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Boyle County Withstands Challenge to Clinch District Championship

Last year, Boyle County beat Western Hills twice by a combined score of 133-28. Western Hills' superstar Wandale Robinson compiled 114 yards receiving, 38 yards rushing, and two touchdowns in those games. Many likely assumed Boyle County's trip to the state capital on Friday night to play Western Hills would be more of the same. You'll have to forgive them - they were dead wrong. Top ranked Boyle County and #10 Western Hills slugged it out for three quarters before three fourth quarter touchdowns by the Rebels set the final score at 54-35 sealed both the game and the district championship for Boyle County. But it absolutely didn't come easy.

Boyle County opened the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown pass from Reed Lanter to Reese Smith. It was the first of four touchdowns on the night for the junior Smith, who received an offer from the University of Kentucky earlier in the week. Western Hills responded with a touchdown pass from Nate Johnson to Carlos Gonzalez to tie the game and it was back-and-forth from that point until the end of the third.

After facing their first deficit(s) of the season, Boyle County dominated the fourth quarter to pull away for the victory. Andrew Sacco, who ran for 127 yards on the night, scored from 44 yards out early in the fourth and Tanner Crawford, who ran for 154 yards, tacked on a 71-yard touchdown run at the midpoint of the final frame. Boyle would finish the scoring when Reese Smith returned an interception 100 yards to set the final margin.

It was a night of stars in Frankfort. Reed Lanter passed for 185 yards and four touchdowns for Boyle County (9-0), three of which went to Smith, who finished with 105 receiving yards and the aforementioned interception return. For Western Hills (6-3), Wandale Robinson rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 23 yards.

The best part, at least for the fans, was with Lexington Catholic's win over Garrard County, Western Hills finished third in the district, which means a second round playoff meeting it extremely likely on November 9th. I'd expect a decent crowd, including any number of college scouts, to be on hand for that one.

Russell Pounds Bath County on Way to Third District Title in Five Years

It was a pretty simple formula for Russell on Friday night at Bath County. Run the ball on offense, stop the run on defense, and win the football game. Check, check, and check for Russell as they romped over Bath County, 42-6.

After a scoreless first quarter, Russell scored four times in the second frame to take a 28-6 lead to halftime, and then used a rushing touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth to win their fifth straight game and clinch the district championship. Russell (6-3) rushed for 292 yards as a team without attempting a single pass. Both Grant Wilburn and Charlie Jachimczuk scored twice for the Red Devils.

"We was gonna keep pounding on ‘em, we felt like we could run right at ‘em," Russell head coach T.J. Maynard told the Ashland Daily Independent. "None of our receivers pouted; they just went out there, did their job and blocked. Our offensive line did a great job." (Run, run, Russell: Red Devils beat Bath without throwing a pass | Sports | dailyindependent.com)

Almost as impressive was the defensive performance as Russell held Bath County (6-3) star running back Landan Swartz, who came in averaging right at 200 yards per game on the ground, to a mere 53.

The win assures Russell the district championship and also leaves a three-way tie between Bath County, Fleming County, and West Carter for second place (all three are assured a playoff berth). Playoff seeding will be determined via tiebreaker at the completion of next week's games.

Playoff Picture Almost Crystal Clear

After weeks of jockeying for position, the playoff field is almost complete heading into the final week of the season. Only district five, with its three-way tie between Bath County, Fleming County, and West Carter, is up in the air. The 3A Notebook will release its annual Playoff Preview next week but for this week let's set the bracket. (Teams written in bold have home field advantage through first three rounds; teams written in bold italics have home field advantage throughout all four rounds; the state championship game will be played at Kroger Field in Lexington on Friday, November 30 at 7pm EST).

Region I
[4] Trigg County at [1] Elizabethtown
[3] Hart County at [2] Paducah Tilghman
[4] Edmonson County at [1] Caldwell County
[3] Union County at [2] Larue County

Region II
[4] Thomas Nelson at [1] Russell
[3] Bath/Fleming/West Carter at [2] Waggener
[4] Bath/Fleming/West Carter at [1] Central
[3] Bardstown at [2] Bath/Fleming/West Carter

Region III
[4] Garrard County at [1] Belfry
[3] Pike County Central at [2] Lexington Catholic
[4] Floyd Central at [1] Boyle County
[3] Western Hills at [2] Lawrence County

Region IV
[4] Morgan County at [1] Corbin
[3] Casey County at [2] Powell County
[4] McCreary Central at [1] Breathitt County
[3] Estill County at [2] Bell County

Around the Rankings

#2 Corbin pitched their third shutout in four games beating Casey County, 41-0. Chase Estep threw for 301 yards and five touchdowns as the Redhounds (8-1) clinched home field advantage throughout the entire postseason.

#3 Belfry (8-1) had no trouble with Pike County Central, dismantling the Hawks, 47-6, on the way to an eighth straight district championship.

#4 Central had two runners, Mykah Williams and Takaius Linton, eclipse the 100-yard mark in their 47-0 win over Thomas Nelson. Central (7-2) leads Class 3A in scoring defense allowing only 7.6 points per game.

#5 Lexington Catholic had their hands full early before pulling away from Garrard County, 39-22. Beau Allen passed for 256 yards and four touchdowns for the Knights (6-3).

#7 Paducah Tilghman (7-2) scored five first quarter touchdowns and outgained Fort Campbell 319-25 on the way to a 49-0 victory.

#8 Bell County rebounded from their first loss of the season by blitzing Jackson County, 61-6. Bell County (8-1) leads Class 3A in scoring offense averaging 47.4 points per game.

#9 Elizabethtown put away pesky Bardstown, 31-7, on the way to a sixth straight win. Clay Games passed for 114 yards and a touchdown while Trayjan Bradley ran for 102 yards and another score for the Panthers (6-3).

Extra Points

Four Class 3A schools have not been mentioned in a 3A Notebook article this year. Since this is the last typical Notebook before the postseason, I'd like to give a shout out to each squad.

For Adair County, quarterback Aaron Peck has passed for four touchdowns and rushed for four more for the Indians (1-8). They'll finish the season next week at rival Casey County.

Henry County gave district champ Central its closest game of the district schedule, falling 20-9 on September 21, but it wasn't enough to get the Wildcats (3-6) into the postseason.

Knott County Central (1-8) lost quarterback Cameron Jones in a transfer to Frederick Douglass, then lost back-to-back heart breakers to Morgan County and Estill County to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Finally, Pendleton County won their opener over Gallatin County and beat Dayton three weeks later, but a brutal district slate culminated in a winless district season. The future looks bright for the Wildcats (2-7), however, as quarterback Matthew Campbell, who leads the team in passing and rushing, returns to Falmouth in 2019 for his senior season.

Even though it has been a tough year and none of the four will make the playoffs, the players and coaching staffs are to be commended for their hard work in building their respective programs. Keep working - your time will come.

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

1. Belfry at Johnson Central. Two mountain rivals will go nose-to-nose again in the season finale as both teams look like strong contenders for championships in their respective classes. Belfry has won three straight in the series.

2. Corbin at Knox Central. Two rivals that don't really care for each other in any sport get to settle some differences on the gridiron. Corbin has won four out of five since the series was renewed in 2013.

3. Southwestern at Lexington Catholic. Two highly ranked teams meet in an attempt to build momentum as they head to the postseason. Both schools finished second in their districts and will likely have a tough playoff road ahead of them - playing a strong opponent in the finale should position themselves well for a tournament run.

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)

Garrard County at Rockcastle County. Garrard lost to Rockcastle on a Hail Mary at the buzzer last season and would like nothing more than finish the regular season with a road victory. Both teams will compete in the same Class 3A district next season so this game will take on extra importance in the coming years. Also, I'll be there. If you're in Mount Vernon swing by the radio booth and say hello!