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Among These Five Teams is the 2017 Class 3A State Champion

It would take numerous hands to count the total state championships among the five best teams in Class 3A - 22 titles total. Two schools need two hands just to count their own rings. You will only need one hand, however, to count the number of potential state champions in Class 3A. With three weeks remaining in the regular season the 3A Notebook believes the 2017 state champion will come from the quintet of Belfry, Corbin, Boyle County, Elizabethtown, or Central. Unlike the last four seasons, when a Belfry championship was nearly a foregone conclusion, this year appears to promise a competitive state semifinal round and championship game.

Last weekend saw #1 Belfry travel to West Virginia and beat one of the Mountain State's best, topping Cabell Midland, 35-14. #2 Corbin had no trouble with Jackson County, romping 65-6. #3 Boyle County made quick work of district foe Garrard County, winning 48-7. #4 Elizabethtown went to Adair County and came back with a shutout, dominating the Indians 63-0. And finally, #5 Central again rode their powerful defense to a 28-7 win over district challenger Waggener.

In this week's version of the 3A Notebook we will look at how the five contenders compare across various statistical categories, including points scored and allowed, rushing and passing yards per game, total yards allowed on defense, and strength of schedule to this point. [Note: all statistics are from KHSAA website and include all games posted; some stats from this weekend have not been posted.]

POINTS SCORED
1. Belfry 48.0
2. Elizabethtown 45.1
3. Boyle County 41.3
4. Corbin 35.6
5. Central 19.3

Four of the top five have prolific offenses that light up the scoreboard. Only Central has shown offensive deficiency, but that is due in part to a brutal schedule that includes five opponents ranked in the top ten in larger classes. The Yellowjackets are averaging 36 points per game against 3A competition.

POINTS ALLOWED
1. Boyle County 11.9*
1. Elizabethtown 11.9*
3. Corbin 12.4
4. Central 14.0
5. Belfry 18.3

Boyle County and Elizabethtown are tied among the five in fewest points allowed per game, but the distance between them and Corbin and Central is very small. Belfry is the outlier, having given up big scores in the early season, but the Pirates are surrendering just 8.8 points per game in their last four.

RUSHING YARDS PER GAME
1. Belfry 391
2. Elizabethtown 239
3. Boyle County 197
4. Central 166
5. Corbin 129

Belfry annually piles up huge yards on the ground and this season is no exception. Elizabethtown has been better on the ground this year than in previous seasons, while Boyle County is getting better production from their backfield in recent weeks. Corbin doesn't run a ton, but they have one of the best runners in quarterback Cameron Sizemore.

PASSING YARDS PER GAME
1. Boyle County 207
2. Corbin 189
3. Elizabethtown 140
4. Central 78
5. Belfry 43

Boyle County is the only club throwing for more than 200 yards per game, while Central and Belfry are both under 100. Corbin's 189 yards per game through the air is balanced almost perfectly with their ground attack. Evidence from past years has shown you can win a state championship in Class 3A without throwing for big yards.

YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME
1. Central 161
2. Corbin 191
3. Elizabethtown 232
4. Boyle County 270
5. Belfry -

Each defense is strong (Belfry has no defensive stats posted), with Central and Corbin posting the best numbers. Boyle County is allowing 270 yards per game but it hasn't translated to many points as we noted earlier.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
1. Boyle County 3rd
2. Central 4th
3. Corbin 7th
4. Belfry 8th
5. Elizabethtown 11th

Using Calpreps.com's strength of schedule calculator, all five teams have played difficult schedules, with each ranking within the top eleven in Class 3A. Boyle County still must face Lexington Catholic, Central will play Pleasure Ridge Park, and Belfry tangles with Johnson Central, so strength of schedule will only get tougher for our top five.

Lexington Catholic Outscores Western Hills

In an absolutely wild affair in Lexington on Friday night, #7 Lexington Catholic was able to withstand an offensive onslaught from #8 Western Hills with an offensive showcase of their own, on the way to a 71-49 victory. Lexington Catholic was led by quarterback Beau Allen's 259 yards passing and four touchdowns while Western Hills' Wandale Robinson rushed for 276 yards and five touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass, and returned a kickoff 96 yards for a seventh score. Both Allen and Robinson are heavy recruiting targets for the University of Kentucky.

The win sets up for Catholic what likely is a district championship deciding game with Boyle County this Friday. Western Hills will have to beat Boyle County in two weeks if they hope to host a first round playoff game. With offenses that can score at will, Lexington Catholic (396 yards per game, 30.7 points) and Western Hills (447 yards, 46 points) will both be tough outs in the postseason, although the lack of defense from both sides may keep either from being considered a championship threat.

District 3 Tiebreaker Looming

With most districts containing only 4-5 teams and the gap between best and worst typically wide, it is rare that you see many districts end in ties. At the three-quarter pole in 2017, District 3 looks like it could be the exception. Henry County won at Bardstown, 40-31, setting up a potential three-way tie between the Wildcats, Tigers, and Thomas Nelson. Central and Waggener appear to be head-and-shoulders ahead of the final three, which means either Henry County, Bardstown, or Thomas Nelson won't make the playoffs.

The KHSAA tiebreaker rewards teams for wins against teams that also accumulate wins. At the end of the regular season, if a team has won 7 games then they are worth 7 "points." In a three team tiebreaker, if none of the three beat both of the other contenders, each team counts their four best wins based on points. Speculating before all games are played can be tricky, but at this point Henry County looks to have the best path to a three seed. Bardstown and Thomas Nelson may well be scoreboard watching on the final night, with Bardstown in the unique position of hoping rival Nelson County loses while simultaneously hoping rival Bethlehem wins. Stay tuned!

Around the Rankings

#6 Caldwell County had little trouble with Trigg County, beating the host Wildcats 37-6 in the 139 Bowl. Joby Jaggers passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns in the win, which clinched the Tigers' sixth straight district championship.

#9 Casey County remained undefeated with another huge offensive output, this time toppling McCreary Central 70-30. Preston Tucker ran for three touchdowns, while Austin Campbell passed for three, two to Britt Pendleton.

Extra Points

Lawrence County stopped a Pike County Central two-point conversion attempt with 1:18 left in the game to secure a huge 38-36 victory. Lawrence County rushed for 440 yards on the evening, with Ashton Blankenship leading the way with 144 yards and a touchdown. The win likely means no worse than a second place finish in District 6 for Lawrence County while Pike County Central will travel to Louisville Waggener in the first round of the playoffs.

Floyd Central took a huge step toward clinching a playoff berth in their first season of existence with a 48-0 rout of Sheldon Clark on Thursday night. Koby Slone scored twice on the ground for the Jaguars.

Knott County Central whipped Magoffin County 47-12 on Friday night to improve to 4-3 on the season. This marks the fourth time in five years Knott Central has won at least four games, an impressive feat for a program that went from 1997-2012 without ever winning four games. Next on the agenda for the Patriots is securing a winning season for the first time since going 8-3 in 1996.

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

1. Lexington Catholic at Boyle County. Two bitter rivals meet for the 26th time on Friday night with the Knights holding a 13-12 series lead. Boyle seems to be clicking on all cylinders while Lexington Catholic is putting points on the board but allowing them at almost the same rate. Catholic has won eight of the last nine meetings.

2. Larue County at Elizabethtown. District Two will crown a winner in this battle of top ten teams on Friday night. Elizabethtown has won four straight in the series, with the last Larue win a 33-6 victory in 2012.

3. Fleming County at Bath County. A Fleming win all but cements a district championship while a Bath County win would move the Wildcats one game closer to their first district title since 1997. Fleming has won eleven straight in the series.

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)

Breathitt County at Powell County. Three weeks ago we were congratulating Breathitt County and Powell County for becoming the last two teams in Class 3A to get their first victory. Both the Bobcats and Pirates have comfortably won their first three district games and are now playing for a possible district championship. What a difference a few weeks can make!