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Dan Weber's Just Sayin': NKY Volleyball Honors; Football Playoffs Open

Dan Weber writes a sports column for The River City News. Contact him at dweber3440@aol.com.

It's volleyball week in Kentucky with the final eight teams moving on to George Rogers Clark High School's Cardinal Arena in Winchester Friday and Saturday to determine the state's top team.

But already decided by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association is who the best player in the state is. And we're JUST SAYIN' heck of a job by Ryle's Lucy Trump, named Miss Kentucky Volleyball, a 6-foot senior outside hitter headed to the University of Notre Dame. She is the first Miss Volleyball from Ryle and only the third from a public school in the state. Lucy had 463 kills and a .295 hitting percentage.

Other Northern Kentuckians honored along with Trump: First team all-state: Julia Hunt (Covington Holy Cross), Sydney Nolan (Notre Dame), Taylor Preston (St. Henry) and Trump. Second team: Emily Bentley (Notre Dame), Rylee McKinney (Campbell County), Abigail Schaefer (St. Henry).

St. Henry opens state play Friday at 2 p.m. vs. Bowling Green with the winner taking on the West Jessamine-Sacred Heart winner in Saturday's semis at 10 a.m. Central Hardin plays Montgomery County at 5 with Boyd County-Mercy finishing at 7. The championship game is Saturday at 7. 

Local policy will require everyone, except for competing athletes and officials, to wear face coverings. If you'd like a championship program, click here.

*** CONGRATS TO THE BEARCATS . . . As we begin football playoffs this week, nice work by the Walton-Verona Bearcats, voted the 2021 Sportsmanship Award by the Northern Kentucky Officials Association. Good job by Coach Jeffrey Barth and his team . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** GOING, GOING, GONE . . . Bellevue High School sports historian Mike Swauger reminds us this week that of the six finalists in the first-ever Kentucky State High School Football Championships in 1959 -- there were just three classes in those early years -- four are no longer high schools. That would be Henderson City in 2A, which beat Highlands 12-7. And Henderson Douglas, which lost 40-0 to Lynch East Main, also gone. And Louisville Durrett, which lost 41-14 to Louisville Manual. Guess it takes more than football for a school to survive . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** BRACKET THIS . . . For those of you trying to figure out how the playoffs will play out for your team as it proceeds through the brackets, the KHSAA doesn't make it easy. Here's how it works. The first two weeks will go according to the KHSAA brackets with the 1-4, 2-3 games and the winners playing. But that gets it down to the final eight. Then forget the brackets. RPI rules from here on. And that's just a regular season ranking since RPI does not factor in postseason games.

But there's a twist for the quarterfinals. They go by geography. Teams 1-4 in the East will play each other in the 1-4, 2-3 format. Same for the West. Then throw out geography for the semis when anybody in the final four can play anybody else no matter where they are in the state.

Here's one projection on how the semis would look based strictly on RPI in all games. Not a great look for Northern Kentucky here: Class A: Kentucky Country Day at Russellville, Raceland at Pikeville; Class 2A: Mayfield at Beechwood, Middlesboro at Lexington Christian; Class 3A: Bell County at Christian Academy of Louisville, East Carter at Glasgow; Class 4A: Franklin County at Corbin, Logan County at Boyle County; Class 5A: South Warren at Woodford County, Owensboro at Frederick Douglass: Class 6A: Ryle at Male, Bryan Station at St. Xavier.

One game that jumps out here -- Mayfield at Beechwood. That's a 320-mile jaunt for Mayfield to get to Ft. Mitchell. Fire up the school buses. The hunch here is that there will be more than two Northern Kentucky teams in the semis although any additional teams will have to win a road game to get there thanks to the RPI . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** KICKING OFF . . . The KHSAA has announced kickoff times and dates for the football finals at UK'S Kroger Field: Friday, Dec. 3 - Class 1A, noon; Class 2A, 4 p.m.; Class 4A, 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 4 - Class 3A, noon; Class 5A, 4 p.m.; Class 6A, 8 p.m. Might be a two-day deal for Northern Kentucky football fans if it's Beechwood and Ryle . . . JUST SAYIN'. 

*** FOLLOW NATE . . . Want to keep up with high school sports in Kentucky? Here's a great follow on twitter -- Nate Bryan @NateInSports. No one does a better job staying on top of everything that's going down all around the state . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** BIG BAND ERA . . . As we've noted through the fall, it's not been easy coming back from the Covid pandemic that canceled last season's state competition for Kentucky's high school bands but here are a couple from Northern Kentucky who led the way at the state marching bands championships Saturday at Kroger Field. In a competition for the state's top 30 bands in five classes, Beechwood won in Class 2A and Ryle finished fourth in Class 5A. Lexington Lafayette won its 22nd title in Class 5A with a 212-member band, largest in the state . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** NO REAL SURPRISE HERE . . . Wondering what the problem is for UK's slipping Wildcat football team after getting whipped soundly at Mississippi State Saturday. How about this: Since Week 4, UK quarterback Will Levis is 0-10 on passes longer than 20 yards in the air. Do you know how physically superior a team would have to be to have a successful offense and not be able to throw the ball down the field? Why do you think all the old line SEC powers (Alabama, Georgia and LSU) in recent years have found quarterbacks, receivers and offensive coordinators who know how to throw the ball vertically. You cannot beat good teams -- especially on the road -- in the SEC if you can't make them honor the deep ball . . . JUST SAYIN'. 

--Dan Weber

Photo: Beechwood faces Covington Catholic in a game that the Tigers would go on to win earlier this season (Brian Frey/RCN)