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It’s worth noting that the top six teams in the final 4A poll are still standing…..

Region 1 Reset

Well, they took an odd path to get here, but the region finals that most expected coming into the year is what we ended up with – Hopkinsville against Franklin-Simpson. Franklin has been straight forward in their approach, notching their seventh consecutive victory in a 62-6 battering of Madisonville-North Hopkins, and running their record to 9-3. The Wildcats haven’t allowed more than 14 points since a 35-19 win at Glasgow, and they have scored 43 points or more in their last five games. Madisonville was without their quarterback and top rusher due to injuries, and lost their workhorse from the previous week just a few plays into the game. That set the table for a Wildcat defense that limited the Maroons to two yards of offense. TWO. Saul Brady rushed 8 times for 77 yards and a pair of scores to pace Franklin.

Meanwhile, the clock struck midnight on Logan County’s Cinderella story, as the Cougars could do nothing right in a 43-8 running clock loss to Hopkinsville. Javier Bland, who completed just a single pass for the Tigers in the first game, was efficient in his completions. He passed seven times, five were completed. All five were touchdowns. Bland threw for 169 yards, peppering Mitchell Degenhardt with 92 yards on a pair of scores. Logan County was limited to 90 yards of offense as the Tigers claimed the spot that most thought they would. Just in time for Jalen Johnson to transfer back to their school and watch from the sidelines….

Region 2 Reset

Hopkinsville wasn’t the only three seed to win in Class 4A. Mercer County also took aim at the naysayers who think the top two teams in each district should be the only ones who advance to the postseason. The Titans entered the postseason at just 5-5 and losers of three of their last four. One of those losses was a very close 30-27 loss to district winner East Jessamine. In their #RevengeGame opportunity against the Jaguars, Mercer County exploded for 447 yards of offense on their way to a 46-21 win. Stud Trevon Faulkner led the way with 4 catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns, adding two scores on the ground on three carries for 63 yards. The game turned in a decisive third quarter where the Jags had three of their four turnovers, leading to 26 points in the quarter for the Titans. In all, the run was 32-0 before East Jessamine could get back on the board, too late to save their season. Their reward is a road trip to a Collins team that has been a steady hand all year long, out to a 10-2 record and a seven game winning streak.

The other Titans – I’m dubbing their region final the Titanic Struggle btw – blew out rival Shelby County for a second time this season, cruising to a 30-6 decision. Turnovers were the story for the Rockets, who turned it over via fumbles three times in the first half, leading a 14-0 deficit at the break. Collins added a safety on a bad punt snap, and ultimately led 23-0 before Shelby County got on the board with 10:14 left in the game. It was an unusually quiet game passing for JR Lucas, who was 5/8 for just 28 yards, but with a pair of touchdown tosses. The ground attack led the way as the Titans outgained Shelby County on the ground 204-157. Collins forced five total turnovers in the game. They’ll remain the heavy favorite as they host Mercer County this week. They have not allowed more than 19 points since a 45-17 loss to Boyle County in mid-September.

Region 3 Reset

If you like the chalk results where you get what you expect, then the eastern side is for you. Region 3 was the only one that ended up matching the two 1 seeds in the finals. Western continued to show they are a battled tested team from their brutal schedule, grinding out a tense 12-3 victory over Knox Central to put the Warriors into the region finals for the first time in five years. It’s been a great first year for King, who has guided Western to an 8-4 record with seven straight victories. They held Knox Central to 106 yards total, and sacking Brady Worley to a 6 rush for -27 yards line. The Panthers were held to their lowest total of the year, failing to score 21 points for the first time. That made a 12-0 start stand up, with Western getting all the scoring it needed by the midpoint of the second quarter after a Kenneth Thompson touchdown. For Knox Central, it ended a promising campaign at 8-4, with all four losses coming to teams that are still playing.

While Western was grinding it out, the #1 Wayne County Cardinals were fighting off another #RevengeGame candidate, as Rockcastle County sought to erase the bad tasted of a 27-0 loss on the road at Wayne County in late December. Adding to that, the Cardinals entered as winners of 5 of the last six in the series. Make that six of seven, as Wayne County held off an improved but still losing Rockcastle team. As always the arm and legs of Lorenzo Linsey led them, as he threw for three scores on 13/19 passing for 204 yards, and ran for two scores on 11 rushes for 81 yards. Linsey is up to 2,494 yards passing on the year and boasts a 28:7 TD:INT ratio. Aubrey Weaver was his favorite target, hauling in all three scores as part of a 7/158 stat line. Both Weaver and Stetson Simpson are nearing 1,000 yards on the season. For Rockcastle’s part, they attempted a grand total of two passes – completing neither – while rolling up 399 rushing yards and outgaining the Cardinals. Brent Lovell (16 rushes, 131 yards), Jaden Payne (21 rushes, 125 yards), and Holdan Barnett (18 rushes, 104 yards, 1 TD) all topped 100 yards, but the Rockets could never draw even with Wayne County. The Cardinals jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and pushed a close 14-8 halftime score to 28-8 and 35-16 before settling into the final score. The top ranked Cards are seeking their third straight region title this Friday.

Region 4 Reset

It may not be a 1 v 1 matchup this Friday, but the results were still classified as chalk by ranking and expectations, as we will get the region final we expected and, frankly for those outside the two vanquished fanbases, wanted. #2 Ashland and #3 Johnson Central are through to the region final next week. The two games were laughers, won by an average of 40 points per. Johnson Central traveled to Scott, who they had pulped by a 54-7 score in a 1/4 matchup back in 2016. This one somehow had an even larger margin at 64-16. It was the highest scoring output of the year for Johnson Central, who got 135 yards on just 9 carries (with 2 scores) from QB Riley Preece. Preece also completed two touchdown passes on just three completions for 90 yards. Blake Gamble carried most of the load, scoring twice on 20 carries for 182 yards as part of a rushing attack that posted 446 yards as a team. Scott did have an early 8-7 lead, but the Golden Eagles scored on every possession in the first half en route to a 37-8 lead, and gained the running clock in the third quarter when it ballooned to a 57-16 score. Scott posted 250 yards of offense in the losing effort. Ashland held up their end with a 40-8 victory over Bourbon County, their ninth consecutive win after a 1-2 start. Excepting the Johnson Central game, the Tomcats have posted 30 points or more in every game of the winning streak. Colburn was the standout, averaging over 10 yards per carry while racking up 162 yards and three scores on 15 rushes. Bourbon County never led, and fell behind 40-0 by the midpoint of the third quarter, leading to another running clock. The Colonels averaged .5 YPC, amassing only 10 yards on 20 totes. The Tomcats are into double digit wins for the first time in 27 years, and will seek their first region title since that same season. They’ll tangle with Johnson Central again, and see if they can duplicate the magic of that home win over Johnson Central on October 20th. Johnson Central also knocked Ashland out of the 2016 playoffs in the region finals, making this a – you guessed it - #DoubleRevengeGame .