Who: Phelps (2-5) at Hazard (4-3)
Kickoff: Thursday, October 7, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Daniel Field, Hazard.
Coaches: Phelps, Andrew West. Hazard, Dan Howard.
Notes: Phelps is coming off of a 1-0 forfeit loss to Pike Central because of COVID-19, while Hazard is coming off of a 31-0 shutout win over Somerset.
This is Phelps’ game that the Hornets missed because of COVID-19 this season. The Hornets picked up a 1-0 forfeit win over Tug Valley earlier in the season.
This will be both teams’ district opener.
The Hornets fell to twice Hazard last season. In the regular season, Phelps fell to the Bulldogs 21-6 in a regular season dogfight. In the second meeting, Hazard picked up a 37-14 win over the Hornets in the opening round of the Class A playoffs.
This game will be crucial to both teams if they want to win the district or host a first-round playoff game. Last season, Sayre entered the district late and were forced to take the No. 4 seed. This season, Sayre will be eligible for any seed that the Spartans earn.
Besides Phelps, Sayre and Hazard, Pikeville is also in the same district and the Panthers are currently ranked as the No. 1 team in Class A.
Phelps has had to deal with some injuries this season. Quarterback Stevie Todd Layne hasn’t played in the last couple of games.
So Cainan Land and Bryson Locklear have taken over quarterbacking duties in his absence.
Land was the Hornets’ top receiver before Layne went out with an injury.
On the season, Land is 12 for 23 passing for 105 yards and two TDs with two interceptions. Locklear is three for four passing for 69 yards and three TDs.
Locklear is used mostly at halfback, but has shown that he isn’t scared to throw the halfback pass when needed.
Locklear leads the Hornets in rushing with 486 yards and three TDs on 62 carries. Brayden Chapman follows with 182 yards and a score on 22 carries. Land has 22 touches for 81 yards and two TDs. Big man Landon Dotson has been effective when called upon for short yardage situations as he has rushed for 21 yards on two carries.
Land leads the Hornet receivers with seven catches for 106 yards and two TDs. Corey Turnmire has stepped and has eight catches for 100 yards and four TDs. Chapman has seven catches for 78 yards and Blake Daugherty has two catches for 30 yards and a TD.
On defense, the Hornets have one of the leading tacklers in Class A in Dotson. He would rank second behind Pikeville’s Luke Ray, but the Hornets are not listed in the KHSAA rankings at this moment.
Kenzeth Ratliff follows with 49 tackles. Will Gooslin has 42 tackles and Locklear has 41.
Chapman and Bryson Layne each have interceptions for the Hornets.
The Hornets have recovered three fumbles on the season.
Hazard has kept improving all season.
The Bulldogs have a lot of guys back from last season’s squad, but one big difference is that Hazard is starting freshman Max Pelfrey at quarterback.
Max Pelfrey has been improving each game. He is 56 for 104 passing for 760 yards and five TDs with five interceptions. He as rushed for 81 yards and five TDs on 55 carries.
The other Max on the team, Max Johnson leads the Bulldog rushing attack with 526 yards and three TDs on 70 carries. Tyson Turner follows with 113 yards and two TDs on 10 carries. Hank Pelfrey has rushed for 58 yards on 10 carries.
Andrew Ford leads the Bulldog wide receivers with 23 receptions for 269 yards and two TDs. Hank Pelfrey follows with 13 catches for 214 yards and a TD. Turner has 10 catches for 162 yards and a TD. Johnson has nine catches for 140 yards and a score.
Johnson is tied for the lead in tackles with 45. Zane Deaton also has 45 tackles with a sack on a the season. Ford follows with 44 tackles.
Ford leads Class A and is ranked second in the state in all Classes with six interceptions on the season. Johnson isn’t far behind with five.
Who 2 Watch: For Phelps, Cainan Land. For Hazard, the secondary.
Depending on Stevie Todd Layne’s health, Land will be a quarterback or wide receiver. He is an athlete who can play any place on the field.
Land is quick and can make things happen.
But if he is playing at quarterback, he will have to be able to throw effectively to open things up for the Hornet offense.
The Bulldogs knew their secondary would be a strong suit coming into the season.
That has proven to be correct as Ford and Johnson have combined for 11 interceptions on the season.
They are ballhawks and are downright scary to throw against.
Add in Jondon Olinger and Turner’s ability and it gets even tougher to throw against the Bulldogs.
If Phelps throws the ball, it could determine the outcome whether or not it goes for positive or negative plays for the Hornets.
Hazard’s secondary is an effective weapon for the Bulldog defense.
Sayre at Pikeville
Who: Sayre (6-0) at Pikeville (5-2)
Kickoff: Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Hillard Howard Field, Hambley Athletic Complex, Pikeville.
Coaches: Sayre, Chad Pennington. Pikeville, Chris McNamee.
Notes: Sayre is coming off of a 35-17 win over Williamsburg, while Pikeville fell to Class 6A Madison Central 21-19 last Friday night.
Sayre’s win over Williamsburg is a good Class A win, but the Spartans schedule hasn’t been filled with the type of opponents Pikeville has faced this season.
The Spartans opened the season with a 35-6 win over Eminence and followed it with a 56-6 win over Fort Knox. Sayre then edged Frankfort 32-24 at Bourbon County in the Mingua Beef Jerky Bowl. After that, the Spartans rolled to a 42-8 win over Dayton and then a 42-0 shutout win over Harlan before last week’s win over Williamsburg.
Sayre will see where it lays in Class A Friday night when they visit Class A powerhouse Pikeville.
The Spartans were in a situation much like this last year when they visited Pikeville in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
Pikeville rolled to a 49-13 win over the Spartans.
Cole Pennington leads the offense. Cole Pennington is the son of former Marshall great and two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year Chad Pennington. Chad Pennington played eight seasons for the Jets and finished his career with the Dolphins. He also is No. 2 in NFL history in career completion percentage behind Drew Brees. Pennington completed 66 percent of his passes during his career in the NFL.
Cole Pennington in No. 3 in Class A in passing. Cole Pennington is 86 for 125 passing for 1,237 yards and 14 TDs with an interception. He has rushed for 61 yards and two TDs on 15 carries.
His brother Luke Pennington is 13 for 16 passing for 226 yards and three TDs. He has rushed for 27 yards and a TD on three carries.
Caleb Kern leads the team in rushing with 463 yards and six TDs on 55 carries. Jackson Marshall follows with 200 yards rushing and five TDs on 32 carries.
Marshall also leads the team in receiving with 35 catches for 441 yards and 10 TDs. Charlie Slabaugh has 17 catches for 291 yards. Dant Bowling has 12 catches for 242 yards and three TDs. Owen Murphy has four catches for 182 yards and two TDs. Brock Coffman has 17 receptions for 166 yards and a score. Travis Smith has five catches for 60 yards and Kern has 22 catches for 47 yards and a score.
Marshall leads the Spartan defense with 31 tackles and two sacks. Kern has 25 tackles and two sacks as well.
Cole Pennington is tied one off of the Class A lead for interceptions with four. Luke Pennington and Brock Coffman each have three interceptions. Bowling and Slabaugh each have two interceptions. Marshall and Brody Alexander each have an interception on the year.
Have the Spartans improved enough to compete against Pikeville?
That’s the question.
Pikeville is coming in as the top team in Class A.
The Panthers are battled tested and will be playing in their first home game since Week 1. Pikeville just wrapped up five straight road games.
Pikeville’s Isaac McNamee is one of the top quarterbacks in the state regardless of Class.
He is ranked eighth in Class A, but the stats don’t always tell the complete story.
McNamee 65 for 104 passing for 800 yards and 11 TDs with three interceptions. He has added 66 yards on the ground and two TDs on 18 carries.
McNamee has a lot of help on offense.
Blake Birchfield is the No. 1 ranked running back in all Classes. Bircfield has rushed for 1,084 yards and nine TDs on 136 carries. He also has five catches for 32 yards.
Zac Lockhart is one of the top ranked receivers in Class A. Lockhart has 29 catches for 396 yards and six TDs. Wade Hensley is starting to assert himself as one of the top receivers in Class A as well. Hensley has 13 catches for 203 yards and four TDs. Tight end Grant Scott has 12 catches for 137 yards and a TD.
Pikeville’s Luke Ray is No. 1 in Class A in tackling with 83; he ranks fourth in all Classes. Devin DeRossett follows with 50 tackles. Brenden Anthony has 49 tackles and a sack and Jacoby Thornsbury has 48 tackles and a sack. Aaron Slone has added 45 tackles for the Panthers.
Lockhart is No. 2 in Class A in interceptions with four on the season.
Who 2 Watch: The quarterback matchup.
This is one of those games that everybody will focus on Cole Pennington and Isaac McNamee.
With Cole Pennington’s father and coach being a former NFL player, he brings a lot of attention to any game and his numbers back that up.
But McNamee is one of the top quarterbacks in the state in any Class not just Class A.
McNamee has everything you look for in a quarterback; size, arm strength, intelligence and accuracy. He has it all.
Pikeville has a great offensive line and receivers.
Birchfield has been running wild, but with this matchup, look for McNamee to have a big game through the air.
If that happens, look for Pikeville to knock off Sayre again.
at Martin County
Who: Shelby Valley (3-3) at Martin County (4-3)
Kickoff: Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Cardinal Stadium, Inez.
Coaches: Shelby Valley, Anthony Hampton. Martin County, Josh Muncy.
Notes: Shelby Valley is coming off of a 58-36 win over district rival Prestonsburg, while Martin County is coming off of a 48-16 district over East Ridge.
This game could determine which team has a first round home game.
Shelby Valley picked up a 49-36 regular season win over the Cardinals last season and the two teams met again in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. The Wildcats won the second game 29-22 game to end the Cardinals season.
These two teams have been close the last few years in district play.
This should be another good game.
Martin County is a run first team. The Cardinals have gained 2,375 total yards of offense this season. The majority has come on the ground.
Martin County has rushed for 2,136 yards as a team. The Cardinals have 239 yards through the air.
Quarterback Jason Maynard is 10 for 29 passing for 239 yards and two TDs with two interceptions. Maynard has rushed for 98 yards and five TDs.
Dawson Mills leads the running attack with 878 yards and 13 TDs on 62 carries. Kolby Sparks follows with 555 yards and six TDs on 72 carries. Branson Smith has 481 yards and five TDs on 61 yards.
Mills leads the receivers with eight catches for 224 yards and two TDs. Sparks has one catch for 19 yards and Smith has a five-yard reception.
Caleb Costa leads the Cardinals with 67 tackles and one and 1/2 sacks. Smith has 55 tackles and 1/2 sack. Madden Miller has 49 tackles and five and 1/2 sacks.
The Cardinals have recovered eight fumbles on the season and have three interceptions on the season.
Shelby Valley’s offense has been scary the past two contests.
The Wildcats gained 531 total yards of offense in a 26-20 loss to West Carter and followed it by gaining 665 total yards of offense against Prestonsburg.
Shelby Valley has 2,747 total yards of offense in six games this season. That’s good for an average of 457.83 yards per contest.
The Shelby Valley offense is totally different than the Martin County offense.
The Wildcats like to spread things out and get everyone involved in the offense.
Martin County likes to grind it out on the ground.
This will be the second straight game the Wildcats see a run heavy team.
The Wildcats were good against Prestonsburg at times, but did give up some big plays to the Blackcats.
Can the Wildcats improve from what they did on defense last week?
They’ll need to if they want to leave Inez with a win.
Who 2 Watch: Shelby Valley’s wide receivers.
The Wildcats have started catching the ball better, especially the last two games.
They’ll have to make catches again if they want to beat Martin County.
Brady Bentley leads the Wildcat wide receivers with 16 catches for 271 yards and a TD. Ethan Bentley follows with 15 catches for 237 yards and three TDs. Jayden Newsome has 23 receptions for 207 yards. Jesse Cook has eight catches for 144 yards. Jordan Ratliff has seven catches for 112 yards. John Luke Fields has eight catches for 110 yards and a TD.
Fields has started to come on lately as a big-time playmaker.
Look for all the receivers to get looks, but if Fields gets a chance, his speed could be a difference maker for Shelby Valley.
Lawrence County at Pike Central
Who: Lawrence County (5-1) at Pike Central (3-4)
Kickoff: Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: The Hawks Nest, Buckleys Creek.
Coaches: Lawrence County, Alan Short. Pike Central, Ronn Varney.
Notes: Lawrence County is coming off of a 35-14 win over Boyd County, while Pike Central missed its second game of the season due to COVID-19. The Hawks picked up a 1-0 forfeit win over county rival Phelps.
Lawrence County’s only loss is a 1-0 forfeit loss to East Carter due to COVID-19.
The Bulldogs opened the season with a 42-7 win over Harrison County. They followed it with a 34-7 win over Greenup County. Lawrence County picked up a 39-28 win over Russell in Week 4. The Bulldogs followed it with a 43-14 against Martin County.
This will be the Bulldogs’ district opener.
Lawrence County quarterback Alex Strickland is 12 for 22 passing for 347 yards and two TDs on the season. Strickland also leads the team in rushing with 412 yards and five TDs on 36 carries.
Running back Blue Fletcher has rushed for 405 yards and six TDs on 33 carries. Dylan Ferguson has 366 yards and seven TDs on 56 carries. Douglas Hall has rushed for 230 yards and six TDs on 27 carries.
Kaden Gillespie leads the Bulldog receivers with four catches for 159 yards and two TDs. Fletcher has four catches for 87 yards and Nick Collinsworth has two catches for 81 yards.
The Bulldog defense has forced eight turnovers on the season. Lawrence County has recovered five fumbles and have three interceptions on the season.
Pike Central is looking for its second Class 3A District 8 win.
The Hawks picked up a 54-28 win over Floyd Central two weeks ago.
Pike Central doesn’t throw the ball much on offense, but they can put up a lot of points in a hurry.
Quarterback Tayvian Boykins leads Class 3A in rushing. Boykins has rushed for 936 yards and 14 TDs on 115 carries. He is 13 for 31 passing for 159 yards and three TDs with an interception.
Boykins is leading the state in all classes in rushing yards per game with 183.2 rushing yards per game; he averaging 2.3 more yards per game than the state’s leader in rushing (Pikeville’s Blake Birchfield).
He’s not the only threat to run the ball for the Hawks either as Matt Anderson has rushed for 498 yards and five TDs on 64 carries in just three games. Anderson also has two catches for 45 yards and a TD.
Billy Bush leads the Hawk receivers with two catches for 48 yards and a TD. Curt Anderson has three catches for 41 yards and a score.
The Hawks’ standout on defense Noah Iricks will miss the rest of the season due to injury.
Shawn May leads Pike Central in tackles with 47. Xavier Rogers has 41 tackles for the Hawks.
The Hawks have recovered five fumbles on the defensive side of the ball this season.
Bush, Boykins and Iricks all have an interception for Pike Central.
Who 2 Watch: For Pike Central, the defense.
We all know Pike Central can score the ball, but to win against Lawrence County, they’ll have to make some stops on defense.
The Bulldogs have a dynamic quarterback who makes a lot of plays and demands a lot of attention.
The Hawks will have to find a way to force Strickland to give up the ball, but that’s a problem too because they have several other playmakers.
The Hawks have caused eight turnovers this season.
If Pike Central can find a way to come up with multiple turnovers, it might lead to a big district win against a good Lawrence County squad.
at Bath County
Who: East Ridge (2-4) at Bath County (3-4)
Kickoff: Friday, October 8, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Wildcat Stadium, Owingsville.
Coaches: East Ridge, Donnie Burdine. Bath County, Chris Lane.
Notes: East Ridge is coming off of a 48-16 loss to district rival Martin County, while Bath County is coming off of a 49-15 loss to district rival West Carter.
Both teams are 0-2 in Class A District 8 action.
In a six team district, this game could determine a playoff berth.
Bath County opened the season with a 28-0 win over Fairview. The Wildcats followed it with a tough 38-33 loss to Knott Central. Bath County picked up a 1-0 win over Powell County in Week 3 thanks to a COVID-19 cancellation. The Wildcats followed it with a 35-7 loss to Western Hills. Bath County bounced back with a 54-30 win over Lewis County. The Wildcats fell to Martin County 1-0 because of a COVID-19 forfeit and cancellation. That set up last week’s 49-15 loss to West Carter.
Wildcat quarterback Jacob Easton leads the Wildcats offense. Easton is 39 for 96 passing for 524 yards and and three TDs with six interceptions.
Quentin Lewis leads the rushing attack with 604 yards and 12 TDs on 82 carries. Carter Hart follows with 273 yards and two TDs on 49 carries. Easton has added 135 yards and three TDs on 16 carries.
Zachary Otis leads the Bath County wide receivers with seven catches for 157 yards and a TD. Hunter McCoy follows with seven catches for 117 yards and a TD. Jordan Everman has eight catches for 92 yards and a TD. Derek Butcher has seven catches for 71 yards.
McCoy leads the Wildcats with 27 tackles and two sacks. Hayden Meeks follows with 26 tackles and a two sacks. Hart has 24 tackles and two sacks.
Bath County likes to get after the quarterback on defense.
McCoy also has all three Bath County interceptions this season.
Last week, East Ridge had an early lead against Martin County, then quarterback Dylan Burdine exited the contest with an injury.
The Warriors have to have Burdine and the rest of their guys healthy if they want to stop the four game-losing streak their on.
East Ridge opened the season with two straight wins and has since lost their last four.
Burdine’s status will be the biggest question.
Burdine is the top passer in Class 2A this season. He has been the clear cut leader for the Warrior offense. He is 75 for 119 passing for 1,161 yards and eight TDs with two interceptions this season. He has rushed for a team-high 536 yards and 14 TDs on 96 carries.
Zack Mason filled in for him last week.
Nathan Martin is the second leading rusher for the Warriors with 232 yards and two TDs on 66 carries. Isaiah Adkins follows with 114 yards rushing and a TD on 27 carries. Mason has 101 yards on 23 carries.
Adkins is the leading receiver for the Warriors with 25 catches for 386 yards and three TDs. Brad Howell follows with 17 catches for 320 yards and three TDs. Mason has 21 catches for 214 yards. Landon Robinson has 10 catches for 189 yards and two TDs.
Jo Jo Ratliff has missed the last two games on defense and that has hurt the Warriors.
Dalton Caudill has been good. Caudill is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A with 75 tackles on the season (Shelby Valley’s Caleb Lovins is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A with 74).
Who 2 Watch: For East Ridge, Zack Mason.
Without knowing the status of Burdine, Mason will have to play good regardless.
Mason is a very athletic player and can do about anything on the field.
He was the Warriors’s starting quarterback the past two seasons before Burdine took over.
Since then he has ran the ball effectively and caught it effectively.
He will have to have a big game if the Warriors want to leave Bath County with a win Friday night.
Sports Editor’s Note: Belfry is on its Bye Week. The Phelps and Hazard game was originally scheduled for Friday, October 8, but was changed to Thursday night.