Scott County’s drop from 6A to 5A football has been in name only to this point, with three consecutive wins over now-larger schools staking the Cardinals to a 4-0 start.
This week’s opponent, Emmerich Manual of Indianapolis, is at least a behind-the-scenes sign of the new times, however, and an indicator that the Cards are in somewhat of a no-man’s land.
They’re too strong for most of the larger schools in this neck of the woods, but not quite ready with a class of 31 seniors to sign a two-year contract with the likes of a Cincinnati foe such as Moeller, LaSalle or Elder.
Which explains why SC will take on an Indiana team Friday that is 0-4 and not likely to pose much of a threat.
“I haven’t seen their video yet, but I don’t think they’re extremely strong,” SC coach Jim McKee said after Friday’s 49-7 rout of Bryan Station.
“It’s very, very hard for us to get games. It’s a really a tight little squeeze, because I’m not really sure we want a home-and-home with a GCL (Greater Catholic League) team right now, and surrounding people aren’t really looking to play us.
“This is a team that contacted us, and they were really interested in the financial end of things. So we’ll get after it. It’s homecoming. We’ll try to get a big crowd there and have fun.”
This is the fifth consecutive season that Scott County has faced an out-of-state opponent. As McKee noted, the others were prep powers from an hour north in Cincinnati.
Elder swept Scott County in 2015 and 2016. SC expanded the challenge to include two such teams in 2017 and 2018, splitting with Moeller — including an unforgettable 10-7 win last year at Lockland Stadium — and dropping both contests against LaSalle.
Emmerich Manual, established in 1895 and the alma mater of athletes who have gone on to NFL, NBA and MLB careers, is a school of about 700 students.
The football team won five games in 2017 and four last season but is off to an 0-4 start. Its closest loss was 22-20 to Purdue Poly on Aug. 30. Indy rivals Heritage Christian and Covenant Christian shut out the Redskins by a combined score of 77-0. They also fell 35-6 to Brown County of Nashville, Indiana.
Emmerich and in-state opponents DuPont Manual, Ballard and Ryle all are new to the SC schedule this season along with first-time district games against Great Crossing, Montgomery County and Grant County.
Great Crossing played the closest game of its inaugural season Friday night, a 37-14 loss to Woodford County that was a six-point game late in the second quarter.
Next up, the Warhawks will go to East Jessamine (2-2) for a game against a team that has made its living off tight games. All four of the Jaguars’ contests have been settled by a touchdown, including Friday’s 41-35 loss to 1A Paintsville.
East Jessamine also fell 35-28 to Franklin County, a top-10 team in 4A, before topping Lincoln County, 42-35, in overtime. The other win was 28-21 over Paul Laurence Dunbar.
GC hosts Dunbar next week, Sept. 27, in its non-district finale before a bye week.
One month into the season, and now working with a four-game sample, the KHSAA has released its initial, preliminary RPI standings for all high school football classes.
Patterned after the ranking systems that are used to determine participants for the college football playoff and NCAA basketball tournament, the RPI will only be used to set match-ups and game sites for the third and fourth rounds of the playoffs in November.
In the past, districts were placed in the playoff grid on a rotating basis, with the home team for all state semifinal games determined prior to the season.
The RPI measures winning percentage and strength of schedule while discounting margin of victory, so as to discourage running up the score against weaker opponents.
Class 5A ranking currently show Covington Catholic on top with an RPI factor of .786, with Scott County second at .701.
Frederick Douglass (.671), Owensboro (.634) and Pulaski County (.631) round out the top five.
It should be pointed out that the RPI will have no impact on the first two rounds of the playoffs, which will essentially be a replay of the district season and seeded by the regular-season result of district game.
That means SC and Douglass, widely regarded as two of the top five teams in all of Class 5A, can meet no later than the second round of the playoffs, with the winner of their upcoming game Sept. 27 in Lexington likely hosting the rematch.
First start for Hudson
Fans of Scott County football saw a familiar face at noon Saturday if they were tuned in for the Virginia Tech-Furman game on ACC Network.
The announcers mentioned SC graduate Bryan Hudson less than a minute into the broadcast, noting the true freshman’s first career start at center in only his third game with the Hokies, complete with a graphic showing his hometown of Georgetown, Kentucky.
Hudson played the entire second half in last week’s win over Old Dominion and was on the field for the entirety of Saturday’s 24-17 win over Furman. The Paladins posted a surprising 14-3 lead before the Hokies rallied, improving to 2-1 on the season.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.