QUICK HITTER STORY/Bowling Green throttles Southwestern High School, will play for KHSAA Class 5A state championship


SOMERSET, Kentucky There was never any doubt in this one, either.

Bowling Green High School’s football team has caught fire, and the Purples have caught fire at the right time.

The Purples crushed previously unbeaten Southwestern High School on Friday night, rolling to a 47-20 victory to earn a berth in next week’s KHSAA Class 5A state championship game next week at the University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field in Lexington.

Bowling Green improved to 12-2 on the season and will be looking for the eighth state championship in school history when the Purples square off with Lexington’s Frederick Douglass High School (14-0) in the 5A state title game.

Frederick Douglass stopped Owensboro High School 14-2 in the other Class 5A semifinal on Friday night.

The Purples scored 26 points before Southwestern could get on the scoreboard, and the Warriors’ run-heavy offense was ill equipped to play catch-up with a Bowling Green squad that has now won eight of its last nine games.

“We were relaxed, we were confident in our game plan,” BGHS coach Mark Spader said.

The Purples scored on their first offensive series and never let up on the accelerator, grabbing a 26-0 lead before the end of the first quarter. Southwestern scored 14 of its 20 points in the last six minutes of the game, when Spader had emptied his bench while Warriors coach Jason Foley elected to stick with his starters.

Tanner White, the Warriors’ rushing leader, scored on a 61-yard touchdown run in the final minute, helping make the score a bit more respectable.

Make no mistake, though. The Purples again were a relentless squad with superior team speed and plenty of toughness in the trenches.

In four postseason games, Bowling Green has outscored its opponents 168-27.

BGHS quarterback Deuce Bailey had three touchdown passes in the first quarter, one to fellow sophomore Christopher Sweeney, one to leading receiver Easton Barlow and the third on a deflected ball that wound up in the hands of Ethan Warder in the end zone.

Barlow’s TD catch was set up by a brilliant onside kick by the Purples’ Colin Fratus, who dribbled the ball right in front of him before BGHS teammate Bart Kibawa made the recovery.

The Purples lost senior “anchor” defender Devin Geer to injury in the second quarter, and Geer saluted his teammates and encouraged them to keep fighting as he was wheeled off the field on a gurney.

Tanner White scored the Warriors’ first touchdown with 4:31 left in the first half, but Purples tailback Javen Huddleston took a handoff from Bailey and bolted into the open field before scoring on a dazzling 90-yard touchdown run.

BGHS senior linebacker Jake Napier closed the scoring for the Purples on a “scoop and score,” much like teammate Wick Dotson did in last week’s 38-7 rout of South Oldham in the regional championship round. Napier grabbed the fumble at the Southwestern 40-yard line before scoring on a run down the left sideline with 7:20 left in the game.

“(Napier) totes that thang,” BGHS linebacker Davis Fant said.

“The defense really stepped up tonight,” Napier added.

Fant and Napier were sophomores on the 2020 BGHS team that won a state championship in Lexington, using a sturdy defense to turn back Owensboro High School 17-7 in the title game.

This Bowling Green squad, with Deuce Bailey and Javen Huddleston and a corps of talented wide receivers, is better equipped to compete in a shootout.

“I’m proud, but I’m cautious at the same time,” Bailey said. “I want to win a state championship.”

The Purples will get that opportunity next week in Lexington.

I’ll have complete coverage of Friday night’s game in the morning. Thanks for reading.