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REGION I

Since Mayfield move up to 2A, Russellville has been in control of Region 1. This year though, things look very much up in the air. Russellville sits at 6-4 on the year and has no standout wins among those 6 victories. The Panthers should have no problem though in round 1 versus Fort Knox. That should get them a second round game against Campbellsville, who play 0 win Fulton City in round 1. That sets up an interesting second round game. This game has the potential for upset written all over it. These two teams look very similar. It is a very tough call on who to pick here. Campbellsville gets home field advantage and we are going to go on a limb and call the big upset in round 2 for Campbellsville.

The other side of the bracket looks like it is there for the taking by the Crittenden County Rockets. Their district win over Russellville that gave the Rockets the top seed is looking huge. That put Crittenden County into a round 1 game versus 0-10 Caverna. That should be a win and move the Rockets into round 2 against the winner of a battle between 3-7 teams, Bethlehem and Fulton County. The Rockets will go into that game very confident of getting the win.

That sets up an unlikely regional face off between Campbellsville, assuming the upset over Russellville, and Crittenden County. The Rockets will enter the game on a roll, winners of 5 straight. Surely they were expecting to be in a rematch against Russellville, but they will find this Campbellsville team got to this game for a reason. This could be a high scoring game with top offensive players on both teams. We are going to ride Campbellsville to the region title in a bit of a shocker in 1A region 1.

Region I Championship - Campbellsville 47 Crittenden County 41

REGION II

Region 2 features 5 teams that have been in the 1A top 10 during the season, including 4 of the top 10 as we enter the playoffs. There will be tough, hard to predict matchups in every round in this region. It starts with #8 Ludlow hosting Louisville Holy Cross. Holy Cross spent a large part of the season in the top 10 and will be a very tough opponent for the higher ranked Ludlow Panthers even with Ludlow having home field advantage. The key common opponent between these two is Paris. Holy Cross got their best win this season over Paris, giving Paris their only loss of the season 16-11. Ludlow lost 52-32 to the Greyhounds. Those scores make us think Holy Cross will pull out the win. In tough head to head battles, defense most often wins and Holy Cross looks to have the better defense of these two. The prize for the winner of that round 1 game will be #3 Kentucky Country Day. The Bearcats should roll over Dayton in round 1 to set up the rematch with Holy Cross. The first time around Kentucky Country Day rolled to a huge lead and then had to hold off a huge comeback by Holy Cross. This time around, look for the senior dominated and focused Bearcats to win by a more clear cut margin.

The other side of the bracket holds the season long top ranked Beechwood Tigers. The Tigers get the unusual bye in round 1 since Eminence decided not to participate in KHSAA playoff competition this year. Two teams very familiar to Beechwood go against each other for the right to play in round 2 in Ft. Mitchell. The Frankfort Panthers defeated Holy Cross during the regular season to get the 2 seed and home field advantage against the Bellevue Tigers. There will be some athletes on the field in this game. Frankfort features one of the top RBs in 1A in Tremayne Jones and Bellevue has the fastest player in 1A, 100 yard dash champion Seth Evers. Frankfort has battled through another season of low roster numbers and injuries to get to 6-4 and the #10 ranking, and they will battle their way to a win in this game. That brings a familiar playoff battle in round 2 - Frankfort versus Beechwood. The Panthers have pulled the playoff upset on the Tigers in the past, but this year that is very unlikely to happen. Beechwood will take care of the Panthers at home to move to the regional title game.

That region 2 title game should be a good one. It will be a rematch of last year's regional title contest but this year Kentucky Country Day will have home field advantage. Last year Country Day tested Beechwood for a half before the Tigers took control and finished with a 42-7 win. Both teams look better this year than last. Unfortunately for the Bearcats, home field advantage does not look like it will be enough. Beechwood has too much depth for the Bearcats and once again we expect Beechwood to pull away as the game goes on.

Region II Championship - Beechwood 31 Kentucky Country Day 14

REGION III

Region 3 is also loaded with teams that have been ranked in the 1A top 10. Four teams have been ranked in the top 10 and every team in this region has spent time in the top 15 in 1A. Every team in this region has at least 4 wins. Fortunately for the Paris Greyhounds, they get a round 1 bye and get to wait a week before entering the fray. They will face the winner of #5 Raceland versus the Bishop Brossart Mustangs. This is a round 1 rematch from last year, which the Rams won 47-21. The Rams and their tough defense look too strong again this year - let's call it 28-7 Rams. Paris will be waiting and ready. This will be a tough round 2 contest. Strength of schedule will be a factor. Raceland has played one of the tougher schedules in 1A and that will prepare them well for the Greyhounds offensive trio of QB Aaron Maggard, speedy RB Matthew Barber and WR Eric Johnson. The Rams defense will rise to the challenge and get the win 27-20.

On the other side of the region, the Bracken County Polar Bears spent a big part of the season in the top 10, featuring top 1A RB Tad Fisher and an 8-2 record. Round 1 will not be easy though as always tough Fairview will put up a fight. Look for the Polar Bears to survive that one and move to round 2. Their opponent will almost surely be the #2 ranked Paintsville Tigers, who finished another excellent regular season with a strong run. There are no easy games in this region so the Tigers will need to be prepared to play their best in round 1 against Nicholas County. The Tigers are hungry for a deep playoff run though so look for them to win this round 1 game. Round 2 will feature Paintsville's rushing offense versus Bracken County's strong rushing defense. Paintsville will be too much and move on over Bracken County.

As expected, we should see the Paintsville rematch with Raceland in the regional final. Paintsville crushed Raceland early in the regular season game.The Tigers had a 32-0 lead in the third quarter before Raceland finally got on the board. The Rams then built some momentum of their own to cut the final score to 32-18. The Rams hope they figured some things out in that fourth quarter and will be better prepared for this game. However, it looks like the Tigers are just too much for the Rams and will get the playoff win for the third year in a row over Raceland.

Region III Championship - Paintsville 27 Raceland 14

REGION IV

Here is a little known fact. This region has produced the east bracket title game team for seven straight years. In that time 2 state champions have been from region 4. If you are looking to find the east bracket team in in the 1A title game, you have to look to region 4 first. This season started with the clear favorite to appear in the title game as Hazard. The Bulldogs suffered a big blow when the top RB in 1A, Cory Smith, and his brother Austin were both lost to season ending injuries. Hazard has recovered well from those losses and will have no problem in round 1 over Pineville. The Bulldogs will face the winner of an interesting round 1 game between 5-4 Phelps and 7-3 Lynn Camp. Both of these teams had seasons to be proud of. Lynn Camp came close to upsetting Williamsburg for the top district seed two weeks ago and should get the win over Phelps. Lynn Camp will put up a fight for a while but Hazard will be too strong and get the win.

On the other side of the regional bracket, Williamsburg gets a round 1 bye. They will watch as Pikeville gets their playoff run started with a win over Harlan. That will set up a very competitive round 2 game between two programs that are familiar with what it takes to get to the 1A title game. In 3 of the last 4 years one of these two have been in the 1A championship. This round 2 game between #7 Pikeville and #9 Williamsburg should be a good one. Williamsburg has a high powered offense that will be quite the challenge for Pikeville. Pikeville has not beaten a team as good as Williamsburg this year, but look for the Panthers to get the upset win in this one.

If we are right and Pikeville gets the upset win, then the Panthers will get a second chance at the defending state runnerup Hazard Bulldogs. In the first meeting, Hazard prevailed 38-26. Pikeville may have a new wrinkle in this game though as QB Wyatt Battaile may be back under center for the Panthers after missing the entire regular season with an injury. If Battaille is back and in form, that could certainly be enough to close the gap and get Pikeville the win. However, that is too speculative for us to project that here and we will call for the Bulldogs to get the win.

Region IV Championship - Hazard 35 Pikeville 34


SEMI-FINALS

Beechwood 49 Campbellsville 7
Paintsville 20 Hazard 14



FINALS PREDICTION

Beechwood 20 Paintsville 12