Belfry at East Carter
Class 3A state
Who: Belfry (7-6) at East Carter (11-3)
Kickoff: Friday, November 26, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Raider Stadium, Grayson.
Coaches: Belfry, Philip Haywood. East Carter, Tim Champlin.
Notes: Belfry is coming off of a 41-20 win over Bell County, while East Carter knocked off Mason County 38-10 last Friday.
Belfry is looking to reach the state championship for the 15th time ever and 14th under coach Philip Haywood.
The Pirates are used to to playing on Black Friday, whereas this will be East Carter and Coach Tim Champlin’s first-ever appearance in state semifinals.
Champlin played his high school career at Pikeville and has done a nice job of turning around the East Carter program.
Champlin took over as head coach of the Raiders in 2015.
East Carter went 1-9 in his first season. The Raiders followed by finishing the 2016 season with a 2-8 record. In 2017, East Carter took a jump forward going 4-6. In 2018, the Raiders finished the season with a 5-6 record and their first playoff berth under Champlin. In 2019, Champlin had his first winning season at East Carter as the Raiders finished the season with a 7-4 record and another playoff appearance.
Last season, East Carter finished 4-3.
This season the Raiders are 11-3 on the season and are hosting their first-ever Class 3A state semifinal.
Since 2003, the Pirates have appeared in 16 state semifinal games.
The Pirates failed to the win the state semifinals to make it to the state championship game in four of those appearances and won state titles in 2003, 2004, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2019.
Last year was the first time Belfry lost a state semifinal game since 2007 breaking a streak of winning nine straight state semifinal game wins.
It’s not Black Friday to Belfry, it’s Red Friday.
Belfry went to Bell County last Friday and rolled to a 41-20 win on the road.
The Pirates are battle tested this season and Isaac Dixon is leading the way.
He’s the all-time rushing leader in school history.
The Pirates didn’t have stats listed at the time of this writing, but before the Bell County game, Dixon had rushed for 1,188 yards and 17 TDs on 118 carries this season.
Dixon had help last week as quarterback Caden Woolum had a good game and so did Dre Young, Braxton Hatfield and Zayne Hatfield.
Plus the Pirate defense did a job against a good Bell County team.
East Carter hasn’t seen a team as physical as Belfry and that could be the difference for the Pirates.
What a story book season East Carter has had.
The Raiders overcame district powers Ashland Blazer and Russell and then Mason County last week.
The Raiders got to host the Pirates because Christian Academy of Louisville got upset by Paducah Tilghman.
That upset sent Paducah Tilghman to Glasgow and Belfry to East Carter.
If Christian Academy would’ve won, Belfry would’ve traveled to Louisville and East Carter would’ve been on the road at Glasgow.
But just because East Carter is home, doesn’t mean they got an easy draw.
In fact, it might be the opposite.
Belfry plays a unique style and the Raiders haven’t seen that all season.
East Carter will have to win the battle at the line if they want to beat Belfry and advance to their first-ever state championship appearance.
Last week, East Carter rushed for nearly 400 last week against Mason County.
The Raiders rushed for 397 yards and five TDs on 35 carries as a team.
Quarterback Kanyon Kozee was six for 11 passing for 63 yards and an interception. Kozee added 59 yards rushing on eight carries.
Charlie Terry led the Raider rushing attack with 236 yards and four TDs on 17 carries. Isaac Boggs followed with 96 yards on six carries. Nikk Barnett added six rushing yards and a TD on four carries.
On the season, Kobe is 78 for 148 passing for 1,194 yards and five TDs with six interceptions. He is second on the team in rushing with 413 yards on the ground and three TDs on 79 carries.
Terry leads the Raiders rushing attack with 1,794 yards and 32 TDs on 206 carries. Boggs has added 302 yards and a TD on 43 carries. Barnett has 282 yards and seven TDs on 78 carries.
Both teams will have to slow the run.
Look for Belfry to try and take away Terry and East Carter to try and slow Dixon.
Who 2 Watch: For Belfry, Isaac Dixon.
This is what he came back for. Dixon has a chance to get back to the state championship game and he will do everything he can to lead the Pirates back.
Dixon was the MVP of the 2019 state championship game.
He knows what it’s like to play in big games.
So look for him to elevate his game to an even higher level Friday night to try and get the Pirates back to Kroger Field.
Dixon is one of the best players in the state and he will try and prove that once again, Friday night at East Carter.