On the fence about whether you should go check out the action as the second round of the high school football playoffs begins on Friday night? Allow me to persuade.
Here are five game recommendations from around the state. I won’t promise that they’ll all be better than Kentucky’s regular-season basketball opener against Utah Valley, but I’d bet on this batch producing at least one or two thrillers and some stat-stuffing performances for those in attendance.
Frederick Douglass at Tates Creek
The Commodores (9-2) look to unseat the Broncos (9-2), who haven’t lost to a Lexington opponent this season. Gavin Bugg, a once-ineligible transfer from Paul Laurence Dunbar who’s recently been reinstated by the KHSAA, will be under center for Douglass after starter Montaveon Bean was injured against Lafayette in the first round.
Raceland at Paris
Neither team has a win that leaps off the page and screams “Wow!” but the visiting Rams (7-4) have some losses that lead one to think they could spring the “upset” (they’re seeded lower than Paris but are ranked third in the Class A Cantrall Ratings; Paris is seventh). The Greyhounds (10-1) will have three of the best athletes on the field in receiver Eric Johnson, quarterback Aaron Maggard and tight end Will Cox.
South Warren at Christian County
The Spartans’ first season in Class 5A went pretty well; they finished 8-2 in the regular season and romped in their first postseason game. Next up is undefeated Christian County (11-0), rated fourth in the class (South Warren is sixth) and 12th overall in the state (23rd for the Spartans). This game’s winner will likely be rewarded with a date with Bowling Green.
Waggener at Belfry
Jairus Brents’ college choice remains a mystery. The state’s top senior prospect narrowed his list to 10 schools — Kentucky and Alabama were among them — back in August but has been quiet since. His Wildcats (5-6) face a tall task as they hit the road to visit Belfry, the four-time defending champion in Class 3A. The Pirates (10-1) boast two rushers who could cross the 1,000-yard mark for the season on Friday: Taveon Hunter (943 yards, 12 TDs) and Derek Wellman (982 yards, 17 TDs).
Montgomery County at Doss
Star receiver Terez Traynor, a Western Kentucky commit, broke his leg in July but has dressed the previous three games for the Dragons (8-3), who’ve won seven straight games since a skid early in the year which included losses to Class 6A foes Butler and Male. Even without Traynor, Doss has enough high-level talent and a favorable path (it doesn’t include either Bowling Green or Covington Catholic, the prohibitive favorites in Class 5A) to make its first run to the finals; Montgomery County (9-2) will have its hands full but has had a strong showing in Jamie Egli’s second season, and the wing-T has been known to wreak havoc on teams who aren’t familiar with it. The offense has yielded 3,628 rushing yards for the Indians this year.