Rankings and recent scores might suggest that Paul Laurence Dunbar isn't quite on par with the Franklin County and Bryan Station football teams that have defeated Scott County this season.
And yes, the history of the SC-PLD rivalry is rife with running clocks and one Cardinal victory after another.
Just be warned that these aren't your big brother's Bulldogs barking sheepishly at the gates of Birds Nest Stadium as they arrive for Friday's 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
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Dunbar is coming off consecutive winning seasons after more than a decade without even sniffing one, including an appearance in last December's Class 6A semi-state round.
And after absorbing their last two losses from undefeated Woodford County and Frederick Douglass, the Bulldogs (1-3) aren't likely to be intimidated by yet another ranked 5A foe in the Cardinals (1-2).
It's a high-powered PLD offense averaging just under 30 points per game, although that total is skewed by a 69-28 rout of last-minute replacement Breathitt County in the season opener.
Scott County has seen its share of double-threat quarterbacks so far, and Cole Colony is another. Colony has completed 43 of 80 passes for 527 yards and four touchdowns while also leading the Bulldogs in rushing with 274 yards and three scores.
Kamarion Robinson supplements the running game with 269 yards and six TD.
Colony's two big-play receivers, Shyhiem Drew and Andrew Jones, each have nine catches for 196 and 169 yards, respectively.
Turnovers and untimely penalties likely cost Scott County only its third loss to Bryan Station in the past 23 seasons. Trenton Cutwright’s touchdown scramble gave the Defenders a 25-21 win after the Cardinals led by two scores early in the fourth quarter.
The result aside, SC’s schedule keeps the Cardinals in the customary conversation as one of the top teams in Class 5A. The Cards are ranked No. 9 in the current Associated Press media poll. They’re sixth in 5A according to the Dave Cantrall ratings published by the Lexington Herald-Leader and 23rd overall in the state.
Jeremy Hamilton continued his terrific senior season on the all-purpose play making front with a leaping, one-handed touchdown catch in the fourth quarter against Bryan Station. Two of his three catches from freshman QB Andrew Hickey have gone for touchdowns.
Hamilton also averages six yards per carry and has two scores on the ground.
SC has gotten back to its traditional look of grinding out yards up the middle with fullback Montago Jones (206 yards, three TD) while hitting the edge with Thomas Feickert (121 yards, two TD) and Hamilton. That attack could receive a major boost if super-senior Campton Martin is able to return after a four-week injury layoff.
Takeaways have been the theme on the defensive end the past two weeks, with Hamilton, Andrew Willhite, Isaac Krebs and Danny Armstrong all notching interceptions. Elijah Adams is the Cardinals’ leading tackler with ample support from Krebs, Willhite and Hamilton.