We are now half way through the season and it's time for district play to get started.

It has been a very wild season to say the least so far with surprise teams making strides and teams losing their star players to season ending injuries. The Game of the Week in 1A features two teams who have gone through some great turmoil early in the season.

District rivals Hazard Bulldogs and Pikeville Panthers have both been hit with the injury bug this season. Pikeville lost its star quarterback in Wyatt Battaile before the season started but word is he could be back late to give the Panthers an extra boost come playoff time. Hazard just recently got hit harder with the injury bug as Mr Football Candidate Cory Smith is done for the season with a torn ACL and his brother Austin Smith is out for the same thing. Hazard still has some capable horses to fill the void but you just don't replace a kid like Cory Smith overnight.

Taking a look at both teams schedules shows that each have challenged themselves with top notch competition. Hazard has played teams such as Harlan County, Letcher County, Prestonsburg and Somerset. Hazard sits at 3-1 on the season with their lone loss to a very good Somerset team 20-9. The Bulldogs also lost Cory Smith that game and that left everyone wondering what might have been. Hazard will look to get win number two without Cory Smith this week. Pikeville has played some good competition too with teams such as Lexington Christian, Paintsville, Belfry and Covington Holy Cross. Pikeville sits at 1-3 on the season with their lone win against a very down Covington Holy Cross team. This team will be very hungry for a win, especially over district rival Hazard.

Now that life after Cory Smith has began let's take a look at some statistical numbers for the Bulldogs. Bailey Blair is now leading the team in rushing with 216 yards and 5 touchdowns. Blair racked up most of his yardage last game with 142 yards and 4 touchdowns against Prestonsburg. Reece Fletcher is the second leading rusher with 115 yards and in third is fellow senior Matt Francis with 33 yards and 1 touchdown. The Bulldogs also have some very talented kids who can catch the ball as well. Senior Bryson Parks is leading the way with 209 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Braxton Whitaker is second on the team with 102 yards and Junior Skyler Pelfrey is third with 100 yards. Bailey Blair has only thrown for over 500 yards on the season, leaving no doubt as to his favorite targets. The Bulldogs defense is its strong point, though, only giving up an average of 11 points a game. The defense is led by seniors Braxton Whitaker, Austin Combs and Kade Holland. The strong point on this defense is its linebackers so credit goes to Robbie Davidson, Reese Fletcher, Mason Collins and Skyler Pelfrey.

Pikeville hasn't posted many stats so far this young season but we can go with what we have and what is known. Zack Roberts will be the feature back in the offense. In just two games of stats he has 270 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Connor Wright is second on the team with 54 yards and 1 touchdown. Peyton Blair is the quarterback for this team and his stats only show 126 yards through the air in two games. Blair's favorite target will be Jackson Hensley. Jackson has 72 yards and 1 touchdown on the season with just two games posted. Seth Pugh will be another target for Peyton Blair to throw to, as well as JT Orem and Christian Billiter. This Pikeville team is very young with only two seniors on the team and one is star Wyatt Battaile, who is out for now, and the other is Jacob Wilkerson, who anchors the lines for Pikeville. Pikeville will hope for this young team to come into Hazard's Daniel Field and steal a victory, putting them in the drivers seat for the 1 seed and 3 home playoff games. A win here is big.

So, who wins the 1A Game of the Week? Can Hazard prove that they are still a top contender in the east? Can Pikeville show us that they are better than their 1-3 record indicates?