The Tigers are No. 3 in The Associated Press' Class 6-A poll, but the Class 5-A Purples have the most impressive number: 46 straight victories.
Of his team’s five losses last season, St. Xavier High School football coach Will Wolford felt only one opponent “beat up” his squad. That came in a 39-25 loss to Bowling Green, the Purples’ third victory over the Tigers in three seasons.
“They dominated us physically and mentally, and that’s something our kids have not forgotten,” Wolford said. “Our kids trust and believe they can handle it, but Bowling Green is definitely playing with a mystique about them right now.”
St. X (2-0) will get to test how much it has improved physically and mentally when it travels to Bowling Green (2-0) for an 8 p.m. EDT game Friday. The Tigers are No. 3 in The Associated Press’ Class 6-A poll, but the Class 5-A Purples have the most impressive number: 46 straight victories.
Bowling Green returned just five starters from a team that won a third straight 5-A state championship, and some observers believed the streak might come to an end early this season. But a 44-6 victory over Mercer County on Aug. 23 and a 40-14 whipping of Lexington Catholic last week have kept the streak alive and the Purples on top of the 5-A poll.
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“No one told those kids they weren’t supposed to be good,” Wolford said. “They beat up a good Lexington Catholic team that will probably win 4-A this year. They’ve reloaded nicely.”
With 2013 Mr. Football Nacarius Fant now a wide receiver at Western Kentucky University, quarterback Devin Hayes at Centre College and running back Blue Tisdale also lost to graduation, the Purples’ most glaring losses from last year were at the skill positions.
The newcomers have performed admirably so far. Senior quarterback Campbell Gott has passed for 240 yards and six touchdowns, junior Jacob Yates has rushed for 277 yards and four scores and senior Cameron Wallace — son of coach Kevin Wallace — has six catches for 67 yards and three TDs.
Senior linebacker Ben Holt, son of WKU defensive coordinator Nick Holt, leads the defense with 21 tackles, including six sacks.
Kevin Wallace said he’s seen great improvement from his team since a 27-0 loss to Manual in a preseason scrimmage.
“Our offensive line has gotten much better, and we’ve gotten really solid play out of Campbell Gott,” he said. “He didn’t play very well against Manual, but he’s done exactly what we’ve wanted him to do since then. We’ll take six touchdowns and no interceptions every two games.”
St. X knocked off Bryan Station 28-13 last week as senior running back TaiJon Smith rushed for 178 yards on 32 carries and junior John Martinez tallied 82 yards and a TD on 10 attempts.
Wolford has been pleased with Smith’s emergence as the Tigers’ top rushing threat.
“He’s only going to get better because he’s just now getting over injuries he’s been nursing since track season,” the coach said. “He should get stronger as the season goes on.”
The Purples’ 46-game winning streak is the third-longest in state history and within sight of the record of 50 set by Trinity from 1988-91.
Wallace has downplayed the significance of the streak the past couple of years but figures St. X is one of the two major obstacles left in surpassing the record. Bowling Green will host Chattanooga (Tenn.) McCallie on Sept. 19.
“For this team to beat both of those would be almost Herculean, in my opinion,” Wallace said. “We never talked about the streak because we never envisioned getting to 50. We’re not throwing in the towel on it, but it would not be beneficial to this program to focus on that number. It’s more beneficial to focus on getting better and having a chance to win another state championship.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and followed on Twitter @kyhighs.
CHASING THE ROCKS
The longest high school football winning streaks in Kentucky history (source: Kentucky High School Athletic Association record book):
Streak School (Years) Snapped by
50 Trinity (1988-91) Holy Cross, 15-14
47 Boyle County (1999-2002) Danville, 20-10
46 Bowling Green (2011-present) N/A
42 Breathitt County (1995-97) Lawrence County, 36-28
42 Danville (1991-93) Prestonsburg, 16-15
GAME OF THE WEEK
• Who: St. Xavier (2-0) at Bowling Green (2-0).
• When: 8 p.m. EDT Friday.
• Jason’s pick: Bowling Green 21-20.