The Kentucky high school football playoffs march on to the next round. After the wash of the first round that saw 10 lower seeds win in 77 first-round games in classes 1A through 5A, there should be more solid games for fans to watch this Friday.
I carve Class 6A out because it is a hot mess when it comes to deciphering the playoff set up. There are three 3-team districts and three 5-team districts. The fifth place teams make the playoffs as the four seed in one of the 3-team districts. How it works out is that this year, Butler in Louisville hit the road to Lafayette in Lexington for the first round. Also, Jeffersontown in Louisville traveled to Scott County for the first round. Ohio County, which is in 5-team District 1, played in the first round of the playoffs as the four seed for District 2. The Eagles flew to Trinity for their first-round game.
Meanwhile, on the top side of the 6A bracket, each team from District 3, other than Butler, won its first round game. Pleasure Ridge Park, the 4-seed in that district, traveled to McCracken County and won. It was the only 4-seed to win a first round game throughout all classifications.
Let’s move along.
What’s Happening in Class 1A
In the only game in our neck of the woods Russellville hosts Campbellsville. The Panthers from the heart of Logan County are a team of legitimate quality. Their only loss was in the last game of the regular season to undefeated Class 4A Franklin-Simpson. Running back Johnny Drumgole and quarterback Jaylyn McMurry lead the rush-oriented offensive attack. Russellville has rushed for more than 3,200 yards this season and it is how they butter their winning bread.
Campbellsville has reached this game with only four wins, which came against teams with a combined record of 4-39. The Eagles played in a district that included Bethlehem, Caverna and Fort Knox. They beat Fulton City in the playoffs first round, 49-14. The win earned them a trip to Russellville.
Also on the western side of the bracket: Crittenden County travels to Bethlehem; Kentucky Country Day hosts Frankfort and Beechwood hosts Holy Cross-Louisville.
What’s Happening in Class 2A
The most anticipated 2A game in southcentral Kentucky is DeSales at Glasgow. The Scotties are 8-2 this year, but have battled injuries and their two losses have been lopsided. Dessi Austin has put up big numbers at quarterback with 2,137 yards, 31 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Ben Hughes and Griffin Murphy are his primary targets.
The Scotties enter the game fresh off a 54-6 win in the first round over Shawnee, which showed up at Scottie Field with only 17 players. The Colts will show up Friday night with two busloads of players. Their roster sports 100 names. DeSales runs the ball well with a stable of backs and defends the run well. The Colts have usually been the team to beat in western 2A since 2012. They won the state title in 2013 and 2014 and have made it to the semi-state round each year since 2012. Along the way, they have beaten Glasgow in three of those four seasons.
Also on the western side of the bracket: Butler County travels to Mayfield; Ownesboro Catholic hosts Murray and Washington County travels to Christian Academy of Louisville.
What’s Happening in Class 4A
Allen County-Scottsville entered the playoffs as the 3-seed in District 2, which includes defending state champion South Warren and red-hot – and undefeated — Franklin-Simpson. The Patriots beat District 1 No. 2 seed Calloway County 20-6 last Friday in Murray in the postseason first round. The win earned them a return trip to Franklin where the Wildcats beat them 34-0 on Oct. 7.
Allen County will continue to be without quarterback Chase Wilson, who had thrown for 1,672 yards and 12 touchdowns through seven games before being injured. The junior hopes to be healed enough to return for the 2017 baseball season.
Franklin-Simpson, led by running backs Saul Brady with 1,168 yards and 16 touchdowns and Josiah Robey with 940 yards and 12 touchdowns, has been hard to stop on offense this season. The Wildcats have put up 30 or more points in nine of their 11 games. They scored 24 against Greenwood and only 14 against Caldwell County, but that game was called at halftime due to severe weather.
The aforementioned South Warren is on the road to Hopkinsville Friday night to face the Tigers. They beat Madisonville-North Hopkins 48-12 in the first round in a game that was marred by a fight at halftime after a questionable touchdown scored by the Maroons. (The fight should not have happened because the clock hit zeros on the second quarter before Madisonville snapped the ball and scored. The teams should have been off the field.)
The Spartans will need to clean up their pass defense, which gave up several big plays, before they face the Tigers’ quarterback Jalen Johnson. He threw for 1,864 yards and 29 touchdowns. Most of the yards and TDs went to running back Stephen Cager (906 and 16 respectively). (Ironically, Cager has only run the ball 18 times for 153 yards. Despite being listed as a running back on the roster, he’s effectively a wide receiver.)
The upside for the Spartans is that quarterback Ryder Litten has two games back behind center under his belt after missing a few weeks with injury. He and Purdue commit C.J. Hayes make a difficult tandem for opposing defenses to stop. Litten threw for 184 yards and four touchdowns last week. All four TD passes went to Hayes. It could be a shootout in the Stadium of Champions on Friday.
Also on the western side of the bracket: John Hardin hosts Spencer County and Shelby County hosts Collins.
What’s Happening in Class 5A
Bowling Green hosts Christian County in a rematch of a non-district game from earlier this season. The Purples beat the Colonels 42-22 in the second game of the season. Christian County has only two losses. The other was in overtime to Owensboro, 27-24. Bowling Green has the No. 1 scoring offense in 5A and the No. 1 scoring defense. That bodes well for the Purples, but not so well for their opponents. Led by running back Jamale Carothers (903 rush yards, 17 touchdowns), quarterback Clark Payne (2,785 pass yards, 33 touchdowns) and defensive end Dalan Cofer (70 tackles), Bowling Green has rolled through a tough schedule this season.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 seed in District 2, Greenwood, will hit the road to Owensboro on Friday. The Gators waltzed through Graves County last week, 44-17. Greenwood’s two losses this season have come at the hands of two undefeated teams – Bowling Green, 50-0, and Franklin-Simpson, 24-20. The Gators are led by quarterback Jackson Adams, who has rushed for 1,231 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is the key to everything they do.
Owensboro has also lost two games, including 47-0 to Bowling Green on Sept. 9. The other loss was 34-29 to Owensboro Catholic the week before the loss to the Purples. The Red Devils’ offense is powered by running back Landon Board, who has rushed for 1,461 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Also on the western side of the bracket: Fern Creek hosts Dixie Heights and Covington Catholic hosts Doss.
That’s it and that’s all, folks. For high school football fans, this Friday should be much more entertaining than last week was.
James Brown is Digital Director for Commonwealth Broadcasting. He is also the host of the Glasgow-based Brown Sports Bag show each Monday at 4 p.m. on ESPN 1450 AM. He is a long-time sports writer working for newspapers in Kentucky and Mississippi. Follow him on Twitter @JBrownESPNKY