Coach: Doug Preston
Cantrall Rating: 82.3
AP ranking: No. 1
How the Wildcats got here: Defeated Hopkins County Central (61-6), Allen County-Scottsville (40-0), South Warren (33-16) and John Hardin (27-7).
Total championship appearances: 8 (2-5 record entering Sunday)
Stakes: Franklin-Simpson could bring the program its first title since 1980, when former University of Kentucky player and coach Joker Phillips was a star athlete for the school.
Players to watch: Saul Brady and Josiah Robey have combined for more than 2,400 rushing yards for the Wildcats. Brady leads the charge with 1,389 yards and 20 TDs while Robey has chipped in 1,119 yards and 14 scores. Carlos McKinney also had double-digit TD rushes (13). Robey leads with 564 receiving yards and seven TDs and is tied with Tavian Jones for the team lead in interceptions (five). Offensive tackle Cole Kirby has offers from several schools, including Virginia, Air Force and Marshall.
Quick hits: Robey, a receiver who has been offered by Austin Peay, is the nephew of Joker Phillips. … Franklin-Simpson has lost in four finals since winning its second title in 1980. Highlands was responsible for three of its five finals losses, including a 42-14 decision in the Wildcats’ most recent appearance in 2011. … The Wildcats’ 117 points allowed this season are the fewest by any remaining playoff team. Johnson Central’s 121 points are the second-fewest.
Coach: Jim Matney (13th season)
Cantrall Rating: 86.5
AP ranking: No. 2
How the Golden Eagles got here: Defeated Scott (54-7), Greenup County (55-8), Ashland Blazer (51-0) and Wayne County (51-0).
Total championship appearances: 2 (0-1 entering Sunday)
Stakes: Johnson Central could win not just its first football title, but also its first team title in any KHSAA competition.
Players to watch: Geordan Blanton, a state-champion wrestler who’s signed to play baseball for Marshall University, has an interesting Mr. Football résumé: He leads the Golden Eagles with 727 receiving yards and 10 TDs on 23 catches, has five interceptions (one returned for a TD) and two fumble recoveries, has rushed for two scores and thrown two TD passes. Riley Preece is the main signal-caller; the freshman is 62-for-87 for 1,254 yards and 15 TDs this season. Joe Jackson has rushed for 2,049 yards and 31 TDs. Blake Gamble has scored eight two-point conversions and intercepted five passes.
Quick hits: The Golden Eagles return 15 of the 27 players who saw the field during their 36-6 loss to South Warren in the finals last season.
PREDICTION: Johnson Central 31, Franklin-Simpson 27.