DragonFire's Avatar
We’re headed into the final week of the regular season, an incredibly depressing thought when you realize that soon we’ll be 9 months away from football again. At times it is tough to enjoy what’s in front of you when you think of that sobering reality. But try we will, and there are some entertaining games on the docket that look rather enticing, and should whet our appetite for the playoffs, where the majority of first round games will be terrible. Moving on…..

Johnson Central and Franklin-Simpson have themselves in position to finish off unbeaten regular seasons. #1 Johnson Central pasted #10 Ashland to secure their district title, and would not have to see the road in the playoffs until the state title game. The Golden Eagles have scored at least 43 points in their last six games, and have only twice allowed more than 8 points in a game on the season. Of course, a lot of people will remember that Johnson Central was in very much the same spot last season. They entered the last week ranked #1 in our poll, 9-0 and fresh off a victory over Ashland, scoring over 41 points in all but two games and allowing over 7 points only twice. The similarities are eerie. What came next, Johnson Central hopes and prays will never happen, when Belfry, 35-0 losers to Johnson Central the year before, UNLOADED on them in a 41-0 whitewashing that most did not see coming. The veneer was cracked, and the Golden Eagles had to grind out wins in the region final and state semifinal, and then were promptly buzzsawed by South Warren. They’ve spent the whole season with those twin spectres over their head, and they will finally get the chance to erase one when they host Belfry. Belfry is the #1 team in 3A, providing a rare #1 vs. #1 opportunity, and hasn’t lost to a Kentucky team in two years. That team, of course, as mentioned before – Johnson Central. They are in fact the only Kentucky team to defeat Belfry since 2012, doing so twice. It should be a dandy, or, as the losing team will say, “we rested our starters”. Meanwhile Franklin-Simpson is in pursuit of just their second perfect regular season in team history. You’d need to go all the way back to the 1975 Wildcats, who were a perfect 11-0, but fell to Highlands in the state title game. This would actually clinch just their fourth double digit win season since 1983. Last week they struggled somewhat with a Warren East Raider team that can throw the ball around, but this week will host 1A #2 Russellville, a team that swears they haven’t heard of the forward pass. The Panthers have rushed for 2,931 yards on the year, featuring four players that have rushed for more than 400 yards apiece. They’ve attempted only 40 passes all year, and will be going against a Franklin-Simpson team that has allowed only 338 yards on the ground through 9 games. It’s a classic strength on strength matchup. The Panthers haven’t beaten Franklin since 2013, and one of these two 9-0 teams will complete an unbeaten slate. (Russellville last went unbeaten in 1984)

Other notable games:

-#3 South Warren heads an hour south to take on Pope John Paul II out of Hendersonville, TN. The Knights posted the season high 14 points on the Spartans last year, and have only been bested by four of the best schools in Tennessee this season. Coming into the year this looked like a secure Spartans win, but it’s possible that South Warren might have a challenge on their hands.

-#6 John Hardin will make the long trip to take on Christian County at the Stadium of Champions in Hopkinsville. The Colonels are the #4 team in 5A, and hold an impressive win over Hopkinsville, who is rated higher than John Hardin. It should be a good indicator of what late season form John Hardin has, as they get ready to take on the difficult District 4 in the playoffs.

-#8 Shelby County won twice last week. First, their 56-31 loss to Bullitt East was overturned on forfeit thanks to an ineligible player, and then they blasted rival Collins 39-6 to secure the district title, and homefield until the state title game. That means the Rockets carry an eight game win streak into this game, hosting unbeaten 5A #9 South Oldham. South Oldham carried a similar 8-1 record into this game last year, but it was still somewhat surprising when they kept it close, falling 28-21 to Shelby County. The Rockets have been one of the hottest teams in all of 4A, mowing down their district mates, and obliterated a North Bullitt team that South Oldham just barely edged 35-34 a week ago.

-#9 Knox Central might have the tallest task of any team not named Johnson Central, hosting 3A #2 Corbin. The Redhounds enter with their only loss of the year a 35-34 nailbiter against Mayfield, and boast wins over the likes of Central and Southwestern. They appear to be a far different team than the one Knox Central had their way with last year, while Knox Central is reeling a 4-4-1, having lost two tough decisions against Wayne County and Rockcastle County, and fell to that same Southwestern team earlier in the year. It appears there’s a good chance that they’ll be heading on the road to Mercer County next week with a three game losing streak in tow.

Well folks, that wraps it up for the 4A notebooks this year! Next week we begin the march to the carpet, and we will find out:

-Is Johnson Central is finally ready to claim their crown?
-Can Franklin-Simpson carry the banner for Region 1, or will Hopkinsville finally reclaim their glory days? Or…… has South Warren just been playing possum, getting healthy, and ready to pounce?
-Will Shelby County ride homefield advantage to the finals, with no steel curtain defense in the way this time to slow their running attack (all apologies to Franklin-Simpson’s run D)?
-Will the Rockcastle redemption come to fruition, grabbing a region title for the first time in over a decade, and maybe showing that the most improved team is the real team to watch?

Annnnnnnd so on!

Enjoy the playoffs!