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BluegrassPreps 2017 Western Kentucky Power Rankings – Preseason Edition

In 2017, we head into our Third Season of the BluegrassPreps weekly 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 of the Week", and moving forward, will be re-capping the previous game(s) of the week, as well as highlighting regional "Big Risers" and "Big Droppers" 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:

Preseason Top 10:
10) South Warren (4A)2016 Recap: [2016 Record 9-4] The Spartans were derailed early in the 2016 season after an injury plagued game at Greenwood. With MANY starters out, they gutted out an OT win at gritty 6A Central Hardin; traveled to 4A Runner up Franklin Simpson and came up just short; continued to fight on and won a game they probably shouldn’t have at Hoptown before bowing out again at Franklin Simpson. The departing Spartans are (except for Jacob Lacey) the last of the stars from the 2015 State Championship Team. QB Ryder Litten (967 yards rushing with 16 TDs; 93 completions for 1,489 yards with 15 TDs vs 9 INTs now playing at Jacksonville), WR CJ Hayes (Did it All! - Rushing for 97 yards & 1 TD; 51 catches 855 yards with 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 25 Tackles now playing at Michigan State) and RB Kayron Namvong (1,039 yards and 12 TDs) highlight a few of the outright stars that leave South Warren with considerable accomplishments. This leaves the cupboard as bare as it has been in 3 seasons, but now is the opportunity for the younger Spartans to shine.
2017 Outlook: South Warren steps up to 5A and joins Bowling Green and Greenwood in District 2. Many personnel slots will have to change as SR Cody Eblen appears to be the leader for the QB spot after recent 7on7 competitions. There is still talent at South Warren, but this season it will take time to know who will be called upon with the exception of 4-star, JR OL/DL and recent Notre Dame commit Jacob Lacy. One of the best talents in the State of Kentucky had Power 5 D1 offers from several elite college football programs and will be the leader of this team. Do they have the supporting cast this year? We shall see.
Schedule Highlights: MANY criticized South Warren’s schedule in days gone by, but they won’t this season as their district and region are one of the toughest in 5A; not to mention facing Franklin Simpson and Owensboro Catholic who will both have strong teams making this season a very challenging one for Coach Smith. Week 0 GAME OF THE WEEK - vs 4A Hopkinsville – August 18, 2017 at 7PM. With Hoptown – (new coach/only recently missing top players) vs. South Warren – (new players), the only thing you can guarantee is an entertaining game and our good friend @jcarter will be there to bring us the action!

9) McCracken County (6A)2016 Recap: (2016 Record 7-4) The Mustangs finished 2016 on a lukewarm note as they had some dominating performances (62-20 At Daviess County) mixed with some disappointing performances (46-41 L to Mayfield and 34-10 L at home in the 6A First Round vs a very solid PRP squad). McCracken County loses 2 top shelf talents in QB Cash Jones (4 rushing TDs with 2,433 yards in the air and 37 TDs vs 8 INTs) who will be at SE Missouri State this fall and his top target, Daniel Tyce (23 catches for 319 yards and 4 TDs), will also be playing on Saturdays for Memphis. Add former DL standout Quamea Jones moving on and there is much to replace in Mustang Country. Add that to the fact that former “Should I Stay or Should I Go” Coach Shawn Jackson (must have been a fan of The Clash) has in fact moved on. But, the Mustangs made a timely, solid hire in Coach Marc Clark, formerly at Hopkinsville. Many angles to take here, but my take is this is a very good hire of a man who knows Western Kentucky football and if early pre-season photos are any indication, the Mustang faithful have already come out in large numbers to support Coach Clark and the 2017 Mustangs.
2017 Outlook: The Mustangs continue to be hard to know where to put honestly with 25 seniors departed and entering only their 5th varsity season. MANY questions and variables for Coach Clark and the Mustangs to work out: - who will play QB, who can catch the ball when it counts, who will step up on defense? I really like SR RB TaeShawn Allen to lead the offense and probably the team, but what about his OLine? Again, many questions/variables and it will take a game or two IMO to really know where this team is at.
Schedule Highlights: September 1, 2017 at 5A Graves County: I think Graves will be much improved this season across the line of scrimmage and JR QB Ryan Mathis is dynamite. If the Mustangs lines are struggling; look for this to be a tough one for McCracken to pull out. This would be bad news this early in the season as the following week the Mustangs have to travel to War Memorial Stadium for a date with Mayfield. Week 0 vs arch-rival 3A Paducah Tilghman – August 19, 2016 at 7PM.

8) Hopkinsville (4A)2016 Recap: [2016 Record 10-2] Hoptown had a terrific 2016 campaign, 10 and 2 is a fine record, but most Tiger fans, if honest, would likely say they missed a big opportunity when they lost a tight game at home in the 2nd round of the playoffs to gritty South Warren. Such is life – you win some-you lose some, but is 10 and 2 the ceiling for the Tigers? There’s no shame in losing to a dynamite Christian County squad and scrappy South Warren. BUT, I honestly think this program is capable of more.
The Ides of Change this off season hit Hopkinsville harder than any other program coming into the 2017 season. Coach Marc Clark decides to “Ease on Down the Road” with Diana Ross to McCracken County… SO there’s a New Sheriff in town. Hoptown connected on a late Hale-Mary when All-Time Winningest Tiger Coach (149-86) Craig Clayton agreed to leave a solid stop at Hillsboro High School in Nashville and Come Home! Have been told the Fan Base really never “connected” with Coach Clark. I would say that is not the case for Coach Clayton! I feel a lot of Buzz coming from this hire!!! Well the Buzz-kill came in the form of a de-energizing game of Red Light – Green Light when ultra-talented SR QB/WR Jalen Johnson (130-247 for 2,117 yards, 29 TDs vs 8 INTs, plus 437 yards rushing and 8 TDs) finally elected to transfer to Aspire Academy and pursue his basketball “Aspire”-ations. Add to that Stud WR Shorty Cager also elected to forego his senior year of football to focus on basketball (thanks to our good friend @DragonFire). Several angles to take here, but ultimately Mr. Johnson and Mr. Cager have chosen to pursue what they feel is in their best interest and I only wish them the best in that regard. But what about the football Tigers? Significant blow… No doubt about it and I had placed them farther up the rankings prior to their departure. I made this move as I fear the discontinuity surrounding the late coaching change and even later personnel disruptions have to take a toll. Doesn’t it???
2017 Outlook: Personnel-wise, the Tigers STILL have many outstanding players. According to our good friend @chrisjung SO Javier Bland has been getting looks since the 7on7 preseason competitions at the QB position. Breakout candidate JR RB JaTorion Dillard rushed 116 times in 2016 for 827 yards and 13 TDs and he is really talented. The depleted WR core will look to Gavin Marchand and Andrew King to catch the rock for the Tigers this season. Defensively, SR Jakevis Bryant returns looking to build off 84 tackles last season. But, can the O and D Lines hold up when it counts to allow the Tigers skilled players time to make plays…. We shall see.
Schedule Highlights: I have beaten the Hopkinsville Scheduling horse for some time now ; even referring to them as Team Cupcake, But YOWZZAA did the Tigers upgrade in 2017. They add South Warren, Mayfield, Caldwell County and Greenwood to their regular season schedule. All those teams are better than the out of district teams they replace from the 2016 schedule. Coach Clayton will have to integrate his system quickly as the early season schedule is daunting for Hopkinsville.
Week 1 vs Mayfield (2A) at the Stadium of Champions in Hopkinsville, KY 7:30PM. Great Test & Big Game for both teams. Winner gets momentum very early in the season. Week 0 GAME OF THE WEEK at 4A South Warren. Tough game out of the gate for both teams. Very entertaining! Get your car washed Tiger fans and get to Bowling Green for a Chaney’s Dairy Barn Ice Cream Cone and watch your team in action as it’s going to be an entertaining season!

7) Greenwood (5A)2016 Recap: [2016 Record 9-3] The Gators had a great season last year only losing to 4A Runner up Franklin Simpson in a tight game, at 5A Region 1 Runner up Owensboro and 5A Champion Bowling Green. No shame there. Plus you picked up a surprising and dare I say “program raising” win against now district-mate South Warren AND dodged a little early season drama overcoming the Willie Reynolds “experiment”. But after two consecutive 9 and 3 seasons have the Gators hit their ceiling?
2017 Outlook: SR QB Jackson Adams leads the Gators on and off the field and is a special talent. As a JR, Adams continued to add to his gaudy stats (160 carries for 1,329 yards and 24 TDs). But the Gators only passed 47 times all last year and teams that could at least neutralize the Gator OLine, including all 3 teams they lost to, put the Gators in difficult situations. Undervalued talent RB/DB Malcomb Johnson graduates, which is a BIG loss for GW. Xezayier Snorton, Triston Wilson, and SO Clyde Clements should be ready to step up to carry some of the load caused by this departure. The Gator D returns 9 starters and should be anchored by the LB corps of John Bush and Alex Rhodes. I like Greenwood in the games they are supposed to win, but will it be the same song and dance for the tougher games this year… Time is of the essence for Greenwood! If the OLine can gel, watch out for Greenwood; as I may have them too low!
Schedule Highlights: September 29 at South Warren. After last year’s Gator victory and with South moving into the Gator’s district, this season’s game will have A LOT riding on it (Like first round home field advantage in the playoffs)! Week 0 at 4A Warren Central at 7pm.

6) Owensboro (5A) 2016 Recap: (2016 Record 10-3) I know of no team across the entire state of Kentucky that made more effective changes mid-season than the Owensboro Red Devils. Owensboro lost their 3rd game (to OCath by 5) and the 4th game (to BG - were not in that game) and were at a cross-roads at 2 and 2 on the relatively young season. Coach Jay Fallin revamped his entire offense from spread to veer in the matter of basically a week and guess what.... It complemented their personnel and worked beautifully! Highlighted by a tough, double overtime, district clinching win at super-tough Christian County on a frog-strangler of a night, the Red Devils did not lose another game until the Regional Championship game down in BG, where they played the Purples awfully well. Solid... Owensboro’s most notable losses are some monsters along both lines of scrimmage, RB Landon Board, who gained over 1,800 yards and 21 TDs last season, QB Zach Gross who gave the Red Devils all he had and LB/RB Malik Munday, who was a terror on both sides of the ball.
2017 Outlook: Who will play QB this year is my top question for the Red and Black as running the veer or running the spread you need a heady QB to lead the team and make smart decisions regardless of the offensive scheme. There are some line guys returning, but will the new lineman (especially offensive lineman) integrate smoothly? We shall see… We saw glimpses of the talent that is DB/RB Imonte Owsley, who will be back for his SO year. IMO a lot will be asked of Owsley, as he played more Safety than RB last season with Board running the show for the most part. Will that change this season? I anticipate so, except for a couple games. They also have some very good young LBs who should have great seasons. O has VERY strong SO and FR classes, but still likely a season away from seeing the full force of those younger Devils under the Friday Nite Lights at Rash Stadium.
Schedule Highlights: September 29 at home vs. 5A District 1 Rival Christian County is one of my top regular season games in the entire Western half of the state this season. IMO this tussle at Rash Stadium will determine the district crown with the winner also likely gaining home field for the Regional Championship (barring upset). The Red Devils have a strategic open week prior to the Colonels visit. Well played… They also have a date in BG with the Purples in Week 4. Week 0 at old-rival 4A Madisonville-North Hopkins at 7PM.

5) Owensboro Catholic (2A)2016 Recap: (2016 Record 11-2) 2016 was a strong year for Coach Edge’s Aces with signature wins against city-rival 5A Owensboro and solid 6A North Hardin. However, I am sure the season ending home loss to Mayfield left an empty feeling for the Aces. OCath does lose 12 seniors to graduation and some outstanding football players, most notably WR Tre Green (42 catches for 738 yards and 11 TDs) and LB Christopher MacKay (116 tackles). Most Ace’s fans are very upbeat, however, with what should be another terrific season off West Parrish Avenue.
2017 Outlook: OCath has one of the strongest rising JR Classes you will find. Most notable are QB Will Warren (160 completions for 2,152 yards with 33 TDs vs 12 INTs), RB Vonn Williams (1,808 yards rushing with 19 TDs), and WR Nick Mills (37 receptions for 566 yards and 7 TDs). According to our good friend @Rambo4343, defensively the DLine and LB positions will be strengths, with SR LB Nick Blair returning to the grid-iron off his 147 tackles in the 2015 campaign. Also SR LB Josh Sloan will look to improve on his 107 2016 tackles. But how will the OLine come together? That’s my biggest concern for the Aces in 2017.
Schedule Highlights: The Aces play 2 good Indiana teams (Evansville Reitz and South Spencer) plus a season ending battle against 4A South Warren. Terrific out-of-district schedule counterbalances their weak district slate. This schedule should have the Aces on track for another deep playoff run where most foresee another meeting with the Mayfield Cardinals for the Regional Championship. But this year that game would be at Mayfield. Week 0 August 18 vs. County Rival 6A Daviess County at 7pm.

4) Franklin Simpson (4A)2016 Recap: (2016 Record 14-1) The Wildcats had an outstanding, benchmark 2016 campaign handling short-term rival South Warren and winning the most games during any one season in Franklin Simpson’s history. Now if that isn’t noteworthy, I don’t know what is. And how about Coach Preston and staff implementing an effective passing threat to the offense. It kept defenses guessing and that was HUGE. Yes, the naysayers will complain about dropping the state championship game to the Johnson County Golden Eagles, but truth be told it took the Belfry Semi-Pro Mighty Pirates to derail them. Gone are standouts OL/DL Cole Kirby and QB Jackson Caudill to name 2 of the toughest to replace.
2017 Outlook: Hard to improve on a perfect regular season, but Coach Preston will be ready, as will ultra-talented SR RB/DB Saul Brady, who will need to be “The Man” this year and expand above his JR year production of over 1,000 yards rushing, 9 TDs and 77 tackles. According to our good friend @macdon, the Wildcats will look to SR Rylan Thomas to lead at QB with speedster Tre Bass in the backfield along with bruiser FB Carlos McKinney. And thanks to our good friend @fastaslightin, who reports 6’5” WR Jevon Covington should be a difference maker on the outside and give the Wildcat multiple offensive weapons to keep their opponents guessing. Several line stalwarts remain including OL Jack Randolf and DL Dion Pearson, but a few other line spots are still working themselves out. 7 starters return to the Wildcat defense, if Coach Preston can find suitable players to plug in those other 4 positions, Look Out!, as this defensive unit could be special. Look for the Wildcats to be a very tough out again in 2017.
Schedule Highlights: The District appears to have eased considerably for the Wildcats with South Warren now pulling into the 5A Train Station. With that said, Franklin Simpson should be the CLEAR district favorite and set up a terrific regional battle with Hoptown in the 4A west bracket for the right to go to the semi-finals and possibly Kroger Field. Week 0 August 18 at home vs. Elizabethtown at 7PM. AWESOME GAME right out of the gate right here! Some say E-town has Title aspirations of their own this season. This one will let you know where you stand early Wildcat fans!!!

3) Mayfield (2A)2016 Recap: [2016 Record 13-1] Mayfield continues to be Team Consistency losing only 6 games from the 2010 thru 2016 seasons. But all good things must come to an end they say. Mayfield came up short in their semi-final game last season at eventual 2A Champion Christian Academy of Louisville (CAL) in their bid to win 5 straight State Championships. No shame there. Who wouldn’t take 5 championships and 7 state championship game appearances in 8 years? Mayfield graduates some outstanding football players led by QB Landon Arnett (2,952 yards passing with 38 TDs vs 8 INTs), his brother LB Kinser Arnett and Mr. Football Candidate and All-Time Leading Rusher (and that’s sayin something at Mayfield) RB Trajan Bright (1,635 yards and 23 TDs while only playing in 10 of 13 games).
2017 Outlook: Mayfield has leaned on a young, inexperienced OLine the last couple seasons, but that will change in 2017, as it is arguably the strongest and deepest unit they have this season led by All WKC Trevor Terrell, 1 of 4 returning OLine starters. Skill-wise they are deep at WR, but the RB and QB spots will likely be filled by committee this season. At RB look for JR Trey Matthews and SO Travon Halliburton to get the most touches. Both are very athletic and either could also play WR, if needed. At QB, Big Red will look to SO Jaden Stinson (pure passer with high football IQ) and JR Connor Guthrie (dual-threat athlete) to lead Coach Morris’ 2017 squad. Thanks to our good friend @Toothpick for his input in this section and who reports Guthrie’s twin brother will play football again this season. He is a 6’4” difference maker on the outside and if the Cardinals can get some QB continuity - Look Out! Defensively, Mayfield should be strong as usual with the entire secondary returning. The defensive tackles will have new faces, but the DE’s are really good ones in JR Quorterrius Cherry and JR Brady Smith. At LB, graduation hit hard with 2 standout starters departing, but SR Kyle Hurt is back and is a really good one! SR Nate Fox should join him but the third LB is still being determined. Overall, Mayfield will be Mayfield, especially if the QB can gain some early confidence. And Mayfield will need them to be ready, as they always play a stiff schedule. So could the 12 Time State Champions add to their hardware this season? The western half of the 2A bracket is very difficult, but as our good friend @snakesnot_2000 said, you will have to beat Mayfield on their home field if you want to move on this season and that is a very difficult task indeed.
Schedule Highlights: August 25 at 4A Hopkinsville (Stadium of Champions as part of the Toyota of Hopkinsville Jerry Claiborne Bowl) 7:30pm. Great test for both teams! The Cardinals should be tested in this one with the ever-athletic Tigers! Lot of early momentum on the line. Week 0 August 18 at Union City, TN at 7PM. I admit that I don’t know that much about Union City, but several Cardinal supporters say they are likely one of the top returning 2A schools in the entire State of Tennessee – Terrific Opener! Hope the Cardinals get a big W and start the season off on the right foot against the Golden Tornados!

2) Christian County (5A)2016 Recap: (2016 Record 9-3) The Colonels had a terrific 2016 campaign, as their defense continued to improve throughout the season and their offense scored in at least the high 30’s against everyone but the grudge match vs Hopkinsville, Owensboro and Bowling Green. And even in those games they were very effective when they needed to be. The Colonels were unable to win the 2016 District thanks to an intense, double OT game against district foe Owensboro. Christian County played at a high level most of last season thanks in large part to ultra-athlete, Purdue signee WR Keyron Catlett, who played as well as anyone in the west last season.
2017 Outlook: County has been building for last season and this season as many key Colonels return for their SR campaign, namely D1 prospect and 4-year starter QB Kolbe Langhi (rushed for 159 yards on 66 carries and 6 TDs; Passed 166-264 for 2,425 yards and 23 TDs vs 13 INTs). Also ultra-athletic SR WR JaQuon Long (40 catches for 652 yards and 7 TDs) will lead a younger but very talented group of WRs Langhi will have at his disposal. Our good friend @TackleTrap reports better depth and size on the 2017 County O and D Lines than he can recall in recent memory. And our good friend @BigTiger55 reports 10 SRs and 1 JR will start on an experienced, stingy and gritty defensive squad that will be very tough for opposing offenses to navigate. If County has good offensive continuity, this team has all it takes to go all the way in 2017.
County fans, I seriously considered you for the top spot on this ranking, but the reason I did not place you there “yet” is in order to Be the Man you have to Beat the Man. Additionally, your 2017 schedule does not do you any favors for the playoffs IMO as far as really testing you in your out of district matchups. But you have a team this season that can challenge anyone in the state and I am very high on you in 2017. It’s going to be a great season in Colonel Country! Get Ready Colonel Fans Come Out & Support Your Team!
Schedule Highlights: It should be noted that County does not play Bowling Green during the 2017 regular season for the first time since 2014. I personally think this is a great move for County as the mental part of the game takes a toll when you lose (makes the victor more confident & the loser less confident) and I feel this has hurt both Christian County and Owensboro vs BG in the past few seasons. However, we fans clearly lose by them not playing early. But job #1 is to win the District, which will be no easy task, as 5A District 1 has in recent past run through Rash Stadium (Owensboro) and this year will be no different as the Colonels will travel to Daviess County on September 29 for some Old Hickory Barbeque and a date with district rival Owensboro Red Devils. Week 0 August 18 at 3A Caldwell County at 8pm.

1) Bowling Green (5A)2016 Recap: [2016 Record 15-0] And here come the Purples! The defending 5A State Champions are 84 and 3 since 2010. 22 stalwart SRs graduate from one of the most potent Purples squads in history, most notably, Mr Football and Naval Academy signee RB Jamale Carothers, who re-wrote the Purples record book in yardage and TDs (no simple task), ultra-steady QB Clark Payne, who is #5 ALL-TIME on the KHSAA Completion % rankings at 65.8%, and All-State WR/magician DeAngelo Wilson. On D, standout DLine Dalen Cofer and 5 other starters graduated. All 22 Seniors will be missed, as they played extremely well for BG for multiple seasons.
2017 Outlook: So where do the Purples go from here? On offense, the QB job will be turned over to JR Beau Buchanon (his dad was a Purples QB as well, so it’s in his blood!). Speedy and ultra-athletic SR WR Ziyon Kenner will move to the lead WR role where he should shine with gritty SR WR Nash Hightower on the other side with Tre Jones and Ivan Drobocky getting looks at TE. Three OLine Starters graduate, but plenty remain to compete for their chance to finally start alongside returning JR OT turned C Sam Vitale, who should be D1 before it’s all said and done. In the backfield, when a 3-year starting RB graduates it is significant. When that RB turns out to be Mr Football (Jamale Carothers) it is monumental. Coach Wallace will shuffle the deck and move heralded SO Vito Tisdale back to RB from DB where he started all last season as a Frosh. The ultra-athletic Tisdale returns to the offensive side of the ball and now appears set to be The Man and carry the load for the Purples this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play D in a few games as well, but very few.
Defensively, Georgia Tech bound SR LB/DL Justice Dingle will anchor the BG D with Dline/LB Devan Jackson, who is also getting D1 looks. When Dingle plays on the DL, SR LB J’son Beason will be the lead LB and has plenty of experience. With Tisdale moving over to offense, 3 newer secondary players will be called upon to contribute alongside steady JR S Davis Tomblinson. I was impressed with the young Purples secondary down in Dalton, GA (especially standout SO S Evan Spader – yes he is Coach Spader’s youngest son and he is a good one!) this summer and know the coaches are high on them as well, but the schedule will throw them into the fire early as is typical for most Purples schedules. Finally, K Lee Ramsey graduates after kicking for 4 seasons – great job! He will be replaced most likely by SO Dalton Major.
Schedule Highlights: I think the young Purples will struggle some out of the gate and likely take a few losses this season as it will take some time for the new faces to gel especially against 6A St Xavier and at 6A Pleasure Ridge Park (PRP). I usually put the St X game as my highlight, but have decided to change to Week 1 August 25, 2017 at 6A PRP at 7:30 pm. PRP is no slouch; they gave Trinity a good game in 2016 and only lost at Male by 3 in the playoffs. PRP returns all their skill guys who are seniors and will be a tough test for sure. It will be the younger Purples first true road test very early in the season. It will also set the stage for Week 2 when St Xavier drives down I-65 for a battle at El Donaldson Stadium. I’m already pumped about it! Week 0 vs. 6A North Hardin – Saturday August 19, 2017 - Rafferty’s Bowl 8PM at WKU. Got to see the Trojans in late July at the Central Hardin 7v7 and they had some fine athletes, but know they graduated their team leader and QB from last season. Looking forward to a tough game at the Rafferty’s Bowl!

Good Enough to Make the Top 10 This Season:

Graves County (5A) – According to our good friend @Eagle_Pride!!, Graves County has implemented a new offense. They return 4 offense lineman and QB as well as gaining a running back that transferred in. On the defensive side of the ball they will be under the direction of a new coordinator, Nick Kemp. They will utilize a basic 3-4 defense. 11 to 15 could be too low for the Eagles, as I really like their QB Ryan Mathis, but who would I bump out? If they beat McCracken County in Week 2, it will take care of itself.
Caldwell County (3A) – Solid 2016 season, but graduation, plus the unforeseen loss of standout QB Shane Burns to “focus on baseball”, pushes the Tigers down to this range. They still have some solid football players and Coach Barnes is capable of rallying the troops, but the hill to climb, especially with an out-of-district slate that includes Christian County, Graves County, Hopkinsville and Mayfield, is beyond pretty steep this year I fear.
Russellville (1A) – Outstanding 2016 season at 12 and 2! No shame in losing to eventual 1A Champ Beechwood after a 4 hour bus ride. Many great, classic 2-way players graduate including QB/DB Jaylyn McMurray and RB/DB Johnny Drumgole, but the roster is not totally bare. Look for the Panthers to continue to be the best 1A squad in the West but not by a lot, as Crittenden County closes the gap on them in 2017.
Madisonville – North Hopkins (4A) – According to our good friend @Maroonman, the Maroons should field a “respectable team” this season with solid young players leading the charge for this mostly SO and JR laden team. JR RB Aaron Miller and SO LB Krey Cunningham will lead their respective units. Look for the Maroons to start their march back up the rankings this season.
Paducah Tilghman (3A) – Team Casino brings in high profile alum Kurt Barber as new Head Coach in 2016. After an “uneven” 6 and 6 year, he has moved on to Louisville and now new Coach Steve Duncan will be tasked at providing some semblance of structure to a team that has had 4 Head Coaches in 5 years. Lots of talented players, but what about the O Line and D Line? What about team continuity? You tell me.

Top 20 Tier:

Glasgow (2A) – Outstanding SR Class moves on from a very solid 2016 campaign. Two very good RBs should provide leadership in SR Selverio Greer and JR Trayjan Bradley for Coach Garmon. Look for another solid year, but facing the Jefferson County 2A Beasts is still their ceiling I fear. Beat Russellville and you move up to the group above this one! Small steps Scotties…. Small steps…
Daviess County (6A) – Have arguably the best WR in the West and one of the top in the State in rising Jr Marquel Tinsley. Having him alone gets you here. Do they have anything else? We’ll know early on as they play formidable 2A OCath and 4A John Hardin right out of the gate.
Henderson County (6A) – Coach Josh Boston returns for his 2nd season. 2016 saw the Colonels field an extremely young team plus a very formidable schedule. All the primary contributors on offense are back. If the Defense can find some answers look for them to improve on their 3 and 8 record. Beat Daviess County again and you get another home playoff game. I’d call that a win! Rome wasn’t built in a day Colonel Fans! Hang in there as I like your Coach!
Allen County – Scottsville (4A) – The Patriots were devastated in 2016 when star QB Chase Wilson suffered a season ending knee injury about half way through the year in a district game vs Warren East. He is back this year and will do his best to make his SR year a memorable one for the Patriots! Look for Cayden Ross rising JR RB/DB to have a bigger impact than last year and be all over the field for Coach Hood.
Calloway County (4A) – Mr. Everything Jacob Bellah (QB & S) returns for his senior year. They should be respectable and beat the teams they are supposed to and lose to the team they are supposed to. Their game vs Madisonville should be very entertaining with a lot on the line; as the winner likely gets a first round home game in the playoffs!
Crittenden County (1A) – There’s no reason the Rockets can’t be in this group. As our good friend @Voice of Reason reported yesterday, they have been playing young players and building to this season for a couple years. Jr. QB Hunter Boone returns as a starter and should be one of the top QB’s in 1A. See how the Rockets do on September 8 vs solid 3A Caldwell County and we’ll know a lot more about where the Rockets stand in 2017.

Other Western Kentucky Notes:

Logan County (4A) – Our good friend @Racer89 was correct in predicting the Cougars would beat Todd County Central and end the State’s longest losing streak. I like what Coach Adler is doing down off Bowling Green Road in Russellville. I predict they double their win total from 2016 and the Cougars gain some momentum!
Fulton County (1A) – On an 24 game losing streak! I am going ALL-IN for the Pilots (great nickname!) on September 2 at cross-town arch-rival Fulton City.
Todd County Central (2A) – Breckinridge County, Fort Knox, Caverna, Hopkins County Central, and Fulton City are the early opponents. Surely, the Rebels can get ONE of those, Right???
Muhlenberg County (6A) – Solid 2016 Campaign at 7 and 4, but All-Mustang Hunter Combs graduates. District foes other than McCracken County(?) are manageable.
Caverna (1A) – Did not register 1 extra point during the entire 2016 season. Went for 2 every time. “Why did you go for 2 Coach Hayes? (Woody Hayes – Legendary Ohio State Coach in a game vs arch-rival Michigan) – “Because they wouldn’t let me go for 3!” My kind of team – Go Colonels! Also did not register a win in 2016. Hope that changes for new Head Coach Eric Lasley!

Game of the Week – Week 0: #5 Hopkinsville at #10 South Warren 8/18/17 @7PM
Hopkinsville has many fine athletes, but could be mis-firing early in the season, like a shiny 57 Chevy with two of its primary spark plugs missing (in ultra-talented SRs Jalen Johnson and Shorty Cager) when they travel an hour over to Nashville Road in Bowling Green to take on the new look Spartans in their first game as a 5A squad. MANY, MANY variables to diagnose here, but one thing is for sure: our good friend @jcarter will be there and will report on how it plays out. This will be a good and informative matchup of former playoff rivals.

You should also be aware that #4 Franklin Simpson hosts Etown; #9 McCracken County hosts cross town rival Paducah Tilghman; and #5 Owensboro Catholic hosts cross town rival Daviess County and ALL are Fantastic opening week games! If you can’t get excited about those matchups, you may need to take up arts and crafts as a hobby!!!

Pre-Season “Big Droppers”
Adair County (3A) – Down – This is really another curtain call for the best football teams Adair County has ever fielded. 2016 saw the Indians go 8 and 4 after a thrilling 10 and 2 2015 campaign. I really like Coach Clay Stephens and think he is a good coach. I also think the Indians can have a successful season, but more tempered expectations are needed to coincide with the solid schedule Adair plays taking into account those that have graduated off those high-flying teams. I just witnessed Green, Taylor and Hart Counties in Central Hardin’s 7v7 and I was really impressed with all those teams when I didn’t expect to be. So the Indians have their work cut out for them. Best of luck.
Butler County (2A) – The King has passed! But Long Live The King! QB/DB “King” Rex Henderson (1,344 yds rushing with 28 TDs, 28 yards from 2,500 passing yards with 29 TDs vs only 7 INTs, on D he had 4 INTs, 1 fumble recovery, washed the governor’s car (if you made it this far, you deserve to laugh) and 40 tackles)) is the best football player ever to come out of Butler County High School IMO. The Bears went 8 and 4 in his SR year and if someone did more and meant more to his team than Henderson, I’d like to know about it! Best of luck Bears, it will likely be a tough season!

Pre-Season “Big Risers”
Greenwood (5A) – Up – Time is of the essence Gator Fans! Climbing to the summit of High School Football takes talent, good coaching, planning, dedication, and luck. Greenwood has been on that climb. They currently have the school’s best QB in their history. This is his Senior Year. Could this be the year Gator fans? It seems 4 of the 5 ingredients mentioned have assembled along Scottsville Road this year. Add a little of the other ingredient and Look Out 5A!
Owensboro Catholic (2A) – Up – Coach John Edge came to OCath in 2004 and went all the way to the State Championship game losing a tough game to the Belfry Pirates 28-21. Since then, he has continually been building and building and had VERY fine football players – QB Ray Zuberer and LB John Mark Boarman to name just two. But this season, the Aces have Young Talent that contributed significantly last year. If the lines gel, could the Aces ride that momentum past the Mayfield roadblock and Louisville pit-falls all the way to Kroger Field? You tell me…

ALL WEST – PRE-SEASON TEAM (22 Players Total, plus Coach)
QB – Kolbe Langhi, Christian County
QB – Will Warren, Owensboro Catholic
RB – JaTorion Dillard , Hopkinsville
RB – Vonn Williams – Owensboro Catholic
WR – Marquel Tinsley, Daviess County
WR – JaQuon Long, Christian County
WR – Ziyon Kenner, Bowling Green
OL – Tanner Bowles, Glasgow
OL – Trevor Terrell, Mayfield
OL – Jackson Burke, Owensboro
DL – Jacob Lacey, South Warren
DL – Dion Pearson, Franklin Simpson
LB – Justice Dingle, Bowling Green
LB – Kyle Hurt, Mayfield
LB – Jacob Naylor, Russellville
DB – Saul Brady, Franklin Simpson
DB – Trel Riley, Caldwell County
S – Cory Trice, Christian County
S – Imonte Owsley, Owensboro
Athlete – Vito Tisdale, Bowling Green
Athlete – Jackson Adams, Greenwood
K – Taylor Harton, Hopkinsville (made 13 FGs and 40 XPs – most FGs I could find!)
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 implemented a passing attack last season and it was IMO the difference in losing early in the playoffs vs making it all the way to the 4A State Championship Game – 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?