After three weeks of Kentucky High School football there are nine undefeated teams in Class 3A. One-third of those reside in District 8. Bell County, Casey County, and Corbin have all started the 2018 campaign hot, winning by a combined average score of 41-12. Was this expected? Yes and no. All three teams advanced to at least the second round of the playoffs in 2017. But as with nearly all high school football teams, there were questions entering this season.
Third-ranked Corbin defeated Pulaski County, 47-20, on Friday night to pick up their first road victory of the young season. Corbin scored four first quarter touchdowns and had a running clock in place before halftime. Senior quarterback Chase Estep threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score as he continued to impress in his first year under center.
Corbin, who also has a win over highly ranked Danville from Class 2A, will get another chance against a major power next week when it hosts Beechwood, the top ranked squad in Class 1A.
Seventh-ranked Casey County managed to take care of rival Russell County with a big 36-7 win over the Lakers. Russell, who'd knocked Larue County out of the top ten after beating the Hawks last week, attempted to use the same methodical, ball control strategy against Casey and it was effective as the Lakers took nine minutes on their opening drive before turning it over on downs at the one-yard line.
Casey County, who has now won five straight over Russell County, scored on the last play of the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead into the break and they poured it on with three more second half touchdowns. The Rebels, who have tended to do more damage through the air in recent years, ran for 256 yards and three scores as a team.
Casey has yet to play a home game and will do so next Friday against 6A Jeffersontown. The Rebels should be a favorite against both J-town and Jackson County the following week before hosting Bell County on September 28 in what could well be a matchup of two undefeated teams.
While Corbin and Casey County have spent much of the last two years ranked in the top ten, Bell County has slowing been building their program back to its previous levels of glory. After going 4-8 in 2016, coach Dudley Hilton, in his third term as coach at Bell County, saw his team finish 7-5 last season and is now 3-0 in 2018 after beating Pike County Central, 36-0.
While the schedule has clearly been weak to this point, that hasn't kept the Bobcats from dominating their competition. Running back Colby Frazier is leading the way averaging 125 yards per game on the ground. Ranked ninth in Class 3A last week, Bell - like Casey - has a bye week and then two winnable home games before they travel to Liberty for a game that should have tons of playoff implications.
Boyle County Again Rides Special Teams to Victory
One week after blocking two punts for touchdowns, the Boyle County Rebels special teams were at it again against Danville. After spotting the Class 2A fourth-ranked Admirals a 14-0 lead, the Rebels (3-0) cut into the lead with a Landen Bartleson touchdown run and then Reiley Colwick returned a punt from deep in his own territory all the way to the end zone to send the game to halftime tied.
Following a third quarter field goal and touchdown, the Boyle special teams unit would put a final score on the board that would prove to be icing on the cake. Isaac Hardwick blocked a Danville punt and Ned Stephens recovered to set the final score at 34-17.
Bath County Serves Notice with Romp over Powell
It took longer than most would have liked, but nevertheless the Bath County Wildcats are 2-0. Johnny Poynter's Bath County club defeated previously unbeaten Powell County, 40-13, in a game that started Friday night and ended Saturday morning.
Playing at home on their brand new turf, Bath County held a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter before lightning and storms rolled through the area, forcing the game to be delayed until Saturday morning. The delay didn't bother Bath, and especially not running back Landan Swartz, who rushed for 248 yards and four touchdowns for the game.
Swartz, one of the best, if also most unheralded running backs in Kentucky, will have a chance in the spotlight this Friday as the Wildcats host Western Hills and superstar Wandale Robinson.
Around the Rankings
#2 Central finally gave up a score but it didn't matter much as the Yellowjackets (3-0) rolled over Fern Creek, 25-6 on Saturday. Quarterback Malik Goodall continued his impressive early season play, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns.
#4 Belfry picked up their first win of the season, taking care of Bryan Station, 54-21. Peyton Hensley, Isaac Dixon, and Ben Bentley all rushed for over one hundred yards on the night for the Pirates (1-1).
#5 Lexington Catholic won its third consecutive game to start the season, knocking off neighboring Lafayette, 33-7. Beau Allen continued his torrid passing streak, throwing for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
#6 Elizabethtown (0-2) lost 34-19 to North Hardin in a game delayed from Friday night. E'town, struggling defensively to start the season, allowed the Trojans 189 yards on the ground and 271 through the air.
#8 Caldwell County's parade of tough opponents to start the season continued, falling to 4A #5 Hopkinsville, 35-20. Caldwell (1-2) turned the ball over four times inside the red zone on the evening.
#10 Paducah Tilghman's return to the rankings may be short-lived after being handled by 2A #2 Mayfield, 51-27. Tilghman had allowed only six points in two games before Mayfield erupted for 51 en route to extending their series winning streak to 13 games.
Floyd Central improved to 3-0, winning a 28-22 squeaker on the road at Breathitt County. The Jaguars will look to make it two consecutive seasons starting 4-0 as they travel to Lynn Camp next week.
Union County had no trouble with rival Webster County, riding their defense to a 37-8 victory. Union (2-0) held Webster to only 62 yards of offense and picked off the Trojans three times.
Hart County defeated Bethlehem, 27-20, to get to 2-1 for the first time since winning four straight to open the 2015 season. Quarterback John Shoulders passed for 127 yards and ran for another 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Three to See (Each week the 3A Notebook will preview the three best games featuring Class 3A teams for the coming week)
1. Beechwood at Corbin. Defending Class 1A state champion Beechwood makes their way south to take on Corbin in what should be a tremendous matchup. Beechwood won 36-29 last season.
2. Boyle County at Wayne County. Boyle County looks to make it sixteen straight wins as they hit the road for Monticello to take on a Wayne County team ranked seventh in Class 4A. Wayne has won two straight after losing their opener to Frederick Douglass.
3. Crittenden County at Caldwell County. In a long-time rivalry unknown to most outside of western Kentucky, Caldwell County will look to even their record while Class 1A #7 Crittenden County will attempt to remain unbeaten. Caldwell has won eight 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)
Western Hills at Bath County. Two of the state's leading rushers square off in a big-time affair in Owingsville. Wandale Robinson has run for 323 yards and four touchdowns in two games for Western Hills (1-1) while Landan Swartz has rushed for 452 yards and seven scores for the Wildcats. Look for a lot of running on Friday night!