High School Football

On one side, a likely state champion. On the other, a gauntlet.

Tates Creek's Laron Warner (6) scores a touchdown past Madison Central defenders in the second quarter of their game at Tates Creek High School in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017.
Tates Creek's Laron Warner (6) scores a touchdown past Madison Central defenders in the second quarter of their game at Tates Creek High School in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. aslitz@herald-leader.com

The Class 6A Russell Athletic/KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl could be a lot of fun … on one side of the bracket.

Trinity is a mighty favorite to repeat as champion in the state’s largest class in part because its side of the playoff bracket is clear of potential road blocks. Of teams ranked in the Class 6A top 10 of the latest Cantrall Ratings, only one — No. 5 Simon Kenton — could meet Trinity before the state semifinals. The Pioneers (9-1) have made deep postseason runs lately but lost by double digits to their only regular-season opponent currently ranked in the top 10 (No. 6 Ryle).

On the other side, No. 3 Scott County and No. 8 Frederick Douglass could square off in the region finals (Scott County took the regular-season meeting, 55-21). Ryle and No. 11 Butler will meet in the first round, the winner likely meeting No. 4 Male in the second round. The winner of that potential second-round game will most likely get No. 2 St. Xavier (whose only in-state loss is to Trinity) in the region finals. If things go according to the rankings, St. X would get Scott County in what could be a state semifinals thriller; the two are separated by just 0.1 point in the ratings.

Trinity’s most-likely semifinals opponent? No. 9 Central Hardin, rated 79.6 compared to the Shamrocks’ class-leading 92.2. The Bruins this season have not defeated a team currently ranked in the top 10 of any class.

Things to know

▪  Tates Creek finished 8-2 in the regular season, the first time it has won eight games since 2004. Creek went 3-8 in 2014, head coach Antoine Sims’ first season, and has increased its win total every year under Sims. The Commodores open the playoffs against Bryan Station (1-9) at home.

▪  Lafayette (3-7) will enter the postseason with a sub-.500 record for the first time since Coach Eric Shaw’s first season in 2013, when the Generals also entered 3-7. The two-time defending state runners-up will travel to Frederick Douglass (8-2), whose only losses were to Danville and Scott County.

▪  Lexington Christian, which hosts Leslie County (4-6) in the first round, is the only team in Class 2A to have scored 500 or more points this season. The Eagles have scored 521, an average of 52.1 per game.

▪  Like last year’s Lexington Catholic squad, this year’s is also 5-5 after the regular season. The Knights made the region finals last year and will be favored to make it that far again this year.

▪  Bourbon County senior Dalton Williams set a new-season school record after reaching 180 total tackles in a 47-14 loss to Clark County last week. Williams is in reach of Dakota Mitchell’s career record of 521 tackles at the school; he has 501 heading into a first-round home game against Greenup County.

▪  Scott County (8-2) hosts Clark County (5-5) in the first round of the postseason. The Scott County Cardinals haven’t lost a first-round playoff game since 2007; the Clark County Cardinals haven’t won a first-round playoff game since 2009.

▪  Paris (9-1) is one of three teams to benefit from a bye in the Class A playoffs. The Greyhounds, who’ve bounced back nicely from a 5-6 finish in 2016, will next week host the winner between Bishop Brossart and Raceland.

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

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