City playoff games
Henry Clay (9-2) at Scott County (12-0): Top-ranked Scott County has won 19 consecutive games against Lexington competition, including 70-34, 70-7 and 69-34 smackdowns of Henry Clay the last three times they've played. Blue Devils Coach Sam Simpson said the challenge is obvious: "We've gotta man up on defense and stop them. They're an offensive juggernaut, and their record proves it."
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Scott County is averaging 58 points a game thanks to a punishing wing-T attack. It piled up almost 700 yards on Henry Clay last month, led by the rushing of Keith Guy (176 yards), Kevin Claussen (169) and Theo Price (135). Quarterback Clay McKee had 135 passing yards. Scott County has been without its best player, versatile senior Scott Daniel, the last two weeks. He's been out with a leg injury and isn't expected to play against Henry Clay.
The Devils had 556 yards against Scott County in the earlier meeting. Elijah Bell and D.J. Jackson each rushed for more than 150 yards. But four turnovers, including three interceptions, killed Henry Clay's chances of keeping up with the Cards.
Scott County Coach Jim McKee said there's no chance his team is looking past Henry Clay toward a semifinal showdown with Male or Trinity next Friday. "Henry Clay's too good. We're not thinking about next week."
Mercer County (8-4) at Lexington Catholic (9-3): Most people figured Lexington Catholic and Boyle County would clash in the region finals for the seventh year in a row. But Mercer County upset Boyle County 31-30 last week. "In our minds, we thought we could do it, but I don't think anybody outside our Mercer County family did," said Titans Coach Chris Pardue, a former Boyle County head coach and assistant.
Mercer County avenged a 14-0 regular-season loss to Boyle County. Now it will try to turn the tables on Lexington Catholic, which beat the Titans 34-16 in late September. Chris Cawley-Goodman had just taken over as Mercer County quarterback that night after Drew Davis was hurt the week before. Pardue said Cawley-Goodman, a former receiver, has improved dramatically since then. "He's carried a lot of the load for us lately. The last five games he's rushed for close to 800 yards and thrown for about 800. He's an exceptional athlete." Mercer County's defense is led by linebackers Joey DeGiovanni and Braxton Bradshaw, and defensive back Layne Peavler.
Lexington Catholic Coach Bill Letton heard about Mercer County's upset of Boyle County before he addressed his team after it beat Russell County last week. That meant the Knights would get to play at home this week. "I told them to be happy we got a home game, but don't be happy we're playing a team they didn't expect to be playing."
Mercer County won at Boyle County, which is where the Rebels beat Lexington Catholic in their regular-season meeting.
In Lexington Catholic's September win over Mercer County, Reese Ryan threw for 321 yards and three TDs. David Bouvier had 10 catches for 158 yards and a TD. The Knights also ran for almost 200 yards. Lexington Catholic has beaten Mercer County in eight previous meetings.
Friday's winner will host Covington Catholic or Highlands in the state semifinals next week.
Top state games
Covington Catholic (10-2) at Highlands (11-1): Highlands has beaten its archrival 10 times in a row, including 42-6 in late September. The Bluebirds try to add to their state-record 32 consecutive playoff victories.
Mason County (12-0) at Bourbon County (12-0): In last year's region finals, Bourbon County routed the Royals 55-13. Mason County must slow Colonels star Brent Holman, who has generated 2,000 yards and 35 TDs rushing and receiving. The winner will host either Belfry or Pike Central in the state semifinals next week.
Trinity (6-5) at Male (11-1): The three-time defending state champion Shamrocks are in playoff mode as they showed by whipping Manual 49-20 last week. Male's focus will be on Trinity quarterback (and Louisville commitment) Reggie Bonnafon, who passed for 237 yards and two TDs, and ran for 164 yards and four TDs against Manual. The winner will host Henry Clay or Scott County next week.
At Kentucky.com/highschools: Get the latest scores and linescores and view photo galleries of each week's featured games.
Friday's playoff schedule
All times p.m. and local to site
Games listed in bracket order
Russellville (10-2) at Mayfield (11-1), 7
Beechwood (8-4) at Frankfort (10-2), 7:30
Hazard (11-1) at Williamsburg (9-2), 7:30
Pikeville (11-1) at Raceland (10-2), 7:30
Murray (8-4) at Caldwell Co. (12-0), 7
DeSales (11-1) at Louisville Christian (10-1), 7:30
Newport Catholic (8-4) at Gallatin Co. (10-2), 7
Somerset (7-4) at Prestonsburg (7-5), 7:30
South Warren (11-1) at Paducah Tilghman (7-5), 7
Wayne Co. (12-0) at Central (9-3), 7:30
Mason Co. (12-0) at Bourbon Co. (12-0), 7:30
Pike Co. Central (7-5) at Belfry (11-1), 7:30
Franklin-Simpson (8-4) at Owensboro (9-3), 7
North Oldham (9-3) at Collins (10-2), 7:30
Mercer Co. (8-4) at Lexington Catholic (9-3), 7:30
Covington Catholic (10-2) at Highlands (11-1), 7
Bowling Green (11-0) at Graves Co. (10-2), 7
Bullitt East (11-1) at John Hardin (10-2), 7:30
Franklin Co. (11-1) at Anderson Co. (10-2), 7:30
Madison So. (10-1) at Pulaski Co. (12-0), 7:30
Central Hardin (11-1) at Meade Co. (10-2), 7:30
Simon Kenton (12-0) at Butler (10-2), 7:30
Trinity (6-5) at Male (11-1), 7:30
Henry Clay (9-2) at Scott Co. (12-0), 7:30