Class 4A Notebook (10/2): Taking Stock of the District Races
For the second straight week, the vast majority of 4A knocked out the competition, so let’s take stock of where we’re at, district by district.
This district has played out so much like last season, it’s eerie. Logan County is unbeaten. Hopkinsville is 1-5, fresh off a two score loss to Madisonville. Madisonville is 5-2, with losses to Owensboro and Union County. All of these things were true in 2017 as well. Madisonville currently heads up the district, with a 3-0 mark and only their road trip to Logan County on the 12th ahead of them in district play. A win there will give them the district, and importantly keep them away from Franklin for the maximum amount of time. Logan County is just 1-0 in district play, and visits Hopkinsville this week. If they win there, the game against Madisonville will essentially be a district title game. Lose, and it cracks the door open for a three-way tie if they can knock off Madisonville. Hopkinsville likely doesn’t want that to happen, since their 1-5 record dooms them in a three way tiebreak. For the Tigers, the only realistic path to a home game is Logan County losing to Madisonville as well as falling this week. Calloway County is all but assured of the 4 seed after knocking off Hopkins County Central last week.
No district was more over before it began than this one. Franklin-Simpson was the clear cut favorite in the preseason, and they appear even more overwhelmingly so now. They have a 6-1 record entering their bye week, fresh off a megaton blowout win over Allen County-Scottsville. They’ll do the same to the rest of their schedule en route to homefield throughout the region playoffs. Just like last year, Warren East will battle it out with Allen County-Scottsville for the 2 seed when they meet on October 12th in Scottsville. East snapped a two game losing streak against AC/S last season with a 17-13 win, and the margin between these two appears close again. Warren Central will take the 4 seed by default, settling into another winless season.
Moore is the flashy frontrunner in the district, sporting a 6-1 record and top ten ranking. They’ve already equaled last season’s win total, and are setting their sights higher. They have won their two district contests by a combined 61-0, and have a perfect setup – they visit winless Western on Thursday before their bye week, and then a home matchup in what will certainly be the district title game against John Hardin. Speaking of the Bulldogs, they seemingly stumbled out of the gate with a 1-2 record, but their loss to North Hardin is looking not bad now (even in a blowout), and they’ll almost certainly have a six-game winning streak riding into that matchup with Moore. That would be their longest winning streak in three years. Valley seems to be the slight favorite for the 3 seed, and it is likely that their home game against Breckinridge County on October 19th will determine the 3/4 seed between those two. Western, which has scored just 14 points in the last six games, seems headed for an 0-10 record.
Always the most competitive district, this seems to be the rare season where the top spot is all but figured out by this point. Franklin County is 4-2, and already owns district wins over Collins and Shelby County, easily considered their top competition for the top seed. They host Spencer County this week – 20 point losers to Collins, who Franklin County just punished in a 28 point victory – and they likely would not even need to win their road game at North Oldham on the 19th to officially take the district (though they’ll be favored to do so). Behind them, it’s a bit murky. Shelby County gave Franklin County all they could handle, and appears to be the likely choice for the second spot, but that’s also the only district game they’ve played. They’ll be on the “road” for their rivalry game against Collins on the 19th, which will probably determine the 2/3 in the district. North Oldham is 1-0 via their win over Spencer County, giving them the inside track on the 4 seed. They won that game 21-13, and while comparing scores is not a science, it would seem to put them well behind Shelby County and Collins, who they’ll square off against in their next two games. North Oldham controls their own destiny for the moment, but they’ll probably finish 4th, with Spencer County home for the playoffs for the second straight year.
Most years, I call District 5 the forgotten district. They don’t really have marquee names, and they often seem in the shadow of whatever district they’re matched with in the playoffs. This year they’ve got a strong postseason matchup with District 3, and Taylor County has carried the banner well for the district. They’re currently 5-1, ranked 9th in the class, and smashed West Jessamine 46-0 in their only district contest so far. They have back to back critical games starting this week, hosting East Jessamine ahead of a showdown with Mercer County on the 12th. Last season, East Jessamine prevented Taylor County from claiming the crown, and the Cards will be out for revenge. Mercer County currently leads the district with a 2-0 record, and their road win over East Jessamine a week ago means realistically, that trip to Taylor County is the only thing in their way of a district crown. East Jessamine can still play their way up to #1, but they’ll have to win this week against Taylor County and then root for the Cardinals to knock off Mercer County next week. Of all the districts, this appears the one most possibly headed for a tie, though right now I’d predict that Taylor County will take it down, with Mercer County earning a home game, and East Jessamine settling for the 3 seed. West Jessamine already defeated Marion County 27-7 last week, in what will likely secure a playoff spot for the Colts and leave Marion County at home.
This district will likely be sewn up by the winner of 4A’s marquee game this week between Knox Central and Wayne County. Knox Central has positioned themselves well all year long, settling in to the #4 ranking for weeks, and staying unbeaten against Kentucky competition. They were the preseason favorites, and they have done nothing to change that. They have a pretty rough schedule to close the season, visiting Franklin County and Rockcastle County after the Wayne County game, and finishing with Corbin. That’s three top ten teams in their classes and a district rival. But first thing’s first, a win over Wayne County – already 40-6 winners over Rockcastle County – will almost certainly point to Knox’s first district crown in four years. They’ll just have to take it from Wayne County, the three-time defending region champ and twice district champion in that span. Wayne County took early lumps from Frederick Douglass and Boyle County, but have opened 2-0 in district play. They’ll face a stiff challenge from Russell County on October 12th as well, but again, this feels like the district title on Friday. Russell County hosts Rockcastle County this Friday as well, with the winner likely to be the 3 seed. Clay County has only taken on the monsters of Wayne and Knox so far, so they could surprise us, but they feel like the likely choice to miss the postseason.
To be frank, this seems to be the district that is most down on its luck. Only Harrison County sits above .500 on the year. The Thorobreds pulled a very, very surprising 19-18 win over Scott on Friday, which followed a 6-0 loss to Holmes that was every bit as surprising. The win was the first of the year for Holmes, and has them atop the district with Bourbon County, who knocked off Mason County in their only game so far. No district has less clarity than this one, as Scott seemed to be the favorite for the crown. After all, they drilled Mason County 50-0, while the Royals only lost to Bourbon County 50-43. The only thing we know about District 7 is that we don’t know anything for sure. I’d still rate Scott as the best team in the district, with Harrison County just behind, and the other three jockeying for third. But anything can happen.
Anything can happen in District 7 – not here. It’s Johnson Central, or it’s Ashland, with apologies to Greenup County. Greenup is having another fine season at 5-2, but nothing we’ve seen so far seems to indicate they’ll be able to hang with Johnson Central or Ashland, who they’ll face in their next two games. They’ll be the 3 seed. Boyd County, East Carter, and Rowan County are playing for fourth. Right now I’d estimate Rowan County is likely the best of that bunch, but they haven’t played any games among the three as of yet. We know none of them are going to catch up to the top three. Which leaves Johnson Central and Ashland, same as it’s always been, dancing for the district one last time before Ashland moves down to a better situation in 3A (aside from being across from Belfry) while Johnson Central gets to rain fire on a revamped District 8 before being forced to tangle with the likes of Corbin in the regional playoffs. Johnson Central and Ashland should meet in the region finals, just like last year, so this should be the first of two meetings. Johnson Central is unbeaten against Kentucky teams while Ashland is just plain unbeaten. Round 1 goes down at Johnson Central on October 19th.
Upcoming Game of the Week
It’s Wayne County at Knox Central, hands down. It has the most postseason implications, features just the second matchup of 4A top ten teams this season (and easily the better matchup), and it should be just plain good football. The Logan County at Hopkinsville game would be my second pick, but honestly, I expect Logan County to win that given the state of the Tigers. Dark horse is Taylor County against East Jessamine.
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