What should you be doing on the final day of August? Spending time at a football field as the third week of the high school season kicks off, of course!
Here are, in my opinion, the 10 most compelling football games in Kentucky this week, in descending order, along with my picks for each game.
▪ Central Hardin at Christian Academy of Louisville (My pick: CAL)
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▪ Elizabethtown at North Hardin (My pick: North Hardin)
▪ Hopkinsville at Caldwell County (My pick: Caldwell County)
▪ Paintsville at Frederick Douglass (My pick: Frederick Douglass)
▪ Taylor County at Campbellsville (My pick: Taylor County)
10. Corbin at Pulaski County
Corbin for the fourth straight season is off to a 2-0 start after knocking off defending Class 2A champion Danville, 28-10, in a Saturday showdown last week. New Redhounds quarterback Chase Estep has proved effective in his first year starting and has thrown for five TDs with only one interception this year (he also leads the team in rushing with 198 yards and two TDs). Pulaski County lost a tight one to Wayne County, 34-25, last week. The Maroons last year went 0-3 in consecutive weeks against the trio of Wayne, Corbin and Danville — all state semifinalists or better in 2017 — and is looking for at least one win from that threesome this year.
My pick: Corbin
9. Paducah Tilghman at Mayfield
The Blue Tornado has allowed only six points this season and put up 70 of their own under first-year head coach Jonathan Smith. One of their wins was a 36-5 smashing of McCracken County, a Class 6A foe. Mayfield, also off to a 2-0 start, handily won this matchup last year and will be favored heading into Friday night. Cardinals quarterback Jaden Stinson, a sophomore, has thrown for five TDs with out an interception while senior Trey Matthews has rushed for 318 yards and four TDs.
My pick: Mayfield
8. Lexington Catholic at Lafayette
The Clays Mill Road Rivalry was renewed last season and went the Knights’ way, 25-0, in a rain-soaked affair during which star junior Beau Allen only threw five passes (completing three). Allen, who’s been offered by UK and Michigan, last week threw for a career-high seven TDs in a win over Ryle. Lafayette was able to hang with Scott County for a half but ran out of gas in a 59-28 loss last week. Can the Generals slow down Catholic’s fiery offense at home?
My pick: Lexington Catholic
7. Madison Central vs. Southwestern at Madison Southern
Southwestern claimed a 24-15 victory over the Indians last year at Madison Southern, the same site for this year’s meeting. Madison Central held receiving stud JP Vaught (142 yards and a TD on seven catches this year) in check last season but allowed Southwestern rushers to pile up 250 yards. This season, the Indians have given up only 123 rushing yards while piling up nearly 600 themselves; Freddy Chenault leads the way with 304 yards and five TDs.
My pick: Madison Central
6. Trinity at Cincinnati Moeller (Ohio)
Can Trinity get in the win column? Does it matter? The Shamrocks came in at No. 3 overall in the Class 6A media poll but received the most first-place votes with seven (I wavered a while before ultimately putting them No. 2 on my ballot). Trinity easily could have been 1-1 coming into this matchup if not for some last-minute heroics by Warren Central last week, and when push comes to shove the Rocks should be just fine come Kentucky playoff time.
My pick: Trinity
5. Somerset at Beechwood
Somerset has played third-fiddle to Danville and Lexington Christian Academy in Class 2A, District 7 lately but is the only team among that trio without a loss entering the third week of the 2018 season. The Briar Jumpers will face their stiffest test so far, though, in a Beechwood team that opened its Class A title defense with a 42-8 shellacking of Lloyd Memorial last week. The Tigers were a yard shy of finishing with 400 rushing yards in that contest; Somerset has piled up 436 rushing yards through two games.
My pick: Beechwood
4. South Warren at Franklin-Simpson
A Class 5A title hopeful and the defending Class 4A champ square off near the Kentucky-Tennessee border in a game Wildcats fans hope is more competitive than last season’s 36-7 defeat in Bowling Green. Gavin Spurrier, the grandson of college football legend Steve Spurrier, is 21-of-26 this season for 308 yards, four TDs and no picks with completions to eight different receivers. Franklin-Simpson quarterback Luke Richardson has thrown only five passes this season; Carlos McKinney (317 yards, five TDs) and Tre Bass (273 yards, five TDs) have already put in a lot of work on the ground this year.
My pick: South Warren
3. Danville at Boyle County
How will Danville bounce back from its first loss since December 2016? The Admirals won a 10-7 decision over their biggest rival at home last season en route to an undefeated campaign and could get right back on track with a win this week. Boyle County has plenty of motivation to keep that from happening, however; the Rebels would have gone undefeated last season if not for that loss at Danville and are primed for another run to the state finals. They also haven’t beaten the Admirals since 2015. If you can only make it to Titletown for one game this season, make it this one.
2. Scott County at Highlands
I hesitated putting this game so high on the list because of how soundly the Cardinals handled the Bluebirds last year in a 71-20 rout at Toyota Stadium. But, Highlands has allowed only 14 points this year and mostly given up yardage through air; Scott County isn’t afraid to throw it but typically does most of its damage on the ground. I figure either outcome holds significance: A Highlands win officially convinces me that the Bluebirds are “back,” while a decision in Scott County’s favor gives it a nice road win early in the year to point to and say, “That mattered.”
My pick: Scott County
1. Bowling Green at St. Xavier
Kevin Wallace’s old team visits his new team in a game with significance beyond that reunion. St. Xavier suffered a shocking loss to Class 2A contender DeSales in Week 1 — the Tigers’ first loss in a season opener since 1999 — and will have had two weeks to prepare for the Purples, who’ve started 2-0 under first-year head coach and Wallace-protégé Mark Spader. A St. X win would also be victory No. 300 for Wallace — meaning the program where he won five state titles could still be part of a major career milestone.
My pick: St. Xavier