Last week, I said Fairview’s defense would need to put forth a complete effort in order to topple Hazard.
The Bulldogs mustered only 189 yards of offense and, better yet for Fairview, just one score in a 40-6 rout.
Fairview and Mayfield have had everybody talking offense for most of the season. With a near 2,000-yard rusher (Mayfield’s Jonathon Jackson) and three 1,000-yard backs (Fairview’s Devon Turner, Chris Brewer and Elijah King), it stands to reason that offense would be the talk.
The Eagles and Cardinals have kept scoreboards hopping, at 48.5 and 45.4 points per game, respectively.
Here’s what might be overlooked: Fairview is No. 2 in Class A in defense in terms of average points allowed. The Eagles are giving up just 13.6 PPG — Williamsburg’s 9.1 is best, but the Yellow Jackets aren’t playing anymore.
Today at noon, Western Kentucky University’s L.T. Smith-Houchen Industries Stadium is the scene as two high-powered, complete teams are on display.
Defenses could be the difference. That crucial fourth-quarter stop could decide where the trophy lands.
According to Fairview coach Nathan McPeek, the Eagles’ starting unit has given up just 6.2 points per contest this season.
Both Fairview and Mayfield are opportunistic and speedy on defense.
Mayfield has accumulated 23 takeaways (12 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries) to this point. Fairview has tallied an eye-popping 44 (21 interceptions, 23 fumble recoveries).
The Eagles’ defense scores at least once about every game. They have 16 total defensive TDs.
Plenty of Fairview players deserve recognition.
A few who have stood out are Tanner Dolen, Armonde Yetts, Caleb McKnight and Mason Rutherford. The good news for Eagles defensive coordinator Kyle McKnight: Three of those will be back next season.
Elijah King, Devon Turner and Isaiah King have also played well. At 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, Isaiah King delivered some of the hardest hits of the night against Hazard.
I’m getting the sense that Fairview’s secondary, while filled with question marks at the beginning of the season, is just as legitimate as the rest of the team.
Mayfield’s offensive balance (3,149 yards and 47 TDs rushing; 2,831 and 35 passing) will provide the most difficult test of all for the Eagles, but if the ‘D’ can prevail, they’ll not only pass the test, they’ll ace it. They’ll be state champions.
My prediction means the Eagles will score either three touchdowns, each with a successful two-point conversion, or four TDs with no two-pointers. My guess is Fairview will take either one.
Fairview 24, Mayfield 20.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.
com or (606) 326-2664.