It’s time for the postseason to begin in Kentucky. KSR will have previews of all six classes over the next few days and we will begin with 1A.
There are two undefeated teams in 1A, and they will be have a chance to square off early in the postseason. Paris and Paintsville won their respective districts and will look for a matchup in the region three championship. Paintsville is lead by two of the top players within 1A in Kash Daniel and Kent Phelps. The Tigers have a vicious run game led by Daniel, Phelps, and Luke Trimble. Paintsville has played one true, close game in 2015 when they won in OT against Pikeville. One weakness for Paintsville was their ability to throw the ball. Daniel went 7/11 for 184 yards last week nad prove they have a chance to go vertical if the run game stalls. Speaking of Pikeville, the Panthers return as a top seed in region four. Daric Pugh has been a hard-nosed runner for Pikeville and the Panthers’ defense has been shutting down opponents as of late. The only worry about Pikeville is their schedule. Pikeville has one win over a team with a winning record a dropped games to Paintsville and Belfry. They will have to face off against Harlan or Hazard if they want a rematch against Paintsville in the sate semis.
Paris’ defense has carried them to this point in the season. The Greyhounds did not allow double digits over a span of seven games in the middle of the season. Paris returned nine starters on each side of the ball and that experience will be huge in the playoffs. James Clark is a beast on the ground, and Jaques, Jawan, and Jawane Dumphord will spearhead the Greyhounds’ defense. The potential matchup of Paris and Paintsville in the region three final is already getting me excited.
Paris and Paintsville both rounded out undefeated seasons, but Beechwood should also be labeled as a top contender for the title. A perennial contender, Beechwood finished 9-1 with their only loss being Covington Catholic. I like that Beechwood is a team that can throw the ball in a class that is based largely on the run. Kyle Fieger will test a lot of secondaries that may have not seen the type of offense that Beechwood brings to the table. Beechwood finished with the most points in all of KHSAA football, and they will look to ride that to another state title.
Best Potential Matchups
Pikeville vs Paintsville- Paintsville upset Pikeville in last year’s playoffs and won in OT this season. Think that Pikeville might be ready to play the Tigers again? This game would have the potential to be an all-time classic in the mountains. The teams could meet in the state semifinals on November 27th.
Ludlow vs Louisville Holy Cross- Don’t be surprised if Holy Cross is the first district winner to lose in the playoffs. Justin Blackburn will be tough for Holy Cross to stop on the ground. It will be a fun one to watch as these teams are fairly equal. The reason this one is a fun matchup is because it could happen in the second round.
Bishop Brosart vs Paintsville- This is a potential second round matchup between the #1 and #6 teams in 1A. Craig Pfefferman and Frank Cetrulo led BBHS to a 9-1 record in the regular season. They will have a chance to prove that record was no fluke when they take on the top team in 1A.
Players to Watch
Luke Trimble, Athlete, Paintsville- While there is so much focus on the other studs for Paintsville, Trimble has quietly been doing a fantastic job on offense. Trimble is going to run for around 75 yards a game and catch a few passes as well. While teams are focused on Kash and Kent Phelps, Trimble will be an excellent weapon on jet sweeps and in the passing game.
Evan Perry, Running Back, Louisville Holy Cross- Perry is the leading rusher in 1A with 1,313 yards on 201 carries for 13 touchdowns. He will need to step up and help his team reach the regional title after winning their second straight district title.
Ethan Stringer, Running Back, Beechwood- For Fieger to be successful, Stringer will not to open up the running game. He has run for as many as four touchdowns in a game this season and will be a much-needed weapon to open up the passing game. With a balanced attack, Beechwood could become the favorite to win the title.
Picks for the Playoffs
Region One- Bethlehem
Region Two- Beechwood
Region Three- Paintsville
Region Four- Pikeville
State Championship- Beechwood vs Paintsville
Champions- Paintsville. For a team that went undefeated, this feels like a bold pick. They have to get past rival Pikeville in the semifinals, not to mention the potential matchup with Bishop Brossart in the second round. A matchup with Brentwood would be the perfect way to end the dream season for the Tigers. Paintsville went 2-9 when this group of seniors were freshmen. It is a special group of hardworking players and they will take home a state title with a 15-0 record.