The penultimate week of high school football’s regular season will provide a bevy of games with major ramifications. Here are five that I’ll be keeping an eye on this week.
▪ Lexington Christian hosts Danville in a battle of unbeaten teams that’ll also determine the No. 1 playoff seed out of Class 2A, District 7. LCA, ranked third in the latest Cantrall Ratings for its class, won a 42-40 thriller at Danville in the regular season last year but suffered its only 2016 loss in the playoffs four games later at home. The Eagles have scored 418 points this season, tops in 2A; the No. 4 Admirals are third in 2A with 340 points this year.
Players to watch: LCA quarterback Logan Nieves is a dual threat, having passed for nearly 1,600 yards (18 TDs) and rushed for almost 900 (14 TDs). Danville’s D’mauriae VanCleave is a speedy threat out of the backfield (458 yards, six TDs) and in the receiving corps (520 yards, five TDs).
▪ Frederick Douglass misfired at Scott County and lost its chance to earn a top seed in the postseason, but the Broncos still have a prize to keep their eyes on: a Fayette County city championship. Douglass hosts Henry Clay, which stumbled out of the gate but has since won four of its last five (the loss was Scott County). A win by the Blue Devils would create a three-way tie for the city title between them, Douglass and, if it beats Lafayette on Friday night, Tates Creek (whose only city loss was to Douglass). If the Broncos win, they’ll have swept the city in their inaugural season. Henry Clay could win the city outright with a victory and a Tates Creek loss.
Players to watch: Micah Lowe has scored a team-high 13 TDs for Douglass, five coming via returns. Tyree Clarke leads the Blue Devils with 16, 13 on the ground and three via returns.
▪ South Warren quickly ascended to status of “annual contender” in Class 4A, winning a championship in 2015, and the Spartans have maintained their winning ways in 5A. They’re rated fourth by Cantrall and are 7-1, the misstep coming at Ravenwood (Tenn.) two weeks ago. Bowling Green, rated a 10th of a point higher than the Spartans for the No. 3 spot in 5A, hosts South Warren in the first bout ever between the Warren County behemoths (this too will serve as a deciding game for a No. 1 seed).
Players to watch: Quarterback Beau Buchanan has not thrown an interception this season for Bowling Green; he’s 99-for-156 with 1,327 passing yards and 14 TDs to five different receivers. Gavin Spurrier, Steve Spurrier’s grandson, quarterbacks South Warren. He’s 94-of-154 this season with five interceptions, going for 1,495 yards and 17 TDs to nine unique receivers.
▪ It’s déjà vu all over again: an undefeated Casey County team will once more have an opportunity to knock off Corbin, the No. 4 team in Class 3A, for a top playoff seed. The Rebels, rated 10th in the class, were undefeated last year before hosting Corbin in a 35-7 defeat, and didn’t suffer another loss until meeting the Redhounds in the region finals. Casey County has already secured back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in its history, but a district title would make it much sweeter.
Players to watch: Casey County’s Preston Tucker has rushed for 17 TDs and 1,028 yards this year on 120 rushing attempts, an average of 8.5 yards per carry. Cameron Sizemore has thrown 16 TDs to eight different Corbin receivers and is 106-of-154 for 1,482 yards with two interceptions.
▪ Pulaski County made a name for itself over the last few seasons but fell off folks’ radars after a 1-3 start to the season. The Maroons took a 2-4 record into district play, where they haven’t lost. They’ll host Southwestern, ranked sixth by Cantrall, for a shot at a No. 1 seed and at reclaiming their reputation.
Players to watch: Wiley Cain has tossed it a lot for the Maroons: He’s 197-of-343 through eight games, going for 2,258 yards and 20 TDs with 10 interceptions. Patric Edwards leads Southwestern’s rushing attack with 1,021 yards and 16 TDs on 127 carries this year.