Regions One and Two will be the two most competitive brackets in 3A. In Region One, Caldwell County and Elizabethtown are the one seeds, with Adair County and Paducah Tilghman as the two seeds. E-Town is the only 3A team with an undefeated record heading into the postseason. The Panthers have allowed less than ten points in seven of their ten games this season. Elizabethtown had the top scoring defense in 3A, as well as the top offense. The only issue is the level of competition the Panthers played. Elizabethtown’s best win came over Adair County in blowout fashion. Jack Wilson does not throw much, but he is an effective QB. Bernil Cecil leads a fantastic rushing attack for the Panthers. Adair County could get revenge on E-town in the third round. E-town shut down the Adair County rushing game in the first matchup and won 43-15. Caldwell County went on an eight-game winning streak before losing a heartbreaker to Mayfield. Shane Burns can spread teams out with his arm and Dee Cain canbe a game-changer with his speed. They will have a potential pairing with Adair County in the second round. Paducah Tilghman is the two seed following a 7-3 season. The Blue Tornado may be the most dangerous non-one seed in 3A. All three of their losses were to teams who will compete for a state title. Jesse Dunigan and Sayveon McEwen are a dangerous combo in the backfield for PTHS. They will be a sneaky good pick for this region.
Boyle County, Central, and Lexington Catholic headline the second region. Josiah Robbins has led Boyle County to a 9-1 record. The senior QB was one of the best players I have seen in person this season when we traveled to Danville. He can throw on the run and be very effective in the pocket. To win the region, Boyle will have to upset Central. The Yellowjackets upset St. X and CAL this season on their way to an 8-2 record. Central runs a balanced attack and will be one of the favorites to win the title. Despite losing Legend Brumbaugh, LexCath has put their faith in Kirk Fagot at QB. It has been fairly simple to be effective when J.J. Ogbogu has been leading 3A in receiving.
Belfry returns as the favorite to win Region Three. They are the top-ranked 3A team by the AP Poll and boast a 9-1 record. Belfry’s main talent is their defense. Ray Horton leads a front line that will look to continue their in-state winning streak of 19 games. The other one seed in Region Three is West Carter. The Comets play in a weaker district and rolled to an 8-2 record.
Best Potential Games
Central vs Belfry- This would be a rematch of last year’s state championship. This would also be the most hyped matchup in the playoffs. Both teams have high profile wins and stout defenses. I would want to see how Central stops Xondre Willis and forces Belfry to throw the ball.
Lexington Catholic vs Boyle County- Boyle County’s only loss on the season came to LexCath. Ogbogu caught eight passes for 229 yards in the win. Boyle County couldn’t stop Kirk Fagot and the LexCath air raid in a 31-24 loss. It would be fun to watch Josiah Robbins and Fagot get into a shootout in the regional final.
Caldwell County vs Elizabethtown- This would be a great matchup to prove that E-town is a legitimate contender in 3A. They would have a tough test in stopping Shane Burns and Caldwell County.
Players to Watch
Shane Burns, Caldwell County- One of the top quarterbacks in 3A, Burns will look to spread out opposing defenses with his arm. He has completed up to 35 passes in a game and he will be tough to stop.
J.J. Ogbogu, Lexington Catholic- Very rarely can a receiver open up a game, but Ogbogu can do that for LexCath. He will be a game-changer on returns and can turn a short pass into a long touchdown. He has been a steady source for the Knights despite injuries and QB changes.
Predictions for 3A
Region One- Caldwell County
Region Two- Central
Region Three- Belfry
Region Four- Corbin
State Championship- Central vs Belfry
Champions- Central. 3A has pretty much been a two-horse race between these two since the classes expanded to six. I don’t expect it to be any different this year, but Central’s speed will prevail this time around.