at Fairview (12-0)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Series: First meeting
Radio: WLGC 105.7-FM
Unbeaten Fairview hosts a regional football championship game for the first time Friday night against Pikeville.
That significance isn’t lost on Eagles coach Nathan McPeek.
“It’s huge,” McPeek said. “Obviously, opportunities like that don’t happen very often. It really means a lot to our kids. They are comfortable here and I think they will be dialed in.”
Fairview will be playing its ninth home game in 10 weeks, but this one carries a state semifinal berth for the winner.
“Like I’ve said before, our goals every year are to win the district championship, region championship and state championship,” McPeek said. “We got the first one. Number two is within reach if we play well.”
The Eagles reached their first regional final last year, but lost 23-12 at Lexington Christian after leading 12-0.
“You want to keep putting together good seasons and putting yourself in these situations,” McPeek said. “Hopefully the underclassmen from last year can reflect on that hurt and sadness from last year, and use it for motivation.”
Fairview’s 12 wins this season are a school record and the team has yet to trail in a game all season.
McPeek, however, said the Eagles will need to be much sharper than in their 28-14 second-round victory over Nicholas County last Friday.
Fairview committed three turnovers and also had 83 yards in penalties.
“It was our worst job of the season defensively,” McPeek said. “We missed a lot of tackles and at times didn’t get lined up properly. Our kids know they have to player better. Same thing offensively. If we have three turnovers in the first half Pikeville will run us off the field.”
Pikeville (10-2) pulled away in the second half last week to beat Raceland 54-21 as quarterback Randy Maynard continued his outstanding season.
Maynard, eastern Kentucky’s version of Tim Tebow, carried 13 times for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 8 of 11 passes for 111 yards and a score.
“He’s tough to tackle and definitely one of the best quarterbacks we have faced the last few years,” McPeek said. “He’s their best player, I think, on offense and defense.”
Said Pikeville coach Chris McNamee: “The way I describe him to people is he’s a football player that happens to play quarterback. He’s a hard worker and just a leader. We ask him to run, throw and he’s also caught several touchdown passes.”
Maynard is also the team’s long snapper and filled in as a kicker a couple of weeks ago.
The Panthers began practice this season with only 23 players, but now have 32 and a full head of steam. They are 6-0 down the stretch after back-to-back losses to 3A power Belfry and Swain County (N.C.).
“Looking at our schedule, I thought we could start 1-5 or 2-4,” McNamee said. “Our district this year is a little down. I’m proud of our guys. It’s a real coachable group.”
As for Friday night, McNamee said Pikeville faces a major challenge against a Fairview team that has outscored opponents 529-108.
The Eagles’ three-pronged running attack of fullback Chris Brewer and halfbacks Chris Littlejohn and Devon Turner averages more than 300 yards a game. Meanwhile, senior quarterback Ty Lowe has 20 TD passes against only three interceptions.
“Brewer is just a load, and the other two running backs are very good,” McNamee said. “Their quarterback has done a good job of managing the offense. They just have a lot of weapons, and coach McPeek has done a good job. They are the favorites. I’m sure they have a lot of confidence.”
Fairview returned only one starter on the offensive line, but the group of Cody Sammons, Ryan Webb, Reed McNurlin, Cody Campbell, Anthony Roark and Cody McPeek continues to impress.
“Those guys up front have jelled and gotten better,” said the Eagles’ coach.
Tight end Mikey Felty is Lowe’s favorite target and has been a sack machine defensively.
Fairview and Mayfield, also 12-0, are the only remaining unbeaten teams in Class A.
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.