HIGH SCHOOL PREVIEW, WEEK SIX/Greenwood, South Warren square off in district opener at The Swamp


Long before the 2023 KHSAA football season unfolded in mid-August, there was plenty of hype for three quarterbacks from Warren County entering their junior years.

Bowling Green High School’s Deuce Bailey is a high-profile recruit. South Warren’s Bryce Button has established himself in his second season as the Spartans’ starter. And Dane Parsley has been making big plays at Warren East since his freshman year, in 2021.

It was a little bit of a different situation at Greenwood, however, after Ryan Huff, last year’s starting QB for the Gators, left Bowling Green to play high school football in Pensacola, Florida.

His successor, Cam Smith, had not played football since his sophomore year at South Warren, also in 2021. But Smith has been a steady hand for the Gators in their fast start this season, and Greenwood (4-1 overall) will open KHSAA Class 5A 2nd District play on Friday night against crosstown rival South Warren (also 4-1) at The Swamp.

“It’s gonna be a physical battle for us,” Greenwood coach William Howard said. “They’re a talented team. They can really execute, on offense and defense. We’ve played pretty well these last couple weeks.”

Greenwood stumbled in Week Three, getting rolled, 43-13, on the road against Owensboro Catholic QB Brady Atwell and the Aces. Since then, however, they’re turned back a tough-minded Logan County squad, 21-13, before rolling to a 43-6 victory over Warren Central.

Greenwood went 9-3 last year, stopping South Warren, 35-21, behind the all-around efforts of Gators teammates Lofton Howard and Tel Tel Long. Both players made plays on both offense and defense, and while Lofton Howard has moved on to join Western Kentucky’s football squad, Long is in his final season with the Gators.

And he’s making the most of it.

“They’re just solid, a solid team,” South Warren coach Brandon Smith said. “They’ve got a lot of guys who have been doing it a long time. They’re really disciplined, defensively. Guys like Tel Tel and Elmo Stewart are really good players.”

Cam Smith, the Gators’ 6-foot-1 senior quarterback, was the ‘X’ factor. And while he’s passed sparingly at times, he has been effective, at both throwing and running the football. South’s Brandon Smith said he saw what Cal Smith could do during his two seasons with the Spartans, when he was a backup to star quarterback Caden Veltkamp, who’s also playing at WKU these days.

“(Cam Smith) is a good athlete,” Brandon Smith said. “When he was here, we knew he was a good athlete. He’s always had a strong arm. He can really throw the deep ball.”

Cam Smith has completed 36 of 65 passes (55 percent) for 543 yards and six touchdowns. He’s been intercepted twice, while scoring five touchdowns on the ground.

“Cam’s done a fantastic job for us this season,” William Howard said.

Bryce Button and the Spartans won their first four games before coming up short in last week’s road loss to Louisville’s Manual High School. South Warren has scored 35 points or more in each of its first five games, and Button has had a lot to do with that production.

Button has been quite efficient, completing 90 of 144 passes (63 percent) for 1,586 yards and 17 touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound South junior has been intercepted four times, while running for 203 yards and three touchdowns himself.

Button’s had some recruiting visits this fall, too.

“It seems these last few weeks, the game’s slowed down for him a little bit,” South’s Brandon Smith said. “He’s as dedicated as a player, one of the best I’ve ever seen, and following Caden (Veltkamp) and Gavin Spurrier, it’s not that surprising.”

Smith said the Spartans have struggled with the kicking game of late, while turning the ball over five times in their last two games.

“That’s something we can’t do against a good team like Greenwood,” he said.

Elmo Stewart and Tel Tel Long have combined for 23 receptions for 309 yards and three touchdowns, and Long leads the Gators on the ground, rushing for 435 yards and six TDs.

Greenwood will face Ohio County (1-5 overall) in a district game next week, also at The Swamp, while South will be on the road to face Louisville’s Moore High School (3-1 overall). Both teams will then have an open date before resuming their district schedule, South playing host to Bowling Green (4-2 overall) and Greenwood tangling with Ohio County on its home field.

The Greenwood stadium renovations are still a work in progress, so arriving early is probably a good idea.

“There’s going to be a lot of standing-room only areas, around the track,” Greenwood’s William Howard said.

Meanwhile, Dane Parsley and Warren East (3-2 overall) play host to new district rival Hopkinsville (0-5), while Warren Central (1-4) faces a winless Daviess County squad at Joe Hood Field. There are two unbeaten teams left in South Central Kentucky, Glasgow (5-0) and Franklin-Simpson (5-0).

Glasgow, led by senior quarterback Easton Jessie, is on the road to face Adair County (4-1). The Scotties needed two overtimes to slip past crosstown rival Barren County, 36-35, last week. Barren County (3-2), meanwhile, will play host to Green County (4-1).

Franklin-Simpson has averaged 38 points per game while winning its first five games. The Wildcats tend to rely on the running game, and they’ll be expected to continue that trend on the road against Butler County (1-4).

Allen County-Scottsville (2-3) will travel to play new district rival Paducah Tighlman, unbeaten and one of the state’s top-ranked Class 3A squads. And Logan County (4-1), which slipped past AC-S, 29-26, last week in overtime, will play host to Calloway County (2-3) in a district game.