Rowan County’s not quite the offensive juggernaut it was a season ago.
But when the Vikings played Ashland, it didn’t matter anyway. The team that had averaged 46 points a game heading into the district opener managed a measly 10 as the Tomcats put up a wall.
Vikings coach Kyle Singleton takes his bunch to Putnam Stadium on Friday night as both teams open district play.
And it’s not the same story, by any means, with Adam Wing, Stephen Williamson, Phillip Hodge and other heavy contributors/leaders no longer in tow.
However, Rowan County is still putting up 30 points a game behind some talented players.
It starts with Justin Graham, a sophomore under center.
“Their quarterback has done a great job with running their offense,” said Ashland coach Leon Hart.
Graham’s 677 total yards of offense and 11 touchdowns (seven rushing, four passing) have helped put Singleton at ease.
Graham, though, is day-to-day with an ankle injury suffered in last week’s 21-20 loss at West Jessamine.
According to Singleton, freshman Devin Helvey will start at QB if Graham can’t go — backup Stephen Jones (concussion) is still sidelined.
In the backfield, Rowan County possesses power (5-foot-10, 190-pound Keontae Moore) and speed (5-9, 160 Chris Baker).
“They’ve got two completely different running styles,” Singleton said.
Moore plowed his way to 109 yards and a TD, while Baker had 74 yards and a fourth-quarter TD last week.
Hart is more concerned about the speed aspect of the Tomcats’ opponent’s game. Ironton’s roadrunner, Patrick Lewis, ripped off three 50-plus-yard TD runs in Ashland’s 27-17 loss last Friday.
“Speed burned us a week ago,” Hart said. “We can’t let people get loose on us. If everybody stays on their assignments, we’re OK. If we freelance, we’re going to give up big plays.
“(Rowan County) has the capability to put up points,” continued Ashland’s coach. “Their scheme is a very good scheme.”
The Tomcats will run and throw. Aaron Elam tossed 21 times last week, but only nine attempts were successful.
“We’ve got to throw the ball effectively. We want to complete 65 or better percent of our passes,” Hart said. “We’re going to be a little more selective in what we call.”
While both Rowan County (2-3) and Ashland desire more consistency on offense, one constant has been Tomcat freshman Quinton Baker.
Coming off a 22-rush, 134-yard effort, Baker has upped his season tally to 600 yards and nine scores.
“I’ve said all along that it’s a shame that we’re having to ride him,” Hart said. “He’s very talented and I think he’s got a chance to be special, but he’s a 14-year-old kid.”
Ashland (4-1) has also relied on a physical front seven. The fierce group has routinely bottled up backs up the middle, with very few exceptions.
“They have as tough a defense as I’ve seen all year,” Singleton said of Ashland. “We have to be up to the challenge up front.”
There enlied the difference last season. Ashland manhandled the Vikings in the trenches.
Rowan County lost a good deal of size from a year ago on the front lines. Led by three returning starters, in addition to Austin Gilliam and Tre Estill, who just assumed an offensive lineman role this season, the Vikings are more athletic in that area, according to Singleton and Hart.
“Last year they were just huge. They’re much quicker this year,” Hart said.
Ashland’s over its loss to Ironton.
“Last week’s game was a pride game,” Hart said. “This week is a district game. Regardless of what you’ve done to this point, everybody is 0-0 in district play.”
For Rowan County, it’s the same regarding West Jessamine.
No matter the outcome of Friday’s contest, Singleton hopes his team doesn’t lose any of its fight.
“One thing I like about my team is they don’t give up,” Singleton said. “They’ve been down quite a bit but not necessarily out of it. We’ve lost a couple close games but the kids fight to the finish.”
AARON SNYDER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664.
Tomcats, Vikings prepare for district opener
Rowan County’s not quite the offensive juggernaut it was a season ago.
- Local Sports
63rd District baseball: Greenup County outduels Lewis, 7-3
Lightning delayed the 63rd District Tournament championship game several times following the first inning on Tuesday, creating a late night for Greenup County and Lewis County.
Boyd’s Fraley commits to Herd
Boyd County sophomore basketball player Logan Fraley has announced her commitment to Marshall University.
The 5-foot-11 shooting guard informed Marshall women’s coach Matt Daniel of her decision on Monday morning, which was confirmed by Boyd County coach/father Pete Fraley via text message.
63rd softball: Greenup leans on bunting, baserunning; Russell wins
Immersed in another district contest with little breathing room, Greenup County softball coach Eric Keeton resorted to the strengths of his lineup: bunting and baserunning.
Two bunts and a swinging bunt helped the Lady Musketeers scratch across three runs in the fifth inning of a 6-2 victory over Raceland in the 63rd District Tournament opening round on Monday night at Russell High School. Top-seeded Russell defeated Lewis County, also 6-2, earlier in the evening.
Boyd pounds out 11 hits to go along with Grimm’s shutout, 14-0
Robbie Shivel might be a little sore after Monday night, but it was Fairview that left the game battered and bruised.
Boyd County belted out 11 hits to go along with Dylan Grimm's complete-game gem as the Lions roared past Fairview, 14-0, in the opening round of the 64th District Tournament at Ashland's Alumni Field. The game lasted five innings.
Different look, same results for Lady Lions
A longtime fixture in the 64th District softball championship game, Boyd County looked different this return trip.
The Lady Lions defeated Fairview 10-5 in Monday’s district semifinal, which doubled as an Autism Awareness Night. Boyd County players wore light blue shirts and colorful, jigsaw puzzle socks for the event, which had to be rescheduled more than once due to weather problems.
Musketeers explode in final 2 innings to beat Raceland; good times continue for Lewis
Through the first four innings of its 63rd District Tournament opener, Greenup County found itself hitless. The Musketeers made up for it over the next two innings.
Greenup County scored eight runs on eight hits in the final two innings to defeat Raceland, 9-1, at Russell High School on Monday.
The will to win
Opponents get the same look from Emily Stewart whether it’s softball, basketball or soccer season.
Steely eyed and lips pursed, the Boyd County senior is keenly focused and all business between the lines.
THE WEEKLY CYCLE: Holding the key to upset city?
It takes only one game. Few are more firm believers in that fact than the small schools that find themselves in underdog roles year after year.
Locals struggle to make impact
Some days you are the windshield and some days you are the bug.
It is a saying that proved to be all too true for Rowan County on Friday night at the KHSAA Class 2A State Track and Field Championships at the University of Louisville’s Owsley Frazier Cardinal Park.
Womack eliminated in state semis; Rose Hill, Russell doubles also ousted
Fairview senior Kennedy Womack wasn’t her consistent self in Saturday morning’s state tennis semifinals at the University of Kentucky’s Hilary Boone Tennis Complex.
As a result, the top seed fell to Lexington Sayre sophomore Madeline Rolph 6-1, 6-0.
Womack was obviously disappointed with her finish, especially after losing in last year’s state finals, but she was happy for her good friend Rolph.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- 63rd District baseball: Greenup County outduels Lewis, 7-3