The eyes of the college football world were locked in on a talented crop of Louisville area high school football standouts during National Signing Day, as several players turned their commitments official and even made their decisions known for the first time.
Earning a majority of the headlines on both a local and national scale was Trinity High School defensive end Jason Hatcher. Originally committed to USC and then rumored to be heading to the University of Louisville after de-committing from the Trojans, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Hatcher continued to help new University of Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops make a splash by signing with the Wildcats.
Some of Hatcherâ€™s teammates from the Shamrocks, a group that won three straight Class 6A state championships, also made an impact on Signing Day.
Four-star wide receiver James Quick signed with Louisville, running back Dalyn Dawkins â€“ nephew of NFL great Brian Dawkins â€“ inked his National Letter of Intent with Purdue University and cornerback Ryan White, originally a Louisville commit, signed his NLI with Vanderbilt.
Other notable football signees from around town were Ballardâ€™s Joey Bloomfield (Kansas), Manualâ€™s Dishan Romine (Navy), PRPâ€™s Taywan Taylor (Western Kentucky), St. Xavierâ€™s Deonte Clyburn (Colorado State), Christian Academyâ€™s John Popovich (SEMO), and Centralâ€™s Demontre Boyd (SEMO).
The last of the stateâ€™s unbeaten teams, Covington Holmes High School, lost 88-85 in double overtime to Newport Central Catholic on Friday. The Bulldogs, ranked No. 13 in the Courier-Journal Litkenhous Ratings, are now 25-1 with two regular season games remaining.Trinity High School has won 11 straight games since losing to rival St. Xavier on Jan. 11. The No. 1 Shamrocks (21-4) have four players averaging 9.1 points per game or more, have wrapped up the top seed in the 27th District, and will celebrate Senior Night Feb. 12.
Other teams that have already clinched No. 1 seed in their districts are Pleasure Ridge, Moore, No. 3 Bullitt East and No. 2 Ballard.
In an injury-plagued Seventh Region, defending state champion Manual continues to roll. The No. 4 Lady Crimsons won five of their last six games as they headed into a matchup with No. 16 Sacred Heart Academy.
Several key players within the region have been lost to injury during the past couple months, as Ballardâ€™s Javonna Layfield (torn ACL), Manualâ€™s Teanna Curry (torn ACL), and Sacred Heartâ€™s Raven Merriweather (knee) are all out. This past week, Easternâ€™s Jade Spaulding joined that list with a broken hand.
The Sixth Region currently appears to be a four-horse race with PRP (21-6), Bullitt East (18-6), Butler (17-6) and No. 5 Mercy (13-9) all in the hunt. The defending regional champion Jaguars continue to rest regular starters Kayla Richardson and Mackenzie Stilger, who are dealing with nagging injuries.
Outside of Louisville, Marion County continues to be the class of the state and was 27-0 prior to the Dukeâ€™s Sporting Goods Valentineâ€™s Shootout against Henderson County on Feb. 9. The Lady Knights wrapped up their regular season at Mercy on Feb. 12.
Despite PRP qualifying for the No. 1 seed in both the boys and girls brackets in the Ebonite/KHSAA State Bowling Championships, both teams were forced to settle for runner-up at Executive Strike & Spare in Louisville.
For the boys, No. 10 seed Simon Kenton (Independence) capped an improbable run to the team title by shocking the Panthers 3-2 in the best-of-five championship round. Led by senior Chris Fecher, the Pioneers won the schoolâ€™s first-ever bowling title during the programâ€™s first three years of existence.
In the individual competition, Manual High School senior Kiefer Hillerich defeated his teammate, junior Kyle Abell, 222-210 to win the 2013 singles state championship. Hillerich also helped the Crimsons earn a No. 2 seed in the team tournament, but Manual ran into the aforementioned buzzsaw from Simon Kenton.
The girlsâ€™ state bowling team championship was captured by Taylor County (Campbellsville). Team junior Megan Hedgespeth, who was celebrating her 17th birthday, led the Lady Cardinals to a 3-2 win over PRP and to the schoolâ€™s first-ever athletic state title in a team sport.
Individually, junior Crystal Land from Bryan Station topped Scott County freshman Sarah Doyle by a score of 233-195. Land placed in the top ten of the singles standings in 2012 â€“ the first year bowling was recognized and sanctioned as a varsity sport within the KHSAA.
â€¢ Ballard boysâ€™ head basketball coach Chris Renner earned his 400th victory at Ballard when the Bruins defeated Kentucky Country Day.
â€¢ The KHSAA State Wrestling Championships will return to Alltech Arena at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington on Feb. 15 and 16. Campbell County High School is the defending overall state team champion.
â€¢ The Pannell Swim Shop/KHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships will be held Feb. 21 through 23 at the University of Louisville.
â€¢ After being postponed on Jan. 26, the State Competitive Cheer Championships will be held in Bowling Green, Ky., on Feb. 23.