One by one, Class 6A opponents from Lexington have gradually slipped from the Scott County football schedule over the years.
It hasn't been hard to understand why. If a team wasn't a district opponent and required to face the Cardinals, few showed an interest in doing so and absorbing what had become an almost annual loss on the docket.
With SC's move to 5A this season, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see any of the four teams remaining in that category go their merry way. And indeed, two did.
To Lafayette and Bryan Station's credit, however, both signed a contract for another home-and-home series. SC survived a fierce fight at Lafayette, 28-19, two weeks ago, and Bryan Station would love to serve up a similar scare on its newly refurbished turf when the former district rivals renew acquaintances at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
That decision to stay in touch might provoke some head-scratching when you consider the history between the two programs, which is the first in our weekly rundown of five trends to watch in this week's game.
Millennial mismatches. Three takeaways helped Bryan Station overcome almost 400 yards allowed in a 28-23 home win over Scott County back on Oct. 17, 2014.
If you distinctly remember that win by the Defenders, perhaps that's because it sticks out like a sore thumb on the list of all-time results. It's the only win for Bryan Station in the series since the turn of the century.
SC pulled away to a 57-18 victory last year, its 18th in the past 19 games against Bryan Station. Aside from the 2014 defeat, the Cards scored fewer than 30 points only other time against the Defenders, a 21-14 victory in 2002. The last time Bryan Station enjoyed a winning season was a 7-5 mark in 2015, and Scott County inflicted two of those losses: 40-24 during the regular season, and 42-30 in the playoffs.
It's easy to say that history doesn't matter once the ball is in the air Friday, but it's also hard for both teams to forget such an extensive body of work. SC has to guard against overconfidence, while Station needs to have a short memory.
Keep pounding the rock. Scott County's mantra after every post-game huddle this season focuses on the number of wins to date and the prospective games remaining. In other words, last week's rallying cry was, “3-0, 12 to go!”
If the Cards indeed go the distance and play all those games, including the implied state final, fullback Philip Garner may end up with video game numbers. Projecting his first three games over that maximum season produces 2,930 yards and an astounding 45 touchdowns.
Scott County has been far from one-dimensional, though. It's the 11.2 yards per carry average of Bronson Brown and the combined six scores for Brown and Jeremy Hamilton on the outside that have exposed the defense's soft underbelly.
Factor in that the Defenders have allowed 352 rushing yards in their first two games and it would seem they're vulnerable to that approach, which is never good news when you're facing the Cards.
And, oh, by the way, three of Cade McKee's eight pass completions have gone for touchdowns. The Cards' consistency on the ground leaves that door wide open, as well.
Will the real Station stand up? Both games have been shutouts for the Defenders. They lost 43-0 to another of the Class 5A title contenders. Frederick Douglass, before blanking West Jessamine, 27-0.
Of course, it's easy to ascribe any success or shortcomings to the opponent in each case, and Scott County obviously is another jump into the deep water coming off the bye week.
Having graduated the two primary weapons of its offense, do-everything quarterback Jalen Burbage and receiver Kendrick Curry, the Defenders are younger and much more ground-oriented. Amodeus Taylor leads Bryan Station with 19 carries for 116 yards, while his team has completed a total of seven passes through two games.
Take it away. On one hand, the Cardinals' young defense has proven vulnerable to the pass to start the season. On the flip side, interception returns for touchdowns by Sam Daniel and Brown show that SC eventually will make you pay for that strategy.
Manual exploited favorable down-and-distance situations and converted the majority of its third down in last week's 48-35 SC win. If the Cards can do a better job backing up the Defenders early and establishing obvious passing downs, a third defensive score is a distinct possibility.
Stay sharp and healthy. The Cards will be heavily favored this week and next against Indianapolis Emmerich Manual before its Sept. 27 showdown at Douglass.
Ideally, the Cards don't give that a second thought while also paying attention to detail, improving their overall product, and getting out with as few bumps ans bruises as possible.