Week One of the postseason saw very little in the way of surprises as all but one home team picked up first round victories and only one game had a marginally surprising result. The second round slate gets a bit tougher with at least four games that could be won be either team, including two matchups of top ten teams. Bottom line, it should be an exciting week of 3A playoff football.
All four top seeds advanced to the second round, two with ease and two with at least some discomfort. #9 Elizabethtown coasted to a 49-0 win over Fort Campbell and will now prepare to host Paducah Tilghman for a second consecutive season. E'town (8-3) won last year's meeting 42-14. This year's version of the Blue Tornado have greatly improved throughout the season and are winners of five straight. Tilghman (6-5) led Larue County 21-7 at halftime in round one and pushed out to a 35-13 final.
In a near repeat of last year's playoff opener, #7 Caldwell County handled Hart County 49-8. Caldwell (7-4) did most of its damage through the air as Shane Burns passed for five touchdowns, four of which were to Zach Gaither. Gaither has reeled in 13 touchdown catches on the season. Caldwell will host Adair County in the second round for a second straight season. Adair sped out to a three touchdown halftime lead over Union County then held on for a 26-20 win. Adair (8-3) will look to make amends after last season's 61-39 loss that eliminated perhaps the best Indians team in school history.
-Elizabethtown 31 Paducah Tilghman 27
-Caldwell County 35 Adair County 21
The class's strongest region saw some favorites weather potential storms and cruise to victory, setting up a mammoth duo of second round games this week. Lexington Catholic, ranked third in the final BGP rankings, again cranked up their high-power offense and romped over Waggener, 55-22. Catholic (6-5) will host Bardstown, a 58-36 winner over Western Hills, this coming Friday. The Knights opened last postseason with a 55-13 win over Bardstown en route to a state finals appearance. #5 Bardstown (10-1) is much improved and sports only a single loss, but will their occasionally suspect defense, which allows just over 20 points per game, be up to the challenge Catholic will present?
Central drew one of the better four seeds in the playoff opener and took until the third quarter to put away Garrard County on their way to a 48-26 win. Only a game over .500, 6-5 Central is still considered one of, if not the, favorite on the western side of the bracket. The Yellowjackets will host #8 Boyle County (7-4) in a second round meeting for a second consecutive year. Boyle County had no trouble with Moore, romping to a 59-12 win. Quarterback Sam Tiller threw three touchdowns and Trintin Ashburn ran for two scores in the win. Last year Central broke a streak of three consecutive playoff losses to Boyle, winning 27-14. This year's game should be just as close and competitive.
Only three games were contested in this region as Russell, champions of District 5, drew a first round bye. The sixth-ranked Red Devils (9-1) were able to get an in person view of their second round opponent Pike County Central as the Hawks surprised some with a 43-34 win over West Carter. Pike Central (5-6) had been shut out in each of their last two games but used a 100-yard interception return just before halftime to swing momentum in their favor and topple the Comets.
Top ranked Belfry had no trouble with Bath County, winning 50-0 on Pond Creek. It was the fourth shutout in five games for the Pirates. Belfry (10-1) started Kevin Browning in place of Noah Corbett at the quarterback position and he responded by tossing two touchdown passes. After last week's slugfest with Johnson Central, several Belfry starters played limited minutes to recuperate and prepare for the remainder of the postseason. Belfry will now host Fleming County, 29-22 winners over Lawrence County. Fleming (8-3) scored with fourteen seconds left in the game to take the victory. This will be the first ever meeting between Belfry and Fleming County.
-Belfry 42 Fleming County 7
-Russell 42 Pike County Central 8
#2 Corbin took their first step toward a potential postseason rematch with Belfry by toppling Knott County Central, 56-0. The Redhounds, who have allowed only 85 points all season, pitched their third shutout in four games. Quarterback Cameron Sizemore ended the game with five touchdown passes. (10-1) Corbin will host old rival Bell County in the second round. Bell (4-7) won at Breathitt County, 58-30, in a game marred by an early altercation that saw both benches come to blows. Corbin won the regular season meeting with Bell County 50-0.
Meanwhile, two of the biggest surprises in Class 3A, Estill County and Casey County, had no trouble winning their playoff openers and now prepare for what should be a very intriguing second round matchup. Estill County (9-2) whipped Jackson County 48-6 behind their dominant ground game. The Engineers piled up 380 yards on the ground. Estill will host #10 Casey County, 48-12 winners over Powell County. Casey (9-1) again did most of their damage through the air, with Breece Hayes tossing for 272 yards and four touchdowns. Stakes are high for both teams as Estill will be looking to make only their second regional final appearance in school history (lost to Breathitt County in 2008) while Casey County is looking to get to the third round for the first time.
-Corbin 48 Bell County 6
-Casey County 38 Estill County 20