With high school football starting in Northern Kentucky this week, we thought you might enjoy a look at the preseason state rankings, exclusive of class, for every team here as compiled by the MaxPreps people. The bad news: No Northern Kentucky team is in the Top 19.
The good news: There are three teams in the Top 25 rankings – No 20 Covington Catholic, No. 22 Highlands, and No. 24 Beechwood.
Here are the Top 10: 1) Boyle County, 2) Lexington Frederick Douglass, 3) Louisville St Xavier, 4) Louisville Trinity, 5) Louisville Male, 6) Lexington Christian, 7) South Warren, 8) Woodford County, 9) Owensboro, 10) Lexington Bryan Station. Hard to argue with the Louisville schools and Boyle and Woodford County. Not sure of the Lexington schools or Owensboro who never quite seem to live up to the hype.
Now for the rankings for the rest of Northern Kentucky: 29) Dixie Heights, 31) Ryle, 40) Conner, 60) Cooper, 63) Scott, 64) Newport Central Catholic, 66) Simon Kenton, 69) Campbell County, 84) Covington Holmes, 100) Boone County, 125) Covington Holy Cross, 136) Bishop Brossart, 143) Walton-Verona, 154) Lloyd Memorial, 176) Newport, 178) Ludlow, 186) Dayton, 214) Bellevue.
Quick hits here: At No. 214, Bellevue is ranked ahead of nine teams so the numbers-challenged Tigers are not at the very bottom and good for them . . . we’re thinking Beechwood is probably under-valued here . . . we’ll let CovCath and Highlands show us how far back the Colonels and Bluebirds have come this fall . . . hearing good things about Cooper so 60 may be a little low . . . same for Holmes and Dayton, who may have the talent to move higher than they’re picked although forecasting exact numbers this early is probably a little crazy.
*** ANOTHER NUMBERS STORY: The first game in the state of Kentucky this Thursday has stadium-less Newport (after the venerable Newport Stadium was condemned) hosting Mason County at Thomas More, we see the beginning of something of a trend here. Looking at the entire season’s schedule for Northern Kentucky teams, we see 14 games not being played on Fridays, the night set aside forever, it seems, for high school football games. And of those games, nine will be played on Thursdays.
“Not enough officials,” one coach after another said was the reason. Some weeks with too many home games here, there just had to be some shuffling. And at the preseason scrimmages we attended, we did see a number of new officials being worked into the game. So if you’re out at a game this year and see a call you may not like, maybe it’s a new official out there giving it their all and making it possible for teams to play the game. Without them, there would be no game. So cut ’em a break.
One other note here: How important it is for programs like Thomas More and Covington Catholic to have artificial turf surfaces and the ability to make their stadiums available to schools without home fields this season — Newport, Holy Cross, and Newport Central Catholic.
*** TWO TEAMS HERE IN STATE’S TOP 7 VOLLEYBALL: In preseason polling by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association, defending state champ St. Henry is No. 6 in Kentucky with Notre Dame right behind at No. 7. Interestingly, with nine first-place votes, St. Henry trailed only top pick Louisville Assumption’s 17 in the first-place category. Other ranked Northern Kentucky teams are Ryle at No. 15, Cooper at No. 16 and Covington Holy Cross at No. 21. If you want to check out the rankings, head to Park Hills Wednesday where Notre Dame will host No. 2 Louisville Sacred Heart with Conner visiting Notre Dame later in the day.
*** NOTRE DAME SOCCER NO. 10 IN NATION: According to the United Soccer Coaches national rankings, Notre Dame’s defending Kentucky state champions are the preseason No. 10 team in the nation. And right ahead of Cincinnati’s Mt. Notre Dame at No. 11. The only other Kentucky team ranked is No. 22 South Oldham, the team Notre Dame (28-0-1) defeated 1-0 last year for the Kentucky state championship. The top three teams nationally are No. 1 Skyline of Salt Lake City, No. 2 Bearden of Knoxville, Tenn., and No. 3 Homestead of Ft. Wayne, Ind.
No boys’ teams in Kentucky are ranked in the Top 25 nationally although state champ Paul Laurence Dunbar of Lexington, the team that beat Covington Catholic, 2-1, in the championship game a year ago, is ranked No. 26.
*** ONE MORE REMINDER: The Annual Summer Reunion for the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame is Wednesday, from 5-9 p.m., at the Garden of Park Hills, 1622 Dixie Highway, right next to Covington Catholic High School. For $10, you’ll have a great time talking sports with lots of the folks who have been playing sports — and talking about them — in Northern Kentucky for as long as any of us can remember. Your admission includes food with a cash bar and a chance to split the pot and win cool door prizes. And it’s for a heck of a cause. This is the sole fundraiser for the NKSHOF’s scholarship program that awarded seven $1,000 college scholarships this year to Northern Kentucky high school students.