TDs last season. Add to that your top 2 tacklers graduate. So I think it will take Coach Hood (Super Coach by the way!) a while to sort things out this season.
22) Monroe County (2A) – (2017 Record 9-4) The Falcons are a terrific small county team supported by a passionate fan base that loves their team. That passion was exemplified by their graduating 2017 SR Team Leader Ty Mink. That title will be passed on to their new SR Leader Braden Murphy, who stars on both sides of the ball. The Falcons beat all the teams they were supposed to last year and lost to the ones they were not supposed to beat. No shame there! I expect Coach Billy Joe Murphy’s 2nd season in Tompkinsville to be on par with the 2017 team. Circle the game with tough Campbellsville Falcon Fans as if you can get that one you should be able to get 8 wins this year. How many teams would like to say that!!!
23) Warren East (4A) – (2017 Record 6-5) The Raiders were very competitive in 2017 and if they could have found a way to pull out 2 back to back 1 point losses mid-season that 6 and 5 record turns into a much more flashy 8 and 3 record. 2018 will be a rebuilding year for Raider Power as some outright Studs graduate including QB Dwayne Cook, RB Trevor Naftel, and Super-talented WR Caleb Huskey. Add to that the 2 key stalwarts of the 2017 defense Greg Barnes and Isaiah Board depart. So Coach Griffith will have his work cut out. The Raiders do return standouts SR RB Thomas Maxey and young SO QB Nolan Ford to head the 2018 charge.
24) Russellville (1A) – (2017 Record 7-5) Of the 5 guys that did it all for Russellville last season (they each ran the ball and played on defense) only 2 return this season. Stud SR QB/LB Jacob Naylor and SR Edward Barber will be the heart and soul of the Panther attack this season. New Coach Mikie Benton will have to figure out the rest. Maybe they will let the former Panther star and UK player suit up this season! Russellville has a very difficult schedule with 2A Glasgow and 4A Franklin Simpson to name 2 quality opponents that are likely out of Russellville’s league this season. Seems like a lot of automatic loses (mentioned above) combined with some automatic wins (the Fultons) until they get to the most important game of the year when District-mate Crittenden County comes calling. The Panthers will have to play their best game to have a chance in this one IMO. Show me what you got Panthers!
25) Warren Central (4A) – (2017 Record 0-11) I placed the Dragons here as I really want to see them improve and get a win. They haven’t had a fair shake and it’s not the kids fault. Back to football. I wanted to mention the graduation of ultra-talented Stud RB/LB DJ Tyner, who was an absolute load on both sides of the ball. Wish him well moving on. The roster numbers on the Riherds page went from 43 in 2017 to 31 in 2018. That’s obviously the wrong way and hope Coach Taylor can find some more guys to come out this season. Monroe County on August 31 might be their most winnable game in 2018. Good Luck Dragons!

Disturbing Western Kentucky Notes/Trends:

Fulton County and Fulton City (1A)
– If you do NOT include victories over each other or Fulton City’s odd 3 wins over Jackson Preparatory School from 2011-2013 (by a combined score of 124 to 24) it has been nearly 10 years since Fulton City beat Todd County Central in the Fall of 2009 and 7 seasons since Fulton County beat now defunct Reidland High School. Our good friend @gchs_uk9 reported only 45 boys attend Fulton City High School, while only about 80 boys attend Fulton County High School. There are 17 players on the Fulton City 2018 Roster. There are only 22 non-seniors on the 2017 Fulton County Roster. Sad situation! I don’t expect Fulton City can support a football team much longer. And it may not be much longer for Fulton County either…
Caverna (1A) – Caverna only has 24 players on their 2018 roster and hasn’t won a game since knocking off Fort Knox and Clinton County in 2015.
Breckinridge County (4A) – The Fighting Tigers did not win a game last season and haven’t won more than 3 games in a season since they went 11 and 2 in the 2000 Season. In the 2017 Season, 50 players were on the roster. At the beginning of the 2018 season only 34 players are listed on the roster. That’s a 32% reduction in 1 season!

I suppose there have always been the Have’s and the Have Nots, but I am concerned for the longevity of the sport at smaller schools outside the Big City lights. Note that Trimble County (2A) cancelled their entire 2018 Football Season. There are more things at play here than just football, but this is still a significant negative undertaking to the game we love. I don’t look for this to be the last of those undertakings unfortunately.

Games of the Week – Week 1:
#2 South Warren at #6 Hopkinsville 8/17/18 @7PM
- This game is probably more important to Hopkinsville. Not necessarily to win the game but to play well. I expect South Warren to win the game, but I think Hopkinsville has a punchers chance. I just don’t think the Tigers can handle the South Warren defensive line and that will be the difference. Should be a great atmosphere though! Get out and support your teams!!!

#12 Owensboro Catholic (2A) at #7 Daviess County (6A) 8/17/18 @7PM – This is a dandy of a game! Big momentum game for each school and also a big local rivalry game. Supermarket pride is on the line!!! Last season OCath pulled out a Big 33-31 victory against the Panthers! I’m sure Daviess is looking for revenge this season on home soil. Get out and support your teams!!!

Pre-Season “Teams Trending Downward”
Greenwood (5A) – Down –
This is really a curtain call for the best football player in Greenwood history QB Jackson Adams. Adams carried the ball 707 times for 5,405 yards and 67 TDs over his 4 year career at Greenwood. He attained the All-Time Leading Rusher mark his Sophomore Year! Outstanding Player! Greenwood will be replacing not only their best player but also their head coach. Best of luck to new Greenwood Head Coach William Howard.
Christian County (5A) – Down – The Colonels had a Great Ride last season earning their first undefeated regular season. But they lose their 4-Year Starter at QB and many other contributing seniors off a stellar 11 and 1 squad. I’m not predicting doom and gloom, but the Colonels won’t get near 11 and 1 this season.

Pre-Season “Teams Trending Upward”
Hopkinsville (4A) – Up –
When you switch head coaches so late in the offseason, it just takes time to get going again. Add that to the fact that Hopkinsville went from being Team Cupcake in their crazy easy schedule to having one of the more difficult schedules in 4A. Playing quality opponents has a way of preparing you for the playoff challenges you hope to get the opportunity to face. I look for Hopkinsville to be very tough this year. If WR Ellis Dunn, does in fact, suit up for the Tigers, “Look Out” as I think he is a Big Piece to make them a team that can compete with Franklin Simpson and get a shot at the Grocery Bag in Lexington come December.
Daviess County (6A) – Up – Coach Matt Brannon has some Big Time Players this season! If they can come out of the gate stronger this year, they should be able to use that momentum to win their district and make a deep playoff run until they get to the Jefferson County Beasts. It should be a really fun year for Panther Nation!!!
Owensboro (5A) – Up – Red Devil Nation as a whole was pretty upset with the 4 and 7 season last year. But if the rumors are true with the new more pass oriented offense, then they will be much better than 4 and 7 this season. The Red Devils have the talent to win their difficult District and compete with Bowling Green and South Warren. Imonte Owsley is a special talent. He is a junior. Time is of the essence Red Devil Fans!!!

QB – Joey Cambron, Daviess County
QB – Beau Buchanan, Bowling Green
RB – Tre Bass, Franklin Simpson
RB – Vonn Williams – Owensboro Catholic
WR – Marquel Tinsley, Daviess County
WR – Ethan Dossett, Crittenden County
WR – Nick Mills, Owensboro Catholic
WR – Ellis Dunn, Hopkinsville
OL – Tanner Bowles, Glasgow
OL – Sam Vitale, Bowling Green
OL – Blake Moody, Madisonville – North Hopkins
DL – Jacob Lacey, South Warren
DL – Diamond Glover, Owensboro
DL – Cade McKinnis, Logan County
LB – Pete Cross, South Warren
LB – Jacob Naylor, Russellville
DB – Blake Baker, Daviess County
DB – Trel Riley, Caldwell County
S – Clayton Bush, South Warren
S – Imonte Owsley, Owensboro
Athlete – Vito Tisdale, Bowling Green
Athlete – Trey Matthews, Mayfield
K – Micah Haley, Mayfield
Coach – Doug Preston, Franklin Simpson

(I could put MANY coaches here and would not be wrong as we have MANY strong
Coaches in our region, but Coach Preston & Staff earned a State Championship last season and I think he deserves to be here – Outstanding Job Coach Preston!)

It’s going to be a GREAT YEAR sports fans! What do you think/like/dislike? Pitch all together? What would you change & why?