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Region 1

Class 3A-Region I has been the domain of South Warren for the last few years without any real challengers. When the Spartans moved up to Class 4A this year, it left a spot to be filled. This year, Region I's top four seeds have combined to lose only six games (two of those were to each other) and picking a favorite has proven to be very difficult. The champion should come from one of three teams - Caldwell County, Elizabethtown, or Paducah Tilghman.

Caldwell County (8-2) won District 1 and squeezed eight consecutive wins between a season opening two-point loss to Christian County and one point loss on a field goal at the buzzer in the season finale against Mayfield. The Tigers have been terrific on offense, scoring 42.5 points per game. They also beat fellow region contender Paducah Tilghman, 46-27. Look for Caldwell to move past Hart County (6-4) in the first round and Adair County (9-1) in the second with little trouble.

If it isn't Caldwell, then it likely will be either Paducah Tilghman or Elizabethtown. Tilghman (7-3) finished the season with four consecutive wins while beginning to show the form many predicted from them before the season began. The Blue Tornado will open at home with Edmonson County (6-4). For Paducah Tilghman to win the region, however, they'll likely have to win at Elizabethtown in the second round. Elizabethtown (10-0) was the only team in Class 3A to finish undefeated, and only three times did an opponent score in double figures. The knock on the Panthers has been their less-than-powerful schedule, which ranked in the second half of the class. If Elizabethtown, who opens with Fort Campbell (2-8), can also beat Tilghman and Caldwell however, those criticisms will be put to bed.

Region 1 Championship: Caldwell County 31 Elizabethtown 30

Region 2

For all the talk about new sheriffs being in town after realignment this season, it still looks like Louisville Central may be the team to beat. The Yellowjackets (8-2) are led, as always, by a strong defense that is allowing only 13.2 points per game. After starting the season 0-2, Central has reeled off eight straight wins, including victories over Christian Academy-Louisville, St. Xavier, and Pleasure Ridge Park. The Yellowjackets will host Western Hills (3-6) in the playoff lid-lifter before likely hosting Boyle County (9-1) in the second round. Central has played in six of the last eight Class 3A championship games and another appearance wouldn't shock many, though it would definitely be earned.

Perhaps no second round game in the state would be as anticipated as Boyle County at Central on November 13. The Rebels lost only one game this season, but it was to Lexington Catholic and it cost them the district title. Now Boyle must take the hard road, hosting a resurgent Waggener (6-4) program in the first round before traveling to Central if they win. Boyle and Central met three times in the playoffs in the early 2000s, with Boyle winning each time.

On the other side of the region is a fast charging Lexington Catholic club. The Knights (7-3) haven't been perfect this season but seemed to kick it into gear in district play. Playing behind backup quarterback Kirk Fagot, Catholic won their last four, including impressive road wins at Boyle County and Southwestern. The district champion Knights will begin playoff play at home against Bardstown (5-5) and would face the winner of Henry County (7-3)/Garrard County (6-4) in the second round. Lexington Catholic has been a fixture in the Class 4A state semifinals recently, only to lose four consecutive times to Highlands. With the Bluebirds no longer in the way, could this be the year Catholic finally gets to WKU?

Region 2 Championship: Central 28 Lexington Catholic 22

Region 3

If there were any doubts about Belfry still being among the top of the class in 3A, those were put away in the final game of the season when the Pirates blanked Class 4A #1 Johnson Central 41-0. Now Belfry (9-1), champions of District 6, looks to win their twelfth region title in thirteen years and they are certainly the favorite. Belfry begins play in the first round at home against Bath County (5-5).

Many prognosticators expected Russell to win District 5 this year, but the tiebreakers were unkind and the Red Devils (7-3) had to settle for second. That twist sets up a potentially interesting second round matchup between Belfry and Russell, provided the Red Devils can beat Pike County Central (3-7) in the first round. West Carter, the team that won District 5, will host their first ever playoff game against Sheldon Clark (3-7) and should win. Advancing beyond the second round, however, might be too much to expect from the Comets (8-2). That's where Lawrence County, the second best team in the region, will be waiting.

Lawrence County nearly picked up a win at Belfry this season, falling 27-23 in a game that was close throughout. Lawrence (7-3) threw for 226 yards in that matchup, but was intercepted twice, helping to seal the game. Last year Lawrence County played Belfry close in the regular season before losing rather handily in the postseason. The Bulldogs, who open with Fleming County (7-3), will look to change that this time around.

Region 3 Championship: Belfry 35 Lawrence County 17

Region 4

While the first three regions are stacked with teams you can make an argument for going deep in the playoffs, Region IV really isn't. Corbin and Bell County have been the favorites all season and remain so today. Corbin won the district title from Bell in come-from-behind fashion two weeks ago and would host the Bobcats if they meet again in the playoffs. But Corbin (6-4) was routed by Knox Central in the last game of the season and the win over Bell was the only time the Redhounds were victorious in a game against truly strong competition. Corbin will play Knott County Central (4-6) in the first round and with a win would host the winner of the Breathitt County (4-6)/Casey County (4-6) first round game. Neither of those matchups would give us much more info on what type of team Corbin is.

If anyone beats Corbin in the playoffs, it will probably be the Bell County Bobcats. Bell has been something of a hard team to gauge all season, behind a schedule that saw them face only three Kentucky teams with winning records. The Bobcats (8-2) begin the playoffs against an Estill County (6-4) team that lost much from last season but responded with a very nice bounce-back year. If Bell wins that one, they'll likely travel to Powell County for a second round game. Powell (7-3) has been a revelation in the mountains this season, starting off 0-3 before winning seven straight to get their first ever district title. Powell should have little trouble with Jackson County (2-8) in the first round, but a Pirate win over Bell County would be a big surprise.

Region 4 Championship: Bell County 21, Corbin 20

Semi-Finals: Central 31 Caldwell County 28
Semi-Finals: Belfry 41 Bell County 14

State Finals: Belfry 27 Central 21