The fall sports season is well underway and this weekend provides three outstanding opportunities to see many of the area’s best teams as they compete in marquee football, field hockey and soccer events.
On the gridiron, Ballard, Central and St. Xavier will converge with five out-of-state powerhouses at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Saturday for the second annual Click it or Ticket Bluegrass High School Football Showcase.
The event is designed to give local players more exposure to college coaches and is being organized by brothers Carlos and Andre Collins, who played at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, respectively, in the 1990s.
“We just want to give kids in Kentucky an opportunity to play on the big stage,” said Carlos Collins. “Not a lot of people respect Kentucky as a football state so this is an opportunity for us to put (local players) in a situation where they can showcase their skills and market themselves.”
Here are the matchups:
11 a.m. – Central vs. F.J. Reitz (Ind.)
2 p.m. – Trinity Christian (Fla.) vs. Goodpasture Christian (Tenn.)
5 p.m. – Ballard vs. Riverdale (Tenn.)
8 p.m. – St. Xavier vs. Dutch Fork (S.C.)
Tickets ($10), good for all four games, can be purchased at the gate. Youth football players donning their jerseys will be admitted for $5.
Manual got first-half goals from juniors Hayley Barker and Sammy Moorin to edge Ballard 2-1 and win the second annual Stick it to Cancer tournament on Aug. 17 at Kentucky Country Day.
The defending state champions rolled past Mercy 2-0, CAL 10-0 and KCD 3-1 earlier in the week to reach the final.
Now the Crimsons are turning their attention to this weekend’s 40th annual Apple Invitational Tournament, hosted by Sacred Heart. Other top teams include Assumption, Presentation, Mercy, Male, Hathaway Brown (Ohio), Charlotte County Day (N.C.) and the host Valkyries.
Pool play begins Friday and the following medal round games will be held Sunday:
Noon – 7th place
1:15 p.m. – 5th place
2:30 p.m. – 3rd place
3:45 p.m. – Championship
Top-ranked St. Xavier and No. 6 Ballard headline an eight-team field in the Land Rover Kentucky Cup hosted by Ballard. The tournament, which got underway Monday, will conclude Saturday with a four-game slate:
1 p.m. – 7th Place
3 p.m. – 5th Place
5 p.m. – 3rd Place
7 p.m. – Championship
“For some of us soccer junkies, it’s a fantastic day,” said Ballard coach and tournament organizer Rob Zoeller. “It’s a great way to showcase some of the city’s best talent along with other teams in the state.”
St. X, guided by reigning NHSCA National Coach of the Year Andy Schulten, lost every starter from its 2011 state championship side, but looked plenty strong in a 5-1 win over Ballard on Aug. 18. Leading the way for the Tigers are senior defenders Jon Otting, Kaelon Fox and Campbell Weyland.
Rounding out the field are No. 9 Oldham County, No. 11 Covington Catholic, No. 12 Collegiate, No. 17 South Oldham, No. 25 Highlands and No. 28 St. Francis.
In girls’ soccer, Sacred Heart and Notre Dame shared the No. 1 spot in the preseason coaches’ poll released earlier this month. The two teams met in last year’s state final with Notre Dame earning a 2-0 win.
The Valkyries will get a gut check this Sunday when No. 3 Assumption visits for a 7 p.m. tilt.
Other local teams in the Top 25 are No. 13 Oldham County, No. 14 Christian Academy, No. 17 Manual, No. 19 Male, No. 22 South Oldham and No. 24 North Oldham.
*The Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association recently released its preseason poll and, as expected, two-time defending state champion Assumption took the top spot, followed by Sacred Heart and Mercy.
Other local Top-25 teams are No. 5 Manual, No. 6 Holy Cross, No. 8 North Oldham, No. 14 Eastern, No. 17 Presentation, No. 20 Christian Academy, No. 21 Male and No. 24 Oldham County.*St. X’s Stephen Stallings, the 2011 individual golf state champion, has committed to the University of Kentucky. The senior opened his final high school season with a win at the 5-Star General Lafayette Invitational last month at Gay Brewer, Jr. Golf Course in Lexington. He shot a 5-under 67 and downed West Jessamine’s Travis Rose in a playoff.
*Matt Walker, a 1993 Male alum, has been named baseball coach at his alma mater. Walker had head coaching stints at Waggener (2007) and North Oldham (2008-‘11) before serving as a Bellarmine assistant last season.
At North Oldham Walker went 76-55 in four seasons and copped the eighth region title in 2011. He replaces 17-year veteran Todd Driskell, who resigned last month.
Coaches’ Pre-Season Volleyball Ratings
2. Sacred Heart
4. Henry Clay
6. Lou. Holy Cross
8. North Oldham
20. Lou. Christian
21. Male High
24. Oldham Co.