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Kentucky High School Playoff Preview


Central Hardin running back TreJean Sanders runs over a couple of Trojans as he crosses the goal line for a touchdown. The Bruins would go on to win this game 38-0. Photo By John Reecer.

Hey everyone! My name is John Reecer and I’m currently the Sports Editor for the Glasgow Daily Times. You might know me from my weekly SEC Takeaway articles I write every Sunday afternoon for KSR.

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to do a preview of the Football High School Playoffs and give some spotlight on some of the best players and teams from around the state!

I feel like I’m at least somewhat qualified to write this preview as I vote each week in the Kentucky AP Football Poll and have consistently followed and researched the best teams in the state this season. Heck, I’ve actually got to see some pretty special teams in person this year.

What follows is a brief, but informative breakdown of how each class playoff may go down. I’ll have projected favorites, contenders, dark horses, and best players for each class as well.

Enough chit chat. LETS FOOTBALL!

Class 6A

The Favorite: Male

Contenders: Trinity, DuPont Manual

Dark Horses: North Hardin, St. Xavier, Central Hardin

Best Players: Izayah Cummings WR-Male, Octavious Oxendine DT-North Hardin, Josh Minkins Jr. S-Ballard, Miles Thomas WR-Tates Creek

The big boys come first. Class 6A has been dominated by Male. They sit at a perfect 10-0 with big wins over very talented teams like St. Xavier, Ballard, and Butler. Not to mention they won a double overtime classic over Trinity earlier this season, and they also beat Manual by one point last Friday night.

Look, Trinity and Manual could absolutely knock off Male in the playoffs. They both showed they could take the best team in the state down to the wire. But my money is still on Male to win it all, because no one has proven they can get the job done against them yet. I think they are the best team from top-to-bottom in Kentucky, and they also have one of the state’s most talented players in Cummings.

Do not count out North Hardin or Central Hardin, however! Who knows just how well they could compete with the big-time Louisville schools, but they are so, so talented. North is still undefeated after beating Central in a sloppy 7-0 contest ruined by terrible weather. Whoever wins in the second round (it’s ridiculous they have to play each other that early, but that’s another story) between these two is set up for a huge playoff run.

Shoutout to good teams not mentioned like Fern Creek, Henderson County, and Simon Kenton. They have nice talent as well in an extremely talented class full of some of the best teams in the state.

Class 5A

The Favorite(s): Covington Catholic, Frederick Douglass

Contenders: South Oldham

Dark Horses: Scott County, Bowling Green, Owensboro

Best Players: Michael Mayer TE-Covington Catholic, Walker Parks OL-Frederick Douglass, Vito Tisdale S-Bowling Green,

Honestly, this class is dramatically different from 6A from what I’ve gathered. You have two of the best teams in the state in Cov Cath and Frederick Douglass…and that’s about it. South Oldham is very, very good, but I’m just not sure if they could pull off the upset over those two top teams because they are *scary* good.

Then there is a larger drop off with the next three schools. For example, Scott County played Frederick Douglass earlier this season and lost 36-0.

The dominance displayed by those two top teams is just outrageous. Only two teams (!) have even managed to score on Frederick Douglass this season and only five teams have scored against Covington Catholic.

Sure, a team like South Oldham or Bowling Green will probably get red hot in the playoffs and make semi-state. But put all your money on Cov Cath or Frederick Douglass to win it all. If they manage to meet each other in the championship game, it will surely be one of the best championships out of the six classes this season.

Class 4A

The Favorite: Boyle County

Contenders: Johnson Central

Dark Horses: Franklin County, Wayne County, Lexington Catholic

Best Players: Beau Allen QB-Lexington Catholic, Landon Bartleson RB-Boyle County, Reese Smith WR-Boyle County, Reed Lanter QB-Boyle County, Braedon Sloan RB-Wayne County

In case you couldn’t already sense a theme from the above information, I think this class is Boyle County’s to lose, and that’s absolutely no offense to Johnson Central.

Some of Boyle County’s wins: Mercer County 43-7, Christian Academy-Louisville 71-28 (!), Highlands 30-0, and Lexington Catholic 64-28. I mean my goodness, why is this team not getting more respect?

I’m not saying they should be considered the best team in the state, but they should absolutely be considered a top 5 team in the state. Also, don’t forget Johnson Central. They are a very good team this year especially after blowing out Belfry last week.

If anyone is taking down Boyle, it’s Johnson Central. As for the other teams, I’m just not seeing it. The fighting Braedon Sloan’s (Wayne County) and the fighting Beau Allen’s (Lex Cath) could pull a huge upset, but I’m not seeing it. This is quite frankly the only class that I’m extremely confident in the favorite to win it all.

Class 3A

The Favorite: No one!

Contenders: Anyone!

Dark Horses: Anyone!

Best Players: John Young OT-Christian Academy Louisville, Austin Collins DE Christian academy Louisville, Wes Oliver RB-Taylor County, Tanner Abernathy QB-Glasgow

Folks, this is where the fun begins!

Welcome to what is absolutely the most wide-open class in the state of Kentucky. I’ve longed thought that DeSales was the best team as I had them ranked No. 1 since narrowly edging out CAL, but then they go on the road last week and lose to a Meade County team with a losing record. YIKES. I’m just not totally sure if either of those two Louisville schools are championship-level teams.

Bell County has been ranked No. 1 all season as they are the only undefeated team in 3A with a 10-0 record. However, the best team they played this year was….Harlan County which isn’t all that impressive.

The team with the next best record is Glasgow (9-1) at No. 2 overall in the class rankings, but they suffer from the same problem as Bell County which is a weak schedule. Basically, no one knows just how good they really are. They could lose in the second round against a good Taylor County team, or they could make a state championship run.

Belfry also has another good team this year as their only losses are to Johnson Central, Pikeville, and a team from Ohio. Lookout for Ashland Blazer and Mercer County as well. Both have nice résumés and good team talent.

I believe the state champion will come out of that group of seven: DeSales, CAL, Bell County, Glasgow, Belfry, Ashland Blazer, and Mercer County. If I HAD to predict the champion, I would pick Belfry as my favorite as I think I have the best feel for them. But I have no idea who to call a contender or a dark horse out of those other six teams. This playoff will be the most wild one!

Class 2A

The Favorite: Lexington Christian

Contenders: Somerset, Mayfield, Breathitt County

Dark Horses: Owensboro Catholic

Best Players: Drew Hartz QB-Owensboro Catholic, Charles Collins RB-Breathitt County, Dalton Meade RB-Shelby Valley, Dearious Smith WR-Lexington Christian

Lexington Christian was the best football team out of Class 2A this regular season. They defeated Lexington Catholic in an extremely close, but impressive victory, they notched another close win over Somerset, and they blew out a good Paintsville team.

Yes, Somerset should be right there with Lexington Christian at the end as that one-point loss was their only defeat on the season. Mayfield’s proud football program will make another playoff run, and Breahitt County remains the only undefeated team in the class.

Owensboro Catholic’s electric offense could provide an upset or two, but I really think this will come down to Lexington Christian and Somerset. I say that while cringing because Mayfield could totally prove me wrong.

Overall, this is not a very deep class this season, but I do think those top three teams are very, very good.

Class 1A

The Favorite: Pikeville

The Contenders: Kentucky Country Day, Newport Central Catholic

Dark Horses: Paintsville, Williamsburg

Best Players: Dalton Ponder QB-Williamsburg, Colby Fraizer RB-Pineville, Isaac McNamee QB-Pikeville

This was a very fun class to analyze this season. Pikeville was so impressively dominant with wins over Belfry and Bardstown from Class 3A and Paintsville, Raceland, and Hazard from 1A.

They have absolutely earned the right to be considered the favorite, but Kentucky Country Day is close behind. They were the only other undefeated team in the Class this season. Even though their schedule was not very impressive, they have the talent.

A good Newport Central Catholic team will also compete for the crown as well Paintsville who only lost to Pikeville by one point, and Williamsburg who only lost to Lexington Christian and Somerset this season.

If I had to pick a class where I thought one of dark horse teams could sincerely win it all, I would pick this class. Paintsville and Williamsburg are very underrated despite the talent of those top three teams.

I give honest props to this class. Class 1A doesn’t get much respect but I thought those top 5 teams were very talented this season.

Overall, the Kentucky High School Playoffs promise to be great once again. Yes, the new format weakens it to a degree this season, but I still think we are going to get some great matchups. The Championship games in 6A, 5A, and 4A could be incredibly awesome, 3A is the wild west, 2A could see a great rematch between Lex Cath and Somerset, and five teams will battle it out in 1A.

Best of luck to all programs!

Article written by John Reecer

4 responses to “Kentucky High School Playoff Preview”

  1. meeksfor3

    Keep sleeping on the fighting Braedon Sloan’s….a decision you may regret.

    1. meeksfor3

      By the way if you think Sloan is the 5th best player in the 4A Class then you either have never watched him or are just so consumed by Boyle Co team you can’t recognize real talent.

  2. Ridge Runner

    Thanks for the article, John!

  3. indycat

    E’town has only 2 losses to 6A schools with 2 4A wins and 1 6A win and a win over Bardstown. I think they are the team to beat.