Class 4A Notebook (10/23): The Favorites Are Who We Thought They Were
Johnson Central and Franklin-Simpson have spent the year ranked #1 and #2. Ashland has spent the entire year ranked #3 despite being unbeaten, while the two ahead suffered losses in the first four weeks of the year. With apologies to the rest of the west, we long ago figured out that Franklin-Simpson should go completely unchallenged en route to a third straight title game appearance. But who would be expected to face them, the Johnson Central/Ashland question, that remained to be answered.
There’s a pretty clear answer now.
#1 Johnson Central had homefield advantage, and leveraged that to the tune of a 47-24 win over #3 Ashland, ending their dreams of an undefeated regular season. Johnson Central accomplished it with their usual brutal, punishing ground game, running up 400 yards on the ground without attempting a single pass. Devin Johnson did the heaviest lifting with 17 carries for 144 yards. The superstar Joe Jackson toted it 17 times as well for a “mere” 93 yards and a score, while QB Riley Preece got the glory with 4 scores on 15 rushes for 106 yards. A balanced effort for the top team in the state. Ashland got on the board first with a field goal, but it was off to the races from there. The Golden Eagles maintained at least a two score lead for the duration of the game after the first quarter. Ratliff was 13/20 for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns in the losing effort for Ashland. The Tomcats were held to less than 34 points for just the third time this year. With the win Johnson Central claims the district and will have homefield from now until the state finals should they make it. As predicted in the season preview, the Golden Eagles will only have gone on the road three times all year, and would have an incredible 11 games in the friendly confines if they make it to the state semifinals. A huge luxury for a team that hasn’t lost at home to a Kentucky team in two years or one from their own class in four years. It’s feeling a whole lot like Johnson Central/Franklin-Simpson III is inevitable.
Other games of note:
#2 Franklin-Simpson kept doing what they do, rolling up Warren East 47-0 in the rain to take the district. Incredibly, that was the first shutout of the year for the Wildcats, who keep beating teams so lifeless that the backups allow points. Franklin completed just one pass while Tre Bass ran for 200 yards. So, a Friday.
#4 Franklin County wrapped up an outright title of their own, dominating North Oldham 47-14. It brings home the first district title in four years for the Eagles, their first since joining 4A in 2015. It didn’t take long to get ugly, with the Flyers jumping out 27-0 after one and leading 41-6 at halftime. Nick Broyles needed only 8 rushes to get to 108 yards, converting two of them for scores.
#8 Moore was the other team to win a district title game, wresting the district from John Hardin and dealing the Bulldogs their first loss since August 31st. Larry Johnson (now there’s a good football name) posted 128 yards on 19 rushes while Rae Von Vaden threw for two scores on 10/18 passing for 130 yards. The defense also showed up in a big way, forcing four interceptions. Per the Courier-Journal, Moore had not reached the 8 win plateau in 34 years. Moore has emerged as the favorite in Region 2, with their primary competition seeming to be #10 Taylor County, who are also 8-1 after a 62-6 win over Marion County.
Lastly, not a top ten game, but Scott obliterated Holmes by a 40-6 score to force a three-way tie for the title in District 7. Three-way ties used to be common in the old four class system, which would give me a chance to have some mathematic fun to figure out the scenarios. Things are pretty straight forward in this one. Harrison County has the other two dominated, with 14 points in the tiebreaker based on wins over Paris (5), Fleming County (4), Bourbon County (3), and Mason County (2). Bourbon County and Mason County count for both Holmes and Scott, but that’s also the only two teams each has beaten that has a win. So Harrison County already has the district in hand. Scott and Holmes both can improve their standing with wins this week. Holmes hosts Newport, a 2A squad with five wins. They’ll be favored in that one, and a win there would give them at least 10 tiebreaker points. Scott could pick up five points as well – they just have to knock off Lloyd Memorial. That task is far tougher than the one facing Holmes. I’d give Holmes the inside track on the 2 seed as a result. I believe if neither improves their position that Scott would get the 2 seed based on the head to head result. Given that the team in the #3 spot is going to visit Ashland and not pass Go, it’s important to get the 2 seed.
Upcoming Game of the Week
In the same way that Johnson Central/Ashland is annually the game of the week in the next to last week, Johnson Central/Belfry is the game of the week the last week of the regular season. #1 Johnson Central is 8-1 – so too is Belfry, the #3 team in Class 3A. Despite the constant success of the Golden Eagles in the last few years, they have not beaten Belfry since 2014. Belfry is the last team from this state to beat Johnson Central at home, doing so in the state title season for Johnson Central in 2016. Win or lose we still think Johnson Central is going to the finals, but it would be nice to see them get that weight off their back.
Tags for this Thread