Berea at Lexington Christian
Records: No. 186 Berea 6-4 (beat South Floyd 51-20 last week); No. 29 LCA 9-1 (beat Corbin 41-21)
Radio: WJMM-FM 99.1
Playoff Pirates: In his third year as Berea coach, Kenan McWhorter has the Pirates on the upswing. They went 8-2 last year (but didn't compete in district). It was their first winning season since 2000. Now they're in the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Berea is in over its head against LCA, but then so are most 1A teams.
Big numbers: LCA's Domonique Hayden has pushed his career rushing totals to 6,199 yards and 104 TDs. Already the state record-holder for career TDs (121) and points (735), Hayden is chasing Derek Homer's rushing-TD record of 110.
High praise: Fairview Coach Nathan McPeek, whose team lost to district rival LCA 42-0 a few weeks ago, told Ashland's Daily Independent this week that the Eagles are the best team he's coached against in six years. "They have so many good athletes. A lot of those guys have started since they were freshmen. LCA is definitely the best of what this class has to offer ... ."
Key to victory: LCA's offense is close to unstoppable. Now the Eagles' defense is showing its grit. That's a tough combination.
Next up: The LCA-Berea winner will play the Williamsburg-Fairview winner in the second round.
Lafayette at Henry Clay
Records: No. 33 Lafayette 6-4 (did not play); No. 15 Henry Clay 8-2 (beat Paul Dunbar 47-0)
Radio: WMJK-FM 105.5
Play it again: When these two met in the rain seven weeks ago, Lafayette won 12-9. Marlon Johnson had a 74-yard kickoff return for a TD, and his brother William had a 17-yard scoring run. The Generals have beaten Henry Clay four out of five times and lead the rivalry 33-29-2.
Ball security: Henry Clay had four turnovers in its loss to Lafayette, and five in its loss to Clark County. On the season, the Devils have 22 turnovers to their opponents' 32. Henry Clay has racked up 3,500 yards, almost 1,300 more than its opponents. The moral of the story — when the Devils hold on to the ball, they win.
Post-season struggles: Lafayette has lost its last six playoff games since beating South Laurel in the first round in 2003.
Key to victory: Both teams have guys capable of changing a game with a big play. The difference could be with the special teams.
Next up: The Lafayette-Henry Clay winner will play the Bryan Station-Madison Central winner in the second round.
Madison Central at Bryan Station
Records: No. 66 Madison Central 0-8 (did not play); No. 19 Bryan Station 8-2 (beat North Hardin 25-6)
Winless woes: It's been a long season for winless Madison Central. The Indians have been outscored 281-95. The smallest margin of defeat was 14 points (35-21) to Tates Creek. Madison Central's offense is averaging 228 yards a game, and its defense is yielding 380.
All that Chaz: Tevin McCaden, Bryan Station's go-to guy the first nine games of the season, got some rest in the regular-season finale last week. That allowed other guys to get some carries, including senior speedster Chaz Mitchell, who ran 5 times for 143 yards and 2 TDs. Coming into the game Mitchell had carried only 14 times for 177 yards.
Key to victory: Bryan Station needs to take care of business early and not give Madison Central any hopes for an upset.
Next up: The Bryan Station-Madison Central winner will play the Lafayette-Henry Clay winner in the second round.
Paul Dunbar at Clark County
Records: No. 109 Dunbar 2-8 (lost to Henry Clay 47-0); No. 43 Clark County 7-3 (beat Campbell County 30-14)
Rose blooms: Dunbar rallied from a 7-0 halftime deficit to beat the Cards 13-7 in early October. John Rose got both TDs for the Bullodgs, who won despite generating only eight first downs and 177 yards. Clark County had 3 turnovers.
Consistent Cards: After an up-and-down early season, Clark County has takes a 5-game winning streak into the playoffs. Junior Darius Skinner has been an impact player on both sides of the ball.
Key to victory: Dunbar, on a six-game losing streak, needs to have good things happen early if it hopes to beat the Cards again.
Next up: The Dunbar-Clark County winner will play the Scott County-Tates Creek winner in the second round.
Pendleton County at Lexington Catholic
Records: No. 163 Pendleton County 7-3 (beat Ludlow 27-6); No. 16 Lexington Catholic 6-4 (lost to Trinity 14-13)
Radio: WMJR-AM 1380
Winning feeling: Pendleton County's seven wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 17-53. No matter. The Wildcats went 0-11 last season against the same kind of schedule so their relatively young program is making progress.
Stellar 'D': Lexington Catholic served notice that it's primed for the playoffs with its defensive effort against Trinity. It limited the Shamrocks to 262 yards, including 93 on the ground. Jordan Artrip, Zach Mitchell, Andrew Gathy and Benton Hupman led the Knights' defense.
Rushing plateau: Knights senior RB Greg Raglin is 21 yards shy of reaching 3,000 for his career.
Key to victory: If LexCath plays anywhere close to its ability, its starters should be resting by the second half.
Next up: The Lexington Catholic-Pendleton County winner will play the East Jessamine-Holmes winner in the second round.
Tates Creek at Scott County
Records: No. 65 Tates Creek 5-5 (beat Woodford County 33-27); No. 21 Scott County 7-3 (lost to Fern Creek 27-19)
Radio: WVLK FM 101.5
Good tune-up: Tates Creek's win over Woodford County was positive in a lot of ways. The Commodores didn't have a turnover. Jontez Jones and Brandon Shrout ran well. And the defense made a game-clinching interception to finish it off.
Stacked Cards: When Scott County beat the Creekers 32-14 four weeks ago, it got big games from several guys. Josh Walls and Marcus Hill each rushed for more than 100 yards and a TD. Tevin Buffin threw for 100 yards and a TD. James Happy had 43 receiving yards and a TD.
Key to victory: The Dores' defense must find a way to contain Scott County's rushing attack, which piled up 312 yards in their Oct. 2 meeting.
Next up: The Scott County-Tates Creek winner will play the Clark County-Dunbar winner in the second round.
Top state games
Dixie Heights at Ashland Blazer: 5A showdown looks like a toss-up.
Sheldon Clark at Russell: Matchup of pretty good 3A teams too close to call.
Many happy returns
Pikeville junior Taylor Ratliff has made a habit of returning kickoffs for touchdowns this season. He’s done it six times. His runbacks have come against Prestonsburg (85 yards), Belfry (85), Phelps (79), Betsy Layne (80), Paintsville (75) and Allen Central (78). He almost had a seventh against Sheldon Clark last week, but he was knocked out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
“He’s really been amazing to watch,” Coach Ben Howard said. “Some games, that’s the only way we can score.” Howard credits assistant coach Matt Walls for getting the most out of the special teams. “It’s all about getting kids to realize how important every single special-teams play is,” Howard said.
One is the loneliest number
When football was expanded from four to six classes before the 2007 season, it meant that 32 of the 33 teams in Class 2A would make the playoffs.
Great odds of qualifying for the post-season, right? Not for Reidland.
For the third year in a row, the Greyhounds are the only 2A team left out of the playoffs.