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We've all heard of the irresistible force paradox, right? It poses the conundrum, what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Of course, there's really no answer, because, well… it's a paradox.

Have any words ever been more appropriate for describing the participants in a football game than “unstoppable force” and ”immovable object” in regards to Belfry and Johnson Central? Those terms aptly fit the defending 3A and 4A state champions to a tee. Both teams are big, strong, physical and tenacious. Neither team gives much ground, yet both teams always seem to be moving forward. Something's got to give, right?

These two mountain powerhouses have met 33 times since 1971, with Belfry holding a commanding 27-6 lead in the series. Johnson Central, however, has won five of their last eight against the Pirates. Last year's meeting was one of the most physical football games played in the Commonwealth all year. Belfry escaped Paintsville with a 21-16 win to capture the mythical Eastern Kentucky and Mountain championships. The Golden Eagles doubled the Pirates’ offensive output, but couldn't take advantage of three scoring opportunities deep in Belfry territory. Derek Wellman and Taveon Hunter return for Belfry after coming up huge in this game a year ago. JC's stud running back Joe Jackson found plenty of running room against a stout Pirates defense in 2016, but saw his junior year cut very short with a knee injury in Week 1 against Capital.

After barely breaking a sweat in district play, Belfry (8-1) is looking for one last challenge to help them recalibrate before the post-season begins. Kevin Browning is in his first year manning the QB duties in Coach Philip Haywood's flexbone offense. He doesn't get the chance to throw it much, but when he does air it out, he's been very efficient - 15 of 21 for 393 yards and 7 touchdowns, with only one interception. Wellman and Hunter lead a punishing Pirates ground attack, combining for over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns. Hunter averages an eye popping 17 ypc, while Wellman rumbles up the middle for 9 yards a pop from his fullback position. Belfry doesn't quite have the size on the offensive line that they had last year, but Austin Lawson, Dagen Rash, Ethan Wolford, and Keaton Thacker still give the Pirates plenty of beef up front.

Wellman is the heart and soul of the defense at middle linebacker, along with fellow ‘backer Austin Fields. The defensive line was the big question mark coming into the season, and after a less than stellar start, is beginning to come along nicely. The secondary is one of, if not the, best and most experienced in 3A. Devin Varney and Justin Adkins have been through the wars and will not flinch in the face of Johnson Central's physical style and big play passing game.

Jim Matney's crew are looking to shake loose some cobwebs and get back on the winning track after losing to district rival Ashland. Despite the fact that Ashland was ranked 4th in the BGP 4A poll, the result was, frankly, a little shocking. The big play connection of Braxton Ratliff to Aroq Colburn, lack of a JC kicking game, and a couple of 4th quarter fumbles spelled doom for the Golden Eagles. Johnson Central (8-1) can't dwell on the loss for long, though. The four time defending 3A champs beckon. Sophomore QB Riley Preece is back under center after helping guide Johnson Central to the 4A title a year ago. He's picked up right where he left off last season, displaying poise and maturity beyond his years, passing for over 800 yards and 10 TDs, with another 401 yards and 8 TDs on the ground. The loss of Jackson placed a heavier workload on the legs of Blake Gamble, the heir apparent to Geordan Blanton's title of Mr. Versatility. Gamble's responded by racking up 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing. Devin Johnson and Dillon Preston compliment Gamble in the backfield, combining for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. After not catching a pass last year, sophomore WR Seth Dalton has emerged as Preece's top target, with 596 yards and 6 TDs on just 17 receptions, for an average of 35 yards per catch.

Each of those talented skill kids should thank the good Lord every day for the offensive line they operate behind. Get a load of the size on the hogs up front: LT Ethan Bingham (6’6”, 315), LG Noah Blankenship (6’2”, 290), C Byron Pierce (6’3”, 280), RG Eddie Patrick (6’3” 280), RT Chase Owens (6’4”, 270). They're among the biggest and baddest in the state. Bingham is headed to Marshall after this year.

On the defensive side of the ball, 6’3” 300 lb Dawson Stalker terrorizes opposing offenses from his interior D-line position. 6’3” 290 lb Marcus Wells joins Stalker to form a formidable defensive tackle duo. Sophomore Devin Johnson is a star in the making at outside linebacker. At 6’2” 210 lbs, he displays tremendous athleticism and instincts, making plays sideline to sideline. Gamble, Evan Adkins, and Taylor Blanton help solidify the back end of the defense.

It's up for debate as to whether or not the mythical Eastern Kentucky crown is up for grabs here, but the title of King of the Mountains still appears to be on the line. This is big boy football, man's town. Not for the faint of heart.

If you're in Pike County on Friday night and you feel the Earth move beneath your feet, don't fret, it's not an earthquake, it's just Belfry and Johnson Central trading haymakers at the CAM.