Class 4A Notebook (10/9): Where Are the Upsets?
In the several years that I've been writing about 4A, it has just been stupid how inconsistent the class is. In the past five years, there have been five different schools that won the state title. Almost every time you think you know something, you find out that you were completely wrong. In 2015, we knew Johnson Central was the best team. In 2016, we knew South Warren was going to repeat. Last year, we knew Johnson Central was going to repeat. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I've gotten used to everything being unpredictable. Yet here we are, entering our fourth straight week with the exact same top 9. Not just the same nine teams - the same exact spots. Everything is going exactly as expected. Where are the kooky games to create shake-ups? This week may finally provide that opportunity, but really, it is just a remarkable thing how little fluctuation we've seen in this class. The top four spots could be more scarcely locked in. Is there any doubt that Franklin-Simpson is going to meet the Johnson Central/Ashland survivor in the finals? There are times it feels like there's not even a point in playing the other games.
With that said, last week featured a couple of games that I had long had my eye on. First and foremost, #4 Knox Central's de facto district title tilt with #6 Wayne County. I've mentioned several times before that you could see Knox coming on prior to the year, and this was the game they had circled. They had fallen nine straight times to Wayne County, but they jumped all over the Cardinals early, scoring the first 24 points before settling in for a 24-6 halftime advantage, and leading by as much as 25 at 31-6. Wayne County gamely battled to make the score respectable, but Knox left no real doubt as to their district superiority. Ethan Mills ran for 197 yards on 27 attempts to key the Knox offensive attack, notching their first win over Wayne County since 2001. Technically they could still fall into a tie for the district if they fell to Rockcastle County on October 19th, but given the Rockets lost by 34 to this Wayne County team, it is safe to say District 6 belongs to the Panthers. Knox Central will take on #7 Franklin County this week in a possible regional final preview.
The other game that I've had circled was #5 Logan County's road trip to Hopkinsville. I've belabored the point in this column, but it is sad that Hoptown had already lost Javier Bland. It robbed this game of some of its luster, but give Hopkinsville credit, they battled hard. The Tigers got out to a 3-0 lead after one, before the Cougars grabbed the night's only touchdown on a 39 yard reverse by Maurice Gordon to take a 7-3 lead into the break. Hopkinsville got as close as 7-6, but they just simply could not find much offense, and ultimately, Logan County pulled out a 10-6 win. There were over 200 yards in penalties in the sloppy game, but most notably, QB Tyler Ezell suffered an ankle injury that knocked him from the game in the second quarter. We'll have to see if he can go this week in their district title game against Madisonville, but his absence would be a serious blow to the title hopes of the Cougars. Hopkinsville will be relegated to the 3 seed for the second straight year.
Other games of note:
#1 Johnson Central and #3 Ashland remained on their collision course. Johnson Central dealt a 51-0 smackdown to Greenup County, who just have not found any ability to hang with the Golden Eagles. Ashland stayed unbeaten with a 49-0 win over East Carter, and they'll take on Greenup County this week. The district title game between Johnson Central and Ashland on October 19th will be the 4A game of the year - as usual.
#7 Franklin County eased their way to a 35-13 win over Spencer County, clinching a share of the district title. If North Oldham fails to beat Collins on Friday, Franklin County will officially clinch the 1 seed. They almost certainly have in reality already.
Upcoming Game of the Week
I have to declare co-games this time around. I've already mentioned each, but #4 Knox Central visiting #7 Franklin County is a rare region final preview in the regular season. Blame cross-bracketing, which will mash district 4 and district 6 together this year. It'll be interesting to see what each shows. One advantage down the road for Knox - they won't have to go through Wayne County too. Franklin County won't be so lucky. Meanwhile, #5 Logan County is at home against a hungry #10 Madisonville-North Hopkins. Neither team wants to be on the same side as Franklin-Simpson, and Madisonville is surely eager to avenge their stunning 23-21 loss to Logan County a year ago. The winner of this matchup is the outright champion of District 1. For Logan County, a second straight undefeated regular season is on the line.
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