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2019 Kentucky high school football preview
The 2019 high school football season kicks off Friday, Aug. 23. New high school sports beat writer Jared Peck is rolling out several stories over the next two weeks in the Herald-Leader and on Kentucky.com previewing the season around the city, region and state and highlighting the top players and games. Click below to read all of his previous stories.
Each week, Kentucky high school football has too many great matchups to count.
This year, the Herald-Leader is breaking down great games by class. Here are some of the top matchups we’ve circled involving Class 3A teams at home or neutral sites each week of the 2019 season. They focus on teams in the Herald-Leader’s preseason top 10 and others receiving votes in our @HLpreps annual coaches survey.
Week 1 (Friday, Aug. 23)
Southwestern vs. No. 2 Belfry at Pulaski County: Both of these teams love to run the ball. Belfry has its leading rushers back in Isaac Dixon and Ben Bentley. The Warriors, one of Class 5A’s best, saw Chase Doan almost gain 1,000 yards as a freshman.
No. 10 LaRue County at No. 8 Glasgow: Glasgow has a superior running threat in Nick Mitchell. LaRue has Mark Goode, a 6-foot-6 defensive end who’s also a basketball standout.
Week 2 (Friday, Aug. 30)
North Hardin at No. 6 Elizabethtown: Ah, a good ol’ city-county rivalry: E-town has played its Class 6A cousin each of the past four years and has given as good as it’s got -- winning in the odd number years. What year is it?
No. 9 Taylor County at No. 10 LaRue County: Taylor County tests whether last year’s 12-2 mark was a fluke or something to build on in their new Class 3A. The Cardinals reached the Class 4A semifinals last year. LaRue did the same in 3A.
Raceland at Russell (Saturday, Aug. 31): Russell got votes in the Herald-Leader preseason top-10 survey and can turn some heads with a win over one of Class A’s best.
Week 3 (Friday, Sept. 6)
Mayfield at No. 7 Paducah Tilghman: The most storied rivalry in Western Kentucky kicks off for the 106th time. After winning the last 13 in this annual affair that dates to 1911, Class 2A powerhouse Mayfield leads the series 49-46-10.
Week 4 (Friday, Sept. 13)
Boyle County at Mercer County: Title-town’s Rebels look like the team to beat in Class 4A. Mercer just missed this preseason’s top 10 and took a hard lesson in this game last year. The Titans have 17 starters back.
Central Hardin at No. 6 Elizabethtown. Another week, another Hardin for E-town and again one of the top teams three classes higher.
Russell at Lawrence County: Crucial test for two teams who want to make deeper runs into the playoffs. Lawrence racked up an eye-popping 315 yards rushing per game last season.
Week 5 (Friday, Sept. 20)
Pikeville at No. 2 Belfry: Class A’s No. 1 team happens to be 25.4 miles away. It hasn’t won this inter-class cross-county match since 2014.
Week 6 (Friday, Sept. 27)
Mercer County at No. 1 Christian Academy-Louisville: The 2018 Class 2A champs moved up with a bevy of Division I-caliber talent including a Kentucky commit on the offensive line (John Young) and a Louisville commit on the D-line (Austin Collins). Offensive threat Brandt Babin is a three-star prospect.
No. 10 LaRue County at Bardstown: Bardstown, another team receiving votes in the Herald-Leader preseason survey, brings back leading rusher LaDarion Montgomery and leading receiver Terelyn Calbert.
Week 7 (Friday, Oct. 4)
Rockcastle County at No. 5 Bell County: Bell County boasts one of the best dual-threat QBs in the state with London Stephney.
No. 3 DeSales at No. 7 Paducah Tilghman: If the Blue Tornado is for real this year, this game will show it.
Raceland at No. 4 Ashland: Tomcats running back Keontae Pittman has a Division I offer from Cincinnati.
Week 8 (Friday, Oct. 11)
No. 3 DeSales at No. 1 Christian Academy-Louisville: DeSales takes on No. 1 in a battle of Louisville private schools. The Colts rely on quality depth in the backfield led by senior Antione Johnson.
Week 9 (Friday, Oct. 18)
No. 9 Taylor County at No. 8 Glasgow: Possible tipping point for two top teams.
No. 4 Ashland at Russell: Russell’s hopes for playoff success get a crucial test.
Week 10 (Friday, Oct. 25)
No. 3 DeSales at Mercer County: By this point, the Colts will have played St. Xavier, Butler, Lexington Catholic, Paducah Tilghman and Christian Academy-Louisville. They will either be for real or reeling into this clash with the Titans.
Week 11 (Friday, Nov. 1)
Inter-class showdowns: A number of Class 3A schools have scheduled big games against slightly bigger and highly rated opponents.
Johnson Central at No. 2 Belfry.
Franklin-Simpson at No. 8 Glasgow.
Anderson County at Bardstown.