You're not suffering from turkey hangover and imagining things this day after Thanksgiving. The high school football playoffs are down to the semifinals, and neither St. Xavier nor Trinity is still playing in the big-school classification. That hasn't happened since 1993 when Shelby County beat Butler in one semifinal, and Male beat Boone County in the other. Male went on to win the Class 4A state title.
This year's Class 6A semifinals match Male against Scott County, and Butler against Meade County.
■ Six of last year's 12 finalists are still alive: champions Mayfield (1A), Newport Central Catholic (2A), Highlands (4A) and Bowling Green (5A), and runners-up Belfry (3A) and Collins (4A).
■ Raceland started playing football in 1926. Williamsburg fielded its first team in 1927. On Friday night they play each other in the Class A semifinals, the first time either school has made it this far in the playoffs. The winner gets a trip to Bowling Green and a shot at a state title. "People are really excited; things are crazy in both communities," Raceland Coach T.J. Maynard said. "Last week both teams won the region championship for the first time in school history, and now both of us are right there on the edge of getting to the state finals."
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This is what the KHSAA intended when it expanded from four to six classes in 2007. "It's good to have new blood in there," Williamsburg Coach Jerry Herron said.
Williamsburg lost to Hazard in the region finals in 2011 and 2012, but it beat the Bulldogs 21-7 last week. Williamsburg used to be best known for its pass-happy offense. It can still fling it, but Herron and defensive coordinator Vaughn Hatcher have put more emphasis on defense. "The kids have bought into it," Herron said.
Williamsburg has given up only three TDs over its last seven games. Middle linebacker Jefferson Patrick and lineman Chris Helton, both juniors, have been the mainstays. The Jackets' offense is led by quarterback Dalton Sizemore.
Raceland's defense also rose to the occasion last week in a 14-3 win over Pikeville, a team that was averaging 49 points. Maynard said his team learned a lesson last year when it beat Pikeville 54-14 in the regular season, but lost a rematch in the playoffs. "It really sunk in with our kids that they have to prepare and come to play every week. After Pikeville beat us, our kids made a collective decision that wasn't going to happen again." Raceland's spread offense accents the run, led by 1,000-yard rusher Daylin Beach. Quarterback Adam Elkins has almost 2,000 yards passing and running.
■ Frankfort exorcised a demon by beating Beechwood 35-21 last Friday. Beechwood had eliminated the Panthers from the playoffs five of the previous six years. Frankfort Coach Craig Foley said Beechwood's domination "never did play into the minds of these kids. It was probably more in the coaches' minds. The kids believed all along we could beat them. It wasn't cockiness. It was confidence."
Jalen Acree, a 250-pound junior, ran 27 times for 191 yards and a TD. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Robinson ran for four TDs. Frankfort travels to Mayfield to play the defending champs in Friday's semifinals. The Cardinals are led by junior quarterback Jake Guhy. "It's hard to rattle him," Foley said. "We've got to control the ball and limit them on offense. They'll make plays; we've gotta make plays." Frankfort beat Mayfield the last time they met in the 2007 playoffs.
■ Wayne County won its first-ever region title by beating three-time defending 3A champ Central 17-7 on the Yellowjackets' home field. Wayne County's defense, led by linebacker James Barnes and end Ryan Corder, limited Central to 19 total yards. "This team is amazing," Cardinals Coach Shawn Thompson said. "They've been on a mission since they lost to Central in the playoffs last year." Wayne County will make the five-hour trip to Paducah Tilghman for Friday's semifinals. "Another David vs. Goliath game," Thompson said. "Paducah Tilghman has super athletes at the skill positions." But the Blue Tornado has to worry about containing Wayne County's attack. Tyler Guffey has thrown for 2,851 yards and 30 TDs, and run for 602 yards and 18 TDs. In his career he has 6,650 passing yards and 65 TDs, and 1,840 rushing yards and 36 TDs. Jason Perkins has more than 1,800 receiving yards and 21 TD in his career. Thompson has a special appreciation for Wayne County's best football season in history. He played for the Cards more than 20 years ago, and now he's in his 10th season as head coach after being an assistant for five years. "I've spent half my life at Wayne County, and to be able to be part of all this is a blessing," he said.
■ Somerset is in the semifinals for the fifth year in a row, and looking to reach the state finals for the first time since 2009. Rob Lucas' Briar Jumpers, led by sophomore quarterback Castle Hatcher, have been road warriors this post-season. Their first three playoff wins have been on the road -- at Betsy Layne, Middlesboro and Prestonsburg. They visit Newport Central Catholic on Friday. NewCath beat Somerset in the semifinals last year and went on to win the state title. Somerset lost to eventual champ Covington Holy Cross in the 2011 semis, to Belfry in the 2010 semis, and to Paducah Tilghman in the 2009 finals.
■ Unbeaten Bourbon County hosts Belfry in the 3A semifinals hoping to keep the Pirates from reaching the state finals for the fourth year in a row. Belfry, which beat the Colonels 35-10 in last year's semifinals, has enjoyed lots of post-season success under Philip Haywood, the state's all-time winningest coach with 274 victories. Since 2000 the Pirates have a 41-11 record in the playoffs and reached the finals six times. Bourbon County is finally having post-season success again under second-year coach John Hodge. The Colonels never won a playoff game before Dudley Hilton guided them to the state title in 1997. From 1998 to 2011, they won a total of two playoff games. Hodge has led them to the back-to-back semifinals.
■ Bowling Green beat Graves County for its 42nd consecutive victory, the third-longest winning streak in state history. Trinity set the record with 50 wins in a row from 1988-91. Boyle County had a 47-game win streak in 1999-2002. Breathitt County and Danville each won 42 in the 1990s. Bowling Green's Nacarius Fant had four catches for 168 yards and three TDs against Graves County. He also threw a 56-yard TD pass.
■ When Pulaski County visits Anderson County in the 5A semifinals on Friday, both teams will have an accomplished underclassman at quarteback. Sophomore Riley Hall is the triggerman for unbeaten Pulaski County. He's thrown for 2,524 yards and 31 TDs, and run for 799 yards and five TDs. Anderson County junior Zach Carmichael, in his second year starting, has passed for 2,398 yards and 20 TDs and rushed for 742 yards and 13 TDs.
■ Madison Southern junior Damien Harris, a Michigan commit, ran for 149 yards and two TDs in a loss to Pulaski County in the 5A playoffs. Harris finished the season with 2,619 rushing yards and 44 TDs.
■ South Warren missed a 32-yard field goal with 16 seconds left and lost to Paducah Tilghman 8-7 in the 3A playoffs. South Warren's defense gave up only seven TDs (and 56 points) all season. No other team in the state gave up fewer than 110 points this year.
■ Henry Clay senior Elijah Bell rushed for 282 yards and two TDs in last week's loss to Scott County. On the season Bell ran for 2,121 yards (10.6 yards per carry) and 26 TDs. He's the first player in Lexington to rush for 2,000 yards in a season since Tevin McCaden ran for 2,073 yards for Bryan Station in 2009.
■ Ballard, which will be No. 1 in the Herald-Leader's pre-season boys' basketball ratings (in Sunday's paper) will host No. 3 Scott County on Monday night. This is the ninth consecutive year these perennial powers have met the first week of the season. Ballard has won four in a row against the Cardinals. The Bruins, state runners-up last year, are led by Louisville signee Quentin Snider and Butler signee Kelan Martin.
■ Eriel McKee and Makenzie Cann, who led Anderson County to a Girls' Sweet Sixteen runner-up finish last March, have signed to play college hoops. McKee (Morehead State) has 2,005 points, 97 shy of overtaking the schoo record held by her cousin, C.J. Penny. Cann (Cincinnati) has 1,655 points and could also surpass Penny this season.
■ Adam Wing, a shooting star on Rowan County's 2011 Sweet Sixteen runner-up team, is playing well early in his sophomore season at Evansville. Wing is averaging 11.7 points for the Aces (5-1). He's shooting 60 percent from the field, including 6-for-10 on threes), and 91 percent from the foul line. He's led UE in rebounding in two games with eight.
■ Lexington Catholic's Celene Steele and Paige Ezel have signed to swim at Kentucky and Louisville, respectively.