Class A Playoffs:
Who: Sayre (8-0) at Pikeville (5-2)
Kickoff: Friday, November 20, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Hillard Howard Field, Hambley Athletic Complex, Pikeville.
Coaches: Sayre, Chad Pennington. Pikeville, Chris McNamee.
Notes: Sayre is coming into the Spartans’ first-ever playoff appearance 8-0, while Pikeville is the defending Class A state champion.
Sayre qualified for the playoffs for the first time this season. This is the Spartans’ third season playing football.
Sayre got the No. 4 seed in the Class A District 7 because they agreed to take the No. 4 seed and not have to play against the rest of the district.
Sayre defeated Phelps, the Spartans’ only District 7 opponent in the regular season, 53-24.
The Spartans are coached by former Marshall and NFL quarterback Chad Pennington.
Chad Pennington’s son Cole Pennington is the starting quarterback for the Spartans.
Cole Pennington has had a big year at the quarterback spot. He is 144 for 198 passing for 1,906 yards and 27 TDs with three interceptions.
Trey Dennis is the Spartans top receiver. Dennis has 58 receptions for 741 yards and 11 TDs. Jackson Marshall follows with 37 catches for 497 yards and six TDs. Cory Givens has 20 TDs for 294 and four TDs. Ford Webb has 11 catches for 156 yards and four TDs. Michael Madden also has 111 yards receiving on 11 catches.
Caleb Kern is the Spartans top running back. Kern has rushed for 403 yards and three TDs on 67 carries. Marshall follows with 307 yards and eight TDs on 24 carries.
Pikeville had trouble scheduling games this season. The Panthers got seven games in during the nine week regular season. Pikeville had three Bye Weeks in the regular season and would’ve had four if Lexington Christian hadn’t agreed to play Pikeville on October 30.
The Panthers didn’t have a chance to enter the playoffs on a win after the 35-13 loss to LCA.
Pikeville hasn’t played in three weeks.
Hopefully, the time off helped the Panthers to heal for another playoff run.
Pikeville will have the bull’s eye on their backs in the playoffs as every team wants to dethrone the reigning champion.
Pikeville has played a tough schedule trying to prepare for another playoff run.
The Panthers opened the season with wins over Class A power Raceland, then they knocked off Class 3A champion Belfry and followed with with a win over Class 6A Henry Clay.
Pikeville’s losses were against good teams. The Panthers’ first loss was against Class 6A power Campbell County 14-8 and ended the regular season with one of Class 2A’s top teams in LCA.
Pikeville’s offense starts with junior standout quarterback Isaac McNamee. McNamee is 79 for 127 passing for 1,310 yards and 16 TDs with five interceptions.
Wide receiver Zac Lockhart is the Panthers’ top receiver. Lockhart has 43 receptions for 828 yards and 11 TDs. Blake Birchfield follows with 17 catches for 185 yards and a TD. Brandon Lowe has seven catches for 126 yards and two TDs. Wade Hensley has five catches for 62 yards and a TD. Nate Collins also has a TD catch.
Birchfield leads the Pikeville running attack with 621 rushing yards and seven TDs on 103 carries. Collins follows with 326 yards and two TDs. Brayden Thomas has rushed for 112 yards and two TDs.
On defense, Collins leads the Panthers with 51 total tackles, six for losses and two sacks. Barrett Caudill follows with 45 total tackles. Landon Hammock has 26 total tackles, six for losses and a team-high three sacks.
Collins and Sam Wright each have interceptions for the Panthers.
Pikeville has forced nine defensive fumbles this season.
Who 2 Watch: For Pikeville the secondary.
The quarterback matchup is going to get a lot of attention.
Two of the best quarterbacks in the state squaring off.
McNamee is as good as anybody and should be able to hold his own guiding the Panther offense.
But the Pikeville defense, especially the secondary, will be tested.
Sayre will probably throw more than anybody that Pikeville has played all season.
Pikeville’s secondary only has two interceptions on the season.
The Panthers don’t necessarily have to come up with interceptions to be effective, but they will have to be disciplined in the secondary.
Pikeville can’t blow assignments and let receivers run open.
The Pikeville front seven is quick, athletic and aggressive.
That could also help the secondary out.
If the front seven can get consistent pressure, that will help the secondary by making Pennington get rid of the ball quick.
If Pikeville’s secondary can keep Sayre at bay, look for the Panthers to march on to the next round of the Class A playoffs.
Phelps at Hazard
Who: Phelps (1-6) at Hazard (2-5)
Kickoff: Saturday, November 21, 1:00 p.m.
Location: Daniel Field, Hazard.
Coaches: Phelps, Andrew West. Hazard, Dan Howard.
Notes: Phelps and Hazard played October 23.
The Bulldogs picked up a 21-6 win over the Hornets.
That’s how Hazard got home field advantage against the Hornets.
Phelps’ offense has been good all season, but the Bulldogs kept them in check.
Dom Francis was four for 12 passing for 39 yards and two interceptions. Francis also rushed for 85 yards and a TD on 14 carries.
Phelps only had 115 total yards of offense against Hazard in the first meeting.
Hazard didn’t have Garrett Miller at quarterback in the game.
Max Johnson was behind center and had himself a game.
Johnson was five for nine passing for 81 yards and a TD with an interception. Johnson also went nuts running the ball. Johnson rushed for 224 yards and a TD on 29 carries.
Andrew Ford had three catches for 69 yards and a TD.
On defense, Jacob Fields helped Hazard seal the win with a pick six late in the game. Tyson Turner also had an interception in the game.
Johnson and Keaton Napier each forced Phelps to fumble the ball and the Bulldogs recovered both of the fumbles.
Phelps can’t turn the ball over in the opening round rematch.
The Hornets also have to get Francis going.
To get him going, they may have to look to get the ball to someone like Seth Mayhorn early to open things up for Francis.
Mayhorn is the second leading rusher on the team. Mayhorn has rushed for 433 yards and six TDs. Mayhorn has 14 catches for 130 yards and two TDs.
The Hornets may use Steven Layne at quarterback some too just to give the Bulldogs a different look at times. Layne has been effective at quarterback. Layne is 12 for 24 passing for 104 yards and two TDs with two interceptions.
Francis is the top passer and rusher on the team. Francis is 40 for 93 passing for 561 yards and four TDs with three interceptions. He has rushed for 1,108 yards and 11 TDs on 121 carries.
Cainan Land leads the wide receivers with 22 catches for 338 yards and four TDs.
Hazard dropped its first five games of the season, but the Bulldogs played a tough schedule. The Bulldogs lost to Class 3A Floyd Central, Class 2A Danville, Class A power Paintsville, Class 2A state champion Somerset, Class 4A Harlan County and defending Class A state champion Pikeville.
Hazard finished the season with back-to-back wins over Phelps and Class 5A Whitley County.
The emergence of Johnson has been a big reason for the Bulldogs’ success.
Hazard dealt with some injuries in the regular season and started to get healthy late in the season.
Miller is 49 for 93 passing for 767 yards and seven TDs with six interceptions.
Johnson has rushed for 571 yards and four TDs on 86 carries. Tyson Turner follows with 277 yards and two TDs on 48 carries.
Ford leads the receivers with 20 catches for 291 yards and three TDs. Turner follows with 19 catches for 253 yards and two TDs. Johnson follows with 12 catches for 249 yards and two TDs.
Who 2 Watch: For Phelps, Dom Francis. For Hazard, Max Johnson.
Francis will have all eyes on him.
He will be the focus of the Hazard defense.
So maybe he throws more against Hazard, especially early.
If he can open things up in the pass game, that could open up running lanes for him.
Look for Phelps to try and get others involved early, so that will open things up for Francis.
Francis will have to have a big game if the Hornets want to knock off Hazard and advance to the second round of the Class A playoffs.
Johnson has been a difference maker for the Bulldogs.
He can be the workhorse and get 20 or more carries.
He is quick and can break big runs.
He can run inside and outside.
He makes plays on defense as well.
Against Whitley County in the regular season finale, Johnson kept getting stronger as the game went on.
Johnson and his offensive line wore down Whitley County.
If Johnson and his line can wear Phelps down, the Bulldogs will have a chance to move on to the second round of the Class A playoffs.
Class 2A Playoffs:
at Shelby Valley
Who: Martin County (3-3) at Shelby Valley (7-2)
Kickoff: Friday, November 20, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Johnson Brothers Athletic Complex, Robinson Creek.
Notes: Martin County last played on October 30. The Cardinals fell to Middlesboro 14-12. Shelby Valley was one of just a handful of teams in the state to play a full nine-game schedule. The Wildcats finished the regular season with a 7-2 record.
Martin County fell to Shelby Valley 49-36 in Week 5.
The Cardinals had success running the ball against Shelby Valley. Martin County rushed for 357 yards as a team.
Logan Proctor led the Cardinal attack with 111 rushing yards and three TDs on nine carries. Dawson Mills followed with 109 yards and a TD on 11 carries. Branson Smith nearly missed the 100-yard mark with 94 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Quarterback Jason Maynard was two for 10 passing for 64 yards and a TD with three interceptions. Parker Davis caught both passes.
Shelby Valley had two of its young playmakers emerge and have great games.
Shelby Valley freshman quarterback Russ Osborne had a tremendous game and so did sophomore running back Jayden Newsome.
Osborne was 12 for 17 passing for 233 yards and four TDs with an interception. He rushed for 32 yards on five carries as well.
Newsome rushed for 229 yards and three TDs on 21 carries.
Osborne completed TD passes to four different receivers. Anthony Pallotta, Lincoln Billiter, Newsome and Jesse Cook all caught TD passes.
On defense for the Wildcats, Billiter had 14 total tackles and Jordan Little had 13 total tackles.
Ethan Bentley came up with two interceptions and Worrix had the other.
Can the Wildcats repeat their performance?
That’s the question, but Shelby Valley has improved since the teams’ first meeting.
Martin County has only played one game since that meeting on October 9.
Will Martin County be in shape?
Have they improved without game play?
Both are valid questions that will get answered Friday night.
Who 2 Watch: For Shelby Valley, Jayden Newsome.
Newsome had his best performance of the season against Martin County in the regular season.
He followed that by getting banged up against East Ridge the following week, but he finished the season rushing for over 100 yards in the last three games of the regular season.
On the season, Newsome has rushed for 965 yards and seven TDs on 110 carries. He also has seven receptions for 160 yards and two TDs.
Newsome should go over the 1,000 rushing mark on the season Friday night.
Shelby Valley’s offense seems even more dynamic with Newsome hitting on all cylinders.
If Newsome gets going early, look for that to open things up for Osborne and the passing game.
When Shelby Valley gets all of their weapons going, the offense is dynamic.
Shelby Valley possesses a lot of speed with their skill players.
But Newsome is the key to get everyone going.
If he has a big game, the Wildcats could pick up a big playoff win over the Cardinals.
Class 3A Playoffs
Pike Central at Lawrence County
Who: Pike Central (4-4) at Lawrence County (3-1)
Kickoff: Thursday, November 19, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Luke Varney Athletic Complex, Louisa.
Coaches: Pike Central, Eric Ratliff. Lawrence County, Alan Short.
Notes: Lawrence County only played four games in the regular season.
Pike Central only missed the last week of regular season play.
In the regular season, Lawrence County knocked off Pike Central 29-28 in the final seconds of play.
Pike Central scored with just over a minute left to play to take the lead over the Bulldogs.
Pike Central’s defense couldn’t hold on the final drive of the game.
It could come down to who has the last possession again in the opening round of the playoffs.
Pike Central can score the ball.
In the Hawks’ four regular season wins, Pike Central has scored 256 points. That is good for an average of 64 points per game.
In their four losses, Pike Central scored 73 points. That’s an average of 18.25 points per game.
So for Pike Central to win, the Hawks need to score 50 or more points.
The Hawk defense has struggled this season.
Pike Central has given up 339 points this season. That’s an average of 42.375 points per game.
The Hawks have had a couple of weeks to rest and work on defense.
In the regular season game against Lawrence County, Pike Central’s offense gained 430 total yards of offense.
Most of that offense came on the ground.
Pike Central rushed for 415 yards against the Bulldogs.
Tayvian Boykins led the Hawks with 175 rushing yards and a TD on 20 carries. Keegan Bentley followed with 110 rushing yards and a TD on 19 carries. Matt Anderson also rushed for 105 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
Bentley threw a 15-yard TD to Boykins as well.
Even though the Hawks had three players reach 100 yards rushing, Pike Central will hope Anderson has a bigger game.
Lawrence County had 270 total yards of offense in the first meeting.
Dylan Ferguson led the way for the Bulldogs. Ferguson rushed for 112 yards and a TD on 15 carries. Douglas Hall followed with 58 rushing yards and a TD.
Bulldog quarterback Alex Strickland was three for seven passing for 58 yards and a TD. He also rushed for 38 yards and a TD.
So the Hawks will have to slow Ferguson and Strickland.
If Pike Central’s defense can come up with some big stops or even create some turnovers, it could go a long way to help the Hawks knock off Lawrence County.
Who 2 Watch: For Pike Central, Matt Anderson.
Anderson is the key for the Hawks.
He is a big, strong, powerful and quick running back.
When he reaches around 200 yards on the ground, the Hawks are tough to beat.
His size and power helps wear down the opposing defense.
Anderson will look to be more involved if the Hawks want to pick up a big road win.
On the season, Anderson has rushed for 1,325 yards and 20 TDs on 159 carries in regular season play.
He has had a great season, but he has had a couple of performances that he hasn’t reached 100 yards on the ground.
But if Anderson explodes and rushes for 200 yards, the Hawks will have great shot to win the Class 3A playoff game against Lawrence County.
Magoffin County at Belfry
Who: Magoffin County (3-3) at Belfry (5-3)
Kickoff: Friday, November 20, 7:00 p.m.
Location: Philip Haywood Stadium, Belfry.
Coaches: Magoffin County, Chris Gamble. Belfry, Philip Haywood.
Notes: Magoffin County last game was October 17, while Belfry played Johnson Central on October 30.
The Hornets haven’t seen competition for over a month.
How will Magoffin County respond to the extended layoff?
Belfry has been sitting out three weeks, but the Pirates have improved a lot from the beginning of the season to the end.
Belfry had some injuries in the regular season and were getting healthy at the close of the season.
The Pirates should be pretty healthy entering the playoffs.
In the first game of the season between the two teams, Belfry knocked off Magoffin County 59-20.
The Hornets scored more against Belfry than any other team in Class 3A District 8 play against the Pirates.
Magoffin County had its most success in the air against Belfry.
Quarterback Lucas Litteral was 14 for 32 passing for 225 yards and two TDs with an interception.
Brad Standifer had five catches for 115 yards to lead the Hornets. Aden Barnett followed with five catches for 77 yards and two TDs.
Standifer led the Hornets in rushing with 25 yards as well.
Magoffin County only rushed for 44 totally yards as a team.
So the running game didn’t open any passing lanes.
The passing game was the only success the Magoffin County had against the Belfry defense.
Belfry had a lot of success on the ground against Magoffin County.
The Pirates rushed for 435 yards as a team.
Isaac Dixon led the way for the Pirates with 253 rushing yards and four TDs on just eight carries. That was good for an average of 31.625 yards per carry.
Fullback Kyle Webb followed with 56 yards and a TD on nine carries. Brendan Rash added 46 yards and a TD on six carries. Tyler Chaffin added a 45-yard carry. Dre Young rushed for 25 yards on three carries.
Quarterback Brett Coleman was effective in the pass game for the Pirates as well. Coleman finished the night going four for six passing for 76 yards and two TDs.
Dixon caught a 34-yard TD and Chaffin caught a 26-yard TD pass.
Who 2 Watch: For Belfry, the secondary.
Belfry’s secondary did a good job against Magoffin County in the first game, but the Pirates have improved a lot since then.
Belfry is stingy and has held some really good passing teams in check like North Hardin.
Belfry has speed and the defensive backs and safeties can deliver big hits as well.
Also Belfry’s linebackers do a good job dropping into coverage when needed.
Look for Belfry’s secondary to be stingy Friday night.
If Belfry can shutdown the Magoffin County passing game, look for the Pirates to have an early night.