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3A Notebook: Time for DeSales to Take a Turn


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CAL Loss, DeSales Victory Likely Means New Number One


One week after five of the top six ranked teams in Class 3A lost, it was slightly calmer at the top. However, it was who did lose that will reverberate through Class 3A this week. Christian Academy of Louisville, having lost an overtime heart breaker to Ballard last week, was routed on the road at Boyle County, falling to the top-ranked Class 4A Rebels, 71-28. Meanwhile, district rival DeSales was using their defense to score, coasting past Cooper, 40-7. Expect a change at the top of the rankings for the first time this year. And even more questions about who is really the favorite in Class 3A.


CAL (3-2) allowed 42 first half points as Boyle County scored on seven of their eight first half possessions. The loss put further doubt into the defense of CAL, which allowed 116 points total on their way to an undefeated state championship season in 2018. This year's team has allowed 131 points in the last three weeks. What once seemed like a sure-fire top ranked club will begin district play next week against a strong Mercer County club and will play host to DeSales on October 11 with lots of questions still to be answered.


DeSales used interception returns for touchdown from Lance Weiter and Anthony Usher to pounce on visiting Cooper and rolled to victory. James Johnson led the winners with 126 yards rushing and a touchdown while quarterback DeMarcus Avery compiled 212 yards of total offense and a score.


The win evened the slate for DeSales at 2-2, but the schedule thus far has been brutal. A win over 6A #8 Butler, along with losses to 6A #3 St. Xavier and 4A #3 Lexington Catholic, highlight what Calpreps.com rates the toughest schedule in Class 3A. Those tough games are what likely gives the Colts the edge in the rankings over fellow 3A powers Belfry, Bell County, and Ashland.


RPI - What Does It Mean?


In the past discussions about schedule strength and team ratings served as interesting conversation and message board fodder but it really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. That all changed this season with the implementation of an RPI ratings system for Kentucky high school football.


First, the basics. RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is a way to measure a team's strength relative to other teams, based largely on the strength of their schedules. The RPI has been used for years in college sports, as well as by other high school athletic associations, to determine postseason participants. In the state of Kentucky, the RPI will be incorporated into the tournament as a means of seeding Rounds 3, 4, and 5. Each team's RPI is based on four factors: a team's game results, winning percentage, opponents' winning percentage, and opponents' opponents winning percentage.


If you visited the KHSAA scoreboard site this week (or the Bluegrasspreps.com thread titled "Your RPI is Showing; http://bluegrasspreps.com/ky-football-high/your-rpi-is-381453.html), you may have noticed the soft release of RPI data. The KHSAA will begin publishing official RPI numbers after Week 6 (next week). The state athletic association was quick to point out that numbers were "experimental, not official, currently under development, subject to revision and must be regarded with skepticism this early in the season." The final ratings will be released at the end of the regular season and will be frozen at that point - it will not include playoff games.


At this point, let's have a look at the Top 10 teams in Class 3A per the RPI:


1. Paducah Tilghman (.740)

2. Bell County (.735)

3. Mercer County (.710)

4. Belfry (.683)

5. Bardstown (.675)

6. DeSales (.658)

7. Russell (.654)

8. CAL (.645)

9. Glasgow (.611)

10. Fleming County (.604)


District Play Begins for Class 3A


A handful of schools began district play last week and many more will start this week. As with every season, districts have good, decent, and bad teams. But unlike most seasons, this year's playoff format will play a much different role in determining who advances in the postseason.


Unlike previous seasons where districts were paired with each other and District A's first place team would host District B's fourth place team, first and second round play this year will be within the district. This isn't the first time this method has been used, as the KHSAA did something similar in 2006 and 2007. It is unique in that it will lead to a completely different set up in rounds 3, 4, and 5.


Round One will feature each district's first place team hosting that same district's fourth place team, while the second place club will host the third. Round Two will then pit the winners against each other with the higher seed hosting. Whichever team emerges from the first two rounds will be crowned district champion (unlike the past which was based on regular season district records) and will advance to the third round.


It's in that third round where the previously mentioned RPI comes into play. Champions of Districts 1, 2, 3, and 4 will be grouped together for round three, as will champions of Districts 5, 6, 7, and 8. The highest remaining seed in regions 1-4 will host fourth highest remaining in regions 1-4; the second highest remaining seed in regions 1-4 host third highest remaining seed in regions 1-4. The highest remaining seed in regions 5-8 host fourth highest remaining in regions 5-8; the second highest remaining seed in regions 5-8 host third highest remaining seed in regions.


After round three there are four teams remaining in the class. In the state semifinals, using the RPI data from above, the highest remaining seed hosts fourth highest remaining seed, regardless of geographical location or what grouping they were in during round three. The second highest remaining seed hosts third highest remaining seed. The two winners then advance to the state championship game.


While there will likely be grumblings about the process, especially if two championship contenders are in the same district, the effort is being made to make late round playoff games more competitive and hopefully pit the two best teams in the state in the finals. It will be interesting to follow the progress of this trial run in the upcoming postseason.

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Around the Rankings


#3 Belfry was again without running back Isaac Dixon and they also lost linebacker Seth Mounts in a 22-21 loss to rival Pikeville. The loss was the second in a row for the Pirates (2-2), who will now see their schedule lighten considerably during district play. However, the loss could be pivotal for RPI points.


#4 Bell County won their fourth game of the season without a single blemish, besting Whitley County, 42-21.


#5 Ashland continued their winning streak over rival Ironton (OH), beating the Tigers 16-10 in overtime to make it five straight in the series. Blake Hester's three yard run in overtime sealed the win for Ashland (4-1). It was the second overtime game in as many weeks for the Tomcats, who fell to Wheelersburg (OH) last weekend.


#6 Elizabethtown (3-2) wasted little time blowing out Thomas Nelson, winning 54-0. Clay Games had two passing touchdowns to Camden Williams and Joseph Becherer ran for two scores of his own.


#7 Paducah Tilghman (4-1) continued to get it done on the ground, rushing for 389 yards and four touchdowns as a team, in whipping Calloway County, 45-21.


#8 Glasgow posted a second shutout on the season, beating Hart County 42-0 in the district opener. Tanner Abernathy passed for 177 yards and three touchdowns for the Scotties (5-0).


#9 Taylor County traveled to northern Kentucky to face a wounded Simon Kenton and came out on the losing end, falling 39-7 to the Pioneers. It was the first loss of the season for the Cardinals (4-1), who could only muster 124 total yards in defeat.


#10 Russell continued its impressive defensive start to 2019, beating Montgomery County, 49-8. The Red Devils (4-1) are allowing a mere 8.6 points per game, second only to Glasgow in Class 3A.


Extra Points


Fleming County (3-1) took a commanding 27-8 lead over previously unbeaten East Carter and then held on for dear life, winning 27-26. Fleming is looking like the early favorite in District 6.


Floyd Central beat Prestonsburg for the second time in as many years, topping the Blackcats, 40-13. The Jaguars (2-3) host Pike County Central in a pivotal District 8 game this week, with the winner taking a step toward avoiding a first round playoff game with Belfry.


Western Hills isn't near the offensive juggernaut as it has been in previous years with Wandale Robinson, but the Wolverines offense is beginning to show signs of life. Western Hills (2-3) beat city rival Frankfort, 34-28, for their second straight win after opening the season with three consecutive losses.

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Three to See

(Each week the 3A Notebook will preview the three best games featuring Class 3A teams for the coming week)


1. South Warren at Glasgow. Undefeated Glasgow faces their stiffest test of the season, hosting defending 5A state champions South Warren. Glasgow will have to stop a new quarterback as South Warren signal caller Caden Veltkamp was hurt in last week's win at Central and will likely be out for a few weeks.


2. Larue County at Bardstown. Two teams just outside the top ten square off in a monster matchup with huge postseason implications. Both schools share a district with Elizabethtown and the winner will take a big step toward a first round home playoff game. It is the first meeting between the two rivals since 2006.


3. Mercer County at Christian Academy of Louisville. Mercer County responded to their loss to Boyle County by whipping Garrard County, 64-0. How will CAL respond? If Mercer's solid defense can hold CAL at bay, the once top-ranked Centurions could be looking at a first round road trip.


Just One More

(Tired of the same teams every week? Want to go off the beaten path for a 3A game this Friday night? Each week we'll look at an under-the-radar matchup to watch in Class 3A)


Fleming County at Russell. Two long time district rivals continue their series as non-district foes. Russell has long dominated the series but Fleming has won two of the last four meetings.

Edited by gchs_uk9
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I'm very interested in the CAL vs Mercer Co. Game....understating the obvious. With the playoff set up, it could be critical to win your regular ditrict games to host but also to keep from having a to play a possible top 10 team one week another the next...it's going to be intesting......

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A must-win for Bardstown. Larue has gone back-to-basics and is a strong team. This is the game the blue-collar, junkyard dog Tiger lineman show that Bardstown is not just about speed and explosion this year.


The best B’town teams in my experience and historical research tells me that’s always the difference-maker.

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I picked Glasgow in an upset. I really like Abernathy as a player.


I’d still pick South Warren but without their quarterback Glasgow may have enough to pull one out. My biggest worry is the lack of genuine competition for Glasgow thus far (minus Larue who is much different today than Week 1).

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I’d still pick South Warren but without their quarterback Glasgow may have enough to pull one out. My biggest worry is the lack of genuine competition for Glasgow thus far (minus Larue who is much different today than Week 1).


Thats true but I’ve seen them live and it really may be one of those seeing-is-believing things. I like Glasgow. They are very similar to Bardstown demographically and in team make up. I like their town, I like their fans, I love their band, it just seems to be one of those places that does football right.

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