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Last Week

District play has wrapped up and week 11 is here. The final week of district play was a little anti-climatic as most district champions were already decided. However, we did have two big games with district titles at stake and both were instant classics.

First we will discuss Nicholas County at Bracken County. Nicolas County traveled to the Polar Bears den undefeated and full of confidence. And why not? The Bluejackets had handled district challenger Bishop Brossart, a team that defeated Bracken County by 3 touchdowns. Nicholas County had that top seed, district title and undefeated season in clear view. But Bracken County came to battle with just as much confidence. This was a close game throughout, 7-6 at halftime and tied at 14 entering the fourth quarter. Nicholas County took a 21-14 lead but Bracken County responded with a TD and 2 point conversion with 5 minutes to go. They then shut down Nicholas County and ran out the clock for the win. That victory threw the district into a 3 way tie between these two and Brossart. Now we have to wait and see who wins this Friday and muddle our way through the complicated tie breaker system to figure out who wins this district.

The other top game was the much awaited battle between Paintsville and Raceland. These two teams are at the top of the class. Both teams were undefeated at kickoff and had played challenging schedules. Raceland had the home field advantage and that was an edge they hoped would help them get the win. Raceland took a 7-0 lead with a first quarter TD but Paintsville charged back with 2 scores in the second quarter to head to the locker room at halftime up by 7. Raceland came out in the second half and put up two straight touchdowns of their own to take a 21-14 lead into the fourth quarter. Paintsville responded again to tie the game at 21 and this game headed to overtime. Paintsville took the ball first and scored but missed the extra point. The opportunity was there for the Rams but Paintsville’s defense rose to the challenge and kept Raceland out of the end zone to earn the victory. What a game!

This Week

It is interesting to see how teams set their schedules for this last week of the season. Some teams use this game to challenge themselves against an opponent that will take their very best effort to beat and see if they are ready for the tough postseason matchups that are sure to come. Other teams schedule less challenging opponents who should be only a slight threat and ease their way into the post season. This week three of the top four are putting themselves to the test against ranked larger class opponents.

Russellville vs. 4A #2 Franklin-Simpson – This year’s schedule has turned into one of extremes for Russellville. Some opponents expected to be tough games had bad years weakening the Russellville schedule. On the other hand, Franklin-Simpson is having one of the best seasons in the program’s history. This game will be versus an opponent who is arguably better than anyone Russellville will face in the 1A playoffs. Russellville needs this game to be pushed to finding out weaknesses and strengths. Even if Russellville doesn’t get the win, this game will be good preparation for those games deep in the playoffs.

Raceland vs. 3A #7 Russell – Not time to feel sorry for yourself for the Rams. This week’s opponent is right there with the best the Rams have faced. Raceland has played one of the most difficult schedules in 1A and there is no let up here. From Russell’s side, Raceland is the best team they have faced. Raceland is the slight favorite in this game and they could use a win to gain their confidence and feel good back following last week’s deflating loss.

Beechwood at 2A #5 Newport Catholic – This is one of the best rivalries in the state. Both programs are among the leaders in state championships and both are having very good seasons. Newport Catholic is well prepared for this game after playing a schedule that includes 3 of the top 20 teams in the entire state. Beechwood will be facing their second most difficult opponent. If you look at common opponents, Newport Catholic looks to have the edge and would be a one touchdown favorite against the Tigers. But this game is one of those rivalry games that you have to throw how it looks on paper out the window. It will take Beechwood’s best game of the year to win this one.

Next Week

Next week will be the post season preview. The three games above are going to be important in telling us which teams are most capable of taking home that championship trophy.