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When the rankings were being compiled this preseason, there were few absolutes in Class 4A. Johnson Central was the clear #1, that much we knew, and obviously will remain so after opening with a bye week. Wayne County appeared to be a solid #2, and they backed that up with a 45-7 pasting of 5A Woodford County. Collins acquitted themselves as well with a 38-7 victory over Madison Southern, that saw JR Lucas account for over 400 yards of offense through the air and on the ground in addition to four scores. After that, things got…. hazy. And after the first week, things are…. well, still hazy.

Franklin-Simpson, Ashland, John Hardin, and Hopkinsville all enjoyed relatively strong years a season ago, but each suffered their share of losses coming into the year. In Week 1, each took it on the chin by three touchdowns or more. Franklin, who allowed just 11 PPG a season ago, gave up 55 points, their most since a 69-10 loss to Bowling Green a decade ago – tenth most in school history – and succumbed to a running clock. If the Wildcats can take any solace, it’s that it was just 21-16 at halftime. Hopkinsville held it close in the first half as well, holding South Warren to just 149 yards of offense in the opening two quarters and trailing just 7-0 at the break. However, Hopkinsville never did fully get on track offensively, posting less than 100 yards of offense by halftime and eventually falling behind 20-0. They never closed back within 13 in their 35-14 loss against a squad they fell to 28-24 in their final game of 2016.

Meanwhile, Ashland and John Hardin never got into the game at all. Ashland’s perceived weakness coming in was their line play, and the game did nothing to allay those concerns. Harlan County ran the ball at will while stuffing any ground attack the Tomcats tried to put together. It was 35-7 early into the second half, and while Ashland gamely closed to 35-21 at one point, they never got closer. In all, the Tomcats allowed 317 rushing yards. John Hardin fared even worse. 3A #3 Boyle County led 27-0 at the half, holding the Bulldogs to less than 100 yards of offense, and eventually led by as much as 34-0, narrowly missing gaining a running clock. John Hardin did pick up the pace a bit in the second half through the air, scraping 169 yards and a score from the passing game. The opposition was quality, but fears about youth and dwindling numbers appear to be well founded.

Other games of note:

#10 Shelby County opened strong with a 49-12 win over Fairdale. Caleb Morehead is off to a blazing start in his follow-up to a 1,428 yard 2016 season, carrying the ball 17 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns. The Rockets have won 24 of their last 28 games.

Bourbon County opened with a good win over 2A #8 Somerset, winning 36-29 in the PBK Death Valley Bowl. A pair of fourth quarter scores keyed the come from behind victory, and Dalen Landrum found WR Titus Ransom for four touchdowns en route to 291 yards of offense.

Franklin County knocked off 3A #10 Western Hills 24-20 behind a defensive effort that forced four turnovers, turning three of them into touchdowns. That included a pick-six by Dakota Bowen with just over 4 minutes left in the game to put Franklin County ahead for good. Jesse Thurman had 170 yards and 2 TDs on 9/16 passing, in addition to 69 yards and a score on the ground.

Upcoming Game of the Week

There are a couple of intriguing games to come in Week 2. Perhaps the best one would be Mercer County taking on Franklin County in Boyle County’s bowl game. Mercer County thoroughly walloped Harrison County in their season opener, and this game will also be a chance to see if Franklin County can build on their strong showing against Western Hills. Ashland against Raceland as well as Hopkinsville vs. Mayfield should give some of our middle-ranked teams a chance to show if Week 1 was just a terrible break, or reasons to go into all-out panic.