The Raceland Rams don’t have to worry about getting homesick next month.
As long as they keep winning, they’ll be avoiding bus trips through Thanksgiving.
Raceland notched its first district title since 2008 in beating Paintsville, 32-10, for the Class A, District 7 crown on Friday in Paintsville.
While plenty of attention goes the way of the plethora of offensive weapons the Rams possess, with good reason, the defensive line has been a force to be reckoned with, especially during the past three games.
Raceland (7-2) has allowed just 32 total points in its three district games. Fourth-year coach T.J. Maynard said the group up front has made a huge difference.
Alec Risner, Mac Boggs, Austin Manis and Isaac Wallace have combined to make a significant impact as Raceland nears a possible postseason run. Nevan Johnson has also logged important minutes on the line.
Raceland’s only two losses were barnburners — a 35-34 defeat against Ashland and a 38-35 loss to Lawrence County without senior starter Daylin Beach.
The Rams host Ironton, which is fighting for a playoff spot in Ohio, on Friday. It could be the first of four consecutive home games.
Raceland would host the first round, region semifinals and region finals as long it keeps winning. The state semifinal round would be on the road.
Other area teams that locked up home games for the opening round of the playoffs: Johnson Central, Ashland, Russell and Fairview.
Johnson Central, the top seed in Class 4A, District 8, would be at Highlands in the regional final round if it happens to advance to that point.
Just that good
What about me and my predicting prowess this week!?
First of all, I didn't miss one high school pick. Secondly, I didn’t tick off Lewis County. Finally, I was dead on in my Ironton prediction, having the Fighting Tigers beat Oak Hill 20-14, and I was nearly exactly right with my 24-21 Boyd County prediction over Greenup County. The Lions won 25-21.
Got any “since?”
‰An Ashland head coach hadn’t tallied seven regular-season wins in his first year on the job since … Vic Marsh in 1981.
Not bad company for Tony Love, who guided the Tomcats to a 7-3 record with a week off before the playoffs begin.
Leon Hart, who retired after last season, went 8-5 in his first season in 2003, which included six regular-season victories.
‰A Boyd County head coach hasn’t gone winless in his first year on the job since … 1927.
We’re going way back! According to our records, Delbert Alley was head coach in the very first year of the program. He stayed at the helm until 1933.
John Gilliam avoided dropping into an undesirable classification as the Lions pulled off a thrilling defeat of Greenup County on Friday.
While Gilliam may have not been shocked about the win — he's continuously expressed confidence in his group — he was surprised by his assistants’ play call, which winded up winning the game.
This quote is in the running for quote of the year: “My assistants didn't tell me they were running that play. I would have passed out on the sideline if I knew.”
‰Belfry hasn’t beaten Johnson Central in back-to-back meetings since … 2007-08. The Pirates, coming off a 56-34 win over Pike County Central, and the Golden Eagles, fresh off a 42-7 romp over Ashland, will put their unblemished 9-0 records on the line this Friday at Belfry. The Pirates beat the Golden Eagles last fall, 17-12, but they haven’t won two straight in the series in five years.
Four stickers: Isaac Weddington (Lewis County), Matt Lawson (Greenup County), Jordan Young (Johnson Central).
Weddington was 14 of 17 passing for 235 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning nine-yard throw to Chase Parker with 42 seconds to go. The Lions’ quarterback also added 38 yards rushing.
Despite the loss, Lawson's 200 yards on 29 carries is enough to warrant four sticky ones. With sophomore standout Ryan Byrd out with a torn ACL, and several other key Musketeers out due to injury, Lawson put forth a fantastic effort.
Young piled up 100 yards and three scores on just 10 carries against Ashland a year after he was one of the heroes in the district-deciding win in the same matchup a year ago.
Three: Drew Wilkes (Boyd County), Alex Roy (Fairview), Jordan Ratcliff (East Carter), Daymion Belcher (Johnson Central), Johnson Central offensive line.
Two: Quinton Baker (Ashland), Adam Elkins (Raceland), Jacob McKee (Russell), Tanner Dolen (Fairview), Billy McCoy (Boyd County), Bronson Korzep (Russell), Daylin Beach (Raceland).
One: Tanner Edmonds (Boyd County), Kenton Boggs (Greenup County), Armonde Yetts (Fairview), Chase Parker (Lewis County), Kane Snyder (Raceland).
‰Boggs wore No. 44 in honor of senior Jeffery Williams, who battled a slew of injuries throughout his career and couldn’t suit up on Friday night — a nice gesture by a true friend and teammate.
1. Johnson Central (9-0)
2. Raceland (7-2)
3. Ashland (7-3)
4. Fairview (8-1)
5. Lawrence County (6-3)
6. Russell (6-3)
7. Lewis County (6-3)
‰In my opinion, teams 2-4 are extremely close and this is a tough call week in and weekout. I would've preferred to just make it a three-way tie the last two Mondays, but that’s not how this works.
Yes, I realize the Tomcats beat the Rams earlier this season, and while I do put stock into that, Ashland did struggle some against weaker competition. The ‘Cats provided Johnson Central the Golden Eagles’ best test Friday, so they move up a spot for that.
Did you miss it? The following are local scores from the weekend: Johnson Central 42, Ashland 7; Boyd County 25, Greenup County 21; Fairview 49, Nicholas County 14; Russell 42, East Carter 18; Raceland 32, Paintsville 10; Lewis County 28, West Carter 21; Ironton 20, Oak Hill 14.
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Mason County routed Fleming County, 49-6, to complete its undefeated run through the district. The Royals outscored Russell, Fleming County, East Carter, West Carter and Lewis County 219-38.
In a class above (4A), Highlands suffered its first loss of the season, falling to Cincinnati Elder, 30-27.
Last but not least, the Monday Morning Shortstop congratulates Boyd County junior catcher Jacob Barnwell for his verbal commitment to Ohio State.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.