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No game had more hype and more implications last week than #5 Rockcastle County at #2 Wayne County. As mentioned last week, the home team had won the last three meetings between these two teams, including a crucial 41-34 OT decision taken down by Rockcastle County a season ago. Wayne County simply wanted to defend their homefield and get a big win while, Rockcastle County entered licking their wounds from a 12-6 loss to Somerset the week before, and looking to get their offense back on track. It was the ground and pound of Rockcastle County against the aerial attack of Wayne County.

The battle started before the game even began as apparently Rockcastle County ran through Wayne County’s home team banner, riling up the Cardinal faithful. The argument over who was responsible for that has raged on the postgame thread, but the end result was likely the same – a fired up Wayne County team. Following that, the first half lived up to the hype, with a tense 3-0 Wayne County advantage at halftime in a defensive battle. Rockcastle County bent but only broke the one time in the opening frame. But the Cardinals asserted their dominance in the third quarter via the big play, as Linsey hit Simpson for a 60 yard bomb before touchdown runs of 20 yards (Linsey) and 40 yards (Wallace). Rockcastle County meanwhile never got all the way going, putting together a few drives but never finding paydirt. By the end, it was 27-0 statement victory by Wayne County, likely cementing their status as the clear #2 in 4A until the playoffs – at least if they can get by this week against Knox Central. Lorenzo Linsey only had the one TD completion, but was sharp on the night on 14/20 passing for 238 yards and no interceptions. Caugen Wallace rushed 8 times for 92 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Rockcastle County had two turnovers and was outgained 371-291, and failed to score for the first time since the 2012 playoffs. The Rockets unquestionably faced their two toughest opponents in the last two games, but it is noticeable that they scored just six points combined against Somerset and Wayne County after never scoring less than 40 in their 4-0 start. Knox Central can’t be discounted, as they have quietly put together a solid season, but the implications here are likely that Wayne County will be at home for the first two rounds of the playoffs, while Rockcastle County will be battling for a home game with Knox Central.

Other Games of note:
-If you thought that perhaps Franklin County’s blowout of Shelby County meant that Collins was perhaps vulnerable this week, think again. #3 Shelby County put a hurting on Franklin County to the tune of a 45-7 running clock blowout. Collins scored on every first half drive en route to a 31-7 lead at the break, and were never seriously threatened. Collins racked up three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and required just 281 yards of offense to do the job. It’s a stark turnaround for the Titans compared to a year ago when they lost to Spencer County by 7 before beating Franklin County by 7. This year, they won those two games by a combined 83-7 score. The Titans are a lock for the district title.

-Franklin-Simpson cemented their status in District 2 and moved back into the top 5 after a 30-7 win over previously-#10 Allen County-Scottsville. The Wildcats didn’t officially attempt a single pass (there was a pass interference penalty on their only ball in the air), but they didn’t need to, punishing the Patriots with 364 yards on the ground on SIXTY rushing attempts. 268 of those yards came in the second half as the depth and conditioning of the Wildcats won out on both sides of the ball. Allen County-Scottsville only netted 15 yards of offense in the last two quarters. After a shaky opening to the season, Franklin-Simpson looks like they’re in legitimate contention to make it back to the state title game.

-Western justified the ranking committee’s love of their tough schedule with a 49-13 drubbing of John Hardin. It was almost an exact turnaround from John Hardin’s 49-8 victory over Western a year ago, and the first district loss for John Hardin since their move to 4A two seasons ago. Western has played arguably the toughest schedule in 4A, and it has them battle tested and ready for the challenges ahead of them. Kenneth Thompson did almost all the offensive work with 24 rushes for 213 yards and three touchdowns in a monster game. John Hardin was held to -5 yards on the ground. With the win, Western almost certainly will earn themselves another home game – this was their last of the regular season – and would enjoy homefield advantage through the first four rounds of the playoffs if they go on to win the district. They’re heavy favorites to do so.

-On the other side of the coin, Hopkinsville did not justify the ranking committee’s love of their tough schedule. The Tigers have had a rough go of it since before the season ever began, losing QB Jalen Johnson and his nearly 5,000 career passing yards to transfer. It has severely blunted the progress of Hopkinsville, and it has culminated in them dropping to 1-5 now with a loss to Madisonville. That loss, is easily the worst they’ve suffered. The Tigers turned it over SEVEN times and only posted 224 yards of offense, and have now lost control of their district fate. They’ll face undefeated Logan County on Thursday, a game that just became a whole lot more important. On the flip side, Madisonville-North Hopkins enters their bye week at 5-2, exceeding the win total they had all of last year. A home game against Logan County on October 13th is their last hurdle to an unbeaten district slate and homefield advantage for the first four rounds of the playoffs. Jariah Hightower (30/156/1) and Aaron Miller (22/114/2) did the lion’s share of the work for the Maroon offense in their big win.

Upcoming Game of the Week

Two teams in the top 5 are on bye this week, and while Greenup County enters the top 10 for a ranked matchup with Johnson Central, we’re pretty confident how that one will go. Wayne County and Knox Central meet in the other battle of two top ten teams, but Wayne County just feels like a significant favorite in that one. So we turn our eye to the fringe of the rankings and the aforementioned Logan County/Hopkinsville tilt. This is likely the most significant game for the Logan County program in decades. I mentioned last week that the Cougars have not hosted a home playoff game since 1989. While a win over Hopkinsville wouldn’t technically guarantee that for them, it would be mathematically and logically improbable that it wouldn’t clinch one for them. Meanwhile, it’s panic time for Hopkinsville after the brutal loss to Madisonville. A season that held aspirations of reaching the state title game now has a very real possibility of them going on the road for the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers must recover here or this will be possibly a completely lost season.