Only one local team remains at the top of its class in the latest Kentucky Associated Press high school football poll.
Bowling Green received all 16 first-place votes to hold on to the No. 1 ranking in Class 5A. South Warren’s reign at the top of 4A came to an end with its 17-16 loss Friday at 5A Greenwood.
The Spartans (2-1) fell three spots to No. 4 while receiving a pair of first-place votes. Franklin-Simpson (3-0) moved up to No. 2 in the 4A poll, receiving three first-place votes, and Johnson Central took over as the new No. 1 team.
Greenwood, which hosts Franklin-Simpson on Friday, jumped four spots to No. 6 in Class 5A.
Glasgow’s rout over Barren County last week improved its spot to No. 9 in Class 2A.
Russellville, which defeated Butler County 50-42, fell one spot to No. 3 in Class A.
Paintsville (3-0) took the top spot in this week’s Class A poll by edging Beechwood (2-0) in total points 167-162 despite earning eight first-place votes to Beechwood’s nine.
Russellville earned one first-place vote and received 135 points.
Here’s a look at the area’s Week 4 games involving top 10 teams:
5A No. 1 Bowling Green (3-0) at 5A No. 4 Owensboro (2-1)
4A No. 2 Franklin-Simpson (3-0) at 5A No. 6 Greenwood (3-0)
4A No. 4 South Warren (2-1) at 6A No. 10 Central Hardin (3-0)
Allen County-Scottsville (1-2) at 2A No. 9 Glasgow (2-0)
Class A No. 3 Russellville (3-0) at Logan County (0-3)
Greenwood program taking next step?
The Gators pulled off arguably the biggest upset in the state Friday with its win over South Warren. Greenwood had lost its only three meetings with the Spartans by an average of five touchdowns and South had won 17 straight games.
While the win is one for the books in Greenwood’s program, have the Gators taken that “next step” head coach Chris Seabolt preached about in the preseason?
“I think it’s to be determined,” Seabolt said. “As I told those guys Monday, that game was just another game. Football is a sport where anybody can beat anybody on any given night, so I think the real opportunity for us is to see if we can do it two weeks in a row against two really good programs. I think this Friday will be much more of a test for our program in terms of what we can sustain from last Friday.”
That next test for Greenwood is another Class 4A opponent in No. 2 Franklin Simpson (3-0) this Friday at Gator Stadium at 7 p.m.
Seabolt hasn’t had to worry much about his offense, so he was especially pleased to see his defense shut out South Warren for a half and ultimately stop a two-point conversion attempt to seal the victory.
The Gators’ pressure and attention to detail in the game plan, Seabolt said, helped four defenders record 10 or more tackles.
Junior defensive back Dakota Ford recorded 12 tackles, including the game-saving stop of South backup QB Cameron Harrison and had an interception. Xezayier Snorton had 15 tackles while Malcolm Johnson and Michael Hathaway had 11 apiece.
Those four led a defense that Seabolt thought made a statement early.
“(South Warren was) in a little bit of a shock, possibly,” Seabolt said. “People just hit their landmarks, trusted each other and trusted the defense and did what they were coached to and the result is what you saw. That’s probably the best game defensively we’ve played since I’ve been here in four years.”
Spartans’ loss serves as wakeup call
Anything that could have gone wrong certainly did last week for South Warren.
“If you were to draw up the perfect blueprint for how to lose a game ... we followed it to the T in the first half,” Spartans’ coach Brandon Smith said after practice Tuesday. “To be honest with you – and we talked about this as a team – it didn’t come as a shock. We saw that coming the last couple of months really. We all agreed that we have changes we had to make on our preparation, our attitude and everything.”
As a result, Smith said the Spartans’ Labor Day practice was their most productive practice in three months.
“When that happens, that story ends one of two ways: It’s the beginning of a change and it wakes you up and you realize some things and you look yourself in the mirror and you make some changes for the positive and turn your season around, or it’s the start of a miserable year. I think through two days (since the loss), we’ve got the right attitude.”
The Spartans will move on from the loss and play its first true road game at Class 6A No. 10 Central Hardin, but South will feel the lingering loss of some key players.
Senior wide receiver C.J. Hayes left the Greenwood game with a shoulder injury and could be out for two to four weeks, Smith said. Senior QB Ryder Litten left the second half with a hip injury and is week-to-week.
The Spartans will also likely be without three senior offensive linemen. Smith said senior C.J. Hickman is probably out for the rest of the season (knee), senior Kade Lawrence is out with a concussion and Nick French could possibly miss time with a non-injury related medical concern.
Junior Cody Eblen will likely start at quarterback if Litten can’t go against Central Hardin, an opponent that Smith believes will be the ultimate test of physicality.
“I think that’s an area that we need to show some improvement on,” the coach said. “It’ll be another good gauge to see where we’re at and how we respond.”
Kicking like a queen
Franklin-Simpson’s Maddie Alexander will probably never forget her senior homecoming.
Not long after she was named the Wildcats’ 2016 homecoming queen, Alexander successfully kicked 7 of 8 extra point attempts in Franklin-Simpson’s 55-6 win over Metcalfe County on Friday.
Alexander has made 13 PATs this year as the place kicker for the Wildcats after becoming the first female to score in a football game for Franklin-Simpson last year as a junior.
Alexander is also playing soccer and running cross country for FSHS this fall.
— Follow sports reporter Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit bgdailynews.com.