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NEKY Rivalry Night Preview


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My previous blog gained a lot of interest from Kentucky high school hoop fans across the Commonwealth. The list has grown since I penned my last blog. Bobby Watson and Bob Mulcahy highlight the additions to the list of people who have both played and coached in the Sweet 16. Each won state titles as a player and as a coach. Greg McQueary, Dave Faust, Gene Rhodes, Marty Cline, Greg Baughn, Randy Embry, Greg Longacre, and Bo Davenport also joined the elite group. Ron Dawn joins Rodney Rowe as coaches who took both boys' and girls' teams to the state tourneys and also played in the Sweet 16. Now it is time to preview a couple of rivalry games in the area Friday night.


Who will suit up for the Ashland Tomcats Friday night? That seems to be the common question surrounding the annual matchup between rivals Ashland and Russell Friday night. Noah Roberts will definitely be back but Kurtlen Brown's status seem to be in question. Whoever is on the Tomcat offense they will face the area's best defense through the early part of the 2016 season. The Red Devil defense is a complete group that plays with great effort and determination. It is obvious they have bought in to Coach TJ Maynard and assistant coach Garry Morris's schemes and have caused havoc on their first two opponents. Ashland has struggled offensively in their two losses and some changes may happen on that side of the ball. Quarterback Braxton Ratliff kept the Tomcats in the game against Raceland but was pulled from the game at George Washington in favor of fellow sophomore Will Adkins. The addition of Roberts and possibly Brown will definitely help the Tomcat signal callers.. The addition of senior Evan Ison gave the Devils a boost last week in their win over Ironton.


The Russell offense continues to be a work in progress. Nick Conley did earn a tough 100 yards last week and quarterback Austin Smith made some nifty runs out of the pocket. Raceland did have success through the air against the Tomcats. I look for the Devils to have a balanced attack by utilizing Landon Brewer and Drey Boehm in the passing game to open up some running lanes for Conley. The offensive line must control the line of scrimmage this week.


I expect another close game at Putnam Stadium Friday night. Field position could once again be huge in a low scoring affair. Punters Tate Dowdy and Grant Wilburn have both been very good in dictating field position for their respective teams. I am getting the feeling this Devil team has great chemistry and can find ways to win. Another late Russell touchdown and a stellar defensive effort will give the Red Devi Nation bragging rights for the year along with their first two game win streak at Putnam Stadium since 2000.




The inaugural Iron Bowl will take place in Lloyd on Friday night. The Musketeers, fresh off an exciting win over Fleming County 31-30, will try to put a dent in the recent domination of the county by the Raceland Rams. Their last win over their county rival was 2010. Former Ram assistant Scott Grizzle takes on his alma mater for the first time as a head coach. Emotions will be high on both sidelines Friday night.


The Rams demolished East Carter 52-6 last Saturday and come in at an impressive 3-0 under Coach Mike Salmons. They will face a strong Musketeer defense that has been stubborn against the run in its three games this season. Pass happy Fleming County put up 30 points a week ago on the strength of its passing game. Quarterback Nathan Davidson has been very impressive in the passing game to complement the area's leading rusher Bailey Walker. I see the Rams passing game being critical on Friday night.


The Greenup County offense showed some signs of life in their win last week. Cade Warnock has made the most of his opportunities by averaging eight yards a carry. Jharrell Jackson, operating the Wildcat formation, has been effective at times as well. The Rams defense, anchored by Isaac Wallace and Jerome Hall, has been stout in their three victories. I look for the Rams to stack the box and make Chase Hunt make some plays in the passing game. The Musketeers will need some explosive plays on offense to win this game. Jake Wright has that type of playmaking ability for Greenup County.


There probably won't be many secrets in this encounter. The Musketeers will be emotionally charged from the opening kickoff. I think this game will be close for three quarters thanks to the GC defense. The Rams depth and strength will take over in the fourth quarter and the Rams will win the coveted Iron Bowl Trophy. Ram Nation will have Bowling Green on their mind as the Rams improve to 4-0.






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