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  1. District 1 We start with District 1, but they were the last game played in the state this week for any class. With the snow days earlier in the week, it was agree to delay the #8 Hopkinsville/#7 Madisonville-North Hopkins game until mid-day on Saturday. Tens of Tiger fans lined the home side. Unlike the first matchup where Madisonville got out to a great start, it was the Tigers who jumped out first with a long and sloooow march up the field, draining nearly 7 minutes on the game’s opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. The Tigers briefly held a 14-0 lead before settling into a 14-7 halftime advantage. Madisonville’s Jeriah Hightower had -2 yards in the second half, but immediately tied the game three minutes into the third quarter and a three yard touchdown run gave Madisonville their first lead at 21-14. Bland pushed across for his third rushing touchdown of the game to tie it at 21 with 5:29 left, but Hayden Reynolds went right up the gut for a 55 yard score to make it 28-21. The Tigers drove to the MNH 19, but turned over on downs there to give Madisonville the district title. Jeriah Hightower rushed for 174 yards in the second half along with two scores, and he was ultimately the difference maker. Javier Bland was just 14/32 for 217 yards to go with his three rushing scores, and star Reece Jesse was held in check with only two receptions for 34 yards. Madisonville may have been the #3 seed, but they ultimately were the more complete team, and enter the region final round with a 10-2 record and two losses by a combined five points. District 2 I got to take this game in personally. Franklin-Simpson has surged since an 0-4 start, entering this game at just 6-5, but winners of six of their previous seven games. For their part, Allen County-Scottsville had gotten off to four straight wins, but it was clear who was the dominant team in this one. The Wildcats won the toss and elected to receive, and they set the tone immediately. Very few offensive plays they ran on the night went for negative or even no positive yardage, and they ran, ran, ran the ball. They took a 7-0 lead on the first possession, and after the Patriots tied it to end the first quarter, Franklin scored 14 unanswered to take a 21-7 lead at the half. They unloaded in the third quarter, outscoring the Patriots 20-6 in the period, and eventually gained a running clock with the final margin of 56-20 with 6:23 left in the game. The game did feature an interesting stretch where there were 20 points scored between the two teams in 25 seconds of gametime, as a Rookstool touchdown run and Patriot kickoff return for TD were sandwiched around a 65 yard touchdown run for Franklin’s Stutzman at the end of the third into the beginning of the fourth. Stutzman racked up 195 yards and two scores on just 11 rushes, while Malik Carter added 124 yards and three scores on 20 rushes for Franklin. They held the Patriots to just 120 yards of offense in winning their fourth consecutive District 2 title. Now they face Madisonville-North Hopkins, trying to keep District 2’s run alive – the district has had a state final representative in each of the last four seasons. District 3 #3 Franklin County vs. #9 Central was one of the most highly anticipated games in the state this weekend, but the sad reality is that the game may have been determined by an event the week before. Franklin County moved to 11-0 with their win over Waggener in the first round, but lost QB Nick Broyles to injury in the game, which would ultimately keep him out against Central’s dominant defense. Broyles was 133/204 this season for 2,437 yards, throwing for 32 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions. He is not a player easily replaced. The Flyers did get out to a fast start, driving 64 yards in 6 plays to take a 7-0 lead just 2:30 into the game, capping the drive with a 5 yard run by backup QB Jayden Mattison. But that would prove to be the highlight of the night. Central scored one touchdown per quarter the rest of the way, taking their first lead 5 minutes into the third quarter and ultimately winning 18-7. Mattison was sacked three times and threw for only 98 yards on 8/17 passing. Franklin County was held to just 108 yards of offense in the contest, gaining only 44 after their opening drive. As usual, Dayshawn Mucker carried the load for Central, rolling to 200 yards on 44 rushing attempts, adding a pair of scores. 3A champions a year ago, Central has not failed to advance past the second round in any of the past 14 seasons. They are a model of consistency, and one of the greatest postseason forces in the state. District 4 Moore/John Hardin was not a heralded matchup, but provided possibly the most thrilling game in the state. When the teams met in the regular season, Moore was a surprise 22-14 winner, and ultimately leveraged that into the #1 seed. They moved out to a 10-0 lead by mid-second quarter, behind a Horatio Willis 15 yard touchdown run and a Romero 24 yard field goal. The field goal launched a flurry of scores to end the first half, as the next four drives resulted in touchdowns, leaving Moore with a 24-13 halftime advantage. But John Hardin would reel them in during the third quarter behind a field goal and touchdown (plus two-point conversion), making 24 all heading into the final quarter. The score would stay there through regulation with John Hardin securing a goal line INT late, setting up the only overtime game of the round in any class. Moore would gamble on the opening possession, as RaeVon Vaden hit DeWayne Tarver for a nine yard score – with the Mustangs going for two as Vaden ran it in to put them ahead 32-24. John Hardin scored to make it 32-30, but Xavier Boone was stonewalled at the one yard line on the conversion attempt, lifting Moore to a 32-30 victory in overtime. John Hardin, once a staple of the late rounds, has failed to advance past the second round in the last three seasons, while Moore advanced to the region final round for the second straight year. They’ll face an extremely uphill battle when they meet Central this week. District 5 Boyle County just keeps impressing, even when you think you have placed the bar as high as you can go. Their 54-7 victory over Lexington Catholic was never competitive, in the same way their regular season meeting was not competitive. Reed Lanter was clinical again, going 11/13 for 238 yards and three touchdowns. Andrew Sacco had 14 rushes for 114 yards with two scores and Reese Smith had 109 yards on six receptions with two scores. It was the seventh victory of 40 points or more for the Rebels this year, their eighth game posting 50 points or more, and their eighth game holding their opponent to single digits. The point total was the lowest score of the year for Lexington Catholic by 14 points, and that includes their game against Frederick Douglass, which has posted nine shutouts. In fact, it was their lowest score in two years. Dominance, pure and simple – nuff said. District 6 Holmes stunned Scott on the road on October 25th, winning 50-38 behind two pick-sixes. That gave the Bulldogs the #1 seed in the district in what was viewed as an upset. Scott set out to prove that they truly were the better team in the rematch this week. It certainly looked that way early, as they gained a 14-0 advantage after one, highlighted by Gus Howlett finding Nate Meyer for a 57 yard touchdown – Howlett’s only touchdown pass of the night and the only reception for Meyer. But Holmes would strike back with three touchdown runs by Quantez Calloway, staking them to a 22-20 halftime lead. They extended the lead to 29-20 after three quarters after another Quantez Calloway touchdown run, and it appeared Holmes was on their way to the next round. But as with the first game, a defensive play turned the game around. In this case, a bad snap on a punt was recovered in the end zone for a score to draw Scott within 29-27, and after forcing a three and out, Scott took the lead for good on a 10 play, 70 yard drive. An interception in Holmes territory set up one more score, and Scott advanced with a 40-29 victory, outscoring Holmes 20-0 in the final quarter. Quincy Perrin fought off cramps for Scott, and proved to be a workhorse with 35 rushes for 199 yards and two scores. Tayquan Calloway had 106 scoreless yards on 16 rushes, while Quantez Calloway had 84 yards passing and 72 yards rushing from the quarterback position. Scott’s reward? They visit #1 Boyle County next week. District 7 In their first matchup, #5 Wayne County seized the district from #6 Corbin behind a whirlwind finish, scoring a touchdown, recovering an onside kick, and kicking a game-winning field goal to take an 18-16 win and ending Corbin’s long district winning streak. The rematch would prove to be less dramatic and about a full 180 degrees in terms of offense. It was all Wayne County early, forcing turnovers and running all over Corbin, pushing to a 35-7 lead in the second quarter as Braedon Sloan ran for four touchdowns in the half along with 220 yards. Corbin would battle back and fight off a running clock, trimming the lead to 42-22 at the break. The Redhounds would continue to battle back, closing to 49-36 after Combs found Massengill for a 53 yard touchdown pass to end the third quarter. Corbin forced a punt and then made it 49-43 with 7:27 left after Combs found Patterson for a score. But just when it looked like Corbin might pull off an incredible comeback victory, Braedon Sloan appeared again, rushing for back to back scores – the last a 43 yarder for his seventh rushing TD of the night, making it 63-43 with 1:48 remaining and effectively ending the game, with the final of 63-49. The score equaled Wayne County’s highest offensive output of the season while it was their most points allowed as well. Still, the Cardinals forced five turnovers and Braedon Sloan had a game for the ages. His seven scores went with 408 yards on the ground on 37 attempts, as he literally carried them to victory. Cameron Combs was almost equal to the task in the loss, throwing for five scores and 457 yards for Corbin. Dakota Patterson posted 190 yards on 9 receptions with three scores, but it was not to be for the Redhounds. It’s their earliest postseason exit in six years – they lost to Wayne County that year too. District 8 The Johnson Central invitational came to a close in the typical fashion – a blowout Johnson Central victory, this one a 50-6 result over Harlan County. For the Golden Eagles, it marked their sixth game in their last seven where they held their opponent to less than 10 points, and it was their fourth game scoring 50 or more. Devin Johnson scored on three of his four rushes, posting 131 yards on the ground. That’s roughly 33 yards per rush, which I think is pretty good. Riley Preece was 4/6 for 102 yards and 2 scores. In total, Johnson Central didn’t even need 20 offensive plays to score 50 points. The defense held Harlan County to 138 yards, all on the ground. There really isn’t much to say as Johnson Central hasn’t been remotely challenged since August. But that may end in this next round. Unlike the other three matchups, which all project to have a heavy favorite on one side, Wayne County is a team that may actually be able to push Johnson Central. But if the Golden Eagles were to win this one in blowout fashion…. let me just say that the likely title game between Boyle County and Johnson Central would become even more of a must watch than it already is.
  2. Since Hopkinsville began their turnaround in 2014, most season’s have been filled with disappointment and/or unfulfilled promise. In 2014 it was having to forfeit three games, turning a winning season into a losing one. In 2015 and 2016, it was bowing out a round early at home, failing to close out a close game. In the last two seasons, it has been entering the season as the favorite in the district, only to fail to grab a top seed in-district and going on the road each season in the playoffs. A big reason for that is the rise of Logan County. In 2017, the Cougars announced their arrival after a 6-0 start against a soft schedule by knocking off the favored Tigers 13-12 on a last second touchdown run. The Tigers would get revenge via a blowout in the playoffs, but in 2018 there it was again – a poor start to the season and a disappointing 10-6 loss to Logan County knocked them back down to the 3 seed again. And thus, the stage was set for a Thursday night thriller in Logan County, between a 4-2 and 6th ranked Tiger team full of promise against a 6-0 and 7th ranked Logan County team fresh off of a victory over Madisonville and looking to essentially wrap up the top seed. The Cougars had success in the first quarter. An opening drive made it to the Tiger 6 before a turnover ended the threat, but an interception set Logan County up inside the Hopkinsville 10 and an Ezell TD pass to Sears gave them a 6-0 lead just before the end of the first. But that was to be the only Cougar score. A blocked punt set up a Hopkinsville scoring drive capped by a Bland TD pass to Rushing making it 7-6. Another special teams miscue by Logan County – this one a bad snap on a punt – gave Hopkinsville the ball inside the 10 yard line and Bland kept it for a 3 yard rushing TD to make it 14-6 at the break. The second half was more of the same, with the Tigers finishing with three interceptions of Ezell, who was just 15/34 for 184 yards. Star Logan County RB Gary Hardy was carted off the field, compounding the damage for the Cougars. Bland had another rushing TD for Hopkinsville to give the final 21-6 margin, lifting the Tigers to their first regular season win over Logan County in three years. That sets up an important matchup at Madisonville-North Hopkins next week. If Hopkinsville wins, they will clinch the top seed in the district, avoiding another matchup with either Logan County or Madisonville in the first round of the playoffs. If Madisonville wins, then assuming all other expected results hold, we will have a three-way tie at the top of District 1. BIG game. Other games of Note: With the matchup of two top ten teams described above and three other top 10 teams on bye, it was a very light week for big name games. #5 Corbin was in action for the first time since September 13th, thanks to a bye week followed by a rainout. The rust showed early as Lafayette got out to a 7-0 lead eight minutes in, but over the next eight minutes Corbin scored three times, all on the ground as Combs ran in from two yards, Longmire from 11, and Yaeger from one yard. That was all the scoring in the game as Corbin won for the first time since August, 21-7. #10 Central had the other competitive result in the top 10, a 14-0 shutout over Shelby County. It was the second shutout of the year for the Yellow Jackets, who have held four opponents under 10 points this season. Shelby County managed only 131 yards of offense, which Dayshawn Mucker exceeded by himself with 134 yards on the ground for Central. The highlight of the game was a Jaylen Thomas 80 yard touchdown throw to Deondre Howard on a flea-flicker. #2 Johnson Central doesn’t get much mention in this space because, frankly, their games have been pretty uncompetitive. They enjoyed a highly efficient 44-0 win over Clay County, running 28 offensive plays to rack up 387 yards. Devin Johnson had two scores on his five rushes for 119 yards. Riley Preece was a perfect 4/4 for 135 yards, and Seth Dalton took his only reception 66 yards to the house. #4 Franklin County posted their fourth score of the year of 50 points or more in a 62-0 win over North Oldham. The Flyers have been completely unchallenged since their 35-28 win in the opener at East Jessamine, and have won by an average of 40 points per game in the last six. Upcoming Game of the Week There are two clear contenders this week. Most weeks #5 Hopkinsville at #9 Madisonville-North Hopkins would be the clear choice. But the old rivalry between #1 Boyle County and #3 Lexington Catholic takes honors this week. This is almost certainly the last potential challenge of the year for a Boyle County team that has not played a game closer than 30 points. That came in their last outing, a 30-0 shutout of Highlands that represented their third shutout of the season, though their lowest point total. The Rebels have not lost a regular season game since August of 2017, and haven’t lost at home since September of 2016. Meanwhile, Lexington Catholic has not won on the road since their season opener, although they lost those two games by a combined two points to some pretty good teams in Covington Catholic and Lexington Christian. The Knights have yet to score below 21 points this season, and Beau Allen continues to rack up yards and scores, throwing for 2,034 yards (339 YPG), 22 touchdowns against just 2 INTs, and completing almost 73% of his passes.
  3. The Boyle County / Christian Academy of Louisville game was one of the most hyped games in the state last week. The matchup pitted the #1 team in 4A against the #1 team in 3A, and for Boyle County, was supposed to represent their first real test of the season. So much for that. The Rebels unloaded for 71 points and 621 yards in the 71-28 beating. QB Reed Lanter was almost perfect, throwing for 245 yards on 11/13 passing, with five of his 11 completions going for scores. Andrew Sacco averaged just shy of 10 yards per carry in posting 13 rushes for 129 yards and 3 scores. Will McDaniel averaged 13 yards per carry on 8 rushes, with 104 yards to show for it. In all, as a team Boyle County gained 13 yards per play, were perfect on third down, and gained a running clock on the top team in the class they just vacated. In every sense of the word, it was dominance. The Rebels have now won 30 of their past 31 games and haven’t lost in the regular season in two years. They dealt CAL their second consecutive loss, which hasn’t happened in 11 years. The next two games for Boyle County continue to represent their proving ground for the season as they host both Highlands and then Lexington Catholic – the latter after a bye. But after this performance, it is growing harder and harder to believe that anyone in 4A might challenge Boyle County, with the possible exception of Johnson Central. They are simply that good. Games of Note Speaking of #2 Johnson Central, they remained unbeaten by defeating their third straight out of state opponent, knocking off Bishop Sycamore (OH) 34-8. The Golden Eagles needed only 245 yards of offense to put up their points, aided by a pick-six. Sycamore Bishop is not much of a test – the school has had a lot of trouble even getting games this year – and at this rate we may not see Johnson Central take on another team that can truly stand toe to toe with them until Belfry in the last week of the season. #3 Lexington Catholic has now lost two games on the year by a grand total of two combined points, losing both via two point conversions for the lead in the waning minutes of the game. In this case, it was a 43-42 loss to 2A #3 Lexington Christian. The Knights got their usual standout play from Beau Allen, who threw just four incomplete passes on his way to 232 yards and two touchdowns, as well as rushing for three touchdowns and 142 yards. LexCath trailed by 14 at halftime before roaring back to take a 42-35 lead midway through the final quarter. Allen’s lone miscue of the night was a fumble to set up LCA’s go-ahead touchdown, and drove them into position for a 33 yard field goal that went wide right in the final seconds. LexCath gets a breather from their brutal schedule with a home game against 2-3 Tates Creek this week, then into a bye before their showdown with top-ranked Boyle County. No one can say that #8 Central dodged anyone this season, as they took on yet another power in South Warren. But they have no wins to show for their marquee matchups, falling 22-8 against the powerful Spartan defense. Central has historically been known for their ground game, but could only manage 17 yards on 18 rushing attempts, and were little better through the air, gaining only 71 yards on 3/14 passing. On a positive note, the 22 points scored by South Warren were a season low. Thankfully for the Yellow Jackets, the hard part is over. While teams like Shelby County and Waggener are capable, they are far more manageable than the Manuals, South Warrens, and St. Xs of the world. Our lone top-10 matchup was no game at all. #9 Wayne County dominated #10 Harlan County by a 55-22 margin. The Cardinals gained the running clock midway through the third quarter, and Braedon Sloan had a frankly ridiculous night. Sloan rushed for 206 yards on FIVE ATTEMPTS. And he took each of those five rushes to the house. He also had a reception for 73 yards, also a touchdown. Six touches, six touchdowns, 279 yards? That’s a good night. Brody Weaver was also economical, going 5/8 for 189 yards and three touchdown passes. Matthew Brown had 6 catches for 146 yards and a score in the losing effort for Harlan County. Upcoming Game of the Week With respect to the Boyle County / Highlands matchup, which may have flashier records, the game of the week for 4A has to be #10 Logan County at #4 Madisonville-North Hopkins. Since 2017 when Logan County began to ascend, this district has provided one of the most competitive district races in the state. The two games between these two teams have been decided by a combined six points in the last two years, and the winner has gone on to win the district both years. They enter Friday as two of the last five undefeated teams in the class. Logan County just entered our top 10 after a running-clock victory over previously unbeaten Greenwood, and has yet to score less than 35 points in a game. Senior RB Gary Hardy has rushed for over 600 yards already, and Senior QB Tyler Ezell has posted 1,210 yards and 19 passing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Madisonville has been a thresher on both sides of the ball. Their 43 points allowed on the year is just one point more than Boyle County for tops in the class. They are averaging 40 points per game. And Jeriah Hightower has already topped 1,000 yards, with 1,163 yards on 107 attempts and 14 scores. This one has everything.
  4. This week, the first rough cut, experimental, etc. version of the RPI was released on the Riherds scoreboard, giving our first view of what this potential playoff game-changer has in store for us. We’re not quite at the season’s midpoint, but this gives a fun, pre-district look at what we might expect down the road. Potential Region Finals: - Franklin-Simpson [District 2, Unranked, RPI .346] at Madisonville-North Hopkins [District 1, #4, RPI .712] -Moore [District 3, Unranked, RPI .520] at Franklin County [District 4, #5, RPI .712] There are many tiebreakers if two teams have the same RPI, but we’re going to use the BGP rank as a tiebreaker here between Madisonville and Franklin County. So far, this is what you’d have gotten from a traditional cross-bracketing setup, assuming the top team in each district won. Notably, teams like Hopkinsville (#7) and Central (#8) would be denied a shot at a region title due to having to play against Madisonville-North Hopkins and Franklin County in their district, respectively. -Scott [District 6, Unranked, RPI .493] at Johnson Central [District 8, #2, RPI .659] -Corbin [District 7, #6, RPI .551] at Boyle County [District 5, #1, RPI .648] Here we get a bit more mixing going on, as the even and odd districts get matched up. Notably, the RPI grants Johnson Central, our #2 team, the far more favorable matchup against Scott. It forces Boyle County into a rematch from the 2018 playoffs against Corbin, albeit in Danville this time. In the traditional setup, Boyle County would have hosted Scott, and as the odd numbered district representative in an odd numbered region in an odd numbered year, the Rebels would have had homefield throughout the playoffs regardless. Obviously, there are weeks for this to change, but this would be the first team negatively impacted by this setup. Potential State Semifinals: -Boyle County [RPI .648] at Madisonville-North Hopkins [RPI .712] -Johnson Central [RPI .659] at Franklin County [RPI .712] While these are probably the types of matchups we would expect in this system – with Boyle County and Johnson Central on opposite sides – this is not exactly the setup that we would anticipate. For Boyle County, that’s a nearly 3 hour trip to Madisonville when, again, they would have been expected to be at home for the entire playoffs in the old setup. It’s a relatively modest 2 hours and 16 minutes for Johnson Central to Franklin County. Aside from hosting the games, this setup probably isn’t the favorite for Madisonville or Franklin County, both of which would see their state title appearance hopes diminished by playing superior opponents. Games of Note -#3 Lexington Catholic continued their standout play with a tight 34-31 win over DeSales, the #2 team in 3A. The game started out in dominant fashion with the Knights getting out to a 24-3 lead, but DeSales came all the way back for a 31-27 lead. Beau Allen just used that to set up a come from behind drive, breaking off a 40 yard run before throwing a 5 yard pass to JD Woodall for the winning touchdown with 4 minutes left. -It was a brutal week for the back half of the top 10. #5 Corbin fell to Beechwood 26-10, managing just 212 yards of offense in the game, suffering their second straight loss. They have to tangle with Bowling Green after the bye week, a likely third straight loss. #8 Central continued their brutal schedule, getting blanked in a 23-0 result against St. X. They failed to top 100 yards rushing or passing in that one. The bad news is they have South Warren this week, but the good news is that the schedule clears up completely after that. They’ll have a chance to be 5-4 going into their game against Franklin County at the end of the season. #7 Hopkinsville had their first bad misstep of the season, falling 28-13 to a resurgent Henderson County. Javier Bland was a scud missile in this one, throwing for 247 yards but completing just 16 of 45 passes. Reece Jesse continues to be a stud though, hauling in 7 catches for 121 yards. Finally, and most importantly, #9 Knox Central fell on the road to Harlan County by a 28-21 score, and Harlan County used that result to hop into the top 10. The Black Bears fell behind Knox 21-0 in the first half, but Harlan County hammered away with a punishing ground attack led by Ben Landis (27 rushes, 170 yards) to score the win. Upcoming Game of the Week There are quite a few highlights on the schedule this week. Lexington Catholic visits rival Lexington Christian, Central hosts South Warren, and Wayne County hosts newly ranked Harlan County. But the honor this week has to go to the battle of #1s . 3A #1 Christian Academy of Louisville travels to 4A #1 Boyle County for a clash of the titans. CAL is coming off an OT loss to Ballard, which snapped an 18 game winning streak. The Centurions have not lost in consecutive games since 2011. For Boyle County, this is expected to be the first significant test of the year, and their next three games represent the proving grounds. After CAL, they host Highlands, have a bye week, then the crucial game against Lexington Catholic.
  5. The six class system has given us many years of poor matchups in all playoff rounds. This year, we saw the debut of the new RPI version of the region finals, and as expected, it was terrible. Essentially, it flipped the games that we’d normally see in the region finals into the second round, and vice versa. In this year’s second round, five of the eight games were decided by 14 points or less, with two games decided by a single score – one in overtime. The average margin of victory for the round was 21.5, and even that high margin owed a lot to the 47 and 44 point victories by Boyle County and Johnson Central, respectively. That gave way to an atrocious region final round that was decided by an average of 34 points per game, and only one game closer than 29 points. In my opinion, that serves up the failure of the intra-district format perfectly. If you can say anything for the RPI format, it’s that the higher rated team won every game, so… I guess that part works? The only game that was truly competitive matched a pair of familiar foes. #7 Madisonville-North Hopkins and Franklin-Simpson met for the third straight postseason, and had squared off in seven of the previous nine playoffs. Franklin had won the previous season’s matchup by a mere 12-10 score, en route to their second straight state title. Madisonville had been entrenched in close games for weeks, with their previous three games and five of their previous seven games decided by 7 points or less. They found themselves in a similar situation against Franklin. After the teams traded scores in a 7-7 first quarter, Franklin-Simpson pulled ahead, and took a 24-20 lead into the half. That too was a familiar situation for the Maroons, who trailed at the half in each of their victories in the first two rounds. The third quarter’s first drive would provide the turning point of the game. Madisonville received, and drove to the Wildcat 30. Per @FSfan, a shotgun snap on 2nd and 1 was low and rolled past Reynolds. He dove on the ball, but it squirted free, eventually being recovered by the Wildcats. However, the officials, thinking that Reynolds had recovered it, blew the play dead for the dreaded inadvertent whistle. That meant no fumble recovery for Franklin. It meant not even a devastating loss to make it third and long. No, it was 2nd 1 right back on the 30 – and Jeriah Hightower took the next play straight into the end zone. The Maroons never trailed again, running off 25 straight before coasting in for a 45-31 victory. It was a bitter end to Franklin-Simpson’s back to back title defense, but they still closed strong with a 7-2 finish after an 0-4 start, claiming their fourth consecutive district title. With their loss, the District 2 champion will not make the title game for the first time since 2014. For Madisonville, this is their first region title since 1971, when they advanced to the state title game. Jeriah Hightower was stupid good in the game, running 37 times for 324 yards and SIX touchdowns. Hightower is up to 2,817 yards on the season, and will face a stiff test to try to get to 3,000 when he faces Johnson Central, but it’s a distinct possibility. The rest of the games, it must be said, were horrendous. #2 Johnson Central/#5 Wayne County had real potential, but QB Brody Weaver was lost after the very first offensive play of the game for the Cardinals, robbing them of one dimension of their attack. Braedon Sloan became 100% of their offense, taking snaps at QB and running for 101 yards, but Johnson Central was just way too much, advancing to the state semifinals yet again in a 36-7 victory. The Golden Eagles didn’t put the ball in the air a single time, running 35 times for 364 yards and five scores. Devin Johnson was his usual efficient self, with 121 yards on just 10 rushes, scoring twice. #9 Central hosted Moore and posted their eighth game giving up less than 10 points in holding the Mustangs down in a 46-8 victory. For Central, that equaled their highest score of the year, fueled by Jeremiah Thornton’s 273 yards and four scores on the ground. Thornton entered the game with just 145 on the year. The loss ended a seven game win streak for Moore, finishing an 8-5 campaign. Finally, the favorite and #1 Boyle County kept it rolling in a 55-0 domination of Scott. That was their fourth shutout of the season, and ninth time holding an opponent to seven points or less. The 55 point offensive output was only their sixth highest of the year – that’s how good they’ve been. They have the top scoring offense and defense in the class. Reed Lanter was perfect on the night, going 11/11 for 257 yards and five scores for the Rebels. Reese Smith had four receptions for 87 yards and converted two of them into scores. They still have not played a single game that was decided by less than 30 points. They’ll host Central this week, which should be their toughest test of the year thus far. All in all, it was pure chalk in a year (and playoff system) that seems designed for it. Only five road teams have won in the 28 playoff games played so far in 4A – two of those came from Madisonville-North Hopkins which entered each game higher rated than their opponent, relegated to the third seed only because of a Hail Mary loss during the regular season and a three-way tiebreak that went against them. We don’t figure to see upsets this week either. Central and Madisonville-North Hopkins are both very capable teams, but they’re up against true monsters in Boyle County and Johnson Central. In Madisonville’s case, the 300+ mile trip to Johnson Central – where a Kentucky team hasn’t beaten the Golden Eagles since 2016 – won’t help.
  6. This week was the week we finalized all the district seedings in 4A – well, outside of District 1 at least. Most notably, there were three districts that would be decided with head to head matchups for the outright #1 seed, two of which featured a pair of top ten teams. #5 Corbin entered their game with #6 Wayne County with several things appearing in their favor. They were the home team, the higher-ranked team, and they hadn’t lost a district game in six years – 27 straight district wins. But as I noted last week, they felt a bit like the underdog despite that. Wayne County had the longer winning streak, the better record, and had seemed to have less trouble with their fellow district teams. A steady, pouring rain greeted the two teams, and neither were able to get anything going in the first quarter. Wayne County struck first on a Radilla field goal in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and the back and forth that would last the rest of the night began. The Cardinals made the lead stand up for almost 8 minutes before Cameron Combs found Jake Steely for a 79 yard touchdown to give Corbin a 7-3 lead they’d take to half. Halfway through the third quarter stud RB Braedon Sloan put Wayne County back ahead 9-7, but the try was no good. That allowed Corbin to go back ahead 10-9 with a field goal, taking that lead into the fourth. Combs pushed the lead to 16-9 with a one yard rush, but the try was missed. That set the stage for a wild final minute. First, Brody Weaver found Carson Simpson for a 22 yard touchdown pass to make it 16-15 Corbin with 53 seconds left. Wayne County decided to play for the win, going for two – but the Redhounds stood strong and the try failed. With the game seemingly sealed, Wayne County lined up for an onside kick, and improbably, recovered it with 51 seconds left. After moving swiftly downfield, Radilla put through his second field goal of the game to give the Cardinals an 18-16 win, ending Corbin’s district reign – at least until they likely meet in the second round. Braedon Sloan had 207 yards on 38 rushes to lead the Cardinals in the win. Cameron Combs and Jacob Steely drove the offense for Corbin. Combs was efficient, completing only 5 of his 10 pass attempts, but thanks in part to the long touchdown completion, he put up 165 yards on those completions. Steely hauled in four catches for 149 yards. The result means Wayne County will host Lincoln County when the first round begins in two weeks - who they knocked off 55-21 on the road two weeks ago – while Corbin gets the more difficult task in taking on a Knox Central team they beat 38-21. Meanwhile, in Louisville, the #10 Central Yellow Jackets were looking to close out their regular season with a five game winning streak and a #1 seed as they hosted the undefeated #3 Franklin County Flyers. The Flyers came into the game averaging 45.625 PPG, while Central had allowed only 106 points all season – an average of 11.77 PPG. It was a true matchup of strength against strength, and ultimately, the defense won out with only 394 yards of offense combined between the teams, even though that didn’t lead to the team known for their defense winning. Central started fast, using only two plays and 31 seconds to cover 54 yards, capped by a Mucker 12 yard run to put Central up 6-0. The PAT failed, an even that would prove significant. That was all the scoring for the first quarter, but the Flyers would find paydirt when they started at the Central 15 yard line three minutes into the second quarter. The “drive” lasted 3 plays and 49 seconds, as Nick Broyles found Braedyn Tracy for a 15 yard score, putting the Flyers ahead for what would ultimately be for good, 7-6. As time expired on the half, Broyles found Fred Farrier for a 28 yard score and it was 14-6 at the half. That was the score entering the fourth quarter as neither team could move the ball in the third. A Deondre Howard interception set up Central for their final scoring drive, as the Yellow Jackets would use 10 plays to drive from their own 45, with Hathaway punching in for a 1 yard score at the 5:21 mark of the fourth quarter. Mucker would attempt a rush for the game-tying two point attempt – necessitated by the earlier PAT miss – but it was no good. After forcing a stop, Central’s last chance was ended by a Gavin Hurst INT, and Franklin County’s undefeated season carried on. The Flyers are used to a lot more points and yardage, but were led by Broyles’ 129 passing yards on 11 completions. Fred Farrier was his top target with 5 catches for 67 yards. Central actually outgained Franklin County, led by Dayshawn Mucker’s 137 yards on 33 attempts, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. It was the sixth time this year that Central was held to 14 points or less – they’re just 1-5 in those games. Franklin County will host Waggener in two weeks for the first round of the playoffs. Franklin County defeated them 37-20 on October 18th. Meanwhile Central will host Shelby County, which clinched the #3 seed with a 34-26 defeat of Waggener on Friday. Central survived a tough test on the road at Shelby County on October 4th, with their 14-0 win being the one win out of the six games of 14 points or under I mentioned above. Decidedly less-heralded was the final winner-take-all head to head matchup between Scott and Holmes. Scott entered as a team that had flown under the radar while putting up a quietly impressive 6-2 record entering the game, and had rolled through district play with an average margin of victory of nearly 27 points per game. Holmes had enjoyed a more modest 13.67 margin, and had just the week before survived an 8-7 result against a Harrison County team Scott had dominated. I made no bones about it last week who I thought was going to win this one, but that’s why they play the games. Scott’s Quincy Perrin and Holmes’ Tayquan Calloway were the stars of the early going, as Perrin had a pair of touchdowns including a 57 yarder, while Calloway was impressive on both sides of the ball, sprinting for a 51 yard score and then hauling in a 71 yard pick-six. The two teams traded blows in the first half, with Holmes holding a narrow 16-14 advantage at the break, before Scott took the lead 22-16 to open the third. And at that point, Holmes seized complete control of the game. The Bulldogs posted 28 points in a row over the next quarter and a half to take a 44-22 lead with just 5 minutes remaining in the game. They were almost all big plays, as Calloway scored on an 82 yard run, Tyelon Tate hauled in a 97 yard back-breaking score from Quantez Calloway, and Demario Foster gave Holmes their second pick-six of the night with a 22 yard INT return. Scott managed to battle to a 44-36 margin after a touchdown pass, onside kick, and Perrin run, but after a failed attempt on another onside kick, Tayquan Calloway iced the win for Holmes with a 37 yard touchdown run. Tayquan Calloway finished with what may be the top performance in the state for the week, with 203 yards on 14 rushing attempts and three scores, in addition to his 71 yard pick-six, and another INT for good measure. Scott got standout performances from Quincy Perrin (203 yards on 25 rushes, 3 TDs), Cameron Patterson (180 yards on 6 receptions, 1 TD), and Gus Howlett (16/35, 324 yards, 2 TDs), but it ultimately was not enough. For Holmes, it gave them their first top seed since 2010, though they’ll tangle with the same Harrison County team they had just survived. Scott will match up with Rowan County, who they beat 54-28 in the last week of September. Other games of Note: -#1 Boyle County and #2 Johnson Central both made it official in blowout victories, scoring the top seed in their district via a 53-13 win over Bourbon County and 48-0 win over Letcher County Central, respectively. There still hasn’t been a single 4A team that has shown they can play with these two. -#8 Hopkinsville and #9 Logan County also locked in the three-way tiebreak in District 1 with their 55-13 win over Hopkins County Central and 46-7 win over Calloway County, respectively. Logan County still maintains the tiebreak lead with 14 points, and unless Madisonville-North Hopkins beats Mayfield or Hopkinsville beats Paducah Tilghman, they will likely get the coveted #1 seed. Madisonville can probably grab that top seed with their win, but Hopkinsville would probably still need help from Kenwood (TN) to be able to overtake Logan County. In one week, we’ll know. -Franklin-Simpson clinched their spot atop District 2 with a thoroughly dominating 48-21 win over Warren East. The Wildcats have now won five in a row, which was expected after their tough early schedule. The win over Warren East is probably their most impressive yet, as they posted 435 yards of offense, with 381 on the ground. The Wildcats are getting healthier, but they still will face an uphill climb back to the state finals. Upcoming Game of the Week Everyone is playing out of class this week, and in the top 10, we have an impressive six games against teams that are ranked from other classes. #2 Johnson Central against 3A #2 Belfry has the marquee rankings, but this feels like another year where Johnson Central should have the game in hand. The first meeting between #4 Lexington Catholic and 5A #2 Frederick Douglass should be a big ticket, even if it feels likely that Frederick Douglass will likely have the win. At the very least Lexington Catholic should be able to put an end to the astounding seven game scoreless streak Frederick Douglass has put on their opponents. All of the matchups between District 1 teams and their opponents carry great significance thanks to the tiebreaker, as #9 Logan County visits 5A #5 South Warren, #7 Madisonville-North Hopkins hosts 2A #3 Mayfield, and #8 Hopkinsville hosts 3A #10 Paducah Tilghman. It is that last one that I am going with this week for the GotW. The Tigers badly need a win to have a realistic shot at hosting a playoff game, possibly working themselves into the top spot. Of the three games featuring District 1 teams, I consider this the most realistic shot at a win, though none are favored. But add to that, these two are rivals on a historic scale. We’re talking decades worth of games. The old Western Kentucky Conference rivals aren’t in the same district or even class as they were for some many years, so it is nice to see a game of importance between the two, even if it is mostly on Hopkinsville’s side. The Tigers knocked off Tilghman 16-9 two years ago, but the Blue Tornado came back in a big way last year with a 47-13 win.
  7. When Lexington Catholic played Covington Catholic to a 39-38 result on September 6th behind an incredible Beau Allen performance (455 passing yards, 5 touchdowns), it appeared that perhaps the two-horse race in 4A might be expanded into something more. Their result at Lexington Christian two weeks later (a 43-42 loss) took some of the shine off of that, but their matchup with Boyle County last Friday was still anticipated to show whether or not there was true hope of someone besides Johnson Central to challenge Boyle County’s supremacy. With apologies to Franklin County, that hope is all but extinguished now. The Knights entered the game with two losses by a single point each. Boyle County dropped a season-worst 64 points on them via a running clock, winning 64-28. It would be fair to call the performance surgical. QB Reed Lanter was 24/28 for 494 yards, throwing five touchdowns. Reece Smith hauled in three of those scores, with 8 catches for 275 yards! In all, the Rebels averaged 13.13 yards per play run, racking up 617 yards of offense. In defeat, Beau Allen still threw for 385 yards and three scores, but completed less than 50% of his passes after entering the game completing just under 73%. Put another way, he had 20 incompletions in the game – he had 52 for the season (6 games) coming in. For Boyle County, it all but clinched the top seed in the district in terms of what we expect. Their closest game of the year remains their 30-0 victory over Highlands, and every other game they have played they have gained the running clock on their opponent, winning by 36 or more. At this point, it appears that no one will be able to slow them in 4A with the possible exception of Johnson Central. For Lexington Catholic, they have still yet to win two games in a row since August, though they’ll be favored to win their next two. They’ll take on a Bourbon County team this week that surprised Anderson County in a 35-34 result last Friday. It’s a good bounce back spot, but they know the challenge that will be in front of them mid-November, a likely trip back to this same Boyle County team. The other blockbuster game took place a few hours westward when Madisonville-North Hopkins hosted Hopkinsville. Hopkinsville entered the game with a chance to clinch the top seed in the district after a dominant 21-6 victory over Logan County eight days prior – a Logan County team that knocked of Madisonville at the end of September. The Maroons lost that game on a last second hail mary pass, and were eager to work themselves back into the top of the district mix. Madisonville set the tone immediately, taking advantage of a bad snap in the first minute of the game to set up at the Tiger 31, and cashed in just over two minutes later with a Marquise Parker touchdown reception. On their next drive, Jeriah Hightower continued his Mr. Football candidacy (he’s up to 1,870 yards on just 186 attempts) with a 32 yard touchdown run to give Madisonville a 14-0 lead just 8 minutes into the game. That was all for the first half, but Madisonville extended the lead to 20-0 midway through the third quarter to seemingly clinch the game. The Tigers showed their resiliency, getting a Bland to Jesse touchdown three minutes later, then a Bland to Rushing touchdown as the third quarter ended to make it 20-12. That set the stage for dramatics in the final minute of the game, as Hopkinsville reached the one yard line, took a sack, got more downs on a roughing the passer penalty, and then finally saw Bland and Jesse hook up on an inside slant with less than 20 seconds left to make it 20-18. But for the third time on the night, they could not convert on the two point try, and the Maroons held on for the critical victory. Bland was 21/44 for just 200 yards on the night, though he did throw for the three scores. Hopkinsville actually outgained Madisonville 263-254, but it wasn’t enough. So that leaves us with a three way tie for the top of District 1. Barring something truly remarkable, those three teams will remain deadlocked to end the season. In terms of the postseason implications of the game, Logan County is likely the biggest beneficiary. They currently hold the edge in the three-way tiebreaker, which uses the win total of the top 4 teams beaten by each team, assigning a point for each win. Games among the tied teams do not count. Logan County currently has 12 points, owing primarily to wins over Greenwood and Warren East. Those two teams are highly likely to add three more wins between now and the end of the season to push their total to at least 15. Muhlenberg County (currently 2) and Russellville (currently 1) have one likely win and three possible wins (possible being my judgment) between them. It is conceivable Logan County could get their total as high as 20 without even having to beat South Warren at the end of the season, who would likely add 8 by then – but it is highly unlikely Logan County could win that game. Both Hopkinsville and Madisonville-North Hopkins currently sit at 9 points total, but Madisonville is in the more favorable position from teams they have currently beaten. Union County gives them four points, and they’re likely to add two more with wins over Trigg County and Calloway County. Daviess County and Marshall County add two apiece, and they have three possible wins between them. Ballard Memorial’s 1 rounds out their current total, and it is possible they could add two more with their remaining opponents. In all, it’s conceivable they could get as high as 16 points from those teams. But the real x-factor is their game against Mayfield to end the year, at which point Mayfield will have 8 wins. A win there, and Madisonville is likely to win the district. That leaves Hopkinsville. They currently have only three wins that are generating points, and their fourth one over Christian County will likely stay a zero. Caldwell County has six wins, are highly likely to add a seventh, and possibly could grab an eighth against Murray. Kenwood (TN) has two wins, and I have no idea as to the likelihood of their two remaining games. Let’s say for argument’s sake they get both. With Calloway County unlikely to add to their total of one, that would leave Hopkinsville with a max total of 13 in all likelihood. Their season closer is against Paducah Tilghman – a winnable game. Paducah is likely to have seven wins at that point. That could potentially push them as high as 20 points, which might be enough to grab the district. But without beating Paducah, they’re almost certainly going to be the 3 seed and hitting the road for a tough first round game. I can’t lie – I love three-way tiebreaks because of all these scenarios. It’ll be interesting to see it play out. If you’re curious how the RPI would play it – Madisonville currently has the top RPI of .627, followed by Logan County at .606, with Hopkinsville just behind at .599. Other games of note: #2 Johnson Central just continues to roll along, moving to 7-0 with a 49-6 win over Perry County Central. With the departure of Ashland from the district, this part of the schedule does not provide much resistance for the Golden Eagles, and at this point it looks like they are not likely to face any difficulties until the state semifinals at the earliest. The word I’d use for the performance in games like this is efficient. Riley Preece threw three passes – completed three passes. Two of them were touchdowns. Devin Johnson rushed twice for 93 yards total. Both rushes were touchdowns. #6 Corbin jumped out to a two score lead in the first quarter over Knox Central, but led just 14-7 at halftime. No worries, the Redhounds grinded out 24 points in a row to take a 38-7 lead before Knox tacked on a pair of scores to make the score a respectable 38-21 final. Dakota Patterson hauled in five catches for 100 yards and a score, with Nick Yeager rushing 18 times for 129 yards and a score. Corbin had some rough luck with a bye week and a cancelation causing a three week hole in their schedule, but appear to have settled back in. They visit Lincoln County this Friday before a likely district-deciding battle with Wayne County on October 25th. #7 Wayne County won their fourth in a row 55-21 over that Lincoln County team last Friday behind Braedon Sloan’s 362 yards rushing on just 23 attempts with five touchdowns. Sloan is averaging 13.5 yards per carry this season. #10 Central fell behind twice in the opening half against Waggener, trailing 6-0 just two minutes into the game after a 54 yard Sickles touchdown pass to Allen, and again midway through the second quarter at 14-6 when Sickles found Coleman for a 10 yard score. But the Yellowjackets followed that score with a 13 play, 64 yard drive that consumed the rest of the half, capped by a Duncan 1 yard score as time expired in the half, tying the game at 14 all. A Mucker three yard score gave them the lead for good six minutes into the third, and Bush had a scoop and score to clinch the game five minutes into the fourth, giving Central the 26-14 victory. As usual, defense ruled the day for Central. The two touchdown passes were two of only three completions for Waggener, and the Yellowjackets held them to 178 yards of offense while forcing three turnovers. Central will tune up with North Oldham this week before their big showdown with Franklin County on October 25th. RPI Update Right now, your projected region finals using solely RPI would be: Warren East at Franklin County Moore at Madisonville-North Hopkins Scott at Boyle County Wayne County at Johnson Central Projected state semifinals would be: Johnson Central at Franklin County Madisonville-North Hopkins at Boyle County Upcoming Game of the Week After a few weeks with very high-drama options, this week is a bit of a letdown. A lot of the top 10 features games that are likely not even going to be contests. The game that figures to be the most potentially intriguing is Waggener at #3 Franklin County. Waggener saw their five game winning streak snapped in their loss at Central, unable to overcome the tough Central defense. Still, it was a competitive 26-14 game. Franklin County is one of three remaining unbeaten teams, and has been unchallenged since their unexpectedly close 35-28 result against East Jessamine to open the year. They have their game against Central the next week, so there is the danger of getting caught looking forward in play as well. At the very least, this game should give us a good read on what to expect in that crucial matchup on the 25th.
  8. Last week when I looked ahead at the schedule for week 9, I found the slate to be rather underwhelming, and it made it difficult to designate a game of the week. That pretty much bore out. There were nine games featuring top 10 teams – none against another ranked team – and those games were won by an average of 28.89 points, with all but one being decided by 15+ points. But two did stand out in their surprisingly close margins given what was expected, and it seems no coincidence that the winning team in each are going to play this week – perhaps each got caught peeking. #5 Corbin entered their road matchup with Lincoln County at 4-2, prohibitive favorites against a Patriot team that was 3-4 and had just endured a 34 point beatdown by Wayne County. I personally saw the game as a measuring stick to give us a read on what was anticipated to be a district title game on October 25th between Corbin and Wayne County. And while that ultimately would have still been a title game even if Corbin had lost, it would have lost a bit of its suspense and luster. Lincoln County employed long drives and ball control all night long to aid them in an upset effort, grabbing leads at 7-0 and 14-7 before falling behind 20-14 at the half. Clayton Davis was a star on the night for Lincoln County, hauling in eight passes for 134 yards and two scores from the arm of Nick Harris, the second of which staked the Patriots to a 21-20 lead midway through the third quarter. Jake Steely would provide the answer for Corbin on an 80 yard rushing score to give the Redhounds a 26-21 lead at the end of the third, a score that would stand up for the final. Corbin found great difficulty staying on the field in the second half, with that Steely run proving to be their only play run in the third quarter, and turnovers handing Lincoln County multiple chances to take the lead. But the fourth quarter would be defined by Corbin’s defense, forcing a turnover on downs, a punt, and an interception to seal the 26-21 victory. Cameron Combs was 7/7 for 91 yards and a touchdown pass in the win for Corbin, while the team averaged 10 yards per carry in accruing 224 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, 1-6 Knox Central was visiting #6 Wayne County, where the Cardinals were seeking their fifth straight win. This game saw the underdog jump out fast as well, as Knox Central went up 7-0 less than one minute into the game. Wayne County game right back with a 62 yard drive to tie the game at 7 all two minutes in. And the back and forth tone was set. It was 14-7 Knox Central after one, and 21-14 Knox at the half with the Panthers never trailing. After Braedon Sloan tied the game on a kickoff return to open the half, Knox Central again answered, jumping out to a 28-21 lead just over three minutes into the third. But that was to be their swan song, as the dam finally broke. Wayne County would score twice more in the third to take a 35-28 lead, and a scoop and score by Carson Simpson on a punt block made it 42-28 seconds into the fourth. The teams would trade scores after that for a 49-34 final. Braedon Sloan was everything for the Cardinals in the game, with 25 rushes for 249 yards and five touchdowns in addition to the kickoff return, adding four catches for 58 yards. Knox Central rang up 420 yards of offense, including 249 yards passing from the arm of Brady Worley. Seth Huff added three touchdowns on 155 yards rushing. District Breakdown We’re entering the last week of the district slate, so let’s recap where the district races stand and the implications of this week: District 1 – I went into much greater detail about this last week - http://bluegrasspreps.com/ky-football-high/class-4a-notebook-382669.html – and nothing has changed. Madisonville and Logan County both took care of business while Hopkinsville was on a bye. For Madisonville, their district run is over. Hopkinsville needs only beat Hopkins County Central and Logan County needs only beat Calloway County to trigger the three-way tie. Logan County currently has 14 tiebreaker points and realistically could get as many as 19 without beating South Warren. Madisonville and Hopkinsville both have 10 points. Madisonville could get as high as 16 realistically without beating Mayfield (which would probably take them as high as 21). Hopkinsville probably can’t get higher than 13 based on what they have currently, and so their game against Paducah to end the year is critical, which would likely add 7 to their total to take them to 20. It’s probably Logan County’s to lose based on potential results. I think Hopkinsville would be my greater dark horse because I find them more likely to be able to beat Paducah to make things interesting. Calloway County has already locked up the 4 seed via a win over Hopkins County Central two weeks ago. Prediction – 1 – Logan County, 2 – Madisonville-North Hopkins, 3 – Hopkinsville, 4 – Calloway County District 2 – It was anticipated that Franklin-Simpson and Warren East would be squaring off in an undefeated in-district showdown for #1 this week, but Allen County-Scottsville threw a wrench into the works with a 27-10 stunner at East on Friday. So that means with a win, Franklin-Simpson clinches #1 (which was going to be true anyway). If Franklin-Simpson and AC/S both win, it’s a clean 1-2-3-4 with Franklin, AC/S, East, and Russell County going in that order. Warren East can clinch #1 with a win and an Allen County-Scottsville loss to Russell County, winning a head to head tiebreak with Franklin-Simpson. If Warren East and AC/S both win, it will create a three way tie at the top of the district. In that scenario, Warren East has the others dominated. Wins in the tiebreak don’t count, and outside of the district, East has beaten Russellville (Franklin’s only non-district win currently) as well as Edmonson County, who add three wins with potential for another. They also have a winnable game with Daviess County (3 wins currently) to close the year. Franklin-Simpson closes with Glasgow – a certain loss. AC/S has no current non-district wins (their total is actually currently zero as Warren Central has not won any games), but could add Monroe County’s 4 or 5 wins at the end of the year. In that grouping, East likely wins #1, AC/S has realistic control of their destiny for #2, and Franklin-Simpson would be best served by just winning this week to clinch. If Franklin-Simpson and Russell County both win, it will create a three-way tie for second-place. Russell County has quantity there, but their four out of district wins amount to only four points – shy of East’s current five – and their best hope will be an East loss to Daviess County and a win over LaRue County (four current wins) in their season closer, where they will not be favored. AC/S once again would need to beat Monroe to have any hope, and in this scenario, there’s a real possibility that it would be East at the 2, Russell County the 3, and AC/S falling all the way to the 4. Warren Central is already eliminated from the postseason. Prediction – 1 – Franklin-Simpson, 2 – Allen County-Scottsville, 3 – Warren East, 4 – Russell County District 3 – This one is crystal clear. Moore has already clinched the top seed in the district, sitting at 3-0 with wins over John Hardin and Spencer County, who meet this Friday and each sit at 2-1 in district play. The winner of that game will be the 2 seed, the loser is the three seed. They’ll meet in the playoffs, with the host the only thing up for grabs here. Valley is locked into the fourth seed with a 1-3 record in the district, clinching the playoffs ultimately via a 12-6 win over Marion County on October 3rd. Marion County plays Moore this week, but even the unlikeliest of wins there would push them only into a tie for fourth, where they’d lose the head to head tiebreaker. Prediction – 1 – Moore, 2 – John Hardin, 3 – Spencer County, 4 – Valley District 4 – Another fairly clear one. Central hosts Franklin County this week to decide the top seed. Each team is 3-0 in district play currently. The winner is the #1 seed, the loser the #2 seed. Waggener hosts Shelby County on the same night, with each sitting at 1-2 in district play. The winner of that game will be the #3 seed, the loser the #4 seed. North Oldham has already been eliminated, winless in district play. Prediction – 1 – Franklin County, 2 – Central, 3 – Waggener, 4 – Shelby County District 5 – Realistically, we all know Boyle County is going to be the #1 seed. They do have to make that official with a home win over Bourbon County this week. If Bourbon County were to win that game, they could clinch the #1 seed via head to head tiebreaker if Lexington Catholic were to lose to Anderson County as well. If Boyle County and Lexington Catholic both win, Boyle County is the #1, LexCath the #2, Bourbon County the #3, and Anderson County the #4. If Boyle County and Anderson County both win, it will create a three way tie for second, and if Bourbon County and Lexington Catholic both win, it will create a three way tie for first. I could go into the scenarios here, but I’m going to be blunt – the possibility is so remote that it doesn’t even make sense to discuss. It’s going to be Boyle County and Lexington Catholic winning this week. Prediction – 1 – Boyle County, 2 - Lexington Catholic, 3 – Bourbon County, 4 – Anderson County District 6 – The least heralded and visible of the eastern districts, the top seed in the district will be decided when Scott hosts Holmes this week. Both enter the game at 3-0 in the district, though the margin of victory in their games against the rest of the district strongly suggests Scott will take the #1 seed and Holmes the 2. Rowan County can clinch the #3 seed with a win at Boyd County this week, which would officially put Boyd County out of the playoffs and push Harrison County to the 4 seed. If Boyd County can pull the upset, then it will create a three way tie for third place. Each team would currently have four points in the tiebreaker system, with Rowan County perhaps having the inside track thanks to a winnable game against Montgomery County in their season finale to add some points. Boyd County would be basically all-in on Bath County picking up additional wins, which would seem to make them the most likely to be on the outside looking in. Prediction – 1 – Scott, 2 – Holmes, 3 – Rowan County, 4 – Harrison County District 7 – Corbin hasn’t lost a district game since 2013, and will face the last team to defeat them in a district match, Wayne County. The winner is the 1 seed, the loser gets the two. Lincoln County and Knox Central each enter their game at Knox Central at 0-2 in the district – it’s the same scenario, winner gets the higher seed, in this case the 3, while the loser goes down to the 4 seed. Simple as it gets. Prediction – 1 – Wayne County, 2 – Corbin, 3 – Knox Central, 4 – Lincoln County District 8 – This is the only district where the seeds top to bottom are totally locked in. Johnson Central has already claimed the 1 seed in the district, and will visit Letcher County Central just to complete the formality of an unbeaten slate. Harlan County is 2-1 in the district, and has the 2 seed. If they were to lose against Perry County Central and Letcher County Central were to pull a historic upset against Johnson Central, then there would be a three way tie for second place with Harlan County, Letcher County Central, and Clay County. However, Harlan County would own the tiebreaker, having beaten both the other two head to head already – the same head to head advantage applies if Letcher County Central were to lose and it was just a two way tie between Harlan County and Clay County. Clay County (2-2) is locked into the 3 seed because in a three way tiebreaker after Harlan County claimed the 2 seed, it would revert to straight head to head, where Clay County has the advantage having beaten Letcher County Central. If Harlan County and Letcher County Central won to make it a two way tie between Letcher County Central and Clay County for third, the head to head advantage would apply there too. In reality, Letcher County Central is going to lose to Johnson Central, so really, the tiebreakers are extremely unlikely to even reach that far. Which leaves Letcher County Central at the 4 in those scenarios, and Perry County Central out of the playoffs. Perry County Central is 0-3 in district play, and a 1-3 mark would at best tie them with a 1-3 Letcher County Central, who owns the head to head tiebreak. No prediction, this is locked in: – 1 – Johnson Central, 2 – Harlan County, 3 – Clay County, 4 – Letcher County Central Upcoming Game of the Week The Franklin County at Central game is a real contender, because while Franklin County is the favorite, Central is the team with the greater pedigree, and they’re at home. But Corbin vs. Wayne County is the choice here. As mentioned, it has been six years since Corbin has lost a district game, but despite their higher ranking and homefield advantage, they feel a bit like an underdog here. Wayne County has seemed to have a bit more juice in their common opponents, and Corbin is coming off a much tougher than expected win against Lincoln County. I will be glued to updates to see how the Redhounds defend their crown and field.
  9. Much like Thanos – this was inevitable. When the season began, Boyle County and Johnson Central were pegged as 1 & 2, and though the chairs behind them were filled by different teams from time to time as the season went on, those two never budged and remained on a collision course. Last Friday did nothing to change that. We were, however, treated to a rare event not seen this season – Boyle County received a little push. The #1 Rebels hosted #9 Central in a game many thought we’d see in the 3A finals last year, but Corbin crashed that party. Boyle County entered the game having not played a game decided by less than 30 points all season. It became clear right away that this would not be as easy as those, as Central actually held Boyle County to a scoreless tie in the first quarter, then took a 6-0 lead just seconds into the second quarter on a Vernon Duncan QB keeper on 4th and inches, completing a 96 yard drive. But that would prove to be the highlight of the night for the Yellow Jackets. After the Rebels took the lead on the ensuing possession, Duncan was knocked from the game and stretchered off the field. Reese Smith would haul in a 24 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 13 at the quarter’s midpoint to provide a 14-6 margin at the half. That lead was extended to 24-6 entering the final quarter before a Hathaway 56 yard run and subsequent two point conversion made it 24-14. McDaniel would slam the door shut for Boyle County with a 42 yard touchdown run with just under 8 minutes left, providing the final 31-14 margin. It was an admirable effort from the Yellow Jackets, worthy of their championship pedigree. They held Boyle County to 379 yards of offense, and believe me, with how the Rebels have played, I mean it when I say the “held” them to that. Hathaway led the Yellow Jackets with 90 yards rushing on 8 attempts, as along with Duncan, the two QBs accounted for all of Central’s scoring. Reed Lanter threw just his third INT on the season in the game, but was still 11/18 for 187 yards and two scores for the Rebels. Will McDaniel carried a heavy workload with 190 yards and two scores on 25 rushes, while Reese Smith kept up his stellar play with four receptions for 102 yards and a score. It was just the fifth time all year that Boyle County allowed more than 7 points to an opponent, and one of only two games where they did not gain the running clock. It was a strong tune-up for the championship to come. Things were much more business-as-usual for #2 Johnson Central. The Golden Eagles were all over #7 Madisonville from the jump, racing out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and 29-7 at the half. The Maroons were never closer than two scores from there (after a score to open the third quarter to make it 29-14), and ultimately Johnson Central scored 23 straight to close the game out and gain yet another running clock. On the year, they have played only two games that didn’t feature a running clock margin, and none of those have come since September. Devin Johnson was looking to make a statement in the contest, posting 280 yards on 21 attempts with two scores as he squared off with one of the best rushers in the state on the other side of the field in Jeriah Hightower. Johnson won the contest on the scoreboard and in the statbook. Dillon Preston had a strong game as well, with 11 carries for 114 yards and a score. For Madisonville, Jeriah Hightower did have a strong game with 184 yards on the ground on 31 punishing attempts, but failed to find the end zone. He closed his career with 6,343 yards, good enough to enter the top 20 on the all-time rushing list. He crossed the 3,000 yard threshold against Johnson Central, finishing with 3,001 on the season, a top ten all-time effort in the state and the record for the proud Maroon program. Madisonville’s all-time leading rusher will be missed, both by the program and by those lucky enough to watch him. That leaves us with #1 Boyle County squaring off with #2 Johnson Central. For Johnson Central, it is their fifth straight state title game appearance, but they’re seeking just their second title during that run. For Boyle County, they return to the title game after failing to make it in an upset in 2018 – they won the 2017 3A title. The Rebels are winners of 39 of their last 40 games and take a perfect 14-0 record into the contest. Johnson Central has won 27 of their last 28 games and are also a perfect 14-0 for the first time in school history – their 14 straight wins are a school record. The game will feature two contrasting styles. Johnson Central has rushed for over 4,000 yards this season, led by Devin Johnson and his 12.45 YPC along with a touchdown on every 6.5 attempts. Riley Preece has been economical in completing 74% of his passes, but only attempting 65 on the season. Meanwhile, no Rebel has rushed for more than 827 yards this season, but Reed Lanter has emerged as one of the top quarterbacks in the state in a pass-heavier attack for Boyle County. Lanter is 161/220 for 2,977 yards on the year. He has thrown only three interceptions against 39 touchdowns. Reese Smith is a stud at WR, with 1,353 yards receiving – he has a touchdown on every 2.7 of his 51 receptions for 19 this season. There will be stars all over the field and two dominant programs squaring off – I highly recommend you find your way to Kroger Field to take it in. As for a prediction, my playoff preview had it Boyle County 35 Johnson Central 21 – I think I’ll stick with it, but a flipped result would not be the most surprising thing ever.
  10. Lexington Catholic has been viewed as a solid team, but a team that is outside the elite tier that features Boyle County and Johnson Central. Last week when I made their matchup against 5A #2 Covington Catholic our 4A Game of the Week, I said if a statement was available to made this week, it was right here. And boy, did Lexington Catholic make that statement. After Covington Catholic took an early 7-0 lead, the air barrage began by Beau Allen. Allen found Bracken for a 12 yard touchdown and then Gohmann for a 19 yard score to put the Knights on top after the first quarter. After CovCath drew within 14-10 on a field goal, Allen hit Busson for an 80 yard bomb to make it 21-10 midway through the quarter. LexCath would continue to control the game into the second half, holding 14 point leads twice, including at 38-24 with 8:16 left. It looked like the Knights might pull the big upset, but CovCath scored to draw within 38-31 before the biggest play of the night. On 3rd and 5 with 5 minutes remaining, Allen found a wide open Nichols to move the chains. Only he didn’t – the pass was dropped, giving the Colonels the ball. With 2:43 remaining, Caleb Jacob bulled into the end zone for a two yard score, and Mr. Football candidate Michael Mayer secured a two point conversion to put Covington Catholic up 39-38. Allen tried to keep it for a 4th and 1 conversion on the ensuing drive, but was stuffed, allowing Covington Catholic to escape with the victory. Still, it was an incredible statement by Lexington Catholic that they are a legit contender for the state crown. Covington Catholic entered having not allowed a single point. Beau Allen scorched them for 448 yards and five touchdowns on 23/32 passing. With Corbin dropping a game to a Pulaski County team that LexCath had already beaten, the Knights now look to be the most likely team to challenge the supremacy of Boyle County and Johnson Central. Other games of note: Of the nine top ten teams that were in action this week, four of them took losses, including Lexington Catholic. #3 Corbin fell for the first time this season, dropping a 23-22 nail-biter against Pulaski County, the #8 team in 5A. It was a tug of war game, with Pulaski securing a 7-0 halftime lead, before Corbin came back to go ahead 14-7 at the start of the fourth. Pulaski went back up with a touchdown plus two point conversion to make it 15-14, then Treyveon Longmire had the answer with a 94 yard kickoff return to make it 20-15. But that would be the last true score for Corbin on the night. Pulaski would have an answer again, going up 23-20 with 4:30 left, and after forcing a three and out followed by a Pulaski fumble, the Maroons grabbed an INT on their own 10 with less than a minute left. They took a safety at the end of the game rather than give the ball back to Corbin. Meanwhile, #6 Central took a shockingly large 34-14 loss to 6A #7 Fern Creek. Both teams had lost by one score to Manual, leading one to believe we were in for a tight game. And it was, for one half. Central used a 94 yard scoop and score to go up 14-7 just before halftime, but Fern Creek would return the ensuing kickoff for a score, kicking off 27 unanswered points and a dominating 20 point victory. The Dark Side defense was gashed for 294 yards on the ground, managing only 167 themselves. Finally, #8 Anderson County looked like they were going to overcome the odds to sneak out a win over Mercer County. After seeing their 7 all tie broken midway through the fourth quarter, Jagger Gillis found Sam Herrod for a score to draw within 15-13. But their two point conversion failed, necessitating an onside kick that they improbably recovered at the Mercer 22. But on third and goal, Gillis threw an interception that would seal a 15-13 loss. #10 Hopkinsville’s 42-14 win over 2A #7 Caldwell County was the other standout result from the top 10 this week. The Tigers proved their mettle in a close loss to Mayfield that they led most of the way, and they followed that up with this strong result. Hopkinsville never trailed, jumping out to a 7-0 after one, and led 14-7 at the half. It was 28-14 entering the fourth, and Bland’s fourth touchdown pass of the night made it 35-14, effectively ending the game with Dillard tacking on a 21 yard run late for the final margin. Bland threw for 265 yards on 17/27 passing, and no one benefitted more than Reece Jesse, who posted a monster 210 yards on 12 catches, with three touchdown receptions. Upcoming Game of the Week There are some solid options this week. I was tempted to go with Lexington Catholic vs. DeSales, and Corbin at Beechwood is also a marquee matchup. But I’m going with one that may have the most effect on our rankings, #6 Franklin County vs. Anderson County. The two teams have met every year since 2011, and Anderson County has won three in a row in the series, holding a 5-4 edge this decade. But they fell out of the rankings this week, leaving Franklin County as the favorite coming in. The Flyers have settled in after a 35-28 win over East Jessamine in the opener, blowing the doors off Western Hills and Collins by a combined 101-13. With a win, Franklin County may find their perfect record relatively untested until matching up with Waggener in mid-October.
  11. When Johnson Central fell at home to Capital (WV) last season by a 28-21 score, it was their first loss before the month of October in six seasons, and their first loss in a season opener in eight. That didn’t stop them from reeling off 13 straight victories to reach the state title game, but still, it may have been sticking in their minds entering this week. Capital entered as the #3 team in their class in West Virginia, and looked to be a challenge. The Golden Eagles were more than equal to the task. While the 28-13 final appears to be relatively close, the Johnson Central defense made certain it never truly would be. They held Capital to a mere 59 yards. The two Capital scores came on an 11 yard TD run after a very short punt set Capital up deep in Johnson Central territory, and the last an 85 yard punt return score to draw within 8 with about 10 minutes left in the game. Johnson Central opened up the scoring with an 80 yard drive in seven plays, capped by a Riley Preece 14 yard touchdown run. Capital tied it up at the 2:50 mark of the same quarter with the aforementioned short field TD. Preece hit Seth Dalton for a 76 yard TD pass to answer and give them back the lead for good, and Preece found Pelfrey for a 15 yard score just before the half to make the score 21-7. No one found a score in the third before Capital’s punt return made it 21-13. Johnson Central responded with a 13 play drive for 84 yards, grinding six and a half minutes off the clock before Preece punched in a two yard score with 3:12 left to put the game on ice. It was a strong answer to last year’s result, and when paired with the win over Lafayette in week 1 – who just turned in a much more competitive effort against 5A power Scott County – is a strong statement to the class. The Golden Eagles are very much still the real deal, and are making their case for the top spot. Other games of note: There appears to be a divide between the top six in the class and those below it. We will probably see a mere rearranging of the chairs in the weeks to come. #1 Boyle County, #4 Madisonville-North Hopkins, #5 Lexington Catholic, and #6 Central won their games by a combined 166 points. #3 Corbin went deep into the night to polish off a nice 35-17 win over Notre Dame (TN). Some tougher games are coming for these teams, but right now they appear to be the class of this class. #7 Franklin-Simpson fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2013 when they dropped a 26-21 decision to Meade County. Their three games against Meade County since 2017 have all been won by the road team, and have been decided by a total of 11 points combined. It was a better performance for Franklin than the week before, as they held a 21-14 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but they failed to hold a lead for the second consecutive game. They are almost certainly staring down their first 0-3 start since 2006 with South Warren coming to call on this next Friday. Two off the radar teams may have had the most paradigm changing results for the class this week. Harlan County knocked off a tough Hazard team 22-20. Hazard entered as the #7 team in 1A. Harlan County led much of the night, but Hazard tied the game up at 20 all with 3:44 left in the game. Harlan County drove down for the potential winning score, but threw an interception at the 1 with 1:22 remaining. The defense stepped up and got it done for the team, grabbing a game-winning safety. Meanwhile, Hopkinsville was tangling with Mayfield, the #1 team in class 2A and pound-for-pound one of the toughest (if not THE toughest) programs in the state. The Tigers have been a bit of a question mark entering this year given their propensity in recent years to start out hyped and fall off after massive injuries, but they’re showing out early. They led most of the night and outgained Mayfield 433 to 380, but fell just short 27-22. Expect them to make the leap into the top ten this week. Upcoming Game of the Week There are some very good games on tap this week. Central matches up with Fern Creek, Hoptown takes on Caldwell County, and Corbin becomes the latest 4A team to go against Pulaski County. I was sorely tempted to give the nod to the rivalry game between Boyle County and Danville, but ultimately, I’m going with Lexington Catholic’s visit to Covington Catholic. The Colonels out of 5A have been completely untested as of yet, outscoring Ryle and Campbell County 86-0 in their first two games. Lexington Catholic comes in scoring 32 points per game behind stud QB Beau Allen. If there is a statement available to made this week by a 4A team, it would be here.
  12. District 1 The most competitive 4A district unsurprisingly produced the most competitive games in 4A. The #8 Hopkinsville/Calloway County game was not expected to be one of those given the Tigers shut out the Lakers 43-0 in their regular season meeting. I was confident enough that I essentially called it a bye. But hats off to Calloway County, as they battled throughout. Calloway County held leads of 7-0 in the second and 17-14 in the third, but they fell just short in a 28-20 result. Bland threw for 226 and ran for 113 for Hopkinsville. Meanwhile, #10 Logan County hosted #7 Madisonville-North Hopkins in what was the most anticipated first round game in the class, and it did not disappoint. Tyler Ezell gutted out the game, but it was not his sharpest effort, going 11/21 for 129 yards and an INT. His backup Braxton Baptiste had a very good game on the ground, going 13/96 with 2 scores. Gary Hardy added two scores as well on just 5 rushes for 72 yards. Madisonville had a surprisingly tough time on the ground, gaining only 141 yards with their rushing attack, with Jeriah Hightower posting 27 rushes for 88 yards and two scores. It was Hayden Reynolds who carried the day, with 260 yards passing and a score along with 8 rushes for 62 yards and a score. Madisonville was playing from behind almost the whole night, with Logan County taking a lead just over a minute into the game, and the Maroons never more than tied until they took the lead on a Hayden Reynolds to Marquise Parker pass for 27 yards with 28 seconds remaining in the game, giving them a 35-28 victory. That sets up a district final between #7 Madisonville-North Hopkins and #8 Hopkinsville. Bland threw for 200 yards in the first game for Hopkinsville, while Hightower rushed for 147 in the Madisonville victory. Unlike the first, this game will be played in Hopkinsville, though I expect Madisonville to emerge victorious again. District 2 Two-time defending state champion Franklin-Simpson opened their postseason healthier than they were the first time around against Russell County, and it showed. At the beginning of October, the two battled to a 35-21 result. This time, the Wildcats jumped out to a 23-0 lead in the third quarter, and were never seriously threatened in the 37-14 result. Leandre Stutzman ran for 163 yards and two scores on just 13 carries for the Wildcats. In typical Franklin fashion, they threw only enough to keep the other team honest. Richardson completed just two passes for 60 yards, but both were scores to Andrew Ogles. Much more excitement marked the Allen County-Scottsville/Warren East game. The teams traded blows with East gaining a 6-0 lead at the end of the first, before the Patriots scored twice to take a 14-12 lead at the half. Three minutes into the third quarter the Raiders went back ahead 18-14, before ACS took the lead for good with a pair of touchdowns at the end of the quarter to go up 27-18. But the real excitement came in the final five minutes. With the Patriots driving for a knockout blow at the East 10, DeSean Gilbert came up with an interception at the goalline, and took it 99 yards the other way for a score to make it 27-25. The Patriots again drove to the East red zone, but turned over on downs at the Raider 4 with 2:01 remaining. After a short completion then incomplete pass, Ford hit on a 77 yard bomb to put the Raiders in business at the ACS 8. Just when it seemed bleak for the Patriots, Seth Byrd came up with an interception in the end zone to secure the 27-25 victory for ACS. The win was the first postseason win for the program since 2016. It sets them up for a second round rematch at Franklin-Simpson, who defeated ACS 40-0 in their only postseason meeting ever in 2016. The margin should be closer than that, but I expect the same result. District 3 Moore entered their matchup with Valley as the favorite for the district and on a five game winning streak, but I made this game one of the truly possible 1/4 upsets thanks to a close 31-27 result between the teams just three weeks prior. Moore made sure there was nothing approaching a game that close again in a 43-0 devastation of the Vikings, ending their season a 2-9. It puts Moore back into the second round for the second straight year. They’ll meet John Hardin, who avenged a surprising 45-31 loss to Spencer County two weeks before with a 35-21 victory in the first round. The Bulldogs put up 340 yards of offense, fueled by Keyandre Strand’s 133 yards on 17 rushes with two scores. Spencer County frequently stayed within a score of John Hardin, but from the 3:16 mark of the third quarter on, never held the ball with a chance to tie or take the lead. Seth Thompson rushed for 66 yards on 12 attempts with a pair of scores in the loss. That sets up a Moore/John Hardin rematch. The two met on October 11th in Louisville, and the Moore Mustangs won 22-14 behind 138 yards from Jamari Wilson. John Hardin has the longer pedigree in the postseason, but Moore should make it two trips to the “region” finals in two years with a win. District 4 #3 Franklin County kept the unbeaten season alive with a 50-32 win over Waggener. The score was just 7-0 after one, but the Flyers gained a more comfortable advantage at 29-12 by halftime, and cruised from there. Nick Broyles did it all for the Flyers, throwing for 179 yards on just 8 completions, and three of them went for scores. Broyles also added 152 yards on the ground with a score there as well. He did leave the game midway through the third quarter with an injury, so his status is something to watch in advance of their game this Friday. Backup Jayden Mattison threw for a pair of scores in relief. They’ll meet a Central squad that exploded for their most impressive win of the year, a thundering 44-0 domination of Shelby County. Their first matchup at the start of October was a modest 14-0 result, but Dayshawn Mucker rushed for three scores on his own along with 195 yards to give the Yellow Jackets their second highest scoring output of the year. The Dark Side defense allowed only 44 yards of offense for Shelby County, and pitched their fourth shutout of the season. The Yellow Jackets are a fearsome presence in the postseason, and they looked amped up after a bye week entering the postseason. They lost 14-12 at home against Franklin County a couple of weeks ago, but I’m going to pivot from my prediction in my preview – give me Central on the road in an upset of the unbeaten Flyers this Friday, especially if Broyles were to miss the game. District 5 When you post 64 points and it is only good enough to equal your second highest output of the year, you know you’re having a great season. Such was the case for #1 Boyle County as they dismantled Anderson County by a 64-14 score, to go with their 52-7 win in the regular season. The Rebels held Anderson County to just 92 yards on 38 plays, while rolling up 365 yards on just 27 plays themselves. It’s the type of dominance we’ve come to expect from a Rebel team that shouldn’t be truly challenged until the state finals. That includes second round opponent #4 Lexington Catholic, which picked up a 43-23 win over Bourbon County. Beau Allen was efficient, going 10/12 for 145 yards and three scores, while running for two scores on 8 rushes for 99 yards. It was the fifth loss in six games for Bourbon County, which exits in the first round for the second straight season. Lexington Catholic has won three of four, and has scored 31 points or more in each of their last ten games with the sole exception of when they ran headlong into Boyle County in a 64-28 loss on October 11th. Allen had one of his worst completion percentages of the year in that game, while Reed Lanter exploded for a 24/28/494/5 line. The Rebels have not given us any reason to believe they will slow down now – they should win the rematch comfortably. District 6 Holmes had a heck of a time with Harrison County the first time they matched up, an 8-7 victory on October 18th that put them in position to secure a shot at the #1 seed. The drama was less this time, though Holmes led just 6-0 at the half and 12-0 entering the fourth quarter. While the game was not comfortably out of reach on the scoreboard, the reality is that the moment Holmes put up a point they had enough, as they shut out Harrison County 21-0. Tayquan and Quantez Calloway notched all the offensive scores for Holmes, which also gained a safety on defense. They’ll meet Scott, who they surprised in a 50-38 win two weeks ago. Scott got the typical strong performance from Quincy Perrin, who rushed for 192 yards on 21 attempts with three scores in their 29-7 win over Rowan County. That ended a three game winning streak for Rowan County, and was the fifth time Scott held an opponent to single digits this season. That sort of defensive effort is going to be crucial against Holmes, who scored 36 offensive points the last time the teams met, with a pair of pick sixes elevating their score to 50 points – a season high for an opponent against Scott. Still, Scott was favored the first time around, and a change of venue and an unexpected result won’t sway me from favoring them again. If Scott can take care of the ball, this should be their district. District 7 Wayne County rolled to their eighth straight win in a 56-33 victory over Lincoln County. It’s their seventh effort with 44 points or more in the win streak. Brody Weaver completed 18 of 23 attempts for 212 yards and a pair of scores in the win, while Braedon Sloan rushed for 5 touchdowns and 223 yards. He now has 40 scores on the ground for the year, and continues to average over 10 yards per carry despite having 207 attempts. He added an 80 yard pick-six as well. Tito Ruiz had 8 receptions for 111 yards in the win. Clayton Davis had 146 yards on 4 receptions and two scores in the loss, while QB Nick Harris accounted for 294 yards combined through the air and on the ground for Lincoln County. They’ll meet Corbin in a rematch of their epic 18-16 game for the #1 seed two weeks ago. Wayne County won that game after recovering an onside kick with less than a minute remaining, and driving for the game winning field goal. In their first round matchup with Corbin, the Redhounds had a sloppy first half, turning the ball over three times and giving up three scores for a 21 all tie at the break. The game-winning score came with 21 seconds left in the third quarter when Treyveon Longmire ran in for a 19 yard touchdown, and two fourth quarter scores gave them a 42-21 final and advanced them to the second round. Longmire had four scores in the win, while Seth Huff had 148 yards on 21 attempts with two scores in the loss for Knox Central, which bowed out with a disappointing 3-8 record despite being mostly competitive in all their games. Corbin will visit Wayne County after having not gone on the road for a playoff game at all last year en route to their appearance in the title game. In fact, it’s their first road game in the first two rounds of the playoffs since 2013 – when they lost to Wayne County 36-0. The margin should be much closer than that, but I like Wayne County to eke out another win and advance. District 8 The Johnson Central Invitational got under way in typical fashion, with the Golden Eagles rolling to a 49-7 win over Letcher County Central. It’s the fifth time in six games Johnson Central has held their opponent to single digits, and sixth overall this season. Riley Preece threw for 320 yards and had more touchdown passes (3) than incompletions (2). Seth Dalton hauled in all three scores with 8 receptions for 198 yards. Preece entered the game having thrown for only 711 yards all year long – it is clear they used the game to work on a potential weakness. Harlan County moved to 8-3 with a 53-14 win over Clay County. Ben Landis rushed 11 times for 190 yards and a score as the Black Bears, and the 53 point effort was their second highest of the year. The result was much more comfortable than the 21-7 result these teams played to on September 27th. With the win, Harlan County earns a rematch with Johnson Central, who beat them 56-6 on October 18th. Harlan County managed only 107 yards of offense in that one – they likely won’t fare any better this time around. Johnson Central should roll.
  13. #4 Franklin-Simpson entered the 2019 season as winners of 12 in a row and 24 of their last 25 games. Their only loss in that span was to eventual 5A state champion South Warren, and the streak included back to back state titles. They graduated some very important pieces from last year, but entering their season debut at home against Greenwood, there was little reason to expect danger. After all, this was against a Gator squad that they’d defeated by a combined 113-13 the last two years, and who’d won only two games a season ago. All appeared normal on the first drive. Just 1:33 into the game, Chase Gooch broke off a 62 yard run to put the Wildcats on top 7-0. The teams played to a standstill most of the rest of the quarter, before a Franklin turnover gave Greenwood a short field, and allowed them to punch in the tying score. But the Wildcats took the kickoff to the house, and all seemed right. But as the night wore on, the Franklin offense failed to find their footing, and Greenwood kept hanging around. A one-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter tied the game at 14 all, and a drive spanning more than seven minutes from the end of the quarter into the fourth was capped by a Morrison to Slone touchdown pass, giving the Gators the lead for good. Another turnover led to a short field and a Gator touchdown to clinch a shocking 28-14 win. Strangely, Franklin has lost 5 of 7 on their homefield to Greenwood, but this was still a completely dumbfounding result. It would seem to remove Franklin from any title conversations, but if they have any solace to take, it’s that they started 2-3 in 2017, and were similarly worried about. They ultimately won state that year. They’d better get to work. Other games of note: #3 Corbin showed some signs of concern as well. The Redhounds matched against a Whitley County squad that went 3-8 in 2018, but found themselves behind 21-14 at the halftime break. Corbin would right the ship, taking a 27-21 lead before the end of the third and polishing off the win with a clinching touchdown with 3 minutes left in the game, holding on 35-21. #6 Lexington Catholic reeled in the most impressive win of the week for the class, taking down 5A #8 Pulaski County 21-14 on the road. They too had to rally from a halftime deficit, trailing 14-0 at the break. Kentucky commit Beau Allen completed just under 70% of his passes for 276 yards and had a hand in all three scores, throwing for one and rushing in the other two. #7 Central and #9 Knox Central both dropped games to teams ranked in other classes. Central failed to score a point for the first time in nine years, but the defense was their characteristic selves. They held 6A #6 Manual to just 25 yards of offense in the first half, but just could not find an offensive rhythm, falling 7-0. Knox Central took on 3A #5 Ashland (down from 4A this year). It was a tight affair, with the score 7 all at the half and that way most of the third. Ashland took a 14-7 lead but Knox answered right back, missing the PAT to trail 14-13. The Tomcats scored two minutes later for the final 21-13 margin, later forcing a turnover on downs with just over one minute left on the clock to seal the victory. Upcoming Game of the Week Johnson Central losing at all is rare these days, but rarer still is them losing in the first month of the season. That’s exactly what happened last year against Capital out of West Virginia, as the Golden Eagles fell to 0-1 after a 28-21 loss. This year, Capital enters as preseason #3 in the largest class of West Virginia, and will play their season opener against Johnson Central. It’s a great early season test for the Golden Eagles, who just demolished 6A Lafayette 49-12 in the opening week.
  14. The 4A rankings this week were exactly the same as a week ago despite four losses by top ten teams. The reason for that was a disparity between the level of competition faced by the teams that fell - each playing a team in the top 2 of their respective class in their respective state - and that faced by virtually every other team that won, most of which were beaten before setting foot on the field. For the teams that lost, it's the equivalent of a mulligan in golf. They get a re-do at this rank, but this week, they likely wouldn't be so lucky. With Johnson Central taking the first week off, their game last week against Capital (WV) was the first opportunity to see the #1 Golden Eagles. Capital is no slouch – they entered the game #2 in West Virginia’s 3A class, the largest class in the state. Johnson Central had won the season opener against Capital the previous two years, and appeared on their way to another solid win when they jumped out 14-0 early in the second quarter. But that would be the largest lead they’d enjoy, with the score narrowed to 14-7 at the half, and knotted at 21 all after a kickoff return for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. A pair of fourth quarter turnovers and an avalanche of penalties doomed Johnson Central, and allowed Capital to finally get a win against the Golden Eagles, settling in for a game winning score at the 1:29 mark, sealing a 28-21 win. It’s the first time Johnson Central has opened with a loss since 2010. The good news is that Joe Jackson is back. The senior showed out in his return from last season’s knee injury, compiling 125 yards on 22 rushes (a solid 5.7 YPC). He didn’t find the end zone, but it’s a matter of time. The Golden Eagle offense outgained Capital 344-255, but had trouble in the passing game, with two interceptions and four sacks of Riley Preece. And the kickoff return was a backbreaker. It’s unfamiliar territory, but Johnson Central holds onto the top rank for another week despite the loss. But they have lost the initiative to remain there as they don’t have another opponent to show out against of the caliber of that facing the team chasing them. That team would be #2 Franklin-Simpson. They enjoyed another blowout victory, a 57-7 thrashing of Monroe County. In the win the Wildcats held Monroe County to -12 rushing yards. Offensive stars Carlos McKinney and Tre Bass scored at will. McKinney housed two of his eight rushing attempts (for 10 YPC and 80 yards), while Tre Bass took three of his five carries to the house for 63 yards (12.6 YPC). They look every bit the part of a defending champion, and have now won 12 straight. If there is a knock on Franklin, it is that their passing game has been nonexistent. Luke Richardson was 2/4 on the night for 20 yards, and one of those incompletions was an interception. On the year he has still completed as many passes to the other team (two) as his own. That’s not going to fly against their next opponent, 5A #3 South Warren. The Spartans rained devastation in a 36-7 win over Franklin last season, and rushing defense is something they’re kinda known for being really good at. It will be a very difficult win to get for Franklin, but if they do, they are likely to grab #1 and run away with it for the remainder of the regular season. It is also likely that they will ultimately set a school record winning streak if they can clear this hurdle. That record is currently 14 in a row. Other games of note: #3 Ashland stayed unbeaten thanks to a fantastic 99 yard touchdown pass from Braxton Ratliff to Cade Brandt in the fourth quarter, completing a comeback over 1A #3 Raceland by a 21-14 score. That score had followed a nearly 7 minute Raceland drive that ended in a goalline stand to force a turnover on downs at the Ashland 1. Ashland ultimately had scored 21 straight to rally from a 14-0 halftime deficit, grabbing their second straight win over Raceland. The 99 yard strike helped build Ratliff’s 281 yards passing on the night. Next up for the Tomcats is George Washington out of Charleston, and a chance to avenge their only other regular season loss from a season ago to go with their blowout win over Harlan County in Week 1. #4 Knox Central and #5 Hopkinsville used their last mulligans in Week 2. Both remained in those ranks this week despite blowout losses a week ago. Knox Central fell 50-14 to Alcoa (TN) while Hopkinsville could not build on a 0-0 first quarter against 2A #1 Mayfield, falling 35-7. Both of those teams are powers in their respective states. Alcoa has won five straight state titles in their Tennessee class, and Mayfield is, well, Mayfield. Their ranking is likely a reflection of a belief that other teams could not do better against those powers, but now they’ll have to perform at a much higher level to remain in their place. #10 Franklin County received the same treatment for the same reason – their 50-7 loss to 3A #1 Boyle County is one we’d expect most of 4A to take. #7 Wayne County had what is probably the best win in 4A this week, somewhat surprisingly taking down 5A Pulaski County on the road by a 34-25 score. Brody Weaver threw for 180 yards and two scores in the win, while Carson Simpson rumbled for 109 yards on 20 rushes. It was a win the Cardinals really needed, lest they start 0-2. Now it feels likely that they will pick up a win over Warren East this week, take it on the chin against Boyle County in Week 4, but not face a game the rest of the way that they aren’t expected to at least be competitive in. #9 Madisonville-North Hopkins was another team in need of a win to avoid an 0-2 start, and they did so by nearly flipping the score from their 41-13 loss to Owensboro, taking down Marshall County 45-14. Jeriah Hightower stayed hot, posting three touchdowns in 21 carries for 174 yards. He is now up to 305 yards on the year already. The Maroons should be 5-1 before their home showdown with Hopkinsville at the end of September. District rival #6 Logan County will likely be unbeaten when they face Hopkinsville the week after that in October. They moved to 2-0 courtesy of a 56-18 win over Muhlenberg County. Their September 7th meeting with rival Russellville is the only game in their first six that even approaches a speedbump. Per the Ashland Daily Independent, #8 Greenup County had fallen to Russell in 15 of 16 meetings prior to last season’s Musketeer victory. But thanks to a 41-21 win Friday, Greenup has knocked off Russell for the second straight year, posting consecutive wins over Russell for the first time. Patrick Kelly hauled in four passes for 161 yards to become Greenup’s all-time leading receiver. The best win by a team not in the current top 10 belongs to Moore. The Mustangs fell to Collins 54-14 a season ago, but leveraged homefield into a 38-33 this time around, and they’re now out to a 2-0 start. QB Rae Von Vaden only completed four passes in the win, but boy were they efficient – three of them went for scores. Upcoming Game of the Week #2 Franklin-Simpson vs. 5A #3 South Warren may seem to be the marquee choice, but with no disrespect to Franklin, most pundits expect that to be a Spartan win comfortably. Hope they’re wrong! That leaves the choice to be #5 Hopkinsville visiting 3A #8 Caldwell County. It’ll be Tigers against Tigers, and Hoptown is facing a plummet if they can’t get off the mat this time. Caldwell County enters at 1-1, dropping a very tight 11-6 decision to Christian County in the season opener before scoring a 28-17 win over Graves County. A season ago Hoptown could not end their skid via this game, dropping a 28-21 home game against Caldwell en route to an 0-4 and 1-6 start to the year. Javier Bland has thrown for 305 yards in Hopkinsville’s two games, but his 18/57 completion rate has to come up, and his 1:4 TD:INT ratio definitely has to come up for the Tigers to make good on their promise.
  15. Last week #1 Johnson Central lost the initiative to keep the top ranking, putting them at the mercy of Franklin-Simpson’s result against South Warren. This week the ball is squarely back in Johnson Central’s court. As has frequently been the case in the last two years, 4A has been knocked around by the elite of other classes this season. Teams in the 4A top 10 have played five games against teams in the top 5 of other classes – they’re 1-4 with Ashland’s win over Raceland the lone win for the class. This week it was South Warren’s turn again to light up a 4A top team, putting another running clock on the defending state champion Franklin-Simpson Wildcats. The Spartans ran out to a 36-0 lead and coasted from there. Franklin posted only 125 yards of offense, again failing to do anything through the air (1/5 for 41 yards) and with most of their production coming against the backups. Fortunately for Franklin, that won’t affect anything other than their pride, and they will be favored in every game moving forward. But just merely winning won’t be enough to get them over Johnson Central at this point, who got to .500 via a 33-21 win over Henry Clay. Joe Jackson led the way of a balanced rushing attack, rushing for 79 yards on 20 carries. Johnson Central put up 254 yards on the ground, but six players rushed from 21 to 79 yards. The Golden Eagles should go completely unchallenged before their closing games against Ashland and Belfry. The most impressive win in the top 10, and perhaps most needed as well, came courtesy of Hopkinsville. In 2017 they saw a tough opening schedule get them off to the wrong foot, and by the time they started 1-6, they were already out of the race for the top seed in their district. Through two games it was much the same, but the Tigers raised their record to 1-2 via a 35-20 win over 3A #8 Caldwell County. Hopkinsville never trailed, but was rarely comfortable in the win. They jumped out to leads of 10-0, 17-7, and 23-13, but led just 23-20 entering the fourth quarter, before a 98 yard drive put the game permanently out of reach. Hoptown stood strongest in the red zone, forcing two interceptions, a fumble, and a turnover on downs inside the 20. Their tough slate continues against Christian County, then Paducah Tilghman, before a bye week entering district play. Out of the top 10, Moore continues to make a bit of a name for themselves. Their 3-0 record includes a 38-33 win over Collins in Week 2, and this week they battered Seneca 51-6. Kamron Mcinerney had an OK night – he had two carries for two touchdowns and 91 yards. I’ve read before that scoring each time you touch the ball is a desirable trait. Other games of note: No other top 10 team other than Franklin-Simpson lost this week. #7 Wayne County certainly had one of the more exciting games. They hosted fellow 4A team Warren East, and overcame a 13 point halftime deficit to take the 57-40 decision. The Cardinal defense notched two pick sixes, a safety, and a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone. That took the pressure off the offense, but Carson Simpson still put up an impressive 133 yards on 24 carries, with a score. #3 Ashland, #6 Logan County, and #8 Greenup County all moved to 3-0 in blowout wins by an average of 38.33 point margins. Logan County should remain untested for a few more weeks. Greenup County has a “prove-it” game at home against 1A #3 Raceland this week – if they managed to get past that, they may just roll into their October game against Johnson Central unbeaten. The same can be said of Ashland, as no team until they meet Greenup County on October 12th looks to be in striking distance. Upcoming Game of the Week This one is a tough one, as nothing is overly obvious this week. The top 4 teams are overwhelmingly favored. Wayne County plays the marquee game in hosting Boyle County, but it would be stunning if the Rebels didn’t rule that game. So the honor goes to the aforementioned Greenup County/Raceland game. Greenup County took it on the chin in the game a year ago, falling 24-0. But that Musketeer team wasn’t unbeaten going in, and didn’t have the benefit of another year of experience for QB Sammons. They have homefield advantage, enter averaging 49 points per game, and it is the perfect measuring stick to see how far back (if at all) Greenup is from Ashland. Ashland knocked off Raceland 21-14 just two weeks ago. If Greenup can post a similar score, then it may be a sign they are a real and true threat in District 8.
  16. If it seems like just a week ago we were bullish on #5 Hopkinsville’s season, it’s because it was just a week ago. The Tigers grabbed a win over Caldwell County, who themselves had already beaten Christian County, Hopkinsville’s next opponent. It seemed possible, even probable, that Hoptown would grab a win over their rival, challenge historical rival Paducah Tilghman, and springboard into district play. That’s all done now. After Hopkinsville started with a 7-0 lead over Christian County, they found themselves behind 8-7 at the half. Then came the season changer – QB Javier Bland took a big hit, came out of the game, and the Tigers couldn’t move the ball. After the game Craig Clayton delivered the death blow that Javier Bland is out for the rest of the season. It’s yet another body shot for a program that has dealt with death, injury, and defections in the last several years, preventing them from making good on their full potential. This year appears destined to go down the same path. A team that was thought to be capable of challenging Franklin-Simpson for the region crown now appears to be no better than 50/50 to get a home game in the playoffs. Their only other QB listed on their roster is freshman Jacob Dilday. Wide receiver Ellis Dunn, a transfer from Christian County, took the snaps at QB for the remainder of the Christian County game. They’ll have a tall task at Paducah, but then two weeks to try to get right for a road trip to Madisonville. Other games of note: Five top ten teams won this week, and none of those games were closer than 30 points. #1 Johnson Central, #2 Franklin-Simpson, #3 Ashland, #4 Knox Central, and #6 Logan County weren’t remotely challenged. It’s why they’re the new top five this week, and for the most part, they probably aren’t going to have much challenge coming behind them for those spots now. #8 Greenup County entered their game against 1A #3 Raceland averaging 49 PPG, but were held to just 6 in a 25-6 loss that spanned two days due to weather. Eli Sammons was held to 9/24 passing for just 107 yards. It’s a sign that the Musketeers have a ways to go to chase down Ashland in the district, who won 21-14 against Raceland earlier this year. #9 Madisonville-North Hopkins led Union County 13-0 at halftime, but allowed two third quarter scores to fall behind 14-13, and that proved to be the final score. The Maroons had three fumbles which negated their 253-172 offensive yardage advantage, which included holding the Braves to negative 46 yards rushing. Negative 46. Even if you removed the -57 yards by QB Solamon Teehan, Union County still only gained 11 yards on the ground. It was a dominating defensive effort, but not enough. Moore kept up their impressive start, rolling over Jeffersontown 42-14 to stay unbeaten, one of only three in the class. Their reward? A #9 ranking ahead of their road trip to #1 Johnson Central. No one expects them to win there, but a 9-1 season is looking very possible. Upcoming Game of the Week The aforementioned Moore/Johnson Central game is a battle of 4A top ten teams, but come on – that haul to the top team in the class? The game is probably not going to go well. No, for the best 4A game this week you’d need to go to #8 Franklin County visiting Anderson County, the #7 team in 5A. The Flyers enter off a bye week, preceded by a 48-24 win against Woodford County on September 1st. Their only loss on the year was a shellacking by Boyle County, a team that I’m growing fairly certain no team in 4A could beat. Anderson County has been impressive so far, and comes into the game 4-0. The Bearcats destroyed Franklin County 46-13 last season, but the Flyers will be looking to make a statement before district play.
  17. I hope you enjoy the trio of Johnson Central, Franklin-Simpson, and Ashland at the top of the 4A rankings. Week 1 did nothing to discourage the notion that they are the elite of the elite in the class. The order may (or may not) change among those three this year, but Week 1 only reinforced the perception they’re not going to get run down from behind. With Johnson Central off to start the season as per usual, Franklin-Simpson carried the banner for 4A. The defending state champion and potential co-favorite met an Elizabethtown squad that had thrashed them 55-23 via a running clock to start 2017. With revenge in their hearts and on their minds, the Wildcats visited Elizabethtown to return the favor. They did it with a punishing ground game, racking up 486 yards on the ground. It may be a sign of how they want to win this year given they completed as many passes as you or I did – zero. Tre Bass continued to put up ridiculous per carry numbers, averaging over 12 yards per carry with 209 yards on 17 carries – two for scores. Fullback Carlos McKinney had 231 yards on 23 carries as well, finding the end zone three times. While they didn’t return the running clock favor, they left no doubt about their dominance. Their matchup with South Warren on August 31st is likely the only game on their entire schedule still in doubt. Ashland had revenge on their minds as well. Like Franklin, they started last season with a loss and had a losing record after three weeks before ripping off wins. Harlan County was the team that victimized Ashland a year ago, pasting the Tomcats 49-28. It was a frankly confusing result that still somewhat defies reasoning. There would be no crazy upset this time. Ashland jumped out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter, and expanded it to a 28-6 lead at the half, coasting home behind a running clock in the fourth quarter. Ashland ran 25 plays, and scored 7 touchdowns. That’s dominance. There had been some questions about who stud QB Braxton Ratliff would throw to, and that was answered in the form of Cade Brandt, a transfer from South Point, Ohio. He had three catches, three touchdowns, and 153 yards. Not a bad start. Other games of note: #4 Knox Central is a bit of a dark horse this year thanks to a veteran squad. They looked the part early, taking the season’s opening kick 87 yards for a score, but surprisingly fell behind 16-7 to a lackluster Letcher County Central team. They answered with 28 straight before settling in for a 49-22 season win. Quarterback Brady Worley had three touchdown passes. They meet powerful Alcoa (TN) next week. It’s not a game they will win, but if they can raise their level, perhaps they might be viewed as a serious threat. Blowout losses punctuated most of the rest of the top 10. #5 Hopkinsville can be somewhat forgiven. The Tigers were throwing bombs on 5A #3 South Warren, and were down just 14-10 early. Unfortunately the Spartans adjusted and routed them 49-17. But they’re a top 10 team regardless of class. #6 Wayne County can also be mostly forgiven, falling 48-10 to 6A #7 Frederick Douglass. Depending on how you count Scott County, Federick Douglass is the standard bearer for Lexington. The second year program has only lost three games in their history – two to Scott County who made the 6A semis, and one to Danville, who won 2A. The Cardinals never had a chance, falling behind 41-0 by the 6:18 mark of the second quarter. Sophomore Brody Weaver got off to a tough start to his career, throwing three INTs on 4/19 passing, gaining just 70 yards. Their tough start will continue as they play Pulaski County and Boyle County in the next three weeks, but otherwise, this is the toughest competition they will see. The other losses were even less encouraging. #8 Madisonville-North Hopkins dropped their season opener for the fourth straight year, enduring another pasting at the hands of Owensboro, this one a 41-13 decision. The Maroons dominated the ground game with 223 yards rushing, but were crushed via Owensboro’s aerial attack to the tune of 254 yards. Jeriah Hightower took on the bellcow role, gaining 131 yards on 19 attempts, but the Maroons may need some semblance of passing attack… and defense. Finally, #10 Scott stayed very close to 2A power Newport Central Catholic a season ago, falling just 17-7. This year, it was a 41-0 devastation. Chad Ohmer was just 3/14 for 53 yards and an INT, while Quincy Perrin managed just 3.8 YPC on 24 rushes for 92 yards. The result sends Scott tumbling from the top 10. Upcoming Game of the Week There’s a few matchups pitting teams in the top 10 of their respective classes. Ashland hosts 1A #3 Raceland, which is usually a solid game. I’m less optimistic about the chances of #5 Hopkinsville at 2A #1 Mayfield and #10 Franklin County visiting 3A #1 Boyle County. But no, if you were going to see one 4A game this week, watch #1 Johnson Central take on Capital (WV). Capital is the #2 team in West Virginia’s largest class per ATLCat, and while Johnson Central has won by 17 and 11 in the last two years against Capital, it is always competitive. It’s your first chance to see Joe Jackson in a real game since he got injured in this one a year ago, and he’s always worth the price of admission. If Johnson Central could come out and dominate, it will speak well of their chances to live up to this ranking.
  18. The 4A playoffs basically summed up in a single image. We're through two rounds of the 4A state playoffs. Two road teams have won in the sixteen games played, one in each round. One of those was #3 Ashland knocking off Harrison County, which while against seed, was 100% expected. The other was a 24-0 shutout by Hopkinsville over Warren East in the first round. The margin may have been unexpected, but those were two teams that were considered basically even. But that is what passes for an upset this year. Not a single game has gone against rank as of yet. Hey, it's gratifying to know we had it right, but boy, is it not exciting. Last year saw two #3 seeds advance to the third round. This year, the region finals this week will be contested with seven #1 seeds and one #2. In region 1, the second round matchups were decided by a combined 75-19. Madisonville-North Hopkins is back in the region finals for the first time since 2014 after a 20-0 win over Hopkinsville. In two matchups this season, the Maroons shut out the Tigers by a combined 34-0. They're the only two shutouts this season for Madisonville. They held the Tigers to just 135 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Franklin did Franklin things, gaining yet another running clock by halftime on the way to a 55-19 win over Logan County. The Cougars saw their season end in the second round via blowout fashion yet again. Tre Bass had 215 yards on 14 rushing attempts. Just your standard 15 yards per carry, no biggie. Region 2 was decided by a combined 49-2 score. Mercer County's safety against #8 Moore was the only score by a losing team. For Moore, it continues a dream season that was not really expected. They've won 7 in a row and are now 11-1 on the season. Their lone loss was at Johnson Central, which is incredibly forgivable. They'll visit #10 Taylor County, who are 11-1 as well after a 23-0 win over John Hardin for their 9th straight win. Unlike Moore, this is exactly what we expected of Taylor County. They rushed it FIFTY-FIVE (!) times with just 7 pass attempts, led by Wes Oliver's 122 yards. Neither team will be favored against what will almost certainly be Franklin-Simpson in the state semifinals, but honestly, this region will produce the most feel-good story for the season. These are two teams that do not enjoy this type of success. Ah, a competitive region. Both games were decided by six points. Region favorite #4 Franklin County knew they'd have a tough test, matching with #6 Wayne County. The Cardinals have been formidable for years, and their losses on the year are top shelf names like Federick Douglass, Boyle County, and Knox Central. Wayne County drew first blood with a Sloan touchdown run before 14 straight by Franklin County as Broyles scored on a run and then hit Lee for a 38 yard touchdown pass. After a Weaver to Weaver 15 yard touchdown from Wayne County, it was 14 all at the half. The Weavers did it again midway through the third to take a 21-14 lead, and it began to seem like the Cardinals would pull it off again. An interception at the end of the quarter gave Franklin County the ball still trailing 21-14, and that catapulted them to two fourth quarter scores, including a Cameron Phelps touchdown reception with just over five minutes remaining. Wayne County had one last chance after a blocked punt set them up on the Franklin County 36 yard line with 13 seconds left, but two incomplete passes ended it. A true classic and a 27-21 Franklin County win. Meanwhile, #5 Knox Central took on a dangerous Shelby County team. The Rockets were an unimpressive 6-5, but gave Franklin County a tougher game than Knox Central did, and immediately showed their mettle with touchdown off a blocked punt at the end of the first quarter. Knox Central answered with 14 straight including a Worley to Martin 74 yard bomb. Knox would never trail again, but were tied at half time 14 all. The Panthers gained the clinching score on a Tucker Holland four yard run for a 20-14 difference. Brady Worley only completed six passes, but netted 218 yards on them to fuel over 300 yards of offense for the Panthers. So they've earned a rematch with Franklin County, who won the first matchup in Frankfort 42-20. Knox will get to host this time around, which may prove crucial. They'll have to tighen up on defense - Franklin County posted 486 yards the last time around. Finally we arrive at region 4, with its two games decided by a combined 77-13 score. It's here that we find the lone lower seed to win in the round, as #3 Ashland knocked off homestanding Harrison County 27-6. Again, this was entirely expected despite the seeding, as the Tomcats are 11-1 with the lone loss coming to #1 Johnson Central. Ashland never trailed, but didn't quite put the game away the way you'd have thought they would. Part of that was due to Harrison County's clock controlling ground attack, which kept the pace down and chewed up yardage, but also time. They held the ball almost the entire fourth quarter with a 21 play drive, but showed little urgency despite trailing by 21 points. They also failed to score on the drive. But the score stayed respectable. The same could not be said for the other game where Johnson Central posted their second straight 50+ point game in a 50-7 blowout of Scott. Those two teams played a classic three years ago where a miracle touchdown as time expired put Johnson Central through to the state semifinals. No need for those heroics here as they won their eleventh in a row. Joe Jackson had 134 yards on 10 rushes. Devin Johnson decided to one-up him in the YPC department - he scored twice on five carries for 123 yards, just a shade under 25 yards per carry. They continue to enjoy homefield advantage, which they'll have in all games before the state finals. They beat #3 Ashland 47-24 just under a month ago, and will be favored to do it again. All signs continue to point to Johnson Central-Franklin-Simpson III.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Last week's notebook asked where are the upsets, and finally, 4A had an answer. To be fair, it was right in the week we were looking for them, but still, it was a prolonged period of calm. Knox Central entered the week rated #4 and unbeaten against Kentucky competition. They traveled to #7 Franklin County for a possible region final preview, good enough to earn honors as the game of the week in 4A. Franklin County drew first blood and the mental edge, flying (if you'll excuse the pun) to a 42-20 victory. They never trailed, enjoying leads of 14-0, 28-6, and 42-14. It was a dominating effort, sparked by a series of defensive stands by the Flyer, as they forced turnovers on downs three times in their own territory. Franklin County has allowed just 13 PPG on average the last four weeks after not allowing less than 20 in their first four games. Defense wins titles, and theirs is performing right now. The Flyers still have to beat North Oldham to secure the district, but that looks like an almost foregone conclusion. Meanwhile, Knox Central saw the end of their five game winning streak, dropped to #5 in the class, and will take that out on Rockcastle County this week. The other shakeup took place in the west. #5 Logan County carried a 7-0 record into their home game against #10 Madisonville-North Hopkins, a game which would decide District 1's champion. The Cougars had not lost a regular season game since 2016 (which still is so odd to type), and had personally crushed Madisonville's dreams in a 23-21 heartstopper last season. The Cougars overcame injuries to take down a similarly injury decimated Hoptown team the last week, and appeared to be in good shape with a 17-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter of this one. But the Cougar magic finally ran out. The game turned on an aggressive playcall at midfield, as Gary Hardy was tackled for a loss on fourth down, setting up the Maroons with excellent field position, they cashed in there on a Hightower 29 yard touchdown run, and then received a first and goal opportunity after Logan County fumbled the kickoff. Seconds later J.D. Gilbert put the Maroons in front, and the reeling Cougars could not recover. North-Hopkins claimed their first district title since 2000, and it means they are away from Franklin-Simpson until the region finals. For Logan County, it means a likely 9-1 season, but a much tougher first round matchup, and critically, Franklin-Simpson in the second round should they advance. Other games of note: -#1 Johnson Central and #3 Ashland blasted their way through Rowan County and Greenup County respectively to set up their showdown this week. Ashland is after their first unbeaten regular season in 43 years. Johnson Central is hunting another district title. -#9 Taylor County eked out a victory over Mercer County 26-21. It was closer than expected, but the Cardinals are district champions for the first time since 2008. They're among the favorites for a region that includes idle #8 Moore and John Hardin, two teams that are due to meet in a district title showdown this Friday. -An off the radar game that I personally got to witness, Warren East took down homestanding Allen County-Scottsville on a last second 37 yard field goal by QB Nolan Ford. It was his first field goal attempt of the season. The sophomore wasn't sharp on 11/27 passing with 2 INTs, but he was clutch when it counted. They'll probably host Hopkinsville in the playoffs, relegating Allen County-Scottsville to a matchup with Logan County. Game of the Week It couldn't be any other, it's #1 Johnson Central hosting #3 Ashland. District title, region favorite - put simply the game of the year in 4A. Until the next meeting.
  22. 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. District 1 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. District 2 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. District 3 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. District 4 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. District 5 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. District 6 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. District 7 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. District 8 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.
  23. 8 – The number of teams in the BGP top ten that advanced to at least the region finals. That’d be 8 of 8 slots, so it was impossible to do better. Logan County and Wayne County both exited in the second round in matchups against higher ranked squads. 7 – The number of #1 seeds that advanced to the region finals. Only Harrison County failed to advance to the third round as a district champion, falling to Ashland in the region semifinals. 6 – The amount of games out of 30 played in the 4A playoffs that were decided by single digits. Which, that’s not great, but three of them did come in the regional final round. There were six a year ago as well, but half of those were in the first round. So by that metric, this year was a bit more competitive. 0 – The number of weeks Johnson Central and Franklin-Simpson weren’t rated as 1 & 2 in the class. This state final was almost completely inevitable. 2 – The number of playoff shutouts for the Franklin-Simpson Wildcat defense, pitched against Calloway County and Taylor County. They’re allowing just a shade over 4 points per game in the postseason. I’ve heard that’s pretty good. 50 – The minimum points scored by Johnson Central in the postseason. They’re averaging 53.5 points per game so far. I feel like I’ve heard that’s pretty good too. In the past nine weeks, Johnson Central has scored less than 50 points twice. 3 – The number of games Johnson Central played away from home to this point. 0 – The number of opponents from those games that went on to have winning records. That’s not to slight Johnson Central’s record, but it does bear noting that this will be by far the most difficult game Johnson Central has played away from home this season. Franklin-Simpson is in a similar boat – their first game (against Elizabethtown) and their last game (against Taylor County) are the only two teams with winning records they played on the road. 10,014 – The amount of rushing yards Johnson Central and Franklin-Simpson combined for this year. Do you like running games? Then this game is the one for you. Joe Jackson has 2,203 yards on 199 carries this year, averaging over 11 yards per carry. Franklin’s Tre Bass has almost matched the total yardage with 1,963 yards, but exceeds the yards per carry with 12.5 YPC on 157 rushes. It is extremely likely that before the game is over we will see two 2,000+ rushers. It’s a rare privilege. The vanquished teams from the state semifinals deserve mentioning as well. Taylor County won their first region title in 19 years with a 22-17 win over Moore, overcoming an 11 point deficit entering the fourth quarter. A late turnover set up the Cardinals, and they scored with 23.2 seconds left. They had a ten game winning streak snapped in their loss to Franklin-Simpson, but a 12-2 record and region title is a huge accomplishment. For Knox Central, while they were considered preseason favorites for the region, it makes the accomplishment of their first region title in the history of the program no less sweet. That they got there by avenging an earlier loss to Franklin County probably added a bit of a cherry on top. Their fans were also treated to two of the six single digit contests that were played in 4A this postseason, making it all the more memorable. They ended their season at 59-20 in the inhospitable confines at Johnson Central. Everyone, I hope you've enjoyed this season as much as I have!
  24. I'm fond of using the double rainbow expression for something you're unlikely to see. In 4A, no teams losing in the top ten is essentially like seeing a double rainbow. It is super, super rare, but there it was last week, in all its glory. The result of that was the exact same top ten this week as the week before. In fact, the teams in the top ten didn't just win, they dominated. Nine games decided by an average of 33.77 PPG, which included a game called early in #8 Moore's 27-0 win over Valley. Only #7 Franklin County's district tilt at Shelby County provided any drama for a top ten team. Rain and lightning pushed the game time by two hours, and it was almost midnight by the time the Flyers walked off the field with a crucial 14-6 victory. Dakota Bowen's 4 yard touchdown run in the first quarter was ultimately the only points Franklin County needed, but they led just 7-3 at the half before Ameer Lee busted a 70 yard touchdown run in the third quarter. A pair of field goals ending the second and third quarters were the only points Shelby County could muster on their homecoming night. For Franklin County it means that their home game against 1-5 Collins this week may just represent the district title game. Collins has already knocked off Spencer County 34-14, and the fifth district member North Oldham is just 2-3. Franklin County has never beaten Collins - it's a good time for them to get their first win. Other games of note: #2 Franklin-Simpson got some pushback from 2A #5 Glasgow early, leading only 7-0 after one, and just 21-14 early in the third. But with big play backs like Tre Bass, Franklin is always a threat to blow it open, and they did just that. Tre Bass averaged 19.1 (!) yards per carry as the Wildcats reeled off 27 points in a row before settling in for a 48-21 victory. It was Glasgow's first loss of the year, and it is widely expected that it was the most serious test the Wildcats will face before the state finals. Unless someone pulls off a serious upset, Franklin-Simpson is in the clear. #3 Ashland and #5 Logan County remained unbeaten, torching Rowan County 34-6 and Hopkins County Central 68-13 respectively. We're still weeks away from either team being challenged. #1 Johnson Central and #4 Knox Central are also unbeaten against Kentucky competition, and won their matchups by 41 and 30 respectively. Knox has a walkover this week, but #6 Wayne County is just around the corner..... Outside of the rankings John Hardin is heating up. The traditional power was on the periphery after a disappointing 2017, but they've moved to 4-2 with a tight 15-9 win over Meade County. That's the same Meade County team that fell just 17-14 to Franklin-Simpson the week before. Might the Bulldogs be gearing up for a possible spoiler in both the region and state semis? Upcoming Game of the Week There are no games between ranked teams this week, but hands down the game to watch is #10 Hopkinsville at Madisonville-North Hopkins. Madisonville is a team just outside the rankings, and the Tigers are a team that is in desperate need of a win. Last year they were 1-4 going into this game, fell flat, and ultimately slid to 1-6 and went on the road for the playoffs. Without Javier Bland, they face a very trying test at Madisonville-North Hopkins, which has designs on taking the district crown from Logan County. Hopkinsville has just had no luck at all with injuries and honestly life in recent years, with tragedy scarring the program. They need this in the worst way.
  25. The top six teams in 4A seem to have completely solidified, with all six winning this week while the four teams at the bottom of the top 10 all lost by no less than 21 points. For better or for worse, it looks like we’ve got everything set in stone for a bit. #2 Franklin-Simpson and #3 Ashland put on the best shows this past week. Franklin-Simpson was seeking revenge for a home loss at the hands of Meade County a season ago, and had to grind out a 17-14 win to get it. Franklin had another huge day on the ground, with 355 yards on 52 carries, and outgained the Green Wave by over 180 yards. But despite leading 17-0 entering the fourth quarter, they had to survive a late rally, sealing the game with a drive to kill the final five minutes of the game. Tre Bass is averaging over 10 yards per carry as he and Carlos McKinney have combined for over 260 yards per game. Which beats their passing attack of 182 yards TOTAL for the entire season. Meanwhile, Ashland battled to stay as one of just two unbeaten teams left in 4A with a 14-7 win on the road at rival Ironton (OH). It’s the fourth straight win in the series for the Tomcats, and largely a defensive effort in this one. Both Tomcat scores were set up by “turnovers”. The first was a blocked punt to set up a Hester two yard run, drawing Ashland even at seven all. The second a fumble recovery in Ironton territory in the third quarter, with that drive again capped by a Hester touchdown run, this from one yard out. Neither team got over 200 yards of offense. Tough wins, but wins nonetheless. #1 Johnson Central remained unbeaten against Kentucky competition with a 49-21 win over #9 Moore. Moore had to make the long trip to eastern Kentucky, but hung tough through two quarters, trailing just 21-7 at halftime. But three straight scores by Johnson Central blew the game open. Joe Jackson had 146 yards on 17 carries while Devin Johnson got the scores – rushing for three touchdowns on just 9 carries and 103 yards. In all, the Johnson Central ground game posted 451 yards on 44 carries. Moore forced two turnovers in the losing effort, suffering their first defeat of the season. They have nonetheless emerged as the favorites in District 3. Other games of note: #4 Knox Central also remained unbeaten against Kentucky competition by grabbing a 36-0 running clock win over Green County. #5 Logan County does not need the Kentucky competition qualifier – they are once again 5-0 after drubbing McLean County 40-20. Both open district play this week. Logan County has nothing to fear but Knox Central will face Russell County, which has quietly moved to 3-1 and nearly knocked off Knox a season ago in a 34-27 decision. It was another loss for #9 Hopkinsville, as they fell 47-13 to Paducah Tilghman to drop to 1-4. There’s a good chance they were going to lose that game anyway, even if Javier Bland were healthy. They get a bye week to try to get right for a game at Madisonville-North Hopkins, a must-win district game. We pegged the tilt between #8 Franklin County and 5A #7 Anderson County as the game of the week, and while the final might be deceiving – a 42-21 Anderson County win – the game was solid. Franklin County led 21-14 at one point in the third quarter, but just couldn’t hold it and lost their chance at a comeback with fourth quarter turnovers in the red zone. It remains one of the best efforts by a 4A team against a ranked team from another class. Nick Broyles threw for 365 yards (!) in the losing effort. Things don’t get easier as they travel to take on Shelby County in a crucial district game. Year in and year out District 4 is the most competitive top to bottom in the class. Upcoming Game of the Week #2 Franklin-Simpson’s home game against historical rival Glasgow is likely the last game in question on the schedule for the Wildcats. Last season saw the first meeting between the two in seven years, and Franklin-Simpson won their fourth straight in the series 35-19, kicking off a winning streak that carried all the way through the state title game. The result here will tell us whether there is hope for anyone in District 2, with peers Allen County-Scottsville and Warren East losing at Glasgow in back to back weeks. Honorable mentions go to #7 Franklin County at Shelby County and #9 Taylor County at West Jessamine, each of which may be looked at in retrospective as district title games.
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