Coach: Philip Haywood (33rd season)
Cantrall Rating: 87.0
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AP ranking: No. 1
How the Pirates got here: Defeated Bath County (50-0), Fleming County (61-0), Russell (43-12) and Corbin (42-17).
Total championship appearances: 13 (5-7 record entering Saturday)
Stakes: Belfry could win its sixth title overall and its fourth in a row, which would make it the first Eastern Kentucky program and sixth program overall to accomplish that feat.
Players to watch: Austin Dotson (committed to the University of Kentucky), Cole Bentley (Louisville commit), Rayquan Horton and Jordan Scott — all seniors — help form an Incredible Hulk-like front line for the Pirates, who have rushed for about 4,800 yards this season. Twelve different runners have scored for Belfry and five have accumulated at least 500 yards this season.
Quick hit: Philip Haywood, who has coached the Pirates in all but one of their finals trips and to all of their championships, is the state’s all-time winningest football coach and the only one to reach 400 career victories. His career record is 416-129. He was the head coach at Prestonsburg, his alma mater, from 1975-1983 (Belfry played in its first finals in 1979, falling 33-0 to Franklin-Simpson). Noah Corbett, a senior who has a team-high 11 TDs, isn’t asked to throw much but has tossed nine TDs this year and 21 during his career.
Coach: Ty Scroggins
Cantrall Rating: 77.5
AP ranking: No. 6
How the Yellow Jackets got here: Defeated Garrard County (48-26), Boyle County (37-6), Lexington Catholic (30-7) and Elizabethtown (21-14).
Total championship appearances: 7 (5-1 record entering Saturday)
Stakes: Central could win its sixth title in 10 years and its fifth against Belfry, which finally overcame the Yellow Jackets in 2014 after losing the first four meetings with them.
Players to watch: Corey Johnson has 1,097 rushing yards and 19 TDs. Chereioun Jones is next with 781 yards and five scores. Ukari Baker leads with 715 receiving yards and seven TDs on a team-high 24 receptions. Senior kicker Sebastian Francisco has made four field goals this season and 16 during his career. Quincy Baines has four interceptions this year. Luke Bowman leads the Jackets with 106 tackles (87 solo).
Quick hit: Central entered the 2007 finals with a 9-5 record and upset an undefeated Belfry team to become the first Louisville public school other than Male to win a state title since Butler in 1979. Ty Scroggins was the first black coach to win a state football title (Randy Wyatt became the second in 2009 with Paducah Tilghman).
PREDICTION: Belfry 28, Central 22.