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Class 3A Preseason Rankings

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1.      Belfry (11-3; Class 3A state champions) – All of the pieces are there for yet another state championship run. Belfry loses two of their top three running backs from last season, but the Pirates return Isaac Dixon, who rushed for 1,191 yards and thirteen scores in 2019. In what looks to be a down year in Class 3A, Philip Haywood’s Pirates could be setting sail to an eighth state title.

2.      DeSales (10-4; state semifinalist) – Perhaps the best game in Class 3A in 2019 came in the state semifinals when Belfry defeated DeSales in double overtime. The Colts had been dominant for the better part of two months before that loss, one which most observers felt was the true state championship game. Running back James Johnson returns after an impressive junior campaign in which he ran for 1,494 yards and 19 touchdowns. The defense should be stout, as always, led by Derek Hollenkamp (73 tackles) and Lance Weiter (four interceptions).

3.      Bell County (14-1; state runner-up) – Gone is quarterback London Stephney but don’t cry too many tears for the Bobcats from Log Mountain. Coach Dudley Hilton brings back nine defensive starters from a unit that allowed only 12.7 points and 205 yards per game, including leading tackler Hunter Bailey. Bell County also returns leading rusher Brandon Baker, who rushed for 1,418 yards and seventeen touchdowns.

4.      Christian Academy of Louisville (7-5; lost in second round) – After a torrid start, the Centurions struggled in the middle of 2019, losing four times in five outings in coach Hunter Cantwell’s inaugural season. CAL rebounded with a playoff win at Mercer County before losing to DeSales. CAL lost quite a bit, including Kentucky signee John Young. However, the Centurions do return thirteen starters, which will help in what is considered by most the toughest district in Class 3A.

5.      Taylor County (11-3; state semifinalist) – One of last year’s pleasant surprises, Taylor County dropped from Class 4A (where they were a state semifinalist in 2018) to Class 3A where they advanced just as far in 2019. Running back Wes Oliver returns after an incredible junior season in which is ran for 2,265 yards and 29 touchdowns. Add that to a hard-hitting, ball-hawking defensive backfield (Taylor recorded 21 interceptions last season) and the pieces are there for yet another deep run.

6.      Russell (9-3; lost in second round) – If it weren’t for Ashland, who knows how far Russell could have gone in 2019? T.J. Maynard’s Red Devils lost twice to the neighboring Tomcats last season, costing them a fourth district title in six years. Last year the defense dominated, allowing only 10.4 points per game. They’ll need to rely on the offense early this time around and that shouldn’t be a problem as leading rusher Nathan Conley (1,438 yards/15 touchdowns) and quarterback Charlie Jachimczuk (845 yards passing/627 yards rushing/16 combined touchdowns) both return.

7.      Ashland (10-3; regional runner-up) – Sometimes transfers help, sometimes they hurt. Quarterback Jake Gregg transferred to Wheelersburg (Ohio) this offseason, taking with him 1,111 passing yards and twelve scores. The Tomcats also lost leading rusher Blake Hester to graduation. Ashland has speed, most notably Keontae Pittman (1,265 yards/17 touchdowns), but will have four new starters on the offensive line. Tony Love’s team may well be much better in November than they are on opening night.

8.      Elizabethtown (9-3; lost in second round) – It was weird seeing Elizabethtown go out in the second round last year, their earliest exit since 2014. It will be even more weird not seeing Mark Brown on the sideline in 2020. Brown, a longtime Kentucky high school coach with a state championship at Nelson County, compiled 59-19 record in six seasons at E-town and will now turn the reins over to his son, Ross Brown. The younger Brown will have quarterback Clay Games under center once again. Games passed for 1,552 yards and 23 touchdowns last season.

9.      Paducah Tilghman (9-4; regional runner-up) – Tilghman took a big step toward turning the corner and getting back to championship level football in 2019. Coach Jonathan Smith answered a nine win debut in 2018 with nine more wins last season. A disappointing, three turnover loss to Taylor County kept the Blue Tornado from their first state semifinal appearance since 2013. Tilghman must replace several key offensive figures, and will rely on quarterback Cam Marshall (1,112 yards/9 touchdowns).

10.  Glasgow (10-2; lost in second round) – Glasgow celebrated their move to Class 3A with ten wins in their first eleven outings before falling to Taylor County in the second round. While the Scotties were good, three close wins in their last three games seemed to portend an early playoff exit. Sizable graduation numbers mean Glasgow must replace several key contributors.

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Should be a good year for Russell. 😈

Taylor County has quietly developed a very good football program. I don't know if they're championship material or not, but the bar has been raised there.

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Wish PTHS and McCracken could play this year. Would be a barnburner!

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I’m a Glasgow fan but I wish all these young men a great season you know it might’ve easy just to throw in the towel and say I’m not practicing and lifting because we don’t even know if we are playing so good job gentlemen for sticking with and hopefully you will be rewarded.

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