Kentucky high school football playoffs: Previews of Friday's second-round games

The two games on the slate of Class 6A playoffs Friday night will have the feel of regional title games, even though it is just the second round of the postseason. The four teams in this pod of the tournament bracket are here because they have played good defense all season. Undefeated Simon Kenton, Dixie Heights and Louisville Butler  are all allowing less than 14 points per game through 11 weeks. Expect the defenses to dictate the flow of these game.

(Friday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.)

Dixie Heights (8-3) @ Simon Kenton (11-0) - This is the second meeting between the schools at Simon Kenton in the last four weeks. The home team Pioneers were held to a season-low 19 points in a five-point victory. It was the third time this season that SK had won a game by seven points or fewer. Its other eight victories have been by 23 or more. Dixie Heights is giving up less than 12 points per contest. In its last seven wins, no one has scored more than 10 on the Colonels. All three of their losses have been by eight points or fewer.

Simon Kenton quarterback Brenan Kuntz is having a magical season, but the Colonels corralled him in the first affair. Kuntz has amassed 2,977 (2,157 passing, 820 rushing) while accounting for 43 touchdowns (29 passing, 14 rushing, one receiving). But Dixie Heights held Kuntz to season lows of 111 yards through the air and 20 on the ground. Dixie Heights did not allow him to break a run longer than 12 yards or a pass of more than 14. Keeping the game in front of them is the key to success once again for the Colonels.

Campbell County (8-3) @ Butler (9-2) - Campbell County has not allowed more than 14 points in during its current five-game winning streak. Butler has won seven of its last eight while allowing just 8.4 points in that span. Both teams own wins over Pleasure Ridge Park and Ryle. The only two losses on the year for Butler are to 9-2 Manual by four and 10-1 Male, 42-21. The Camels have lost to Highlands, 50-8 and unbeaten Simon Kenton, 55-35. They also lost a 13-12 heartbreaker to 8-3 Conner on the road.

Campbell County has adapted well on offense during its current winning streak. The Camels are going to take what the Bears' defense gives them. If Butler takes away the run, the Camels can go to a short-controlled passing game between quarterback Avery Wood and receiver Jake Zabonick. If the run is working, CC will be in line for a big upset. That will set up the play action pass and Wood has the arms and the tools to eat up huge chunks of yards through the air. This team should not be flustered if one aspect of its game is not working. Winning on the road in the playoffs is a different story.

(Friday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.)

The road to Bowling Green doesn’t get any easier for the two remaining Class 5A, District 5 playoff teams. Conner and South Oldham are striving for the same postseason success that District-rival Cooper achieved last year. But Anderson County and Franklin County will be handfuls. These two games promise to be tightly contested down to the wire, with the winners brimming with the confidence to win a title.

Conner (8-3) @ Anderson County (9-2) - This is the third straight season that Conner has advanced to the second round of the playoffs with Drew Barker as the starting quarterback. The Cougars will lean on his leadership and guidance when the going gets rough. His ability to make big plays makes Conner dangerous on every possession. Anderson County will use a balanced offensive attack that has ran and thrown for more than 2,100 yards this season. The Bearcats will look to create turnovers. They have six defensive touchdown returns on takeaways. Common foes for both schools saw Anderson County beat South Oldham, 35-20 in Week 2 and Conner lose to the Dragons, 34-32 in Week 5. The Bearcats took down Cooper, 45-35. Conner also topped Cooper 26-21.

Franklin County (10-1) @ South Oldham (8-3) - The South Oldham football program has hit heights that no one could have imagined under head coach Jamie Reed. It seems like every week the team is experiencing new successes. Never count the Dragons out under Reed’s guidance. Both teams have five common opponents. Each lost to Anderson County by almost identical scores. They each have victories over East Jessamine, West Jessamine, Oldham County, and Scott. This game could very easily come down to the final possession. South Oldham will look to control the clock by moving the chains. The longer they can keep the Flyers' offense off the field, the more it is going to benefit the Dragons.

(Friday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.)

Now is the time to put up or shut up for Highlands and Covington Catholic. Both schools have huge hurdles in front of them in order to get to the

promised land. Johnson Central and Ashland Blazer would love to get into shootouts. The boys from down south can score some points. Explosive plays will be commonplace in these affairs. Expect nothing less than a very entertaining evening of offensive fireworks.

Ashland Blazer (8-3) @ Highlands (10-1) - Highlands has scored 70 points or more four times in the last five weeks. The Bluebirds are wearing out opponents with their depth in the passing game. Quarterback Drew Houliston has thrown 2,858 yards and 39 touchdowns. Eight different receivers have at least three touchdown receptions for Highlands. Very rarely do opponents have enough in the secondary to stay with the Bluebirds, and they will test the visitors again on Friday night. Ashland Blazer started 1-2 while giving up 35.3 points per game. The Tomcats have turned it around since, going 7-1 and giving up only 16.5 points per game. Highlands will look to shut down AB’s star running back, Quentin Baker, and force  someone else on Ashland Blazer to beat them.

Covington Catholic (9-1) @ Johnson Central (11-0) - Covington Catholic can play a little defense. The Colonels have allowed 17 points or fewer in eight of their nine victories. They are going to need another monster effort on this side of the ball on the road against Johnson Central. The Golden Eagles are lighting up the scoreboard at a rate of 58.1 points per contest. Nine times they have scored 53 points or more. Last season CovCath got the best of Johnson Central, winning 45-15 in this same round. The two squads did not face off in 2011 but the Golden Eagles bested the Colonels handily in the postseason in 2010 and 2009.

(Friday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.)

Welcome to the NewCath Invitational. Three teams will try to knock off the reigning state champion Thoroughbreds over the next two weeks. It is a tall order considering that none of the squads left in the tournament have had success against NCC. The favorites are looking for a third title in four seasons. They have momentum and experience on their side to accomplish that feat.

Walton-Verona (9-2) @ Newport Central Catholic (7-4) - This is the game that will be the benchmark for how far the Walton-Verona program has come and the heights they hope to ascend to. The Bearcats lost 49-14 to NCC in the playoffs last fall. It was the first meeting between the two schools. The backfield has been extremely productive for W-V and quarterback Justin Kline is the first in school history to throw for 1,000 yards in a season. Running back Will Lattimore and Mason Compton have combined for more than 1,900 yards with 25 touchdowns rushing. NewCath has won six in a row. The Thoroughbreds have played five Class 2A teams in that span, outscoring them by a 31.2 margin.

Carroll County (9-1) @ Gallatin County (9-2) - These two squads met five weeks ago at Carroll County with the visiting Wildcats posting a 48-13 victory. It was the first win for GC over the Panthers since 2007. Gallatin County used big plays in the passing game to exploit the Panthers’ secondary. Quarterback Austin Chapman completed only eight passes, but they went for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Classmate Nate McCoy scored  rushing, receiving and kickoff return touchdowns in that affair. He also had three of his 13 interceptions versus Carroll County quarterback John M. Adams. This the first time the two teams have squared off in the post-season.

(Friday night, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m.)

Everyone here is trying to get monkeys off  their backs - only at different levels. Bellevue is trying to get past Frankfort, Frankfort is trying to solve the mystery of Beechwood in round three, and everyone is trying to figure out how to stop the top-seeded Tigers.

Beechwood is looking for status quo: To take care of business here and get past their perennial nemesis Mayfield in two weeks. Tier upon tier, it comes down to who wants it bad enough in November. There are wonderful opportunities to break down barriers from here on out.

Paris (9-2) @ Beechwood (7-4) - Beechwood played a difficult non-conference schedule to get ready for this postseason run and it looks like those dividends are starting to pay off. The Tigers have shut out their last three Class 1A foes by a combined score of 161-0. Sophomore Kyle Fieger has been rock solid as a passer with 2,091 yards and 24 touchdowns. The one thing that this team would like to do on offense is establish a more consistent run game. The deeper into November it gets makes balance from the ground game so much more vital in order to move. Ethan Stringer leads Beechwood with 617 yards rushing. That’s about half of what the top runners have had going into Game 12 under head coach Noel Rash.

This is a very athletic Paris team at the skill positions. With James Clark, Cameron Downey, Kobe Garrard and Malik Washington, the Greyhound moniker fits them well. Washington and crew are well versed in the art of hunting down and stripping the ball from opposing offenses. Garrard

has come up with six of the teams 30 takeaways (four fumble recoveries, two interceptions) including two scoop and scores. On offense, Clark and his 15 touchdowns leads a stable of backs who can make things happen. Three of them, including Clark, are averaging 8.9 yards or more a carry.

Bellevue (7-4) @ Frankfort (9-2) - Familiarity won’t be a problem as these two teams have met in the second round of the playoffs for the past two years. What will be different is Frankfort’s first look at the Tigers' aerial attack under head coach Johnny Poynter. The Panthers’ previous two victories have come over a Bellevue team that ran the Wing-T offense. That has all changed and the visitors will not have a problem keeping up in a shootout. Motivation won’t be lacking for the Tigers after those two losses and knowing a victory will get them another potential shot at rival Beechwood. Frankfort has that same drive. They don’t want to be knocked out of the postseason for a fourth straight year and sixth time in the last seven years to Beechwood. In 2009 the Panthers lost to Bellevue in the playoffs.

This contest will feature two teams that love to spread the wealth on offense. Frankfort is paced by quarterback Anthony Robinson and Jalen Washington, who is a threat in all phases of the game with 17 total touchdowns (eight rushing, three receiving, six interception/kick returns). The Bears have an opportunistic defense that has come up with 23 takeaways in which seven have been returned for scores.

Bellevue is led by senior quarterback Tyler Ackerson, who has rewritten the Tigers' record books with 2,915 yards passing and 36 touchdowns (26 passing, 10 rushing). Senior Dylan Huff has amassed more than 1,300 all-purpose yards with 23 trips to the end zone. Don’t be surprised if both teams put up more than 80 combined points in this battle.

Print this article Back to Top