High School Football

Friday's finals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

Mike Fields

CLASS ABeechwood vs. Hazard

Kickoff: 11 a.m.

Records: Beechwood 13-1; Hazard 11-3

Cantrall Ratings: Beechwood 79.5; Hazard 56.1

History lesson: Beechwood is defending state champ and has won 10 titles overall. This is Hazard's first appearance in the finals.

Bulldogs breakthrough: When Hazard beat Lexington Christian last week, it was the first time the Bulldogs won a state semifinal in seven tries since 1959. "This is uncharted territory for us," Coach Mark Dixon said. "The seniors set a goal to end the season at Papa John's Stadium, and they reached it. We're excited, but we're also trying to keep everything as normal as possible ... ."

Beechwood's leaders: QB Matt Rigdon has passed for 1,250 yards and 11 TDs, and run for 801 yards and 9 TDs. Nieco Teipel has rushed for 2,166 yards and 35 TDs. Alex Downton and Joe Daniels have combined for 39 catches, 618 yards and 4 TDs. On defense, Kody Klug has six interceptions. "Beechwood is the best program in Class A," Dixon said. "They have the same type of team year after year — very physical up front, with a lot of speed in the backfield. ... You can't find any holes in them."

Hazard's leaders: QB Tyler Olinger has thrown for 1,765 yards and 18 TDs, and run for 961 yards and 16 TDs. RB Greg Adams has rushed for 1,760 yards and 20 TDs, averaging almost 12 yards a carry. Adams has 27 catches for 626 yards and 7 TDs. Michael Campbell has 36 catches for 565 yards and 3 TDs. Campbell and Alex Hall are the top tacklers. "Hazard can physically match up with us in some places, and we haven't seen that in a while," Beechwood Coach Noel Rash said. "Hazard makes you defend the whole field. Their defensive line is one of the best I've seen."

Key to victory: The common denominator in Beechwood's state championships has been its physical play and control of the line of scrimmage. Hazard better be ready for trench warfare.

Beechwood (13-1)

Average score: 41-8

Dixie Heights W, 29-6

Lloyd Memorial W, 34-12

Dayton W, 51-0

Bishop Brossart W, 56-0

Ludlow W, 61-6

Covington Catholic W, 35-21

Prestonsburg W, 43-14

Covington Holy Cross W, 28-7

Bellevue W, 48-0

Newport Catholic L, 30-21

Playoffs

Trimble County W, 42-6

Ludlow W, 54-0

Frankfort W, 42-14

Crittenden County W, 34-0

Hazard (11-3)

Average score: 37-20

Green County L, 48-39

Pike Central W, 47-13

Jenkins W, 53-12

Harlan W, 47-7

Perry Central W, 22-20

Grayson, Va. W, 47-16

Johnson Central L, 55-17

Pineville W, 41-0

Lynn Camp W, 27-7

Lexington Christian L, 49-7

Playoffs

Betsy Layne W, 49-6

Paintsville W, 56-14

Pikeville W, 41-14

Lexington Christian W, 28-21

CLASS 3ACentral vs. Breathitt County

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Records: Central 10-3; Breathitt County 12-2

Cantrall Ratings: Central 78.4; Breathitt County 68.4

History lesson: In its first appearance in the finals, Central beat Belfry last year. Breathitt has three titles (1995, '96 and 2002).

Making them count: Breathitt County is 3-for-3 in state title games, reflecting Coach Mike Holcomb's message: "The kids have learned we're not just glad to be in the finals," he said. "When you get this far you want to do everything you can to win it."

Central's leaders: QB Chris King has thrown for 898 yards and 14 TDs, and run for 939 yards and 8 TDs. Chance Hughes has rushed for 864 yards and 11 TDs, and Diaz Bolden has rushed for 667 yards and 6 TDs. Stephan Robinson has 32 catches for 664 yards and 10 TDs. Tim Patterson and Mister Cobble lead the defense in tackles. "I don't know if we've ever faced anybody with as much team speed," Breathitt County Coach Mike Holcomb said. "They have kids who can get gone any time they touch it."

Breathitt County's leaders: QB Jade Haddix has passed for 1,320 yards and 16 TDs, and run for 512 yards and 9 TDs. RB Channing Fugate has rushed for a state-leading 2,919 yards and 35 TDs. Josh Fletcher, Ryan Allen and Fugate have combined for 65 catches for 1,027 yards and 12 TDs. Fugate also leads the team in tackles. "We're expecting a big dose of Channing Fugate," Central Coach Ty Scroggins said. "He's probably 85 percent of their offense, and he's big on defense. We've got to always know where he's at."

Key to victory: It's a double challenge for Breathitt County. Its offense must control the ball and eat up the clock. Its defense must contain Central's speed. The best strategy for that? "Get 'em before they get started," Holcomb said with a chuckle. Scroggins and his staff preach to the Yellowjackets every day to use their speed. "We have to play fast on both sides of the ball because that's where we have an advantage," he said.

Central (10-3)

Average score: 34-16

Manual L, 34-28

Male W, 23-10

Elizabethtown W, 23-14

Western W, 1-0 (forfeit)

Shawnee W, 28-14

Jeffersontown W, 39-7

Moore W, 76-0

St. Xavier L, 36-13

Highlands L, 28-0

Playoffs

Henry County W, 48-0

Shawnee W, 40-6

Elizabethtown W, 42-21

Union County W, 49-21e_SClBBreathitt County (12-2)

Average score: 36-16

Johnson Central L, 26-14

Prestonsburg L, 27-20

Boyd County W, 41-6

Estill County W, 7-6

Harlan County W, 47-7

Fleming County W, 48-6

Lexington Christian W, 40-26

Powell County W, 55-13

Lawrence County W, 37-14

Shelby Valley W, 49-22

Playoffs

Garrard County W, 28-13

Harlan County W, 62-34

Estill County W, 39-7

Belfry W, 14-12

CLASS 5AChristian County vs. Highlands

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Records: Christian County 13-1; Highlands 13-1

Cantrall Ratings: Christian County 82.7; Highlands 95.7

History lesson: Highlands has 17 state titles, including a win over Bowling Green last year. Christian County won 4A titles in 1982 and '84.

Under-the-gun poise: If handling pressure is a key to winning a title, Christian County showed last week it has that ability. The Colonels drove 73 yards in 12 plays in the closing minutes to beat John Hardin 35-29. VaShun Banks' 14-yard TD run with 14 seconds left capped the victory.

Christian County's leaders: QB James Bauer has thrown for 1,417 yards and 12 TDs, and run for 714 yards and 10 TDs. Vashun Banks has rushed for 1,585 yards and 19 TDs. Bubba Tandy has 29 catches for 591 yards and 4 TDs; David Wallace has 11 catches for 341 yards and 5 TDs. On defense, Rickey Tinnen has six interceptions. "They have a lot of fast guys, a lot of weapons on offense and a good defense," Highlands Coach Dale Mueller told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Highlands' leaders: QB Tony Guidugli has passed for 2,642 yards and 20 TDs, and run for 463 yards and 12 TDs. Clint Crawford has rushed for 849 yards and 14 TDs. Oliver Head and Tyler Fennell have run for 655 yards and 21 TDs between them. Austin Collinsworth has 45 catches for 793 yards and 5 TDs; Nick Buten has 17 catches for 658 yards and 7 TDs.

Key to victory: Highlands' big-game tradition is impressive. This is the Bluebirds' 23rd appearance in the finals, and their championship success is second only to Trinity's. Christian County's players can't be awed by Highlands' aura. They can't concede anything, especially a mental edge, if they hope to pull the upset. As for the Bluebirds' pursuit of an 18th title, Mueller said it's an annual chase: "It's our goal every year to win the state championship. We are here now so it is time to do it."

Highlands (13-1)

Average score: 43-12

Ryle W, 26-6

Cincinnati Colerain L, 33-18

Holmes W, 70-6

Dixie Heights W, 55-28

Covington Catholic W, 61-0

Hopkinsville W, 48-21

Cov. Scott W, 67-13

Lexington Catholic W, 41-0

Madison Central W, 46-0

Central W, 28-0

Playoffs

Bryan Station W, 28-22

Ashland Blazer W, 53-6

Johnson Central W, 35-21

Whitley County W, 42-16

Christian County (13-1)

Average score: 31-16

Paducah Tilghman W, 22-15

Male L, 49-14

Ohio County W, 52-0

Warren Central W, 37-19

Hopkinsville W, 35-13

Henderson County W, 34-28

Evansville North, Ind. W, 35-6

Trigg County W, 20-6

Owensboro W, 42-34

Graves County W, 27-0

Playoffs

Barren County W, 43-7

Hopkinville W, 28-21

Owensboro W, 16-0

John Hardin W, 35-29

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