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Class 1A is sure making the KHSAA RPI look good. In last week’s action the top four teams in RPI won. Here is the RPI ranking of the four teams left:

1. Kentucky Country Day ………… .81404
2. Pikeville ……………………………… .76144
3. Louisville Holy Cross …………… .69857
4. Paintsville …………………………… .69460

Under the new seeding rules, that makes both semifinal games cross state battles. For Paintsville and Louisville Holy Cross especially, their fans must be hating this new seeding. Not because of the matchups they have, but because instead of traveling 45 minutes or 30 minutes cross city respectively for their semifinal games as they would have under the old system, they are traveling three hours plus to their games. The one thing that helps with these travel issues is it is the day after Thanksgiving and no school. Regardless, it is on to the semifinals and these four teams are certainly proud to still be playing no matter how far they have to travel to their games.

Semi-finals Matchups

Round 3 result: Paintsville 36 Williamsburg 34
Predicted score: Paintsville 35 Williamsburg 28

It may sound strange to say it in a 36-34 game, but defense was the key to victory in this one. Paintsville’s defense created turnovers that led to scores and was able to keep the powerful Williamsburg in check to get the win. The Paintsville defense scored the Tigers’ first touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone. Then they recovered another fumble that gave the offense a short field which led to another score. At that point late in the first quarter Paintsville led 12-7. Next, Jake Hyden intercepted a pass to stop another Williamsburg drive. From there the teams traded scores back and forth in an exciting closely played game. The back and forth scoring led to Paintsville being ahead 36-34 with time for Williamsburg to take one last possession to try and get the win. The Paintsville defense rose to the challenge once making a goal line stand at the three yard line to preserve the victory.

Round 3 result: Kentucky Country Day 36 Crittenden County 22
Predicted score: Kentucky Country Day 27 Crittenden County 14

It was a muddy mess at Kentucky Country Day, just the kind of field built for the Bearcats offense. KCD ran their single wing style offense into the final four. KCD RB Dorian Heard carried the ball 25 times for 221 yards to lead the running onslaught. KCD totaled 348 yards rushing as a team with Nick Smith adding 101 yards on 14 carries. KCD jumped out to a 15-0 first quarter lead and maintained the lead throughout. At the end of three quarters Crittenden County got the lead down to one score at 22-15, but KCD put two scores up in the fourth to widen the lead again and Crittenden County fell in the regional championship for the third year in a row. It should be noted that Rockets RB Xander Tabor gained 139 yards on 18 carries, and that effort gave Tabor 1,616 yards on the season, breaking the Rockets single season rushing record that had stood for 56 years. Tabor is a junior and will return next year as one of the top RB’s in 1A.

Semi-final: 4 seed Paintsville at 1 seed Kentucky Country Day

Kentucky Country Day enters this game undefeated but they have not faced any team close to the quality they will be hosting this Friday. Paintsville has played nine games against teams better than the best opponent KCD has faced this year. That is an eye opening statistic. Paintsville is battle tested. Looking at Paintsville’s resume, the game that should concern Paintsville fans is the Hazard loss. In that game Hazard handed the ball to their RB 24 times to pound out the win. KCD will try to do the same behind RB Dorian Heard. Heard is nearing a 2,000 yard rushing season. Defensively KCD features one of the top LB’s in 1A in Exavier Douglas. After facing the #1 scoring offense in 1A last week, Paintsville gets to face the #2 scoring offense in Kentucky Country Day and the #1 team in scoring margin. KCD is winning their games by an average margin of 28 per game. Despite those impressive stats, we can’t shake the belief that those numbers were built against a schedule that is not nearly as strong as Paintsville’s. We predicted a Paintsville win here in the preview and will stick with it.

Prediction: Paintsville 27 Kentucky Country Day 24

Round 3 result: Louisville Holy Cross 21 Newport Central Catholic 16
Predicted score: Louisville Holy Cross 21 Newport Central Catholic 17

The Coach Bronger farewell tour gets to make another stop. If we go by fan opinion, this game was an upset. If we go by RPI, the favorite won. It was a strange game in that Newport Catholic started great and almost finished great, but the middle of the game belonged to Holy Cross. Newport Catholic got off to a fast start piling up yards and taking a 10-0 lead. From there the Cougars took over, scoring 21 straight points resulting in a 21-10 lead. New Cath got it to 21-16 then had one last desperate drive that almost produced a game winning score. New Cath was at their own 8, facing 4th and 33 with 40 seconds left when QB Paul Kremer connected with WR Caleb Jefferson on a Hail Mary pass at mid field. The Breds got the ball to the 32 but missed on two throws into the end zone. That sealed the victory for Coach Bronger’s Cougars and their second trip to the final four.

Round 3 result: Pikeville 54 Nicholas County 14
Predicted score: Pikeville 62 Nicholas County 7

The expected onslaught by the Pikeville Panthers came to fruition. The Panthers never looked back as they exploded out to a 39-0 lead in the first half. Pikeville racked up 430 yards of offense on the night to Nicholas County’s 251. It was a very efficient night for Pikeville. QB Isaac McNamee was 9/13 for 188 yards and 2 TDs. RB Cody Raines made the most of his 5 carries, scoring 3 TDs and gaining 124 yards. Nicholas County RB Cain Saucedo finished off an excellent senior season with a 165 yard effort on 22 carries.

Semi-final: 3 seed Louisville Holy Cross at 2 seed Pikeville

Pikeville has been the season long favorite and yet they seem to still be improving each week. The key to that improvement is the development of So. QB Isaac McNamee. He has been getting better each week as the season advances. His development along with the #1 defense in 1A are what makes Pikeville #1 in the class. As we look for ways that Holy Cross can attack the Panthers, none are apparent. Holy Cross will need Jr. QB Chaz Geraghty and Sr. RB Luke Davis to have success running the ball against that Panther defense. Pikeville has played a stronger schedule and has home field advantage. Here is the playoff preview prediction:

Prediction: Pikeville 44 Holy Cross 7