Bryan Station at Henry Clay
Records: No. 18 Bryan Station 5-0 (beat PRP 22-12 last week); No. 14 Henry Clay 4-1 (lost to Lafayette 12-9)
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
'D'-fenders: Tevin McCaden's exploits (1,175 yards rushing and 17 TDs) have created the most buzz for Bryan Station, but the Defenders' defense has been just as important in forcing 12 turnovers. Kris Bolton, Jordan Taylor and Octavian Crutcher are the top tacklers.
Sad times: Henry Clay's loss to Lafayette last week was put in perspective by the shooting death of former Blue Devils star Jermaine Birch this week. A first-team All-City nose guard as a senior in 2005, Birch was an emotional leader who always played with energy and enthusiasm. If Henry Clay's players want to honor him, they should play like he did.
Key to victory: Henry Clay has beaten the Defenders eight years in a row, none of those victories coming as a surprise. If the Devils are to keep their streak alive, they better slow down Bryan Station's ball-control, time-consuming running game.
John Hardin at Paul Dunbar
Records: No. 8 John Hardin 5-0 (beat Doss 52-8); No. 104 Dunbar 2-3 (did not play)
Air, ground attack: John Hardin's balanced offense is led by QB Alex Dingle, who has thrown for 952 yards and 11 TDs. His favorite target is Jeremy Harness, who has 22 catches for 379 yards and 3 TDs. Landon Savoy and Michael Wright have 800 yards rushing between them.
Red-zone chances: Dunbar is perfect at cashing in scoring opportunities. It is 8-for-8, including 7 TDs, when it gets to the opponent's 20-yard line. Problem is, the Bulldogs' opponents have been in the red zone 21 times and scored 15 times.
Key to victory: In this Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs matchup, John Hardin appears to have the bigger bite. Dunbar's open date last week came at a good time. It will need its best performance of the season to have a chance.
Lafayette at Boyle County
Records: No. 32 Lafayette 4-2 (beat Henry Clay 12-9); No. 4 Boyle County 5-0 (beat Danville 49-9)
Main man Mac: Boyle County's Rees MacShara, who rushed for 1,552 yards and scored 28 TDs last year, is on track to shatter those numbers this season. In five games the senior RB has already run for 1,037 yards and 18 TDs.
Winning ugly: Lafayette's offense managed only 125 yards but the Generals still upset Henry Clay last week. Credit Lafayette's special teams (especially kick returner Marlon Johnson) and defense, which was even more effective in the rain.
Key to victory: Boyle County is on a roll, with 18 victories in its last 19 games. It looks like the team to beat in 4A. Lafayette is the best competition Boyle County has faced this year. For the Generals to pull an upset for the second week in a row, their defense will have to come up big again.
Lexington Christian at Nicholas County
Records: No. 33 LCA 4-1 (lost to Lexington Catholic 27-26); No. 197 Nicholas County 1-4 (lost to Raceland 32-14)
Radio: WJMM-FM 99.1
'D' enforcer: Sophomore Clay Mossbarger and freshman Sam Maybriar had 17 tackles between them against Lexington Catholic. They're part of the reason the Eagles' defense is much improved this year.
Record watch: Eagles star Domonique Hayden had 2 TDs last week, pushing his career total to 104. He's 12 shy of the state record. Hayden also has eclipsed 5,000 yards rushing in his career, with 5,224.
Key to victory: Already potent LCA added a new wrinkle to its offensive sets last week, using Hayden in a Wildcat formation. He took several direct snaps while QB Lucas Witt lined up at wideout. At times Witt went in motion and took a hand-off, and either ran or passed. As if Nicholas County didn't have enough to worry about.
Tates Creek at Scott County
Records: No. 63 Tates Creek 3-2 (beat North Bullitt 29-7); No. 15 Scott County 4-1 (beat Clark County 40-0)
Radio: WVLK-FM 101.5
Passing threat: Scott County prefers to run right over you, with Josh Walls (526 yards, 7 TDs) and Brooks Barber (309 yards, 4 TDs) leading the way. But QB Tevin Buffin is effective enough as a passer to burn defenses loaded up in the box. He's thrown for 409 yards and 3 TDs. James Happy has 15 catches for 224 yards and a TD.
Catching on: Tates Creek's offense is getting a lift from receivers Larobert Bett (17 catches, 174 yards, 3 TDs) and Jonathan Diliberto (12 catches, 163 yards, 2 TDs). They give QB Dee Christopher a couple of reliable targets.
Key to victory: The Commodores' defense has to limit Scott County's ground game, which means muscling up to the challenge in the trenches.
Top state games
Owensboro at Christian County: Class 5A powers battle for district's top seed.
Western Hills at West Jessamine: Western Hills is toughest test yet for unbeaten Colts.
Eye of the Tigers: St. Xavier Coach Mike Glaser notched his 300th career victory when his Tigers beat Central last week. He also has six state titles in 28 seasons at his alma mater. But Glaser takes some heat because rival Trinity has beaten St. X in the playoffs four of the last six years, including three times in the state finals (2003, '05, '07).
St. X hopes to stem that tide this fall. It is rated No. 1 in the state and is favored to beat Trinity at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on Saturday. Not that this game means much in the long run. In 2005, '07 and '08, St. X beat the Shamrocks in the regular season, but lost to them in the playoffs.
Saturday's showdown will be the 68th time they've met. St. X holds a 34-31-2 edge in the rivalry. Glaser's record against the Rocks is 16-21.
A silver lining: Newport Central Catholic's Bob Schneider, whose 339 career victories make him the winningest coach in the history of Kentucky high school football, calls himself "an eternal optimist." That's why he's keeping the faith in his Thoroughbreds despite a 1-5 record. "It's hard to keep telling the kids to hang in there, but I really believe that if we can finish the (regular) season with a decent showing, we can do something in the playoffs," Schneider said.
NewCath's struggles can be attributed to a young roster that includes only seven seniors, and a killer schedule. The Class 2A 'Breds have lost to Campbell County (6A), Covington Catholic (5A), Dixie Heights (5A), Ryle (6A) and Simon Kenton (6A). Since 2000, NewCath has won two state titles and been runner-up four times. That's why smaller schools won't play them.
But Schneider isn't about to surrender this season. "We've had two of our best days of practice this week," he said. "I think the kids can sense that we can still do something."