The story of the 4A playoffs will be South Warren. The Spartans defense has allowed 55 points all season and rolled to a 10-0 season. South Warren’s defense puts their offense in great field position, a tool that will be utilized in the postseason. Austin McElwain is the anchor of the South Warren defense that allowed double digits in points just twice. Ryder Litten is a dual-threat QB for South Warren who will focus mainly on running the ball. The Spartans main opposition in Region One will be Hopkinsville. The Tigers won their first district title since 2005 behind a solid defensive front and Jalen Johnson at QB.
There will be room for upsets in Region Two. John Hardin takes on a solid Franklin County team in the first round of the playoffs. If there was going to be an upset of a four over a one, this would be the game. Franklin County dropped a couple of tough games near the end of the season, but is still a threat to win the region. We will be traveling to this game tomorrow night, so there will be more coverage in the next 24 hours. The other one seed, Shelby County, should not have much trouble until the second round. Led by Malik Manica in the backfield, the Rockets will have a potential rematch with Collins in the second round. SCHS rolled Collins 44-0 in the regular season, but anything can happen in the postseason. Spencer County comes in as a two seed and could play John Hardin or Franklin County in the second round. Spencer County finished 9-1, but a loss to Shelby County set them as a two seed in the region.
Wayne County enters the third region as the favorite. The Cardinals are 8-2 and won their district to clinch a one seed. Wayne County has a few guys that can kill you on the ground, led by Dalton Garner and QB Lorenzo Linsey.
Region Four has three teams that could advance to the state semis. Johnson Central and Scott are the two one seeds, while Ashland is a two seed. Scott won their first district title in school history to get the top spot. With Roberto London, Danny Fitzgerald, and Deondre Pleasant in the backfield, Scott has run the ball extremely well to this point. The two losses to their best opponents is the only shortcoming for Scott. The Eagles face a potentially tough task in the second round against Ashland. Quenton Baker may be on his way to Mr. Football as Ashland’s star runner. He is talented enough to throw a team on his back and take them to a regional title. Only two teams beat Ashland Blazer, one was Johnson Central. JCHS clinched the district with that 8-7 win. Along with the win over Ashland, Johnson Central has a quality win over LexCath. JCHS is ranked as the 4th best team in 4A heading into the postseason.
Best Potential Games
South Warren vs Ashland- The only way these teams could meet would be in the state title game. The idea of the top rusher in 4A going up against the top defense is why this game would be fun. South Warren hasn’t taken on a talent like Quenton Baker this season. The Spartans would have their hands full as they went for their first state title.
Franklin County vs Shelby County- FCHS beat Shelby on a game-winning field goal in the final minute earlier this season. The game was played in the pouring rain and the conditions had an impact on the players’ performance. This matchup would be fun to see if Franklin County could pull off the sweep. Barrett Sanderson is a fantastic QB and would need to play well if FCHS were to win the region.
Players to Watch
Devious Brooks, Valley- The leading receiver in 4A leads Valley to a first round matchup against Collins. Brooks caught 17 touchdowns with over 1,000 yards receiving this season. Valley is the two seed underneath Shelby County in Region Two.
Malik Manica, Shelby County- You can count on Manica to run for 100 yards a game and even make a few tackles. In the final game of the season, Manica ran for 121 yards and wrapped up 15 tackles. He is powerful in the backfield and is dangerous alongside Michael Perry.
Region One- South Warren
Region Two- Shelby County
Region Three- Wayne County
Region Four- Ashland
State Championship- South Warren vs Ashland
Champions- South Warren- They are just too rough and tough on defense. The road won’t be easy for the Spartans. Shelby County has a great rush attack and Hopkinsville will be tough, but they will make it to the state title. Ashland makes it there after a couple of upsets, but they won’t match up well against South Warren’s offense. South Warren wins their first state title.
Want to look at our past state previews?
5A is coming up later on tonight and 6A tomorrow along with our Game of the Week announcement.