Lafayette, the lone Lexington public high school left in the football playoffs, hosts Boone County in the Class 6A quarterfinals Friday night.
The Generals are not only trying to advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 1985, they're trying to uphold the honor of the city's public high school programs.
"Some people have lost faith in football in Fayette County," Lafayette Coach Carl Hayden said. "This is an opportunity for us to carry the torch for Fayette County, to show we're serious about football and that it's something we invest a lot in and take a lot of pride in."
There's no questioning the Generals' resiliency in going 9-3. For the second consecutive year they've overcome injuries to their quarterback(s) to reach the third round of the playoffs.
"We haven't won many games by a lot of points, we haven't had many blowouts," Hayden said. "But at the end of the night our boys find a way to get it done, and I couldn't be prouder of them."
Boone County is the third Northern Kentucky team in a row Lafayette will face in the playoffs. The Generals beat Dixie Heights 28-14 in the first round, and Campbell County 20-7 last week.
A common denominator in those victories was the strong running of Bubba Johnson, who had 218 yards and three touchdowns against Dixie Heights, and 262 yards and a TD against Campbell County.
Johnson, a senior, has topped 1,000 yards rushing for the second consecutive season. He has 1,529 yards and 16 TDs this year, and also has 17 catches for 332 yards and four TDs.
Johnson is quick to credit his offensive line and his fullback, Zane Ramey, who's usually his lead blocker.
"Zane is a destroyer. He'll knock out anybody and I love him to death. All he has to do is stay in front of me, make one block and I'm gone."
Ramey, a senior, realizes that. "I know he can make a big play at any moment if I make one block."
Having Johnson and Ramey in the backfield has helped Lafayette successfully juggle quarterbacks Jeremy Smith and Garrett Peavler, who've been in and out of the lineup with injuries. They've combined to pass for almost 1,600 yards and 13 TDs. Tray Chester has 29 receptions for 675 yards and three TDs.
Lafayette's defense has done its part, led by Justin Carr, Andy Hampton, Jason Ferguson and Chris Oldham.
The Generals know the challenge Boone County presents. Hayden remembers scrimmaging and playing the Rebels in past years.
"Every time you line up against them, they're gonna smack you in the mouth and play hard-nosed football," he said. "We've got to be just as physical as they are."
Johnson said that won't be a problem. "We're powerful like them, and we can play smash-mouth football, too."
Last year Lafayette lost to Scott County in the quarterfinals, so the Generals are motivated to go farther this year, and at the same time prove a point about public school football in the city.
"Wanting to do better than we did last year has pushed us to where we are now," Ramey said. "And this is a chance to show everybody that Lexington football is just as good as it is other places."
Friday's winner will go on the road for the semifinals next week against either Eastern or Scott County.