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This week's Notebook is being written in Pensacola, Florida on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Beach time is always good for contemplation and so this week seems like a good time to contemplate the district races in Class 3A. For each district, we will designate a favorite, a threat, and a surprise (a team capable of winning a first round road playoff game).

District 1
Favorite: Caldwell County (5-3)
After a slow start that saw the Tigers lose three straight, Coach David Barnes' team has rattled off five consecutive wins, three of those against district opponents. Once again the offense is loaded, with quarterback Shane Burns having thrown for 1,904 yards and 25 touchdowns, seven each to Zach Gaither and Jameer Riley. The Tigers will play their final district game this week against Fort Campbell before a bye week and a season finale at Mayfield.

Threat: Union County (5-2) and Paducah Tilghman (2-5)
Maybe it's a cop-out to put two teams in this position, but I don't think we can know anything for sure until they play on Friday. The winner will take a huge step toward a winnable first round home playoff game while the loser will almost assuredly have to make the long trip to Elizabethtown or Adair County. Union County has been a pleasant surprise, in particular running back Dontae Smith, who had rushed for 925 yards and 16 touchdowns going into last Friday's game. The Braves played Caldwell County tight for a quarter before succumbing in the second half.

Tilghman, on the other hand, has continued its recent trend of high expectations, limited results. New coach Kurt Barber does appear to be shoring up the defense and with the Tornado's talent and athleticism they are capable of beating almost anyone. Of course the question, as always, is if they can put it all together?

Playoff Surprise: Fort Campbell (2-5)
I don't know if Fort Campbell has a team capable of scaring someone on the road, but the Falcons have played a monster schedule (opponents' win-loss record: 33-18) and have looked better in district play. Fort Campbell has district games remaining with Caldwell County and Paducah Tilghman, which should give us a better prospectus of the Falcons moving forward.

District 2
Favorite: Elizabethtown (4-3)
I'm basing this on history as much as I am on this season's results. Elizabethtown won at Adair County last season, 43-15, and will host the Indians this Friday night. Adair County, by virtue of their surprising loss to Edmonson County, would be eliminated from contention with a loss, while Elizabethtown could still win via tiebreaker even with a loss. E'town's attack has been balanced thus far, with Derek Smith having run for 389 yards and seven touchdowns while Jay Becherer has toted the ball for 377 yards and another four scores.

Threat: Adair County (6-1)
Adair County caught a break this week when Hart County upended Edmonson County. The Indians had been almost destined to play a first round road game but now find themselves one win from a possible district championship. Adair quarterback Chance Melton has been terrific all season, throwing for 1,116 yards and 15 touchdowns against only two interceptions. Melton has also ran for 403 yards and seven scores.

Playoff Surprise: Larue County (3-4)
No, I don't think Larue County can win at Caldwell County or Tilghman or Union. In fact, the Hawks probably need to win one of their final two district games to assure a playoff berth. But for a team that has wandered in the woods for a few years, progress in Hodgenville has been a plus. Coach Tony Hatmaker's team has won three games for the first time since 2012.

District 3
Favorite: Central (3-4)
When a team has won ten consecutive district titles they have to be considered the favorite for an eleventh. After four losses to highly ranked teams to open the season, Central has rolled through their first three district games, pitching shutouts the last two weeks against Moore and Thomas Nelson. The district game of the year will be this Friday when Central travels to undefeated Bardstown.

Threat: Bardstown (7-0)
If Central is the favorite, then Bardstown isn't far behind. The Tigers are a surprising undefeated, one of only two left in Class 3A. Most of their success has come on the ground, with running back Tariq Armour leading the way with 726 yards and 10 touchdowns. There have been a couple chinks in the armor, though, in particular several turnovers that nearly cost them a game against Moore. If Bardstown can play a complete game on Friday, however, then they could topple Central and wear the district crown.

Playoff Surprise: Waggener (4-3)
I'm not sure if I even believe this and I'm writing it, but Waggener has talent galore and will likely be facing a road game at class powers Boyle County or Lexington Catholic. Waggener has surprisingly struggled on offense, having failed to crack 21 points in four of their seven games. Games the next two weeks against Thomas Nelson and Moore will determine if they make the playoffs, but if they do they might be a little frisky. Right? Right?

District 4
Favorite: Boyle County (4-3)
Boyle County hasn't beat Lexington Catholic since 2013 and the Rebels will have to do just that on Friday night to win the district championship. After a rocky start against good competition, Boyle has won four straight games and dominated district rival Garrard County in the second half last weekend. The Rebels have done it behind a balanced attack that sees their rushing and passing numbers almost equal.

Threat: Lexington Catholic (2-5)
Perhaps it is odd to see a team that has only won two games be considered a threat, but I don't think anyone wants to play Lexington Catholic come playoff time. The Knights started to figure themselves out last week with a 41-7 romp over Western Hills and now will play Boyle for what could be the district title. Last season's state runners-up haven't been quite as prolific on offense as normal, but quarterback Kirk Fagot has thrown for 1,182 yards and eleven touchdowns.

Playoff Surprise: Garrard County (4-3)
Jerry Perry's Golden Lions are run oriented and when they play keep away are hard to beat. The problem for Garrard has been their repeated bad habit of falling behind early. Garrard will likely have to travel in the playoffs, but if they can keep Central or Bardstown's offense off the field, their running game behind Jacob Foley (1,070 yards/13 touchdowns) could win a first round game.

District 5
Favorite: Russell (6-1)
Russell has all but cemented itself as the district champion while allowing only 30 total points in the process. The Red Devils are head-and-shoulders above their district competition, as evident by their romps against Fleming County (30-7) and West Carter (28-3). It isn't too hard to see a potential matchup at Belfry in the regional final.

Threat: Fleming County (5-2)
First, the good news. Finishing second in this district means hosting a very winnable playoff game. Now, the bad news. Finishing second means a very non-winnable second round playoff game at Belfry. By virtue of their win over West Carter, Fleming County looks to be in line for that two seed. Bill Spencer's Panthers have been more pass than run, with quarterback Josh Crump throwing for 1,269 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Playoff Surprise: West Carter (3-4)
West Carter won the school's first ever playoff game last season and might be in line to do it again in 2016. The Comets, as expected, haven't been nearly as good on offense with Braden Brown, but the running game has been good behind two other Browns (Ethan and Payton). It won't be easy, but this seems like a team capable of winning on the road at Lawrence County in the first round.

District 6
Favorite: Belfry (6-1)
The Pirates have done nothing to make us think they aren't just the best team in District 6, but in all of Class 3A. Belfry has rushed for 2,311 yards as a team, with five players having exceeded 275 yards but none over 457. Defensively, outside of a tough outing against Tennessee powerhouse Knoxville Catholic, the Pirates have been lights out.

Threat: Lawrence County (2-5)
This is far from a vintage Lawrence County team, but they are capable of winning a playoff game, likely against West Carter. Lawrence is young and inexperienced, but prior to their last two games against highly ranked Raceland and Belfry, the Bulldogs had been competitive. I wouldn't expect a deep run, but a first round win for new coach Alan Short would certainly be something to build on.

Playoff Surprise: None
Pike County Central is 3-4 with wins over minnows Shelby Valley, Perry County Central, and Magoffin County. First year coach Eric Ratliff worked wonders at Shelby Valley and in time will get these Hawks into contention, but Pike Central isn't ready just yet.

District 7
Favorite: Estill County (5-2)
Mike Jones and his running Engineers are quickly moving toward their first ever district title, needing wins over Morgan County and Knott County Central to secure it. Estill has amassed 2,293 yards on the ground while only attempting four passes on the season. Running back Dawson Bingham is 25 yards shy of 1,000 for the season and has reached the end zone twelve times.

Threat: Knott County Central (5-2) and Breathitt County (2-5)
If Knott could win in Irvine on October 21, they could throw this district into a tiebreaker free-for-all. Alas, I think Estill is too strong. Knott is, however, having one of their best seasons in school history. Quarterback Cameron Jones has thrown for 1,480 yards and 18 touchdowns against only one interception. What is hurting the Patriots is a 56-47 loss to Breathitt County that will likely mean a first round road game if they don't upset Estill.

Breathitt County is a long way from their glory days, but if the Bobcats can beat Magoffin County and Morgan County they would host a playoff game against another set of downtrodden Bobcats, these from Bell County.

Playoff Surprise: None
This looks like a district that will go 1-3 in the first round of the playoffs. The real excitement could come from the race to make the playoffs, where Magoffin County, Morgan County, and last year's champion Powell County are all in a race for the final spot.

District 8
Favorite: Corbin (6-1)
The only blemish on the Redhounds' record is a 35-34 loss to 2A #1 Mayfield. It looks like a road trip to Casey County on October 21 will decide the winner. Corbin has been very good defensively, having allowed only 43 points total outside of the Mayfield game.

Threat: Casey County (6-0)
Steve Stonebraker's Rebels have been the surprise of 2016 and will get a chance to turn even more heads when they host Corbin in two weeks. Casey's offense has been prolific, passing for 1,706 yards and running for 1,043. Casey has never won a district title.

Playoff Surprise: Bell County (2-5)
Let us be clear, Bell County is a long way from a good football team. Losing running back Treyton Humfleet in the season opener crushed whatever hopes existed of challenging in District 8. However, District 7 is far from good and Bell County has a team capable of going to Breathitt or Knott or whomever else finishes second.

Three to See
(Each week the 3A Notebook will preview the three best games featuring Class 3A teams for the coming week)

1. Boyle County at Lexington Catholic. This week marks yet another incarnation of one of Kentucky's best rivalries. Both Boyle and Catholic won their district openers last week and the winner will be right on the cusp of a district championship. Catholic has had the upper hand the last two seasons but will be facing a surging Boyle club. Expect this one to go right to the wire.

2. Central at Bardstown. Central has dominated this district and will move toward a title with a win Friday. Bardstown is one of the historical powers in Kentucky football but haven't been a serious contender in several years. A win Friday could push the Tigers into rarefied air.

3. Adair County at Elizabethtown. Adair likely thought their chance at a district championship went away when they lost to Edmonson, but a win at Elizabethtown could put the Indians right back in the hunt. Elizabethtown's record isn't impressive, but their schedule has been difficult and they've been much better of late. An E'town win all but sows up a district title for the Panthers.

Just One More
(Tired of the same teams every week? Want to go off the beaten path for a 3A game this Friday night? Each week we'll look at an under-the-radar matchup to watch in Class 3A)

Thomas Nelson at Waggener. In wrestling it was called a loser-leaves-town match and it could be similar this week. Both teams are competing with Moore (and perhaps Henry County) for the final two playoff positions in District 3. A loss by either team would put them behind the eight-ball and likely would have to hope to beat Moore or acquire tiebreaker points to make the postseason.