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It is here. It is hard to believe the regular season is almost over. The district games are in the books and final preparations for the playoffs are under way. It is interesting to see how coaches schedule this last game. Some coaches schedule a really tough opponent. Some coaches have a larger class school who is average at best. Some coaches stayed in class and scheduled a tough out of area 1A opponent. Here is the rundown for this final week.

Top ranked Beechwood is one of those schools that scheduled a really tough opponent - 2A #7 and multi-time state champion Newport Central Catholic. This game is a real rivalry going back to the years these two were in the same class and district battling it out. Beechwood had little trouble in their district games and they are looking for this game to show them if they are ready for the playoff run.

Paintsville also has scheduled a ranked 2A team - #9 Shelby Valley. This Tigers team is trying to finish off an undefeated season after demolishing district challenger Raceland last week. This game should be just enough of a battle to keep their starters sharp without making them work too hard for that 10th win.

Pikeville has scheduled an interesting opponent from their own county in 3A Pike County Central. PCC only has three wins on the year which makes Pikeville a big favorite. This game has the potential to become an annual rivalry game. This may not be much of a game on paper but there could be some added emotion in this one that will add to the matchup.

Our #4 team Russellville faces what looks like the toughest end of the year game for any of our ranked 1A teams - 4A Franklin-Simpson. This game will definitely push Russellville to be at their best. Russellville got a nice win last week over Crittenden County to win the district crown and top seed in the playoffs. Russellville and Franklin-Simpson have gone back and forth trading wins over the past few years. This game will be hard fought and a very tough challenge for Russellville.

Sitting at #5 is our other undefeated 1A team, the Paris Greyhounds. Paris is one of those schools that chose a tough in class opponent for their final game - Bethlehem. Paris knocked district opponent Brossart from the undefeated ranks last week in a district title clinching win. Bethlehem also won their district making this game a playoff quality match up for these two teams.

Fairview had last week off and this week's schedule is one of those higher class struggling teams in 3A Lewis County. Lewis County only has one win on the year and does not look like much of a challenge for Fairview. It will be interesting to see if this scheduling has any negative impact for Fairview as they enter the playoffs.

Raceland took one on the chin from Paintsville but held on to the #7 slot in 1A. This week, similar to Beechwood, they face an area rival in 3A Russell. Raceland is at a real crossroads. Their season has gone an unexpected direction and they have to turn it around against a very tough rival. It can be argued that no team in 1A faces a more important season closing game than the Rams.

Add #8 Hazard to the list of teams closing the year against a middle of the road higher class team - 3A Breathitt County. Hazard is on a good run winning 6 of their last 7. This will be a good tuneup game for the Bulldogs after a couple of easy district wins in their previous two games. Breathitt County is just strong enough to make the game a challenge but likely not strong enough to defeat the Bulldogs.

Brossart saw their undefeated season come to an end at the hands of district winner Paris. That game hurt in many ways as it ended the undefeated season, cost Brossart the district title and pushed Brossart into a very difficult first round playoff game against #7 Raceland. The Mustangs get this week against one win 3A Pendleton County to regroup and get ready for that tough playoff game.

Holy Cross (Louisville) is our #10 team and they may have an even more difficult challenge than Russellville this week as they take on 5A Fairdale. Fairdale has played a difficult big school schedule and a winning record is on the line for them in this game. Holy Cross will need their best effort to have a chance at winning this one.

One other game of interest is a matchup between a couple of teams in the 11-15 range in 1A - Campbellsville at Ky. Country Day. Both these teams had tough district losses last week that they will be looking to rebound from. This will be an interesting cross district game and a good playoff prep game for both these teams.

Next week we will be previewing the playoffs. Several of the games this week will help us learn what we might expect to see as the 1A playoffs play out.