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Several years ago the KHSAA made the decision to adopt a scheduling grid for football. Instead of playing district games through the last Friday night of the regular season, the district schedule now ends one week earlier. I'm not exactly sure what the reasoning for this decision was, but it does provide three things for the season finale: interesting out-of-district matchups, nearly all districts with confirmed champions, and an opportunity for about 90% of the public to be confused regarding the KHSAA tiebreaker system. With this week being the final 3A Notebook for the regular season, we will look at all three of those topics leading into the postseason.

Big-Time Matchups
The biggest game of the weekend involving a 3A team is most likely #2 Belfry hosting 4A #1 Johnson Central. Belfry (8-1) has won its last two with relative ease after a tough two week stretch that saw them lose to Cabell-Midland (WV) and squeak by Lawrence County. The Pirates have lost five of their last six meetings with Johnson Central, however many around the Belfry program will say those losses have played a role in preparing them for the postseason. Johnson Central is coming off an emotional 8-7 victory at Ashland and is considered by most the co-favorite in Class 4A along with South Warren.

If you are a western Kentuckian you likely think the biggest matchup is between #5 Caldwell County and Class 2A #1 Mayfield. Both teams enter with identical 8-1 records and both are among the championship favorites in their respective classes. Caldwell County, new to Class 3A, could certainly bolster their credentials statewide by knocking off the Cardinals who have won three straight state titles and four in the last five years.

In the river city, the Central Yellowjackets have really began to click on all cylinders, outscoring their five district opponents by a score of 206-19. This week will mark the seventh consecutive year Central has finished with Pleasure Ridge Park, and the Panthers have won four of the previous six meetings. PRP, ranked #8 in Class 6A, has faced a murderer's row district slate (St. Xavier, Male, Butler, Manual), while #1 Central (7-2) is preparing for what will be a formidable playoff schedule.

One of the premier games in central Kentucky, Lexington Catholic at Southwestern, lost a little luster last weekend when Southwestern was pummeled by county rival Pulaski County, but the game should still be a good one. #3 Lexington Catholic (6-3) has won three straight while Class 5A #5 Southwestern had been victorious six weeks in a row before falling to the Maroons.

And finally, a big game in northeastern Kentucky will pit Class 1A #7 Raceland at Russell, who are just outside the top 10 in Class 3A. Russell (7-2) and Raceland are separated by three miles of Highway 750 and are bitter rivals in every sport. Russell's coach is former Raceland head man T.J. Maynard, and the Red Devils could use a victory over the Rams to help lock down a district title.

District Champions
Seven of the eight Class 3A district champions are already known. Most were expected to challenge for their respective titles, while a couple could be considered a mild surprise, at least from the preseason predictions.

District 1: Caldwell County won their seventh district title in school history, the fourth in a row (the previous three were in Class 2A). Expected to finish behind Paducah Tilghman, Caldwell dominated all four opponents and never scored below 40 points in a district game. The Tigers (8-1) will begin the playoffs at home against Hart County (5-4).

District 2: Elizabethtown was picked just outside the top ten in the preseason, but haven't really been challenged in moving to 9-0 to this point. The Panthers have locked up their thirteenth district title, but first since 2004, behind a strong running game and a defense allowing only 10.8 points per game. Elizabethtown will host Fort Campbell (2-7) in the first round of the playoffs.

District 3: After starting the season 0-2, Central has won seven straight and picked up impressive scalps from Christian Academy-Louisville and St. Xavier. Coach Ty Scroggan's Central club has now won ten consecutive district championships, an impressive feat for any program.

District 4: For the last several seasons, Lexington Catholic and Boyle County battled it out for district championships in Class 4A. This year was no different, only with realignment they were both in Class 3A. The Knights toppled the Rebels (8-1) on a late score two weeks ago then held on against Garrard County (5-4) to secure their twelfth district crown in school history. Lexington Catholic will have to wait on a tiebreaker procedure in District 3 to see who they will open the postseason against.

District 6: You can almost engrave the trophy before the season starts on Pond Creek, as the Belfry Pirates once again took home a district championship. Belfry has won thirty-two titles in their proud history, including seventeen in the last twenty years. The Pirates will begin the playoffs at home against Bath County (5-4) and they'll be among the favorites to win the state championship in December.

District 7: As normal as titles are for Belfry, they are that rare for Powell County. The Pirates, who began playing football in 1991, won their first ever championship this season. Led by first year coach Brandon Brewer, Powell rebounded from a shaky 0-3 start to win six consecutive games. Powell County will host Jackson County (1-8) in the playoff opener, looking to make a run similar to their surprise regional final trip in 2011.

District 8: Corbin picked up their thirtieth district championship in school history with a 34-20 win at Bell County (7-2) two weeks ago. The Redhounds (6-3) have been very strong on defense all season, allowing 12.1 points per outing. Like Lexington Catholic, it will require mathematics and tiebreakers to determine who comes to Campbell Field for the first round of the playoffs.

Determining who finishes above whom in the postseason is an annual difficulty for many fans because of the KHSAA tiebreaker system. The actual process, as presented in the KHSAA handbook, is seven paragraphs long. I'll try to distill it down to the nuts and bolts here and then apply it to the three district ties in Class 3A.

Should three or more teams tie for the a district position based upon the win-loss record, the position shall be determined by the following:

1) If one of the teams has defeated each of the other teams tied in games contested between them, that team shall be declared to hold the highest position, and the winner of the game between the remaining teams shall be declared the second highest position.

2) If the tie remains, each team tied for the position shall receive one point for each game won by any four of their defeated opponents in all games, except for the games played between any two of the tied teams.

3) If the tie remains after application of provision (2), an additional defeated opponent’s wins will be added to the point total for each team until the tie is broken and the winner of the tied position declared, or until all games are exhausted.

In a nut-shell, whoever has the most points (victories by defeated opponents) gets the top spot, whoever has the next amount of points gets the second spot, etc.

So where are the ties in Class 3A this season? First, District 5 has to break a tie to determine its champion. Russell, West Carter, and Fleming County all finished 4-1 in district play. Russell currently has 18 points but would benefit greatly from a win over 5-4 Raceland. West Carter (7-2) currently has 17 points, but has left only a game with 2-7 Magoffin County. West Carter's best hope for winning the district is a Russell loss to Raceland. Fleming County (6-3) has 12 points and would appear to be on the outside looking in for the a top-two finish.

In District 3, there is a three-way tie between Henry County, Bardstown, and Waggener for second place. This is an important tiebreaker because the best finisher gets a home playoff game while the other two have to travel to either Lexington Catholic or Boyle County for the first round. Henry County (7-2) looks to already have second place sewn up, while Bardstown (5-4) and Waggener (5-4) are in a virtual tie on points. Bardstown hosts Allen County-Scottsville (4-5) this weekend, while Waggener travels to Valley (6-3). Both really need a win (and the other to lose) to take that number three seed.

Finally, in District 7 is the most exciting tiebreaker, the three-way grab for a last place spot. Knott County Central, Morgan County, and Magoffin County all finished district play 1-4 and will each have to wait until Friday night to find out who's going to Corbin for the playoffs. Knott County Central (4-5) and Morgan County (4-5) are basically in the race with each other as Magoffin (2-7) only has one counting win, against an 0-10 Betsy Layne team. Knott plays an Allen Central (4-5) team that Morgan has already beaten, while Morgan will take on a 2-7 Sheldon Clark team. As of right now, it may be too close to call.