Playoff Preview: A Look at First Round Match-Ups
A preview of this weekend's first round match-ups in the Kentucky high school football playoffs, written by RCN's Bryan Burke.
SEE PREVIOUSLY: Newport vs. Gallatin Co.
Eminence (1-9) at Bellevue (6-4) Class 1A
Bellevue enters the game on a high note as the Tigers finished their regular season with an important win at Ludlow and a thrashing of Dayton last week, 61-0. Quarterback Tate Granger led the region with 28 passing touchdowns this season and was second with 2,306 yards. The Tigers also have some excellent two-way players including seniors Zach Barrett and Alec Hazerus. Eminence, on the other hand, has only scored an accumulated six points in their last five games and are fresh off of a 73-0 beating from Frankfort. Based on those numbers, even a close game might be considered a letdown for Bellevue. Look for the Tigers to advance in a blowout.
Madison Central (3-8) at Simon Kenton (9-1) Class 6A
Simon Kenton put together a terrific regular season, but the lost the pivotal match up against Dixie in Week 7 to keep the Pioneers from winning their district. They are a strong second-seed though and begin the postseason against a Madison Central team that has not won on the road all year. SK wideout Logan Winkler is a special player that can break loose anytime he gets the ball. Winkler pulled in 13 touchdown catches in 2014 and is a dangerous return man as well.
Holy Cross (1-9) at Walton Verona (9-1) Class 2A
Walton Verona lost at Newport in Week 2 but has run the table since, winning eight in a row, including an impressive road win at Lexington Christian a week ago. Holy Cross, on the other hand, has had a forgettable season, but the Indians were only shutout once in their nine losses.
Tates Creek (3-7) at Dixie (9-1) Class 6A
Arguably the best team in the region, Dixie has rattled off nine straight wins and are the top seed in their district. Quarterback Drew Moore has played well down the stretch and the Colonels defensive front is as good as it gets highlighted by senior Branden Johnson. The Colonels previously beat Tates Creek 43-6 earlier this season.
Bracken County (0-10) at Beechwood (8-2) Class 1A
After Beechwood lost their first two games, question marks were raised around this team. Since then, the Tigers have been perfect and won big non-district games on the road at Cov Cath and at New Cath. They also swept their district including blowing out Bellevue at home. They take on a winless Polar Bear team whose closest loss of the year came at Dayton 39-20.
Dayton (3-7) at Frankfort (8-2) Class 1A
This game features two teams coming off opposite ends of a lopsided shutout. Dayton was crushed by Bellevue 61-0 while Frankfort won 73-0 over Eminence. The Greendevils had a hard time holding on to the ball last week, fumbling multiple times in the first half. If they want to have any kind of chance at all on Friday, it's important Dayton limit their turnovers.
Ludlow (6-4) at Paris (9-2) Class 1A
In one of the more closely matched games of the evening, Ludlow travels to Paris to take on a very formidable Greyhounds team. Ludlow came into the season with modest expectations, but has pieced together a winning season and even played Paris well earlier in the season, losing that game 20-7. Ludlow is 2-3 on the road this season. Paris only recent loss came at the hands of Frankfort in Week 6.
Scott (6-3) at Anderson County (7-3) Class 5A
Early in the season, it looked as if the Eagles were soaring toward a home playoff game after winning five of their first six games. The last three weeks, though, have been a grind on Scott as they have lost two out of three close games during that stretch. Their last defeat was a heart breaker where Scott failed on a two-point conversion resulting in a 28-27 loss. They bring their stable of running backs to face a stout Anderson County team who has scored at least 20 points in all of their games this year.
Holmes (2-8) at Ashland Blazer (5-4) Class 4A
The Bulldogs could turn around their whole season with a win at Ashland Blazer on the road. Holmes has not been able to score enough to compete in most of their games this season, even topping out at just 21 in their two wins. Ashland Blazer had won four straight games before losing badly two weeks ago to Johnson Central. Holmes hopes they can make it back-to-back losses for the Tomcats.
Greenup County (5-6) at Covington Catholic (6-4) (Saturday) Class 4A
It's been an up and down season this year for the Colonels. They had a quality win over Dixie early in the season, but also lost at home to Beechwood and on the road at Ryle. They have played top-notch competition, having faced Moeller and Highlands this year, and have won their last three games in a row. How they look against a decent Greenup County is anyone's guess. When Cov Cath quarterback Adam Wagner is on the same page with his small but fast receiving corps, the Colonels are hard to beat. When they get controlled at the line of scrimmage, however, they appear to lose confidence and ultimately the game too.
Photo via Kenton County Schools