Whitesburg KY

Letcher vs. Clay is best match-up

The KHSAA started it’s new Class 6A football playoffs last Friday with the No. 4 seed in each district playing at the No. 1 seed and the No. 3 seed playing at the No. 2 seed’s home field. Most of the games were ugly and not very competitive at all. Several games had the “running clock” rule in effect in the second half – something no player or coach on either side wants to be a part of.

These type games are what causes interest to fade among those students who are entering high school and making decisions on whether they want to be a part of this type program. As for the winners, they learn nothing in these games and develop a false sense of just how good they are and what part of their game needs improvement.

Regardless of the lopsided wins, more than half of the high schools across the Commonwealth were busy this week putting up their helmets and shoulder pads for the winter, while the winners in each area of the state were preparing for the districtchampionship game in their respective class.

Here is a look at some of this weeks match ups and a few random notes on high school sports:

• Best playoff game to watch in the mountains this Friday if your team has been eliminated is at Whitesburg between Clay County and Letcher County Central. The first match was at Manchester, and LCC came from behind in the second half to win a thriller, 40-37. This one should be every bit as exciting, with the winner more than likely advancing to play Ft. Thomas Highlands, that football factory up in northern Kentucky that has more state championships than all the mountain powerhouses combined.

• My thoughts on who has the best shot at a state championship from the mountains at Papa John’s Stadium in December are still Bell County, Belfry and Hazard, with Breathitt County and Corbin having an outside chance.

• The only mild surprise coming out of the first week of the playoffs would be Rockcastle County shutting out Knox Central at Barbourville, 14-0. I guess old warriors like Tom Larkey don’t go down easy when their reputation is on the line. Look for the Rockets to play Bell County tough this weekend and come back strong next season and return the old Rockcastle County standards.

• Perry Central gave a gallant effort last Friday against a good Clay County team, but losing junior all-purpose back Demetri Travis the week before against Prestonsburg was just too much to overcome. Of more importance now in the Commodore camp is keeping Coach Bert Browne intact. Rumors have been circulating that Browne feels unappreciated, especially by some in administration, and would also like to see some improvements made in his facilities.

Perry Central is in its 13th year and still is using basically the same stadium that was built for M.C. Napier High School in the mid-70s. Browne has given the school its only two winning seasons – 7-3 records in 2002 and again in 2007 – and, this year, the school’s first home play-off game.

Browne returns all but one of his skilled players for 2008, but that may not be enough unless some provisions are made to show him a commitment is there from everyone associated with PCC football. The PCC middle school team won the Sandy Valley championship this fall, which should imply that more help is on the way.

• Remember that the KHSAA state football championships will be played in two three-game sets on Friday, December 7 and Saturday, December 8 at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville. More teams and more players means it may be smart to obtain hotel reservations quickly and not take a chance.

• Next week we will publish our pre-season boys’ basketball top teams and players for each of the mountain regions in the KHSAA Sweet 16.

Ira D. Combs lives in the Perry County community of Jeff and is a former high school athletics director. He now operates Tri-State Sports Services Inc. His e-mail address is icombsno14@tvscable.com

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