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We will do a review of last week's action and look ahead to this Friday's key games, but before we do that let's talk about scheduling and strength of schedule. This subject was brought up by some posters in discussing the Beechwood / Ludlow game. There were comments made about Beechwood's scheduling of big schools and it was even commented that they really aren't a 1A school because they play so many games against big schools. So let's talk schedules.

The Chicken or the Egg?

How should you schedule if you are or want to be a state title contender in 1A? I think most everyone would agree that you should schedule strong opponents to get your team ready for those tough playoff games. Do you need to schedule big schools? You really don't have any choice, do you?

An interesting trend that seems to be happening more is several of the better 1A programs have chosen to face other top 1A schools instead of scheduling big schools. Schools that are doing that include Paintsville, Hazard, Ludlow and Williamsburg. Does that help you win a title? It is interesting that top teams are choosing to face teams they might very well face again in the playoffs. What is the impact of that and why would you want to set up that possibility?

Still, sprinkled in with the 1A non-district schools, most of the 1A schools including those not in our top 10 include bigger schools on their schedule. The focus for most is on scheduling 2A and 3A schools. There are eleven 1A schools who have games against 4A or larger schools. Those eleven schools include 8 of the top 10. The other 3 schools with 4A or larger schools on their schedule are all top 15 programs.

Then you have Beechwood. The only games Beechwood plays against 1A teams are their required district games. Beechwood is the only 1A school with a 6A team on their schedule and the Tigers also have the top team in 5A on their schedule. Six of the seven non-district games for Beechwood this year are against teams ranked in the top 10 of their class.

This brings us to our question - which comes first? Do you need to be a top program to put the big schools on your schedule? Or, do you need to put the big schools on your schedule to help become a top program? I will let everyone think about that and decide for themselves. Here is one final piece of information to include in those thoughts. Below is a list of the top ten 1A teams in strength of schedule (using calpreps SOS) at this point in the season:

1. Beechwood ............17.7
2. Raceland ............... 4.8
3. Pikeville ................ 4.6
4. Hazard ................. 3.4
5. Louis. Holy Cross ... 2.9
6. Paintsville .............-4.1
7. Ky. Country Day ....-4.7
8. Campbellsville ........ -7.0
9. Ludlow .................. -9.4
10. Williamsburg ........-10.0

That list looks familiar, doesn't it?

Last Week's Recap

The Game of the Week was Paintsville taking on Hazard. This game lived up to its billing. Defenses ruled in this contest which ended with Paintsville getting the 12-7 win. In a game that was a defensive battle, what better way for it to end than with a goal line stand. Paintsville's defense stopped the Bulldogs offense inside the 10 yard line as the game ended to get the Tigers the top tier win they needed for their resume. This win jumped Paintsville up to #3 in the 1A rankings.

The other top game that was anticipated by many was the undefeated Ludlow Panthers taking on the Beechwood Tigers. Over 77% of the BGP posters voting in the pre-game poll picked Beechwood to win, but it is very doubtful any one of them would have predicted the dominance Beechwood displayed on their way to a 63-0 win. If anyone doubted Beechwood as the clear favorite to win a title in 1A, this performance probably removed those doubts.

Finally for our key game results from last week, the Frankfort Panthers were able to overcome their injury impacted roster and get a huge district win over then #7 Louisville Holy Cross, final score 39-31. Panthers RB Tremayne Jones rushed for 174 yards and the Panthers defense intercepted 5 passes to key the Frankfort win. This win sets up this week's district game for District 3's top seed in the playoffs between Frankfort and Kentucky Country Day.

The Big Ones Friday

Teams that have almost surely secured their district's top seed are District 2 Campbellsville, District 4 Beechwood, District 5 Paris and District 8 Hazard. Here are the games this week that will settle the top seed in the other districts.

District 1
#10 Russellville at Crittenden County - Russellville has worked their way back into the 1A top ten. They have played a tough out of district schedule and their two losses are to teams ranked in their class. Everyone better not forget about the Panthers. Crittenden County enters this game at 4-4 but the teams they have beaten for those 4 wins have only won a total of 4 games this season. This game looks like a 3 TD or more win for Russellville.

District 3
#2 Kentucky Country Day at Frankfort - The Frankfort Panthers sprung an upset last week in their win over Louisville Holy Cross. Frankfort almost did the same thing to Kentucky Country Day last year as the Bearcats came in heavily favored but left with a hard fought 33-24 win. KCD will not take Frankfort lightly. Look for the senior dominated Bearcats to show their maturity and get the clear win over Frankfort.

District 6
#3 Paintsville vs. #5 Raceland - This district game has turned into perhaps the best district rivalry in 1A. Paintsville comes in more confident than ever after their win over Hazard last week. Raceland started the year with a lot of new starters and many question marks, but the Rams have grown throughout the season and are looking for revenge after Paintsville defeated the Rams in OT last year in their district matchup. Paintsville has to be the favorite, especially at home. Expect another tough, low scoring defensive conflict with the Tigers edging out the Rams again.

District 7
#9 Williamsburg vs. Lynn Camp - Lynn Camp has quietly put up 6 wins but the question always seems to be the schedule. Their strength of schedule is the worst in 1A. For that reason, despite the 6 wins for Lynn Camp, look for Williamsburg to get the win and the top seed from district 7 by 3 TD's or more.

Summary

That will do it for this week's notebook. Let's hear your thoughts on the discussion about scheduling and how you think teams should schedule.