Madisonville North Hopkins, my high school alma mater, is not a high school that is rich in athletic tradition, talent, or success. I say that with love.
But every once in a while, the Maroons find some magic.
Earlier this year, the Maroons’ basketball team made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time in almost two decades, which was a lot of fun. A couple of years ago, the softball team won the state championship, only the second KHSAA state title for a Madisonville team in school history (the other was girls’ golf). It was a pretty big deal.
There have been some individual stars to come out of those Hanson Road hallways, too. Some that come to mind are: Frank Ramsey, a member of Kentucky’s 1951 NCAA championship team and a seven-time NBA champion with the Boston Celtics; Sonny Collins, UK’s all-time leading rusher until Benny Snell broke his record last year; Travis Ford, a former UK point guard who is among UK’s all-time leaders in assists and free-throw percentage; and of course, me, a former senior captain on the Madisonville golf team. We didn’t win many matches or tournaments that year (none actually), but we played with a lot of heart and we had brand new golf bags and uniforms, thanks to a generous donation from Paul Alan’s grandparents. And I still think my 51-38 in the regional tournament is one of the more underrated stories in the history of Kentucky high school athletics. At the turn, following a horrible front nine, I said I wouldn’t shoot 90. And I didn’t.
Anyway, Madisonville may have found its next big thing in current running back Jeriah Hightower on the Maroons’ undefeated football team. Hightower was leading the ENTIRE COUNTRY in rushing yards until a couple of days ago. He has since dropped to fifth nationally with 960 yards through the first four games, an average of 240 yards per game and 10 yards per carry.
Hightower is currently an unranked, two-star prospect in the Rivals.com rankings, and an unrated and unranked player on 247Sports.com. He has only two D1 scholarship offers — from Illinois State and UT Martin — and has not heard from anyone on Kentucky’s staff, but folks will have to start paying attention if he keeps running like this:
And showing up on lists like this:
I have a good feeling you will be hearing a lot more about this kid in the coming months; who knows, maybe UK will pick up interest and maybe even have a spot for him in the backfield.
Until then, Go Maroons forever.