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Redhounds Wrap Up 31st District Championship

With most every 3A district title already clinched and a couple more just mere formalities, Friday night's matchup between Top 10 teams in Liberty was the most meaningful game in the commonwealth. Corbin traveled to Casey County and rode the back of their stout defense to a 35-7 victory and their third straight district championship.

Corbin (8-1) took a quick lead on a Cameron Sizemore touchdown run after a long opening kickoff return. Redhound coach Justin Haddix told the Times Tribune, “We wanted the football and wanted to drive down and score, and we did that." (Redhounds cruise to 35-7 victory en route to third straight district title | Sports | thetimestribune.com). Corbin wouldn't score again until just before half when they intercepted Casey (7-1) quarterback Breece Hayes and went 49 yards in the last 45 seconds to take a 14-0 lead into halftime. Interceptions were a problem for Hayes, who was picked off four times on the night after having tossing only one interception on the season to this point. Corbin extended the lead to 28-7 in the second half and set the final margin when Cameron Gilbert ran a final Hayes interception back 60 yards for a touchdown.

While certainly a tough loss, Casey coach Steve Stonebraker was optimistic going into the postseason, telling the Danville Advocate-Messenger, “They see how close they are, we went toe-to-toe with them in the first half and things got away from us in the second, but the kids kept fighting. We had two really good drives in the first half that we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties on,” Stonebraker said. “It could have been a totally different game if we end up scoring on those." (Casey falls from ranks of unbeatens with loss to Corbin | The Advocate-Messenger)

Belfry, Elizabethtown Both Repeat as District Champs

Belfry had no trouble en route to their 33rd district title as they blasted Pike County Central, 60-0. The Pirates (8-1), who scored 27 first quarter points and had a running clock early in the second quarter, ran for 443 yards on 28 carries and rushed for seven scores. Belfry has won district titles in fourteen of the last fifteen seasons and is a heavy favorite to win a fourth straight Class 3A championship, but will step out of district play for a huge matchup at Johnson Central this Friday. Both the Pirates and Golden Eagles are ranked #1 in their respective classes.

Elizabethtown continued their hot streak with a win over Larue County (4-5) to seal the district title. It wasn't easy for the Panthers, who led 18-13 at the half before pushing out to a 39-19 final. The ground game was where E'town (6-3) had the most success, rushing for 343 yards as a team. Junior Jay Becherer ran for 189 yards himself, including a 70-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.

After a tough start to the season that saw Elizabethtown lose three of its first five games, the Panthers are now in position to host three playoff games before the state semifinals. For some, this might have been unexpected. However, senior lineman Dillon Swank to the Elizabethtown News-Enterprise, “All year we heard like, E’town is a young team, this is going to be a rebuilding year. We didn’t want to hear any of that. We have guys that can make plays, guys who can step up in place of last year, and that’s exactly what we did.” (PREP FOOTBALL: Elizabethtown tops LaRue County, clinches district title (1/23) | TheNewsEnterprise.com)

Exciting Finales

Six ranked teams in Class 3A will finish their regular seasons this coming Friday against highly ranked teams from other classes. Depending on how the rankings accumulate this week, it could even be seven. All will have a final opportunity to make improvements before a postseason push.

The marquee matchup is 3A #1 Belfry at 4A #1 Johnson Central. These two mountain powers have been almost even in the last nine matchups, with Johnson Central winning five and Belfry taking four. Look for a high energy, hard hitting game in Paintsville this week.

Meanwhile Lexington Catholic, written off as dead a few weeks ago, now looks like they could be the best 3A team in the western half of the bracket, having scored 142 points in their last three games. The Knights will host Southwestern, #7 in Class 5A and themselves riding a positive wave after two early losses. Southwestern beat rival Pulaski County last week to clinch the district crown and could well make their first trip to a state final come December.

Other big time games include #2 Corbin at 4A #9 Knox Central, #5 Caldwell County at 2A #1 Mayfield, #7 Russell at 1A #3 Raceland, and #9 Elizabethtown vs. 2A #9 Glasgow. #4 Central travels to 6A PRP, currently unranked but likely to be in the top ten after this week.

Around the Rankings

#3 Lexington Catholic (4-5) beat Garrard County 63-31 behind two quarterbacks used in two different ways. Freshman Beau Allen threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns while senior Kirk Fagot ran for 109 yards and two scores.

#4 Central (5-4) had no trouble dispatching Henry County, 41-3. Henry County will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

#6 Bardstown (8-1) showed no ill effects from their tough loss to Central last week, whipping county rival Thomas Nelson, 46-16. Bardstown will host Western Hills in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

#7 Russell (8-1) returned to dominant defensive football, holding Bath County to one score and cruising to a 55-6 win. By virtue of winning District 5 and because District 6 has only three teams, Russell will have a first round bye in the playoffs.

#8 Boyle County (5-4) came alive in the second half to dismantle Western Hills, 64-21. The Rebels ran for 349 yards and passed for another 221 yards on the night.

Extra Points

Paducah Tilghman won for the fourth time in five games, easily besting Fort Campbell, 55-3. After several early defensive issues, the Blue Tornado (4-5) have allowed only 13 points in their last three games. Tilghman is looking like a sneaky pick to make some noise in Region I.

Moore (7-3) beat Jefferson County rival Waggener, 39-28, to wrap up the third seed in District 3. This fall saw the Mustangs record their first winning season since 2001.

Last year's District 7 champion Powell County (4-5) certainly isn't as good this time around, but the Pirates have shown an impressive offensive side the last month, averaging 50.5 points per game over their last four, culminating with a 52-38 win at Magoffin County on Friday. Nathan Skidmore has ran for 1,346 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.

Trigg County forced six turnovers and held on to beat Union County, 9-6, setting up a three-way tie for two playoffs spots in District 1. Using the KHSAA formula of points for number of victories of defeated opponents, Union (5-4) will get the third seed. Trigg County (3-7) and Fort Campbell (2-7) will both be rooting for the rarest of things this Friday - victories by Caverna, Todd County Central, and Fort Knox. Currently, Fort Knox has one win, which accounts for Fort Campbell's sole point. Caverna and Todd County Central have no wins, meaning Trigg has no points themselves. This tiebreaker certainly gives meaning to the mantra of every game counts!

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

1. Belfry at Johnson Central. Two mountain clubs that love to run the football. Belfry has ran for 3,327 yards on the year while Johnson Central has toted the ball for 2,971 yards. Both defenses are stout, too, with Johnson Central allowing only 9.4 points per game and Belfry allowing just over that at 12.4.

2. Caldwell County at Mayfield. Caldwell County (6-3) has knocked on the door of the top of Class 3A all season and will have a chance to make a huge statement at Mayfield. This series has been exciting of late, with two of the last three games coming down to the final drive.

3. Central at Pleasure Ridge Park. Central coach Ty Scroggins said earlier in the year he had a good 3A team but not a good 6A team. The Yellowjackets will have one more chance to get a 6A skin when they play their annual season ender with Pleasure Ridge Park. PRP has won four of the last seven between these two Louisville rivals.

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)

Russell at Raceland. These two northeastern Kentucky rivals don't exactly love each other and even suspended their rivalry for two years in 2013-14. Russell is coached by former Raceland boss T.J. Maynard. Raceland won last year's meeting 27-21 in overtime, coincidentally the same score Raceland lost to Paintsville by last Friday in a matchup of two of the best teams in Class 1A.