Starting this week, games begin having playoff implications.
Tonight, schools in Class 3A, District 6 and Class 4A District 8 begin their district schedules as the fights for postseason spots get under way.
In 3A-6, six teams are vying for four playoff spots and each team looks capable of claiming one.
The early favorite seems to be Mason County (4-0). The Royals are led by an impressive defense that is allowing only 15 points per game.
Mason County’s defense will go up against East Carter tonight. The Raiders have found an offensive groove the past two games, scoring 38 against Bath County and 33 against Lawrence County.
West Carter (2-2) has been putting up big offensive numbers behind quarterback Braden Brown. But Brown, who has 886 yards of total offense, is listed as “very doubtful” for tonight’s game against Russell with a severe ankle sprain.
That will help Russell (2-2). The Red Devils have allowed 14 PPG and single-digit points in three of their four games.
Lewis County (3-1) travels to Fleming County (0-4) in the battle of offenses who aren’t scared to throw the ball.
Lewis County quarterback Isaac Weddington has 417 yards passing and eight touchdowns through the air. Fleming County quarterback Jacob Boyd has 671 yards on 130 pass attempts.
In Class 4A, District 8, Johnson Central (4-0) is undoubtedly the heavy favorite. The Golden Eagles are outscoring opponents 57-14 and went through the district unscathed last season.
Boyd County (0-4) travels to Johnson Central tonight as it stands little chance of breaking its losing streak.
Ashland (3-2) travels to Rowan County (1-4) and, after last week’s win over Ironton, the Tomcats finally seemed to have hit their stride.
Greenup County (2-3) is enjoying an idle week after a big win.
The two districts are polar opposites — one seemingly wide-open and one with a heavy favorite — but both will have a lot of drama to offer in the coming weeks. Who knows? ... There could be a surprise waiting for us when all the games are done.
Game of the Week
-Lawrence County at Raceland. Lawrence County has challenged itself, but it faces the first big road test of the season tonight.
The game could come down to the team’s play-making quarterbacks. Raceland’s Adam Elkins leads the area in passing with 141.1 yards per game and has thrown eight touchdowns on the young season.
Lawrence County features A.J. Cyrus, who averages 121 yards per game on the ground and has found the end zone on the ground nine times. He also has four touchdowns through the air.
While a shootout is possible, this is a perfect opportunity for the defenses to make a statement.
-Paintsville is quietly becoming a contender. With a roster that features only 30 players, Paintsville is putting together a great season.
The Tigers are 4-1, with their one loss coming against perennial Class A contender Pikeville, a 28-21 outcome.
Paintsville is led by sophomore running back Kent Phelps, who averages 124.8 yards per game, and senior quarterback Mark Fannin — he’s second in the area with 108 yards per game.
-Johnson Central turns to a more local schedule. After four games featuring out-of-area, out-of-state and even out-of-country opponents, Johnson Central will start playing area teams consistently.
The Golden Eagles, coming off a huge 36-14 win over Harlan County, are eyeing a special season. They have a five-game winning streak against Boyd County.
Johnson Central goes to Ironton next week before settling back into its district.
-Can Rowan County end the losing streak against Ashland? Coming into tonight’s game in Morehead, Ashland has never lost to Rowan County.
The Tomcats are 15-0 against the Vikings.
Rowan County’s defense has struggled, allowing more than 44 points per game. Tomcats running back Quinton Baker and his 164 rushing yards per game could deliver more bad news to the Vikings.
Into The Airwaves
Tonight’s radio coverage:
Ashland at Rowan County (WBVB 97.1-FM, WMOR 106.1-FM); Boyd County at Johnson Central (wlgcradio.com, 98.9 WSIP-FM); Russell at West Carter (WLGC 105.7-FM, WUGO 99.7-FM); East Ridge at Fairview (wlgcradio.com); Lawrence County at Raceland (WZAQ 92.3-FM); Portsmouth at Ironton (WIRO 1230-AM); Lewis County at Fleming County (WKKS 104.9-FM).
For scores, news and other tidbits about the area sports scene, follow me on Twitter (@KHobstetter). You can also follow sports editor Aaron Snyder (@DindependentQB) who will retweet anyone who says something nice about his weekly picks.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.
Starting this week, games begin having playoff implications.
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