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Boyle and Central Impressive in Opening Night Victories

Much of the preseason talk in Class 3A has been about Boyle County and their potential for winning a second consecutive state championship. With offensive superstars like Reese Smith, Landen Bartleson, and Reed Lanter returning the excitement is certainly warranted. However, with heavy losses on both the offensive and defensive lines there is measured caution for the Rebels this early in the season.

Boyle opened the 2018 campaign on Saturday afternoon with a 35-21 victory over 6A #10 Ballard in the Little Caesars Fort Harrod Bowl at Mercer County. In what was something of a see-saw affair that saw both offenses dominate the first half and both defenses dominate the second, a fifty yard touchdown pass from Lanter to Smith sealed the victory for the Rebels. Lanter was 15-23 for 227 yards and two touchdowns on the night while Bartleson led the running game with 108 yards and three scores. The Boyle defensive uncharacteristically allowed 151 yards on the ground but also picked off Ballard quarterback Austin Carr four times.

One night earlier, Central, the one team many across the commonwealth have felt could potentially match up with Boyle County, was busy shutting out 6A #6 Manual, 18-0. Ukari Baker ran the opening kickoff back 96 yards for a touchdown, hauled in a 49-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, and the Yellowjackets defense handled things from that point on. Quarterback Malik Goodall, making his first career start, threw for 90 yards and also scored a 50-yard touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter to ice the victory.

It will be fun to follow both squads throughout the season and while comparing scores isn't necessarily the best way to compare teams, Central does travel to Ballard in three weeks.

First Year Coaches Get First Wins

Three teams in the Bluegrasspreps Class 3A Preseason Top 15 have new coaches in 2018 and all three picked up impressive wins over the weekend. First, fifth-ranked Lexington Catholic routed defending Class 5A state runner-up Madison Southern, 51-12, in the Roy Kidd Bowl at Madison Central. New coach Nigel Smith, the former Catholic defensive coordinator, saw his team hold Southern to 271 yards of offense. Meanwhile, quarterback Beau Allen threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns.

Second, defending District 7 champion Powell County held off a late two-point conversation attempt to beat Garrard County, 21-20. The Pirates, coached by former assistant Josh Kincaid, were led by Nathan Skidmore's 168 yards and two scores on the ground.

Finally, the one team that wasn't expecting to have a new coach, Paducah Tilghman, routed their cross-town rival McCracken County by a 35-6 score. As you may remember, former Tilghman coach Steve Duncan had to resign over the summer due to complications from a stroke. New coach Jonathan Smith inherited a talented team with a penchant for inconsistency. Behind a wishbone offense the Blue Tornado ran for 341 yards and five different players scored touchdowns.

Unranked but Unfazed

Two teams not ranked in the preseason Class 3A top 10 amassed impressive opening night victories over ranked foes from other classes. Trigg County beat Class 2A #10 Monroe County, 34-20, in the Scottie Bowl at Glasgow. Trigg trailed 20-0 at halftime before scoring the game's final 34 points to post an impressive opening night win. Trigg quarterback Cam Jordan ran for 151 yards and threw for 199.

Thomas Nelson, a school that opened in 2012, struggled mightily in their first several years but there is evidence the Generals are close to turning the corner. First, Kyle Boblitt's team made the playoffs for the first time in 2017, and they opened this season with a 15-13 win over Class 1A #9 Frankfort. The Generals did most of their damage on the ground, led in particular by Dale Satterly's 115 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Around the Rankings

#4 Corbin had little trouble with neighbor Whitley County, beating the Colonels 36-7 on Saturday night. Chase Estep hit Christian Gosselin with two early touchdown passes and the rout was on.

#6 Elizabethtown lost to defending Class 4A state champion Franklin-Simpson, 44-20. E'town, who is replacing several key members of last year's state semifinal club, was led by Trayjan Bradley's 119 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

#7 Caldwell County lost to 5A Christian County, 11-6, in one of the odder scores you'll see in Kentucky high school football. Caldwell County only mustered 205 yards of total offense on the night while Christian County recorded two safeties in the game.

#8 Casey County was a rude guest in the re-opening of Barren County's stadium, besting the Trojans 40-0. Austin Campbell passed for 223 yards and two scores on the night.

#9 Larue County piled up a school record 602 yards on the ground on their way to walloping 4A Marion County, 48-0. Louisville-commit Anthony Adkins had 247 yards and three scores while his brother Jeremiah Belton ran for 216 yards on his own.

#10 Western Hills got three scores from Wandale Robinson but it wasn't enough to overcome an early three-score deficit and the Wolverines lost to Franklin County, 27-20.

Extra Points

Bardstown, which last season had one of its worst seasons in recent memory missing the playoffs for the first time since 2003, whipped Spencer County 38-0.

Sheldon Clark extended their winning streak to two games (they won last year's finale over Morgan County but missed the playoffs) with a 38-8 win over Betsy Layne. Coach Josh Muncy is slowly but surely working to get the Cardinals back to their glory days.

Bell County scored thirty points in the first quarter on their way to completely dismantling county rival Middlesboro, 54-0.

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

1. Danville at Corbin (Saturday night). The Ads and Hounds will meet for the eighth time in ten years in what has long been one of the commonwealth's better rivalries. Danville, the defending Class 2A champions, won their last visit to Campbell Field, a 20-0 victory in 2015.

2. Huntington (WV) at Belfry. Belfry was one of a handful of teams that didn't play on opening weekend and they may be without some key players this week due to injury. Huntington won last year's matchup 45-34.

3. Casey County at Campbellsville. Two teams ranked in the top ten in their respective classes will clash on Friday night in Campbellsville. Casey romped, 50-18, in 2017, but Campbellsville played much better as last season progressed, advancing to the state semifinals. Both teams have high expectations in 2018.

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)

Bardstown at Glasgow. While Bardstown did struggle in 2017, hopes are higher for a better year in 2018. Whether or not the Tigers can handle Class 2A power Glasgow will give us a better understanding of where coach David Clark's club is - and how far it still has to go.