High School Football

State football finals preview: Saturday's games

CLASS 3A

Belfry vs. Central

Kickoff: Noon (EST)

Records: Belfry 13-1; Central 11-3

Cantrall ratings: Belfry 74.1; Central 83.0

History lesson: Belfry won titles in 2003 and 2004, and has been runner-up five times. Central won titles three of the last four years.

Familiar foes: Central beat Belfry in the finals in 2007 and 2010. Yellowjackets Coach Ty Scroggins thinks that gives Belfry a mental edge this time around. "Some teams from out in the state walk in against us with wide eyes, thinking 'advantage Central' because of what we've done lately. Belfry won't. They don't want to hear about what we've won. They know what we do and how we play. This has become a little bit of a rivalry."

Belfry's leaders: The Pirates prefer to stick to the ground. They've rushed for 4,302 yards and passed for 739. Power back Trey Willis has 1,003 yards, 14 TDs. Josh Dixon has 642 yards, 9 TDs and Josh Robinson has 607 yards, 10 TDs. QB Tyler Williams has completed 20 of 41 passes for 485 yards, 7 TDs, no interceptions. Payton Mullins, Madison Ghormley, Gary Runyon and Tony Messer lead the defense in tackles. "We've gotta do what we do. We can't let their quickness faze us," Coach Philip Haywood said.

Central's leaders: Anthony Wales has rushed for 2,785 yards, 40 TDs, and has 21 catches, 428 yards, 4 TDs. Tajh Milliken has thrown for 1,346 yards and 14 TDs. Cornelius Bolden, Tae Shawn Gibbs and Devonte Yelder have combined for 36 catches, 778 yards, 9 TDs. Donald Styles, Korry Cornelius and Phillip Francis lead a defense that has scored at least one TD in each playoff game.

Key to victory: Belfry must contain Wales, who ran for 244 yards and 3 TDs in last year's finals. "Last year he bounced out on the corner, turned on the burners and outran us," Haywood said. "We can't let him do that again."

CLASS 4A

Highlands vs. Franklin-Simpson

Kickoff: 4 p.m. (EST)

Records: Highlands 14-0; Franklin-Simpson 13-1

Cantrall ratings: Highlands 97.6; Franklin-Simpson 77.2

History lesson: Highlands is 20-5 in state finals, including titles the last four years. Franklin-Simpson won back-to-back titles in 1979-80, and was runner-up four times.

Broken records: Last week Highlands set single-season state records for points (807) and touchdowns (115), eclipsing the old marks (801 points, 113 TDs) set by Highlands' 1998 unbeaten champs. If the Bluebirds get 400 yards of offense Saturday, they'll break the record for total offense (7,409 yards) set by Pikeville in 1987.

Highlands' leaders: UK commit Patrick Towles, who's already led the Bluebirds to two titles, has thrown for 3,637 yards, 41 TDs and just one interception this season. He's also run for 467 yards, 14 TDs. Jake True, Zach Harris and Colin Seidl have each rushed for at least 400 yards. Top receiver Austin Sheehan (1,013 yards, 8 TDs) is out with an injury, but Donovan McCoy, David Christian, Jac Collinsworth, Ian McGurn make up strong group of pass-catchers. They've combined for 100 catches, 2,091 yards, 25 TDs. Devin Bruns leads a swarming defense.

Franklin-Simpson's leaders: Max Bennett has passed for 1,129 yards, 15 TDs, 6 picks. Darius Wickware has run for 1,852 yards, 28 TDs. Cousin Jerrell Wickware has 627 yards, 7 TDs rushing, and 32 catches, 634 yards, 7 TDs receiving. "They've got a lot of good, athletic players and the kind of team that can control the ball," Highlands Coach Dale Mueller said. "If they do that and get some eight-minute drives, it makes it tough. We have to limit that."

Key to victory: To pull the upset, Franklin-Simpson must cope with the Bluebirds' aggressiveness. "They attack you non-stop in all phases of the game," Coach Tim Schlosser said.

CLASS 5A

Anderson Co. vs. Bowling Green

Kickoff: 8 p.m. (EST)

Records: Anderson County 12-2; Bowling Green 14-0

Cantrall ratings: Anderson County 76.1; Bowling Green 95.6

Home sweet home: Bowling Green could win the state title without leaving town in the post-season. It had the home-field advantage through the first four rounds of the playoffs, and the finals are at Western Kentucky University's L.T. Smith Stadium where the Purples opened the season with a 48-0 rout of Allen County-Scottsville in the Rafferty's Bowl.

Anderson County's leaders: Ethan Kelly has rushed for 1,495 yards, 14 TDs, and caught 46 passes for 1,146 yards, 15 TDs. Seth Carmichael has thrown for 3,135 yards, 39 TDs, 7 picks. He's run for 400 yards and 6 TDs. On defense, Kelly and Carmichael have 8 interceptions between them. "I see a team that plays exceptionally hard, makes good decisions in the passing game and takes care of the football," Bowling Green Coach Kevin Wallace said of the Bearcats.

Bowling Green's leaders: Scooter Hollis sparks the Purples' offense. He's thrown for 2,126 yards, 26 TDs, 3 interceptions, and run for 731 yards, 11 TDs. Hunter Neveras has rushed for 742 yards, 16 TDs. Nacarius Fant has 52 catches, 1,069 yards, 9 TDs. "For Bowling Green, it all starts with Hollis. He has tremendous poise, is a great athlete who can run and throw," Anderson County Coach Mark Peach said. Michael Bailey, Chase Proctor and Lincoln Quick lead the Purples' defense in tackles. Another key number: Bowling Green has 30 seniors.

Key to victory: Bowling Green has a knack for taking advantage of opponents' mistakes. The Purples have forced 39 turnovers while making only 11 themselves. Anderson County can't fall into that Bowling Green trap if it hopes to pull the upset.

Belfry (13-1)

Coach: Philip Haywood

Harrison Co. W, 34-7

Henry Clay W, 34-21

Prestonsburg W, 48-30

Pikeville W, 55-14

Sheldon Clark W, 56-14

East Ridge W, 54-0

Ashland Blazer W, 7-6

Lawrence Co. W, 48-6

Pike Central W, 52-20

Johnson Central L, 21-14

Playoffs

Jackson Co. W, 55-0

Lawrence Co. W, 46-16

Breathitt Co. W, 28-14

Garrard Co. W, 34-27

Central (11-3)

Coach: Ty Scroggins

Manual L, 23-20

Goodpasture, Tenn. W, 47-34

DeSales W, 27-7

Ballard W, 28-13

Western W, 34-6

St. Xavier L, 31-30

Elizabethtown W, 76-14

Henry Co. W, 54-15

LaRue Co. W, 35-14

PRP L, 32-30

Playoffs

Casey Co. W, 44-20

Corbin W, 62-7

Bell Co. W, 26-0

Fort Campbell W, 36-8

Highlands (14-0)

Coach: Dale Mueller

Boyle Co. W, 35-14

Dixie Heights W, 61-13

Western W, 56-0

Mason Co. W, 71-8

Covington Catholic W, 42-37

Harrison Co. W, 68-0

Pendleton Co. W, 79-0

Holmes W, 77-0

Cincinnati Elder W, 34-29

Ryle W, 63-14

Playoffs

Boyd Co. W, 63-7

Johnson Central W, 67-20

Covington Catholic W, 49-14

Lexington Catholic W, 42-21

Franklin-Simpson (13-1)

Coach: Tim Schlosser

Monroe Co. W, 33-15

Warren Central L, 34-6

West Creek, Tenn. W, 49-21

Greenwood W, 56-0

Caldwell Co. W, 61-13

Russellville W, 55-21

Warren East W, 25-22

Breckinridge Co. W, 56-0

Allen Co.-Scottsville W, 35-34

Apollo W, 54-7

Playoffs

Calloway Co. W, 56-0

Madisonville W, 20-17

Lone Oak W, 20-7

Collins W, 20-15

Anderson County (12-2)

Coach: Mark Peach

Bryan Station L, 47-23

Lincoln Co. W, 42-7

Shelby Co. W, 58-20

Mercer Co. W, 28-6

Montgomery Co. W, 31-14

Woodford Co. W, 31-13

West Jessamine W, 72-18

Franklin Co. L, 56-24

East Jessamine W, 50-16

Marion Co. W, 42-33

Playoffs

South Oldham W, 33-26

Montgomery Co. W, 56-20

Conner W, 31-30

Southwestern W, 49-8

Bowling Green (14-0)

Coach: Kevin Wallace

Allen Co.-Scottsville W, 48-0

Henry Clay W, 35-14

St. Xavier W, 28-20

Henderson Co. W, 55-7

Owensboro W, 62-0

Barren Co. W, 61-6

Logan Co. W, 76-7

Warren Central W, 21-0

Greenwood W, 62-12

Lexington Catholic W, 30-12

Playoffs

Apollo W, 57-6

Greenwood W, 35-6

Warren Central W, 52-19

John Hardin W, 62-20

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