There once was a boy who always sat in the classroom’s back row.
He quietly and diligently racked up good grades, one after another, year after year.
He aced the toughest of tests, turned in even the most tedious of assignments and was never late.
He challenged himself with the tallest tasks, and the most time-consuming projects.
When the teacher asked a question, he hardly ever raised his hand, never answering until called upon. He didn’t crave extra attention.
The majority of the time, his steady yet silent success went unnoticed.
One day, though, the boy snapped. He broke out of his shell like a butterfly crushing through a chrysalis.
His voice had to be heard. His personality, it had to shine.
He couldn’t sit back any longer and let life pass him by.
Johnson Central, you have our full attention.
The Golden Eagles felt like they delivered a message on Friday night. Their coach had something to get off his chest after his team gave Ironton its first loss of the season in Paintsville.
“We wanted to make a statement that we play on a big level,” said Johnson Central ninth-year coach Jim Matney.
“We keep having big wins and big wins everywhere but it’s kind of like, oh, it’s that school in the mountains,” he added. “It doesn’t seem like we ever get any respect. It’s an absolute continuing battle over the nine years I’ve been here to win respect.”
Johnson Central is 81-24 overall under Matney, and the Golden Eagles have been superb at home in his years.
It’s a beautiful stadium, by the way, for those who haven’t seen it.
Last season, J.J. Jude set the state career rushing record. Matney deemed the overall perception unaffected.
“We had the state’s all-time leading rusher, and they are still doubters,” he said. “People are like, well he’s OK, but he’s not that good because he plays at Johnson Central.
“We’re very motivated by the fact that we’re stereotyped. We’re very motivated by the fact that no matter how well we do, our kids never seem to get any credit.”
Matney jumped off his soapbox, but not before revisiting a past instance that summed up his point.
“One year (2007) we had Louisville Central 42-0 at the half, and the next year the University of Kentucky signs three of their players,” Matney said. “None of our kids were ever offered.”
Johnson Central, we see that hand raised.
Got any since?
‰Ashland hasn’t had this dominant a five-year stretch against Boyd County since ... ever. The Tomcats hold an average winning margin of 37.2 points in the last five in the series.
‰Russell’s defense has given up fewer than 10 points in three straight games. The Red Devils haven’t strung four such efforts in a row since ... 2004. Mason County is next up to try to crack into double digits on the Devils.
‰Lawrence County had not won two games by fewer than six points in the same season since ... 1991. Under Billy Goldsmith, the Bulldogs beat Russell 18-15 and Mason County 20-14 in the playoffs. This season, the Down-to-the-Wire Dawgs have emerged on the smiling side of the scoreboard twice in the final seconds of action — they edged Prestonsburg, 42-41, in Week 3 and Sheldon Clark, 39-33, on Friday.
Four stickers: Cade O’Bryan (Ashland), Jordan Young (Johnson Central), Elijah King (Fairview), Quinton Baker (Ashland), A.J. Cyrus (Lawrence County).
Every week, O’Bryan just makes plays. He gets some extra ink when scoops and scores, but he’s been steady all season long. The senior defensive end is a dynamic dimension to an already good front group without him. In other words, he makes them great.
Young didn’t have an especially stellar start on Friday, but his tough running paid off as it paved the way to a 176-yard, two-TD performance against Ironton.
King is making up for lost time. In just three games, the explosive Eagle has assembled a season’s worth of statistics. On Friday against Grove City Christian, the senior dashed for 225 yards and two TDs to go along with a 56-yard interception return for a score.
Baker is keeping the pedal to the metal. He eclipsed the 200-yard mark for the second time in his young career and found paydirt thrice.
As for Cyrus, he led the Bulldogs back to defeat Sheldon Clark with four rushing touchdowns. He tallied 175 yards on the ground.
Three: Bryant Cathey (Russell), Chris Brewer (Fairview), Aaron Stephens (Ironton), Ricky Goble (Lawrence County).
Two: Tanner Dutey (Ironton), Zach Gound (Johnson Central), Gage Stevens (Russell), Matt Hall (Johnson Central), Blake Prince (Lawrence County).
One: Josh Gound (Johnson Central), Jason Smith (Boyd County), Aaron Elam (Ashland), Mason Rutherford (Fairview), Jimmy Preston (Johnson Central), Lance Evans (Russell).
1. Johnson Central (5-1)
2. Ashland (5-1)
3. Raceland (5-1)
4. Fairview (6-0)
5. Russell (4-2)
6. Lawrence County (3-4)
7. Rowan County (3-4)
NOTE: The battle for the No. 1 and No. 3 spots are extremely close to call. Too close for comfort, really. Remember, don’t take these too seriously. It’s just my opinion. It’ll be settled on the field soon enough (Raceland-Fairview, Oct. 12; Ashland-Johnson Central, Oct. 19).
Class failed! Hardly anybody turned in an assignment and Mr. QB is giving you a week’s detention.
Study hard, and maybe you’ll get next week’s question right.
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AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.