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COLUMN: Reading the papers was a motivation for Bearcats Friday night

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Russell's passer efficiency rating off the charts

By John Herndon

You have to love it when a football player – or any athlete, for that matter, says, “I never read the papers.”

It's always been puzzling to me how those guys who don't read what's in print always seem to know what is printed about them, but we'll leave that for another column.

But Anderson County football is another story. The Bearcats read the papers – this one I hope – and know what is being said about them. Take last Friday's game at Bullitt Central.

Last Monday, Courier-Journal high school sports writer Jason Frakes labeled Anderson-Bullitt Central as the “Game of the Week” in Class 5A statewide on his blog. On another blog a few days later, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Mike Fields listed the game as one of the state's best on the slate for Friday night.

“Some of the guys saw those,” Anderson quarterback Jacob Russell said a few moments after the Bearcats rolled, 42-7. “We knew this was a big game.”

“We talked a little about that,” added head coach Mark Peach.

In other words, the Bearcats knew they had a chance to make a statewide statement. While they had some quality wins, they had come against teams that had few wins to show for it (Meade County) or played at a classification for smaller schools (Henry County), there were still those who foolishly wanted to question the Bearcats' schedule.

While Bullitt Central did not have a resume full of wins over ranked teams on its way to a 6-0 start, it did own wins over Bullitt East and Doss, the latter being a whipping the week before playing Anderson. Bullitt Central also boasted a talented runner in junior Jeremaie Bennett.

A chance for statewide recognition? Perhaps.

For the first time this season, members of the Louisville-area media were in attendance at a Bearcat game. Anderson did not disappoint with one of the most dominating performances in recent memory.

At least there had to be a few eyebrows raised Friday night or Saturday morning when fans across the state saw that Anderson had pounded Bullitt Central. Not so much for the Anderson win, since the Bearcats were slight favorites, but at the margin.

It will be interesting to see if that win translates into more statewide recognition.

**On the other hand, when some athletes say they don't pay attention to any stats other than the one on the scoreboard, you can often believe them.

At least those that win like Russell.

Knowing that he was closing in on 6,000 career passing yards Friday night, I asked several members of his family prior to the game if they knew the exact number of yards Russell needed for that milestone. No one knew.

It was consistent with what I have come to see in this remarkable young man.

For the record, Russell threw for 205 yards and now has 6,076 for his career. According to records kept by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association, that is 46th all time in the state, assuming no other current player has moved up. The all-time record is 13,642 by Clay County's Zach Lewis, so that is well out of reach, but with three regular season games and the playoffs awaiting, Russell could pass 7,000 yards which would put him in the top 30 all-time and would pass such memorable names as Jared Lorenzen and Billy Jack Haskins.

Russell has also thrown 60 touchdown passes in his career, but the cut off for being listed by the KHSAA is 75 scoring tosses.

Heading into the Bullitt Central game, Russell had a passer efficiency rating of 196.9 this year. Folks, that is off the charts. By comparison, Lexington Catholic's Nic Ward was at 132.5 before last weekend's games. Henry Clay's top quarterback, Jerry Williams, was at 117.0.

(The passer efficiency rating is a formula used to put a numerical value on a quarrterback's performance based on yards, touchdowns, completion percentage and interceptions.)

The NCAA leader through Oct. 10, using the same formula, was Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen at 179.25. Florida's Tim Tebow was third at 165.91.

Those are good numbers but 196.9? That's unheard of.

But the stat Russell is most interested in? Anderson is now 31-10 during the career of the current senior class.

**Many fans and several media types have inquired about my opinion on the best team Anderson has faced.

From this corner, it is no contest. Meade County.

The record won't show it, since Meade is only 2-5 on the year, but the five teams to beat Meade are a combincd 31-5. In addition to Anderson, teams that have beaten Meade are John Hardin, Ballard, Fern Creek and Greenwood. That is close to a Murderers' Row.

Second best team? Bullitt Central. The Cougars are better than Anderson made them look.

Most underrated? Henry County. Henry could go 8-2 with the losses being to Anderson and Owensboro Catholic. The Wildcats have a very nice ball club.

Follow John Herndon on Twitter at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.