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CENTRAL AND CORBIN TO BATTLE FOR STATE TITLE

On August 14 the Bluegrasspreps Class 3A Preseason Preview was released. For the top ten teams in Kentucky we looked at why each team could win the state championship, why they couldn't, and what was their ultimate outlook for the season. Not surprisingly, the four teams at the top - Boyle County, Central, Belfry, and Corbin - remained at the top all season. On Thanksgiving Friday, it boiled down to who would be the last two standing and ultimately, the outlook for Central and Corbin was very bright.

Third-ranked Central jumped out early on Larue County and never looked back, winning 46-8. As always, the Yellowjackets did it with defense. After a 27-yard Mykah Williams touchdown run to break the seal, defensive end Aiden Moore returned an interception 10 yards to give Central an early 14-0 lead. In the "Why Yes" portion of the preview, Williams was listed as the feature back and he hasn't disappointed, rushing for 1,703 yards and 23 touchdowns. However, just as impressive is quarterback Malik Goodall who has passed for 1,123 yards and 13 touchdowns while also running for 1,256 yards and 21 touchdowns.

In the late second quarter it was again time for the defense to shine. Defensive back Quintez Payton took a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown and Central would cruise from there to victory. Payton's touchdown was his sixth defensive score of the season and as a unit the Dark Side Defense has scored thirteen times in fourteen games. One of the "Why No" concerns at the beginning of the year was whether the Jackets could replace their three leading tacklers from last season. Consider that accomplished: Central has allowed only 82 points on the season (compare that to their defense which has scored 78!).

For Corbin, the task was more challenging, having to topple a Boyle County program who had won 25 consecutive games and had defeated Corbin in the state championship last season. After an early defensive struggle, Corbin struck first with a Grant Gibson 2-yard touchdown run to cap a 79-yard drive, giving the Hounds an early 7-0 lead. Corbin would then force four turnovers across the remainder of the game and would use two Chase Estep touchdown runs to win the game, 21-0.

In the "Why Yes" preview, Corbin's defense was hailed as a key factor this season and they didn't disappoint, shutting out a Rebels team that came in averaging 41.9 points per game. In the "Why No" section quarterback concerns were mentioned but Estep, who played running back last season and has signed to play baseball at the University of Kentucky, has been a star, passing for 2,772 yards and 38 touchdowns and rushing for another eight scores (not including stats from Friday).

TALE OF THE TAPE

Schedules/Results

CENTRAL

Aug. 17 - Manual (W) 18-0
Aug. 24 - Western (W) 61-0
Sept. 1 - at Fern Creek (W) 25-6
Sept. 7 - at Ballard (L) 20-27
Sept. 14 - at St. Xavier (L) 19-20

Sept. 21 - Henry County (W) 20-9
Oct. 4 - Waggener (W) 39-0
Oct. 12 - at Bardstown (W) 45-6
Oct. 19 - Thomas Nelson (W) 47-0
Oct. 26 - at Pleasure Ridge Park (W) 58-6
Nov. 2 - Fleming County (W) 66-0
Nov. 9 - Bardstown (W) 56-0
Nov. 16 - at Russell (W) 26-0
Nov. 23 - Larue County (W) 46-8

CORBIN
Aug. 18 - Whitley County (W) 36-7
Aug. 25 - Danville (W) 28-10
Aug. 31 - at Pulaski County (W) 47-20
Sept. 7 - Beechwood (W) 21-14
Sept. 21 - vs. Mayfield (L) 21-45
Sept. 28 - McCreary Central (W) 50-0
Oct. 5 - Jackson County (W) 48-0
Oct. 12 - Bell County (W) 33-14
Oct. 19 - at Casey County (W) 41-0
Oct. 26 - at Knox Central (W) 28-14
Nov. 2 - Morgan County (W) 54-16
Nov. 9 - Powell County (W) 53-0
Nov. 16 - Bell County (W) 42-16
Nov. 23 - Boyle County (W) 21-0

PREDICTION

So now it comes down to one final game. Two "C"s, Central and Corbin, set to battle for a state championship. Two of the premier Class 3A programs in Kentucky play their final game before moving to Class 4A in 2019. It's Central shooting for their sixth state title, but first since 2012. It's Corbin, winners of three crowns but none since 1982. Both squads are defensive juggernauts, as Central allows 5.9 points per game (1st in Class 3A) and Corbin allows 11.1 (2nd in Class 3A). Both squads can pile up points, with Central averaging 39.1 per game (2nd in Class 3A) and Corbin scoring 37.4 (4th in Class 3A). Something has to give and the big play defense that has dominated all season for Central may just have one more big play in them. On a weekend full of big time games, give me the Jackets in a tight one.

Central 22 Corbin 19