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Is this the year Owensboro Catholic finally gets their title?

The Aces have been bridesmaids four times – the last in 2010 – but never the bride. This year, they finished the regular season as the only unbeaten in Class 2A but not with as much fanfare as in years’ past.

The Aces have been getting the job done on defense, only allowing Union County to score more than two touchdowns in a game. However, one criticism of the Aces has been their schedule – only one non-district team, 6-4 Owensboro, posted a winning record.

In addition, the Aces would have to play at the Region 2 winner in the semifinals if they advance that far.

With defending state champion Covington Holy Cross not expected to be a postseason factor, the playoff wildcard will be Newport Central Catholic. The ‘Breds have been up-and-down this year, but they are always dangerous in the postseason.

And District 7 may be one of the toughest in the state, with the survivor expected to make the state’s Final Four.

Region 1

Owensboro Catholic (10-0) and Murray (8-2) have had memorable playoff meetings each of the last years, with both games coming down to the final seconds. The teams are expected to meet again in the second round. Murray’s ball-control offense against Owensboro Catholic’s balance should produce yet another classic.

They key will be how well Murray defends the pass. The Tigers struggled to slow down both Mayfield and Caldwell County through their air in their two losses. Also, mistakes hurt Murray.

The Aces will need to move the sticks and get Murray off the field on third down if they are to advance to the region finals and then semifinals for the sixth time in 10 years.

However, Caldwell County (7-3) and Hancock County (8-2) both post formidable threats to the winner of the other bracket.

Sophomore Elijah Sindelar has matured as the season has progressed for the Tigers, leading them to a road win at Murray and the district title. However, Caldwell County’s defense has been porous in their three losses to Calloway County, Trigg County, and Mayfield.

Hancock County has mixed more passing round the running of senior Justin Hamilton, who has over 1,300 yards and 24 touchdowns. Don’t expect this game to be a 7-6 battle.

Prediction: Owensboro Catholic 28 Hancock County 12

Region 2

Glasgow (8-2) barreled through this side of the bracket last year before falling to Holy Cross in the championship game. The Scotties lost a lot of offensive firepower from that team but finished the season with four straight wins. Their losses were to Class 3A ranked teams Monroe County and Somerset.

The Scotties feature the backfield tandem of Quentel Bradley and Marquez Trigg, who have combined for almost 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns. Teams will also have to figure out a Glasgow defense that has allowed just 22 points in their four-game winning streak.

Glasgow has a tough second round game in Bardstown (9-1), whose only loss was to district champion Christian Academy-Louisville.

The Tigers are capable of scoring a ton of points but had trouble stopping better teams. However, they did rebound well after the loss to CAL to knock off DeSales and secure the #2 seed.

Speaking of the Colts (6-4), they have a first round road game at Green County, who also sports a 6-4 record. There aren’t many teams that play a tougher schedule than DeSales, which should help them pick up a first round win over the Dragons for the second straight year.

But will they have enough for 7-3 CAL? The Centurions rolled through district play unbeaten behind the play of quarterback Nathan Christmas, who spread his cheer and the football to Nick Payne (over 1,000 yards rushing) and receiver Chad Lewellyn (over 500 yards receiving).

Prediction: Christian Academy-Louisville 37 Bardstown 33

Region 3

The new region alignment was designed to the liking of Newport Central Catholic, however Holy Cross spoiled their fun last year and brought home their first state championship.

Despite what ‘Breds fans are calling a down season, don’t believe it. They should have no trouble rolling though the region. While the loss to Holmes was a head-scratcher, last week’s thumping of Beechwood has NCC expecting another region title.

The key for a long postseason run will be placed on the shoulders of the NCC offensive line. If they can open holes for Dylan Hayes (1,229 yards rushing) and give quarterback Josh Cain (1,496 yards, 11 TDs) time to throw, no one will come within two touchdowns of the ‘Breds in the first three rounds.

Holy Cross (3-7) will likely be waiting for NCC in the second round of the playoffs, with not much expected to change from the 39-point beating they suffered two weeks ago.

Lloyd Memorial (7-3) has secured their first winning season in eight years. One of those wins came over Walton-Verona 38-33 back in September. It’s likely they will meet again in the second round.

Walton-Verona (8-2) features a balanced running game with five running backs averaging over 35 yards a game on the ground. While the Bearcats gave up a touchdown or less in seven of their eight wins, they allowed 65 points in their losses to Lloyd and Henry County.

Prediction: Newport Central Catholic 49 Lloyd Memorial 14

Region 4

This perhaps may be the most intriguing bracket of any class in the state.

Somerset, Danville, and Lexington Christian have beaten each other up in district play, while Middlesboro was competitive with both the Ads and Jumpers.

Somerset (8-2) and Lexington Christian (5-5) should have no trouble advancing past the first round, setting up a rematch of their Oct. 12 game won by the Jumpers 12-9.

No one in this bracket has had to sweat out more wins than Somerset, with half their wins coming by eight points or less – including the last three.

Somerset features a more balanced offense and just enough defense to get past the Eagles for the second straight year.

Danville (7-3) and Prestonsburg (7-3) should meet for the second straight year, with the Blackcats looking to avenge a 32-16 first round loss last year.

Danville’s three losses were to three ranked teams, including a 28-14 loss to Frankfort last week. This one should be a shootout, with the Admirals averaging 27 points a game while Prestonsburg lights up the scoreboard to the tune of 38 points a game. However, Danville has allowed just over 18 points a game against a tougher schedule.

Prediction: Somerset 16 Danville 14

State Semifinals: Christian Academy-Louisville 31 Owensboro Catholic 24
Somerset 24 Newport Central Catholic 14

Championship: Christian Academy-Louisville 9 Somerset 6