LEXINGTON — Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky have very little history on the field. Off the turf, it’s been a different story.
Although separated by less than 30 minutes from each other, the Wildcats (3-1) and Colonels (2-1) have met just three times, with the last meeting coming in 2009, when Kentucky defeated EKU, 37-12, at Commonwealth Stadium. Kentucky has won all three meetings since the two teams first faced off in 1998.
Even though they’re not traditional rivals on the field, a confrontation in a Richmond bar and a dorm lobby at Eastern earlier this year displayed tensions that existed between players from both teams.
Kentucky’s Drew Barker, Dorian Baker and former Wildcat Tymere Dubose were involved in altercations with Eastern’s Colton Scurry and Patrick Gaffree. Scurry and Gaffree were suspended by EKU indefinitely, but eventually reinstated by the university.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops plans to address the confrontation and wants no part of letting the off-the-field incident “filter into the game” nor does he want the Wildcats to bring it up in practice this week.
“We will talk about it and then it’s done with,” Stoops said on Monday. “I will have no tolerance all week on anything off the field or talk and all that B.S. I don’t want anything to do with that. We want to play a good, clean, hard-fought football game and that is what I am going to tell them. I have respect for (EKU). This could be a good thing for the state and a good thing for both programs. We want a good game.”
The Colonels have other things on their minds, mourning the loss of a teammate. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Joseph “Joey” A. Kraemer was killed in an automobile accident last weekend in Richmond. The death of Kraemer, a transfer from UTEP, shattered the players and coaching staff.
“The news that we lost one of our own is devastating to me, our team and our coaches,” EKU coach Dean Hood said on Monday. “We pray that God will give strength to Joey’s family during their time of mourning. Joey will truly be missed by all of us he touched, not only because of what he accomplished on the football field, but because of who he was as a person and the impact he made on our lives.”
Stoops also was saddened by the tragedy, and the school plans to honor Kraemer prior to the 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium.
“Hearing about that tragedy, it is sad for all of us,” Stoops said. “Our hearts go out to him, his family and the entire program. That is the sad thing about leading into this game because we are very excited to play them. We welcome them and look forward to another hard-fought game in bringing them to Commonwealth.
“We look forward to a very good game with Eastern, and I know they have some distractions this week in dealing with that tragedy. Again, I just feel for them and their program.”