Alice Lloyd College Mountain Top Ten – First Round Postseason Preview
HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - We have made it to the playoffs, which means it is time to “win or go home.” Let’s take a look at this week’s matchups (Note: The Mountain Top Ten will not change throughout the playoffs).
1. Johnson Central (7-0)
Last Game: Defeated No. 3 Belfry 35-14
Next Game: vs. Harlan County
The Golden Eagles are taking a 22-game win streak into the postseason. Jim Matney’s squad has yet to be seriously threatened this season as they have won every game by at least 21 points. Senior Dylan Preston is third in rushing yards per game in class at 160 YPG while he is second in touchdowns with 21. Only Wayne County’s Braedon Slone has found the endzone more times on the ground than Preston has with 25 TDs. Preston has been getting it done on defense as well as his 6.5 sacks place him in sixth in the class of 4A. Johnson Central is second in 4A in points per game with 48.1 PPG (only Boyle County is averaging more at 48.7 PPG) while the Golden Eagles are fourth in points per game allowed at 9.0 PPG. They are also beating their opponents by an average margin of 39.1 PPG as they are also second behind the Rebels in that category as well. The Golden Eagles lead 4A and are second in the state in rushing at 374 YPG (only Pike Central is averaging more yards on the ground with 442 YPG statewide). Johnson Central is allowing only 60 passing yards per game, putting them eighth on that list in class while allowing the sixth fewest rushing yards per game at 65 yards per game.
The Golden Eagles will take the first step toward getting back to Kroger Field on Friday as they play host to Harlan County. Johnson Central won the first matchup back on October 16th in Harlan, 33-2.
2. Pikeville (5-2)
Last Game: Lost to Lexington Christian 35-13
Next Game: vs. Sayre
The Panthers look to get back on track after their disappointing loss to LCA. Pikeville has a number of playmakers on their team but the one player that has been turning heads all season long has been Zac Lockhart. The junior re-wrote the KHSAA record books against Henry Clay, catching 17 passes for 388 yards and seven touchdowns. As for the rest of this season, Lockhart is averaging 118 receiving yards per game, putting him in fourth in the state while tying Sayre’s Trey Dennis and West Jessamine’s Jackson Green for the second most touchdown receptions statewide with 11. Quarterback Isaac McNamee checks in having thrown the fifth most passing yards per game in 1A with 187 YPG. The junior has also tossed the third most touchdown passes in class with 16, sharing that spot with Crittenden County’s Luke Crider. The Panthers are eighth in points per game in 1A, scoring 32 PPG while allowing the seventh fewest points per game in class at 17.7 PPG. Chris McNamee’s squad has forced the sixth most fumbles in class with nine while recovering the fifth most fumbles with 11.
Like Johnson Central, Pikeville begins their quest for back-to-back state titles as they play host to former Marshall Star Quarterback Chad Pennington and the Sayre Spartans on Friday.
3. Belfry (5-3)
Last Game: Lost to No. 1 Johnson Central 35-14
Next Game: vs. Magoffin County
The Pirates are heading into the playoffs with their most losses in a regular season since 2010. That year, Philip Haywood’s squad would make it all the way to the state final before losing to the Central Yellow Jackets out of Louisville. As for this season, Belfry has endured some close losses, most notably against Pikeville and North Hardin but a tough regular season slate usually pays off for the defending Class 3A State Champions for the postseason ladder that they have to climb. The rushing attack has always been Belfry’s strong suit on offense and this year has been no exception. Running Back Isaac Dixon is averaging the third most yards per game in 3A at 161 YPG. The senior’s 19 rushing touchdowns is second most, trailing only Pike Central’s Matt Anderson with 20. Dixon’s 13.9 yards per carry leads 3A. The Pirates are ninth in both points scored per game (34.1 PPG) and points allowed per game (16.8 PPG). Belfry’s 329 yards per game on the ground is third in 3A behind Pike Central and Ashland Blazer.
The Pirates will begin their search for a sixth 3A State Championship on Friday as they play host to Magoffin County. Philip Haywood’s squad had their way against the Hornets back on September 25th with a 59-20 victory in Salyersville.
4. Somerset (5-2)
Lost to No. 5 Corbin 48-21
Next Game: vs. Danville
The Briar Jumpers are coming off of back-to-back losses for the first since 2017. Senior Kaiya Sheron looks to lead his team to a second straight state title as the Quarterback is averaging 233 passing yards per game. That is good enough for second in 2A behind Lexington Christian’s Drew Nieves. Sheron only has 11 touchdowns through seven games this season (he had 14 through seven last season) but his 1,399 yards through the air puts him in fourth in 2A behind Nieves, Beechwood’s Cameron Hergott and Shelby Valley’s Russ Osborne. Senior Kade Grundy is Somerset’s leading receiver in terms of total yards with 513 which is fourth best in 2A while junior Gavin Stevens is the team’s leading receiver in touchdown catches with seven, good enough for a tie for fourth most with LCA’s Mason Moore. Robbie Lucas’ ballclub is averaging the fourth most points per game in class at 36.4 PPG while holding their opponents to 17.4 PPG, rounding out the top ten in that category. The Briar Jumpers have recorded 16 sacks this season which is fourth best in the class.
Somerset begins postseason action on Friday with a home tilt against Danville. The Briar Jumpers routed the Admirals back in October, 42-3.
5. Corbin (6-1)
Last Game: Defeated No. 4 Somerset 48-21
Next Game: vs. Lincoln County
Tom Greer’s squad comes into the playoffs riding a six-game winning streak. Corbin finished off their regular season with a statement victory against Somerset and went 3-0 in district play. Although the Redhounds do not have a player in the top ten in their class in rushing, passing or receiving, they have been getting the job done by-committee. Sophomore Cameron Combs is 12th in the class in passing at 123 passing yards per game and has tossed 12 TD passes on the season. Seth Mills has scored the teams most rushing touchdowns as the junior has found paydirt seven times this season. Sophomore Brody Wells leads the team in receiving touchdowns with four. Corbin is averaging 32.5 PPG. Defensively, the Redhounds have played great coming down the stretch as they have allowed just 10.5 PPG in their past four contests. Mills also leads the team in interceptions with four.
Corbin’s postseason adventure begins on Friday with a date against Lincoln County. The Redhounds narrowly prevailed the last time these two teams played about a month ago with a 14-8 victory.
6. Pulaski County (7-1)
Last Game: Defeated Tates Creek 42-19
Next Game: vs. North Laurel
Just as Corbin had done, the Maroons dropped their season opener then finished off their regular season slate running the table. Pulaski County will be poised to get their starting signal caller back in Drew Polston. The junior has missed the last two games due to injuries. Polston is second in 5A in passing yards per game with 220 YPG, sharing that position with Collins’ Joe Lucas. Polston also leads the class in completion percentage, completing 74.4% of his passes. Sophomore Barek Williams is third in class in receiving yards per game with 86 YPG. The Wideout is also tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns with seven as Traeton Napier of South Laurel has also caught seven touchdown passes. Junior Jerricho Dixon has three interceptions on the season, putting him in a nine-way tie for sixth in the class. The Maroons are seventh in PPG in 5A at 34.7 PPG. Pulaski County leads 5A in interceptions with 12.
The Maroons kick off postseason play on Friday as they welcome in North Laurel in the Appalachian Wireless Game of the Week. The Maroons will try to improve to 2-0 against the Jaguars this season as they handled them with ease back on October 9th, 41-18.
7. Southwestern (8-1)
Last Game: Defeated Bullitt Central 49-33
Next Game: vs. Whitley County
The Warriors were the only team in the top ten that completed a full nine-week regular season schedule. It was another fantastic outing for the duo of Tanner Wright and Giddeon Brainard against Bullitt Central. Wright ran for 132 yards and two scores while Brainard pitched in with 73 yards and two TDs. Quarterback David Crabtree threw for two touchdowns as junior Maison Hibbard led the team in receiving with three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. Southwestern eclipsed the 40-point mark for the second straight game and have scored at least 40 points or more in four of their nine contests this season. The Warriors are 11th in 5A in points per game, putting up 32 PPG while their 268 rushing yards per game slots them into fourth in class. Only North Bullitt, Scott County and Woodford County are rushing for more.
The Warriors return to “The Reservation” on Friday as they play host to Whitley County. Jason Foley’s crew has taken down the Colonels once already this season with a 27-6 win back on October 9th.
8. Letcher Central (5-1)
Last Game: Defeated No. 10 Paintsville 18-7
Next Game: vs. Perry Central
The Cougars bounced back from their first loss of the season in a big way against Paintsville. Letcher Central leans on their Quarterback Carson Adams as the junior can make plays with his arm and his legs. The dual threat field general has ran for nine touchdowns this season, putting him 11th in 4A in that category. Adams has also thrown six touchdowns. Junior Matthews’ squad has been tremendous defensively. With the exception of the Johnson Central game, Letcher Central has been holding its opponents to 8.8 PPG and has allowed more than just ten points twice this season. Sophomore Cooper Bailey leads the team in sacks with four while senior Jepatha Griffith leads the team in total tackles with 57.
The Cougars return to action on Friday as they play host to Perry Central. Letcher Central got the upper-hand against the Commodores back on September 25th with a 28-7 triumph.
9. Knox Central (4-2)
Last Game: Defeated South Laurel 50-20
Next Game: at Wayne County
Fred Hoskins’ squad carries some good momentum and a two-game win streak into the postseason. The Panthers have really hit their stride on the offensive side of the ball as they are averaging 46 points per game in their last two contests. Quarterback Bradley Worley is eighth in passing yards per game in 4A with 152 YPG. The senior has also tossed nine touchdown passes this season and has completed 59% of his passes, good enough for ninth in class. Wide Receiver Abram Brock is fourth in receiving yards per game with 84 YPG while his seven receiving touchdowns slots him into a five-way tie for fourth in the class. However, it’s the tandem of Seth Huff and Ethan Mills that is the engine for this offense. Both players are rushing for more than 100 yards per game as Huff checks in with the eighth most in class in that category with 110. Mills is tenth in rushing yards per game with 107. Both players are also in the top ten in yards per carry. Huff is averaging 9.1 YPG while Mills is averaging 8.1 YPC. Knox Central is second against the run as they are holding their opponents to just 33 YPG on the ground.
Knox Central heads to Wayne County for their first playoff matchup on Friday. These two were supposed to play in the regular season but that game did not take place due to COVID-19 concerns.
10. Paintsville (5-2)
Last Game: Lost to No. 8 Letcher Central 18-7
Next Game: vs. Betsy Layne
The Tigers are entering the postseason with a sour taste in their mouths, having finished the regular season with two consecutive losses. Senior Jake Hyden has thrown for the 11th most yards per game in 1A with 150 YPG. The Quarterback has also delivered nine TD passes while he has yet to throw an interception this season. Hyden is also third in completion percentage as he is completing his passes at a 60 percent clip while his 1,047 total passing yards slots him into eighth in the class. Sophomore Harris Phelps leads the team in rushing with 91.3 YPG and 639 total yards while his ten touchdowns put him in a three-way tie for ninth in 1A. The Tigers are sixth in class in points per game with 36.3 PPG while they are surrendering the fewest points per game with 11.9 PPG. Paintsville is giving just 88 rushing yards per game, good enough for fifth in 1A while their 34 yards allowed through the air puts them at the top in that statistic.
The Tigers welcome in the Betsy Layne Bobcats on Friday. This will be the first meeting of the season between the two schools as this regular season matchup was also canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Copyright 2020 WYMT. All rights reserved.