For the 12th straight season, postseason play will open at Henry R. Evans Stadium.
Russell (6-4) will host Estill County (5-5) at Russell High School in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs on Friday.
The last time Russell played Estill County was in 2006 in a 47-8 Red Devils’ win.
Russell coach Ivan McGlone, who has a 43-27 playoff record with two state championships, is planning for it as if it was just another game.
“It’s nice to get a home playoff game to start off with,” McGlone said. “But it’s not any easier. We’re going to work on it like it’s just the next game for the most part. We’re going to prepare for what they do.”
And what Estill County does is follow the lead of junior quarterback Trevor Jones and the Engineers’ spread offenses.
Jones has over 1,000 yards passing and rushing and has accounted for over 20 of the team’s touchdowns this season.
After getting to watch Jones and the Estill County offense on tape, McGlone said he came away impressed.
“He just takes what he sees,” McGlone said. “A lot of the offense runs through the quarterback. He’s extremely good and can go for a lot of yardage. You have to take him away as much as you can.”
Last week, Russell fell at home to Pikeville, 56-28. McGlone said Estill County’s offense reminds him a lot of the offense they saw last week.
And while McGlone isn’t exactly happy about last week’s 28-point loss, it was good to get a glimpse of an offense similiar to what they will see tonight.
“It didn’t do a whole lot for our confidence,” McGlone said. “But the more you play against those types of offenses, you should get better with your defense against it.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Russell has depended a lot on freshman running back Nick Conley.
Conley has ran for 900 yards this season, and had over 100 yards rushing in six different games.
But McGlone said while Conley has been impressive, he admits he gave the ball to the freshman a little too much too early. So the Red Devils will need big games from other backs.
“We probably ran (Conley) too many times,” McGlone said. “Bronson Korzep has done a good job the past few weeks in the running game. Jacob McKee has done a good job coming along and running. We’re going to have to spread out our offense a little bit.”
Korzep has 591 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground while Jacob McKee has 348 yards rushing.
Lewis County at
The atmosphere around the Lewis County football program has changed over the years.
Instead of being satisfied about making the playoffs, Lewis County coach Josh Hughes said his team is now expecting a win.
Lewis County (7-3) travels to Garrard County (6-4) tonight with the Lions looking for their first postseason win in school history.
“The kids are more focused and goal-oriented than usual,” Hughes said. “It’s a long way to go to lay down and get beat. We’re on our third straight playoff game and we’re starting to get an expectation. It’s not, here is a playoff game, we need to get the job done and win.”
The Lions will have to stop Garrard County’s leading rusher in senior running back Keagan Penman.
“If we expect to get the job done and win, we have to stop the run game,” Hughes said.
Hughes described Penman as a quick, explosive and strong running back who gets the ball a lot.
The Lions are hoping the speedy defensive backfield of Jordan Davis and Chase Parker can help contain Penman and the Golden Lions’ running game
“They find extra ways to get the ball to the halfback,” Hughes said. “We just kind of expect those kids to make plays and stop the outside run. We put trust in them.
“If we stack eight guys in their place, if (Penman) bounces it out, we expect those secondary guys to make plays.”
Hughes said another key for the Lions is getting off to a fast start. Trying to help Lewis County get off to a fast start will be junior quarterback Isaac Weddington.
This season Weddington has thrown for 1,493 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. And more importantly for Hughes, he’s becoming a leader on the field.
“He does everything we’ve asked him to do,” Hughes said. “Statistically he’s a heck of a quarterback. He has leadership and manages the game well, and gets our guys out of the huddle quickly. He’s just such a leader.”
at Magoffin County
After winning the first seven games of the season, Lawrence County is limping into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak.
This includes a troubling offensive performance against Prestonsburg in the last game of the regular season.
The Bulldogs turned the ball over six times in a 20-14 loss on the road.
If Lawrence County (7-3) turns the ball over tonight, than Magoffin County (6-4) has the weapons to make the Bulldogs pay.
The Hornets, who average 39 points per game, are led by senior running back Clay Elam and his 1,049 rushing yards. He’s also found the end zone 19 times on the ground.
Along with Elam, Magoffin has the ability to throw the ball behind Ryan Jenkins. The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,792 yards and 16 touchdowns.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.