Central Kentucky football took its fair share of the spotlight last season.
Two teams, Boyle County and Danville, won state titles. Madison Southern found itself in the state finals for the first time in the history of its program. Scott County, a perennial contender, finished in the final four of the state’s highest classification.
You’re going to want to keep up with the area this season, too. Here’s a guide to the best Central Kentucky football games (excluding those played in Lexington) each week in 2018.
Ballard vs. Boyle County (at Mercer County)
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When: 5 p.m. Aug. 18 (Saturday, week one)
Why you should watch: Ballard, a preseason top-10 team in Class 6A, travels to Harrodsburg for a season-opening bout with the defending state champion in Class 3A. This game will feature several Division I athletes on both sides and could end up being one of the best games in the state, period, all season. John Hardin vs. Mercer County, which follows as part of the Little Caesars Ft. Harrod Bowl, should be a solid game, too.
More good bets: Walton-Verona at West Jessamine, 6 p.m. Aug. 17; Paris at Rockcastle County, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17; Collins at Madison Central, 8 p.m. Aug. 18
Lafayette at Scott County
When: 9 p.m. Aug. 24 (Friday, week two)
Why you should watch: Lafayette’s the only Lexington team not in Scott County’s district that currently plays the Cardinals, and thank goodness it does — these games have been highly entertaining affairs over the last few years. Between this and the appetizer — our first look at Paul Laurence Dunbar under first-year coach Wesley Johnson as the Bulldogs take on Southwestern, a Class 5A preseason top-10 unit — you’re getting a great value for your dollar at Toyota Stadium.
More good bets: Clay County at West Jessamine, 7:30 p.m.; Montgomery County at East Jessamine, 7:30 p.m.
Danville at Boyle County
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 (week three)
Why you should watch: These teams combined to go 29-1 last season. The only loss? Boyle County’s 10-7 defeat down the street at Danville’s Admiral Stadium. The Rebels will look to return the favor after losing on a late field goal in 2017.
More good bets: Madison Central vs. Southwestern at Madison Southern, 5:30 p.m.; Anderson County at Mercer County, 7:30 p.m.
Madison Central at Madison Southern
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 7 (Friday, week four)
Why you should watch: You can count on Madison Central playing hard every snap under head coach Mark Scenters. The Indians finished a deceptive 6-5 last year; only one of their losses was by more than 10 points. Madison Southern’s last win in this rivalry came in 2014.
More good bets: Franklin County at Anderson County, 7:30 p.m.; Waggener at Danville, 7:30 p.m.
La Salle (Cincinnati) at Scott County
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 14 (Friday, week five)
Why you should watch: Scott County’s only two regular-season losses in 2017 were against Cincinnati Moeller and La Salle. It’ll get a chance to avenge both this season; it travels to Moeller in week four before hosting La Salle in this return game.
More good bets: Franklin County at Anderson County, 7:30 p.m.; Frederick Douglass at Madison Central, 7:30 p.m.; Louisville Holy Cross at Paris, 7:30 p.m.
Woodford County at Western Hills
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 (Friday, week six)
Why you should watch: Wandale Robinson, perhaps the frontrunner for Mr. Football, rushed for 328 yards and four TDs on just 15 attempts against the Yellow Jackets last year on the road. Come see if Woodford County, coached by former University of Kentucky and NFL standout Dennis Johnson, can contain him.
More good bets: Pulaski County at Madison Southern, 7:30 p.m.; Somerset at Rockcastle County, 7:30 p.m.; Taylor County at West Jessamine, 7:30 p.m.
Wayne County at Rockcastle County
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 28 (Friday, week seven)
Why you should watch: The Cardinals have won four of their last five meetings against the Rockets, whose last win came at home — and in overtime — two years ago. Both are ranked in the preseason top 10 and annually are in the 4A mix.
More good bets: Bracken County at Paris, 7:30 p.m.; Mason County at Bourbon County, 7:30 p.m.; Mercer County at East Jessamine, 7:30 p.m.
Montgomery County at Madison Southern
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 5 (Friday, week eight)
Why you should watch: The Indians played the eventual Class 5A state runner-up to within six points last year at home before Madison Southern rolled them in the playoffs. Both programs should compete for the District Six title again.
More good bets: Lexington Catholic at Western Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Somerset at Danville, 7:30 p.m.
Knox Central at Franklin County
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 (Friday, week nine)
Why you should watch: Both teams are ranked in Class 4A’s preseason top 10. The Panthers shut out Franklin County last season so the Flyers ought to be extra motivated in the return matchup this year in Frankfort.
More good bets: Anderson County at Montgomery County, 7:30 p.m.; Western Hills at Garrard County, 7:30 p.m.
Lexington Christian Academy at Danville
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 (Friday, week 10)
Why you should watch: The Admirals return some experienced talent but both teams lost some significant players due to graduation. LCA hopes to end a three-game skid against the reigning 2A champion.
More good bets: Clark County at Madison Central, 7:30 p.m.; Pleasure Ridge Park at Scott County, 7:30 p.m.
Phelps at Frankfort
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 26 (Friday, week 11)
Why you should watch: I don’t think there’s a better way to spend the last day of the regular season than with a pair of competitive Class A schools — this is grassroots football, and I love it. Also: Phelps is coached by former UK star David Jones, if you’re looking for an autograph.
More good bets: Garrard County at Rockcastle County, 7:30 p.m.; Wayne County at Madison Southern, 7:30 p.m.; West Jessamine at Woodford County, 7:30 p.m.