"MU-LLET! MU-LLET! MU-LLET!"
"HEY! JOE DIRT!"
"WHERE'S YOUR Z-28!?"
The heckles were coming from every direction last January when the Buckhorn High School Wildcats ventured out of their Perry County home to compete in the All "A" State Basketball Tournament at Frankfort. Their first-round opponent was the always tough University Heights Academy of Hopkinsville, and the Wildcats fell to a quick double-digit deficit while the packed house continued their barrage of insults.
"GET A HAIRCUT!"
Little did they know that this was all part of the plan, that they were falling into a carefully laid trap, awakening the superpowers that lay deep within the luxurious follicles of Peyton Cooper and Shannon Blank.
"It gets in their heads," says Blank, a sophomore point guard. "They're more worried about our hair and talking trash than they are the game."
Cooper, a senior and also a point guard, says the same. The smack talk is all part of the fun. "Doesn't bother us. We take it as a compliment."
Their coach, John Noble, is in on the joke, too. He doesn't put any restrictions on his players' hairstyles or facial hair. He likes for them to have their own identity.
"I had a mullet in 1991 and didn't know it. Back then it was just called a haircut. But I'm real proud of (Cooper and Blank). They've got them looking pretty nasty. Pretty skanky. They've done a real good job with them. I think the guys definitely feed off of the negative energy from it. I mean, when you've got hair like that you better be tough."
Cooper's mullet started from scratch over two years ago, an ironic homage to his idol Alan Jackson.
The younger Shannon already had long hair before he got talked into his. It was just a matter of sculpting a little up-front "business" out of his all-over "party".
"Peyton's is kind of curly. Mine's just straight up Kentucky Waterfall," he says.
Despite this small difference, they both agree on the importance of conditioning to keep things in order. The mullet is a muscle like any other. You use it or you lose it. Shampoo just isn't enough for these specimens. You've got to condition.
And what do the Buckhorn ladies think?
"It's a…conversation starter," says Cooper.
"They say they don't like it," says Blank. Then he smiles, gives his silky mudflap a shake and adds, "But they do."
Both guys plan on keeping their infamous mullets after the season is over. Peyton might even keep his after he graduates.
And why the hell not? They ended up winning that game against University Heights, by the way. Dug out of a 20-9 hole and beat the Blazers by four points. And the Buckhorn Wildcats ended their regular season with an impressive record of 18-8.
Postseason play begins this week.
Win or lose, we think Peyton Cooper and Shannon Blake will go down as two of the most kick-ass Kentuckians to ever grace the hardwood.
Who's the skank now?
Story and Photos by Coleman Larkin