Breaking down the Alice Lloyd College Mountain Top 10 after the regular season, heading into playoffs

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 11:02 PM EDT
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The regular season has come and gone. It is now “win or go home” time as the postseason begins. We take a look back at how the teams in our top ten fared last week while we preview this week’s matchups.

1. Corbin (10-0)

Last Week: defeated Campbell County 40-10

This Week: vs. Wayne County

For the first time since 2008, the Redhounds have ran the table during the regular season. Tom Greer’s squad has scored at least 40 points or more in all but two of their contests this season. The ground game was the story of the day on the offensive side of the ball as Corbin tallied 345 rushing yards. The Camels had no answers for Seth Huff as the senior amassed 208 yards and three scores on just 17 carries. Senior Seth Mills also had a solid outing, rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown on three touches. Junior Cameron Combs also had a rushing touchdown. The Redhounds came away with one takeaway against Campbell County.

The Redhounds begin their playoff run with a date against Wayne County on Friday. Corbin pitched a shutout against the Cardinals just a couple of weeks ago, 42-0.

2. Southwestern (9-1)

Last Week: defeated Madison Central 26-0

This Week: vs. Whitley County

The Warriors wrap up another stellar regular season campaign as Jason Foley’s squad is now a combined 17-2 in the last two regular seasons. Southwestern has now held their opponents to zeroes on the scoreboard in two of their last three tilts. The Warriors did not have a 100-yard rusher but they still managed to impose their will, collecting 298 yards on the ground En route to their fifth straight victory against the Indians. Senior Giddeon Brainard just missed out on the century mark with 98 yards and two touchdowns on nine rushes. Junior Tanner Wright recorded 84 yards on 11 carries. Senior Connor Crisp and sophomore Christian Walden both had one rushing score each. Defensively, the Warriors had five takeaways and sacked Madison Central’s Hagan Harrison seven times.

Southwestern begins postseason play against Whitley County on Friday. The Warriors overwhelmed the Colonels back on October 8th with a 50-16 victory.

3. Pikeville (7-2)

Last Game: defeated Hazard 17-0

This Week: vs. Phelps

After having their game with Castlewood canceled last week, the Panthers had the chance to catch their breath before the playoffs begin. A strong run game is always a valuable asset in the playoffs and Pikeville certainly has that in Blake Birchfield. The junior’s 178 yards per game on the ground leads 1A and is second-best in the state. Only Rowan County’s Cole Wallace is averaging more yards per game than Birchfield statewide. Birchfield’s 16 rushing scores also puts him in a tie for fourth with Paintsville’s Harris Phelps for most rushing touchdowns in class. Senior Isaac McNamee is averaging 126 yards per game through the air, 11th best in 1A. The signal caller’s 16 touchdown passes also puts him in a four-way tie for seventh most in class. Senior Zac Lockhart is tenth in 1A in receiving yards per game with 57. Lockhart is also tied with Betsy Layne’s Nicholas Howell for the ninth-most touchdown receptions in class with seven.

The Panthers commence postseason play with a matchup against Phelps on Thursday. Chris McNamee’s crew throttled the Hornets back on October 15th with a 49-0 victory.

4. Johnson Central (7-1)

Last Week: defeated Belfry 48-22

This Week: vs. Clay County

The Golden Eagles come into November red-hot as they have now won five in a row. Johnson Central also bumped their win streak to four against the Pirates. Johnson Central was unstoppable on the ground once again as they generated 357 yards against Belfry. Zach McCoart had a career day in the rushing department as the freshman recorded 196 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. Matt Crum also had three rushing scores as the senior produced 81 yards on just 12 touches. Senior Grant Rice also found paydirt with his feet once. The Golden Eagles forced two turnovers against Belfry.

Johnson Central gets their postseason journey started on Friday as they welcome Clay County to town. The Golden Eagles had their way in the first meeting against the Tigers with a 42-6 victory back on October 1st.

5. Bell County (8-2)

Last Week: defeated Harlan County 65-34

This Week: vs. Estill County

The Bobcats ravaged the Black Bears to clinch their third eight-win season in the last four years. Dudley Hilton’s squad has also regained some momentum for the playoffs with back-to-back victories to close out the regular season. Bell County produced a season-high in yards on offense against Harlan County with 525. Quarterback Cameron Burnett had a solid outing in the passing game as the senior threw for 77 yards and two scores. Burnett was also a big part of the Bobcats rushing for 448 yards as he tallied 108 yards and a score with his legs. Junior Dawson Woolum was the team’s leading rusher with 218 yards and two touchdowns on a dozen carries. Sophomore Daniel Thomas recorded 77 yards and three scores on the ground. Junior Ethan Raby also had a rushing touchdown. Thomas and junior Teddy Saylor also had one receiving score each. The Bobcats forced three turnovers against Harlan County.

Bell County’s playoff run begins with a clash against Estill County on Friday. The Bobcats prevailed against the Engineers a couple of weeks ago in Irvine, 20-14.

6. Middlesboro (7-0)

Last Game: defeated Knott Central 38-6

This Week: vs. Leslie County

Like Pikeville, the Yellow Jackets also had their regular season finale canceled and are looking ahead to the postseason. Middlesboro is just one of three teams in 2A that is carrying an undefeated record into the playoffs. Senior Caleb Bogonko’s 16 rushing scores puts him in fourth in 2A while his 137 yards per game on the ground also slots him into fourth in that category. Sophomore Caden Grisby has thrown for 13 touchdowns, good enough for a three-way tie for ninth-best in 2A along with Clinton County’s Bently Boils and Butler County’s Jagger Henderson. Grisgby’s 1,226 passing yards puts him just outside the top ten in 11th in class. Senior Logan Daniels leads the Yellow Jackets in interceptions with three. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 43.1 PPG, slotting them into third in class behind Beechwood and Lexington Christian. Middlesboro is surrendering just 15.4 PPG, good enough for fifth best in 2A.

Larry French’s team begins postseason action against Leslie County on Friday. The Yellow Jackets breezed past the Eagles with a 49-18 victory back on October 1st.

7. Pulaski County (6-4)

Last Game: lost to No. 2 Southwestern 42-14

This Week: vs. No. 8 North Laurel

After playing the first ten weeks of the season, the Maroons concluded their regular season with their scheduled bye week. Senior Drew Polston’s 204 passing yards per game and 23 passing touchdowns place him third in both categories in 5A. The Quarterback is also completing 75 percent of his passes, leading the class in that statistic. Junior Chandler Godby’s 79 receiving yards per game puts him in a tie for third most in 5A with West Jessamine’s Dalton Carter. Godby is also in the top five in receiving touchdowns with 10 in 5A. Godby’s 59 receptions is tops in the class. Junior Layton Abbott’s 11.6 tackles per game is good enough for third in class. The Maroons are averaging 33.1 PPG, placing them in ninth in that category in class.

The Maroons return to the field on Friday as they take on North Laurel. John Hines’ crew knocked off the Jaguars, 40-16 back on October 8th.

8. North Laurel (8-2)

Last Week: defeated Wayne County 27-12

This Week: at No. 5 Pulaski County

The Jaguars finished with their best regular-season record since 2017. Chris Larkey’s squad also defeated the Cardinals for the first time since 2014. Tucker Warren backed up his performance against Henry County with another solid outing as the sophomore generated 176 yards and two scores through the air. The Quarterback also ran for a touchdown. Sophomore Christian Larkey had the team’s other rushing touchdown. Senior Eli Sizemore had six catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns. North Laurel had an astounding 12 sacks against Wayne County including seven by sophomore Austin Johnson.

North Laurel heads to Somerset to start postseason play against Pulaski County on Friday (see Pulaski County for the result of the first matchup).

9. Letcher Central (6-3)

Last Week: lost to Bourbon County 23-20

This Week: vs. No. 10 Perry Central

The Cougars come into the playoffs with back-to-back losses after previously carrying a four-game win streak. Junior Carson Adams threw for 148 yards. However, the Quarterback did his best work on the ground as he ran for 245 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Seniors Hayden Brashear and Wyatt Ison also had one rushing score apiece. Nick Haning was the team’s leading receiver as the senior tallied 90 yards on seven catches. Haning also had an interception, recording Letcher Central’s only takeaway against the Colonels.

The Cougars play host to Perry Central on Friday. Junior Matthews’ team blasted the Commodores, 42-6 back on September 24th.

10. Perry Central (7-3)

Last Week: defeated Williamsburg 35-21

This Week: at No. 9 Letcher Central

There is one new team in the final rankings and that is the Perry Central Commodores. Mark Dixon’s crew has been on a roll lately as they have won three in a row and four of their last five. The Commodores have found their rhythm on offense at the right time, averaging 35 points per game in their last three contests. Perry Central had a lot of success on the ground against Williamsburg as they amassed 348 rushing yards. Seniors Chanse McKenzie and Kobee Eldridge along with sophomore Elijah Gayheart all had 102 yards rushing as McKenzie and Eldridge also tallied two scores each. Senior Cade Miller had the Commodores’ other rushing touchdown. Perry Central had two takeaways against Williamsburg.

The Commodores travel to Whitesburg to take on Letcher Central on Friday (see Letcher Central for the result of the first matchup).

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