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Notes written with my knee down …
Over the years, some of the guys I have become acquainted with in Commonwealth Stadium have been Danny Wuerffel to Chris Doering and Marcus Randall to Devery Henderson.
I have known Mark Higgs on first-and-goal, second-and-goal, third-and... oh, you get the idea. I remember Bernie Scruggs’ pitchout and Clyde Rudolph stretching and stretching but coming up inches short.
And I was in the Georgia Dome when Marty Moore fumbled.
If you need an explanation, just ask any Kentucky football fan. He can tell you about enough heartbreaks to keep Elvis’ hotel booked for a century.
For some reason, you had to think you could add Sam Maxwell and Micah Johnson to the list when two game-winning touchdowns were called back Friday in Memphis.
But when Ventrell Jenkins rumbled to the end zone Friday, you had to get the feeling that things really are turning around in Lexington.
Of course, there are those who will say that Jenkins was down, that his touchdown to win the Liberty Bowl should not have counted.
Don’t know about that.
What I do know is that 15 years ago, Jenkins would have tripped on the 20. Or had the ball squirt out away to a waiting East Carolina player.
Or, that after blocking the extra point, the Pirates would go down the field and score with 10 seconds to play.
That would have been old Kentucky, but thanks to Rich Brooks, as old-school as they come, there just seems to be something different about Kentucky football.
Admit it. Three years ago many (blush) thought UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart was nuts to keep a guy that had lost to Ohio, not with the State attached. We are talking the Bobcats, not Buckeyes. This was the guy that had won nine games in three years, one less than Bill Curry did in his first three seasons in Lexington.
Barnhart was right in sticking with Brooks. Kentucky football is still a looooooonnnnnnnnnnng way from the big boys at the top of the SEC, but there really is hope.
Thanks to a guy many of us thought should be spending his time anywhere but on the sidelines.
Replay of Shelby?
If there was ever a high school basketball game that could be the poster child for the use of replays, it was Anderson County’s win over Shelby County Saturday night.
Two calls down the stretch were going to have people buzzing for quite some time.
The calls split and one’s take is likely to be tempered where the loyalties lie. Alas, neither play would have been reviewable.
The first came with 56 seconds to play when Anderson’s Jacob Russell was called for charging, taking down a basket that would have put the Bearcats up four.
In the confusion following the whistle the scoreboard clock continued to run. The officials rightly put seven seconds back on the clock.
The second dispute came with 4.6 seconds to go when Shelby’s Boomer Beckley was whistled for holding C.J. Penny as Penny was going for a loose ball.
One man’s take on it is that in the first call it was very close. From the press table, it looked as if Russell was fouled, if anything, but it was close.
On the second, I was, ironically, somewhat screened by Penny, but it looked like someone was holding him. The only question was who.
That being said, with only a combined 14 foul shots between a pair of teams as physical as Anderson and Shelby, it is easy to see why Shelby was upset.
The bottom line is that if Anderson had taken better care of the ball in the first half or if Shelby had converted the opportunities Anderson gave, one team would have been comfortably ahead and the plays in question would have been simple footnotes instead of objects of endless discussion.
Upon further review
For some time, it looked as if there would be a lot of empty seats for the Anderson-Shelby game, but that changed by tip-off.
Still, with a few seats open in the upper corners, it was the smallest crowd in the rivalry in many years.
I heard reasons given that people did not know when the game was to be played – ah, schedules have been printed for some time – and that a Saturday game would not draw like Friday.
However, with Kentucky playing in the Liberty Bowl Friday night, Saturday might have actually been better. People weren’t tempted to stay home to watch the Big Blue.
Part of the down number – calling a crowd of 2,000 “down” seems strange – was undoubtedly the economy. If people are worried about having money, they don’t go to games. It’s that simple.
Also, Shelby did not bring its cheerleaders, a move many schools are making on road games.
From this corner, however, the crowd would have been the normal standing room only if students had already returned from Christmas break before the game.
The Anderson band, which adds so much to a home atmosphere, was understandably not in attendance.
And while the Anderson students turned out in droves, the Shelby student section was notably small.
If anything, the game, which has usually been played the first Friday in January for the better part of a decade, was affected by how the calendar lies this year.
Here’s one that hopes that will not be the case in 2010 when the first Friday is New Year’s Day.
The girls’ teams play at Anderson on Feb. 6. Unfortunately, that is the same night the Anderson boys play at Woodford County and Shelby’s boys are at home against Simon Kenton.
The district tournament finals are set for Feb. 27 at Anderson.
A very possible round three for the regional championship between the boys’ teams would tentatively be played March 10 at Henry County.
E-mail John Herndon at email@example.com.