Monday, November 24, 2008

Football leftovers ... playoffs, week 2

Among high school football fans, the question I was asked most often this weekend — will Calloway County beat Allen County, which thumped Lone Oak 33-14 on Friday night in the second round of the Class 4A playoffs?

My answer is "Yes, if Calloway plays well." Then again, I felt the same way about Lone Oak's chances, and the Purple Flash's performance was certainly less than stellar.

One other reason to like the Lakers to advance to the state semifinals is their power running game, something Lone Oak didn't have. Tyrrell Willis has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of Calloway's first two playoff wins, and the Lakers certainly have the passing game to complement him.

Allen County is a solid team with a good offensive line and strong running backs, as evidenced by the way guys like Brandon Boards and Hunter York were shedding tacklers and driving for extra yards. But they lack the explosiveness that Calloway has, and that favors the Lakers.

Of course, I was wrong last week, too.

• As Calloway moves up the playoff ladder, so do some of their players up the school record book. Tyrrell Willis' two playoff efforts are among the top five single-game rushing yardage totals, and he is just 59 yards shy of the school single-season mark.

Quarterback Casey Brockman long ago broke the school's passing records, and receivers George Garner and Chris Dobbins are flip-flopping as the school leader in career receiving yardage. Dobbins has the lead at the moment.

• Some are interpreting Lone Oak's loss at Allen County as another indictment of the Flash's soft non-district schedule, and the naysayers may have a point. Lone Oak simply underperformed on the road, some of which could be traced to not having a tough road game all season.

The Lone Oak schedule gets a little tougher next year. Marshall County and Graves County are on the docket, as are non-district games with Caldwell County and Ballard Memorial and the usual games with McCracken County rivals Heath and Reidland. Lone Oak coach Jack Haskins said he is still looking for one more game — the school has been contacted by Henderson County, Martin (Tenn.) Westview, Monroe County and Glasgow because they share an open date.

• One of the popular topics of conversation in Mayfield football circles is the absence of some former Mayfield Middle School players who have gone on to success at bigger schools. One of them is Marshall County star Josh Madding, who transferred to Orangeland as a freshman. Madding was a quarterback at Mayfield but as Marshall's opponents well know, he has the versatility to excel at several positions.

Also missed are two starters for the Franklin team that is in the Tennessee Class 5A semifinals. Alex Ford is the Rebels' starting running back and has 1,401 yards and 20 touchdowns this season — he ran for 130 yards and scored both touchdowns as Franklin beat Brentwood 14-7 in the quarterfinals on Friday night. Hunter Nall starts at cornerback for the Rebels, who are 12-1 under former Hopkinsville coach Craig Clayton.

Both moved away four years ago, after their seventh-grade year. Nall was a quarterback and defensive back in the Mayfield system, while Ford was a running back and linebacker. They moved away the same year as Madding, which resulted in the loss of quite a chunk of talent, especially at a Class A school.

And there is former lineman John Stevens, who had a spinal cord stroke during preseason practice as a freshman and can now be seen on Friday nights in a wheelchair, cheering on his former teammates from the sidelines.

Some in Mayfield wonder just how good the Cardinals would be if those guys were wearing black and red. Chances are we would be talking up Mayfield as a legitimate state contender.

• Massac County and Crittenden County will co-host a bowl game during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Crittenden will host it next year with Massac taking the honors in 2010. The other two participating teams are Glasgow and Herrin, one of Massac's River-to-River Conference rivals.

Mayfield and Graves County are still looking to fill the Alliance Bowl. Trigg County is on board for next year, and Mayfield coach Joe Morris said that the fourth entry is likely to be either Meade County or Obion Central, Tenn.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Football Friday ... playoffs, second round

A few miscellaneous notes left over for tonight's regional semifinals:

Brockman back on defense?: Calloway County's Casey Brockman was a two-way player for much of his junior season, spending a lot of time at free safety in addition to his quarterback duties. But a broken left (non-throwing) hand incurred in a defensive drill early in preseason practice more or less relieved Brockman of his obligations in the secondary.

That could change tonight, when the Lakers host Franklin-Simpson in the Class 4A playoffs.

"With the injury, and factoring in how big a loss he was to our offense, we just didn't feel it was worth taking a chance," Calloway coach Josh McKeel said. "But in the playoffs, we have to put ourselves in the best position to win the game. If that means we have to use him on defense, that's what we have to do."

Brockman has appeared in the secondary in only one game this season, the Lakers' 28-21 win at Hopkins Central that clinched the district title a few weeks ago. But Franklin-Simpson features two tall receivers — 6-foot-6 tight end Jim Murphree and 6-4 Jerron Patterson — and that could mean a role for Brockman, who is 6-2. He could give the Lakers a little more size downfield to go with regular safeties C.J. Dial and Clay Choate, who is 6-4.

Hopkinsville did the same thing with former quarterback Curtis Pulley in 2003 and 2004 — Pulley, who many people felt was a better college and pro prospect at safety than at quarterback, rarely played defense during the regular season, but became more of a two-way player during the postseason.

Road Flash: Lone Oak will become road warriors if it can duplicate last season's march to the state championship game. The Purple Flash will have to win three more games, all on the road, to get back to Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The first stop on the tour is Allen County, which surprised many by beating Warren East and Franklin-Simpson in back-to-back weeks in September to clinch the District 2 title. However, both of those teams were battling injuries and illness at the time.

Franklin-Simpson coach Tim Schlosser, the former Mayfield quarterback and assistant coach, sees Lone Oak's chances of winning hinging on its defensive performance.

"If Allen can take care of the ball and keep (Lone Oak quarterback Jamarielle) Brown playing free safety and cornerback, they've got a good chance," Schlosser said. "Allen doesn't want to get in a scoring contest, but if they control the line of scrimmage they will put up some points."

Da King: Steve Duncan, the first-year coach at Murray, thinks two-way star Jamie King's future is on defense. King is the Tigers' leading rusher and also the leading tackler from his linebacker spot.

"He could be a slot receiver, but he can really play defense," Duncan said. "He has a good nose for the football and he'll hit you. He's the kind of guy that could play zone or man coverage, and he could be the guy that teams use at different positions in different packages."

King's mettle will certainly be tested tonight, when the Tigers visit defending Class 2A state champion Fort Campbell.

Brown's bag of offers: Lone Oak star Jamarielle Brown received a couple of Division I offers this week, from Western Kentucky and Sun Belt Conference rival Florida Atlantic, which is coached by former Miami and Louisville mentor Howard Schnellenberger.

Lone Oak coach Jack Haskins feels Brown's move to quarterback hasn't hurt the interest level shown by college coaches — Brown, who set single-season records for receptions, yardage and touchdowns last season, is projected as a receiver at the next level.

Whatever happened to? ...: Former Paducah Tilghman coach Allan Cox has been in Florida since leaving Lone Oak after the 2003 season, and is currently the defensive coordinator for an undefeated team in that state's panhandle.

Arnold High in Panama City is 9-0, won its district title and hosts its first-round Class 3A playoff game tonight.

Cox was ultra-successful at Tilghman in his 11-year tenure (1983-93), taking the Tornado to the state championship game five times, winning a state title in 1985 and coaching two Mr. Footballs (Kurt Barber and Billy Jack Haskins). He also coached at Madisonville before going to his alma mater, Choctawhatchee in the Fort Walton Beach area. He coached at Lone Oak in 2002-03, steering the program in the right direction before retiring and being replaced by current Purple Flash coach Jack Haskins.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pujols ... sure. But Howard?

Baseball's awards have been doled out, so let's take a look at the good and bad of them.

Good: Albert Pujols clearly deserved the National League's MVP award. He's the most feared hitter in the game right now and I'm heartened to see the voters weren't swayed in another direction because the Cardinals, who finished fourth in the NL Central but still had a good enough record to prevail in the NL West, didn't make the playoffs.

There is no reason to penalize Pujols (or Alex Rodriguez in the American League a couple of times earlier this decade) because the rest of his team is subpar. For all the people that feel like the Cardinals' also-ran status should somehow disqualify Pujols, ask yourself this question: What more could Pujols could possibly have done to get a team with a mediocre starting rotation, major bullpen issues and no offense in the middle infield into contention?

Bad: Ryan Howard second? Ryan Braun third? Obviously, the voters looked at little more than home runs and RBI. Howard isn't even the best player on the Phillies — second baseman Chase Utley had a better season, is a better all-around player (his defense is vastly underrated, as he showed in the postseason) and produces big numbers at a position where such production is hard to come by.

Let's see ... Utley led a divison (and World Series) winner in several offensive categories, scored and drove in over 100 runs, was in the top six in the NL in extra-base hits and plays outstanding defense. And he finished 15th?

Good: Geovany Soto was a near-unanimous pick as the NL's top rookie, with the voters acknowledging his contributions as a big-hitting, solid defensive catcher on a team with the best record in the league.

Bad: Edinson Volquez had a great year, establishing himself as Cincinnati's best pitcher. He deserved plenty of votes, except ... he wasn't eligible for the award.

Volquez made 17 starts over parts of three seasons with Texas before getting sent to the Reds in exchange for Josh Hamilton, one of the most interesting trades of the offseason. He had eclipsed the minimum number of innings to be eligible for rookie status.

You would think the voters would know that.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Football Friday ... playoffs, opening round

What's the best playoff race to watch in western Kentucky? In all likelihood, it's the Class 4A regional playoff picture, which looks as wide-open as any we've seen in several years. At first glance, there appear to be three solid teams in both districts, and only the Allen County-Muhlenberg North game looks like a sure blowout.

“(Hopkins Central coach Rick Snodgrass) said last week that he thinks our district is better than theirs,” Lone Oak coach Jack Haskins said. “I told him I would let him know (tonight) when all the games are over.”

The best game on the docket should be Hopkins Central’s visit to Franklin-Simpson, which is coached by Mayfield native Tim Schlosser and has a breathtaking athlete in quarterback-defensive back Courtney Dalcourt, who is being courted by several BCS programs. The Storm does have some health issues, though — linebacker Dustin Grant is out with a knee injury and quarterback Jacob Powell hasn’t played since suffering a high ankle sprain on a fourth-quarter punt return against Calloway County three weeks ago.

If the seedings hold, Franklin-Simpson would visit Calloway County in the second round, with Lone Oak heading to Allen County.

Lone Oak fans should note that this could be the Purple Flash's only home playoff game. The only scenario that favors a return to Flash Field is if it met Hopkins Central in the regional final. More likely scenarios would send Lone Oak to either Calloway or Franklin-Simpson.

The Class of A?: Crittenden County coach Al Starnes made an interesting trip to Louisville last week witho his Rockets enjoying their off-week. He took in a half of the game involving Kentucky Country Day, who the Rockets host tonight, and North Oldham, then went to watch Holy Cross — a potential third-round opponent — get squashed by Class 5A power Doss.

Starnes' assessment of Holy Cross? According to someone close to Starnes, he came away feeling that Mayfield had a decent shot to knock off Holy Cross, even on the road. That will entail a much more mistake-free performance than the Cardinals turned in last week, a six-turnover effort in a 35-7 loss to Caldwell County.

Check back next week. We'll be sure and get Starnes' take on the projected Mayfield-Holy Cross battle.

Elsewhere, Ballard Memorial is hoping for a return shot at Crittenden. The Bombers are favored to beat Caverna, which would assure them of at least a .500 record at worst and represent their first playoff win since 2002.

Tornado-less 3A: With Paducah Tilghman out of the playoff picture, the mantle of favorite probably belongs to Russellville, which is coached by former Mayfield assistant John Myers. When Myers left Monroe County for Russellville four years ago, a lot of us in western Kentucky figured he would get the Panthers back to prominence fairly soon.

He's certainly done that, even with Russellville playing up two classes for travel reasons — in the original six-class alignment, the Panthers were placed in the Class A district with Mayfield, Crittenden County, Ballard Memorial, Fulton City and Fulton County. Myers opted to play in Class 3A since their other district rivals are scattered throughout southern Kentucky.

Russellville won the district title last year and was competitive with eventual state champion Louisville Central in the quarterfinals, trailing by a single touchdown after three quarters in a 48-28 loss.

Union County could get between Russellville and a regional title, as could Butler County, which was beaten 28-21 by the Panthers in triple-overtime earlier this season.

6A sweep?: Could District 1 get swept by the schools from the east side of Louisville? Possibly.

Expect Graves County to get plastered by defending three-time state champion Trinity and few people expect Madisonville to win at Eastern. The two traveling Louisville schools face interesting games — Seneca plays at Daviess County and Ballard ventures to Henderson County. Both games look like they could easily be in doubt in the fourth quarter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

One more reason six classes stinks ...

Two words — playoff travel. Check out these first-round high school football playoff match ups and the distances involved between the two schools:

Fulton City at Louisville Holy Cross — 250 miles
Clinton County at Raceland — 250 miles
McCreary Central at Boyd County — 235 miles
Graves County at Louisville Trinity — 231 miles
Russell County at Calloway County — 220 miles
Ballard Memorial at Caverna — 211 miles
Bardstown Bethlehem at Mayfield — 206 miles
Campbellsville at Fairview — 201 miles

Note that five of them involve local teams. This is just one more indictment of the six-class format, adopted by the Kentucky High School Athletics Association two years ago.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Football Friday ... end of regular season

The best game of the night might be Caldwell County's visit to Mayfield. Like last year, this could be an indication of what to expect from both teams of the playoffs — the Cardinals won 25-6 at Princeton last season, then avenged a regular-season loss to Fulton City to win the district title before falling at highly-ranked Frankfort in the state quarterfinals. Caldwell's subpar showing foreshadowed a first-round upset loss to Heath.

Mayfield coach Joe Morris, whose club could face a second-round playoff showdown at state-ranked Louisville Holy Cross, sees the Tigers as a comparable opponent. Caldwell is coming off a 21-7 won over the same Crittenden County club that humbled the Cardinals 27-14 at Mayfield earlier this season.

"They're a good playoff-caliber team, a solid opponent. The reason we play Marshall County and them at the end of the regular season is to get us ready for the playoffs," Morris said. "They're not real big on defense but they're quick to the ball. The way they got after (Crittenden County quarterback J.D.) Gray was the biggest difference between our game with Crittenden and theirs. They were able to contain him."

Morris is also impressed with Caldwell quarterback Will Barnes, who runs the Tigers' spread offense and constitutes a tough test for Mayfield's young defense, especially a secondary that has been victimized a few times this fall.

"He's not what you call a running quarterback, but he doesn't get sacked very often because he can move in the pocket, finds his checkdowns and finds his running backs," Morris said. "It doesn't look pretty, but a two-yard pass to the back looks better if the back can get five or six extra yards. And on screen passes, he puts the ball on the receiver's upfield shoulder and gets them going down the field.

"He's been in that system for four years and he knows how to get the ball to different people. We counted five or six receivers that caught the ball last week and their running game is the most underrated part of their team. They've got two good backs (in Brandon Sigler and Jaquan Glover)."

• Graves County has the worst playoff assignment of any area team, a first-round visit to powerful Louisville Trinity, which has won three consecutive state titles and six in the last seven years.

It's also a homecoming of sorts for Eagles coach Mike Rogers, a Louisville native who played at Fern Creek.

"I've got a lot of connections there and a lot of requests for tickets," Rogers said. "I think everybody up there realizes more than people do down here how much the deck is stacked against us."

First of all, the Eagles will try to get by Calloway County, a team it has beaten three times since the rivalry was reborn in 2005.

"Someone reminded me that we're 7-1 against Mayfield, Paducah Tilghman and Calloway the last three years," Rogers said. "That's great because those are great programs, but those aren't the teams we have to beat to win a state championship. As crazy as it sounds, I'm glad we're getting the opportunity to play Trinity because that is one of the teams we have to beat. It's a measuring-stick game for us."

• Don't be surprised if Lone Oak sports a new look (for a few plays, at least) when the Purple Flash hosts Heath. Lone Oak's coaching staff liked what it saw from backup quarterback Cameron Looper in last week's win at Fulton City and might experiment with moving incumbent Jamarielle Brown back to wide receiver, his natural position.

Brown was suspended for the Fulton City game for violating team rules, and the Purple Flash moved Looper in from receiver in his stead. Using Brown at receiver would give Lone Oak a bonafide deep threat in the passing game and give playoff opponents one more offensive set for which to prepare.

• Massac County coach Kelly Glass has noticed something about teams that run the spread offense — notably Breese Mater Dei, who is 10-0 and ranked third in Illinois Class 4A and hosts the Patriots in Saturday's second-round playoff game.

"Teams that run this offense, like us, tend to be better on offense than on defense," Glass said. "I don't know if that's because you have to devote so much practice time to it or what."

One of the knocks on the spread is that it can leave teams ill-prepared for smashmouth running teams because a defense faces the spread virtually every day in practice.

A Massac win would pit the Patriots against a familiar foe, either Herrin or Mascoutah. Herrin is a River-to-River Conference rival, while Mascoutah knocked Massac out of the playoffs a year ago.

The Patriots would have to travel to Herrin, which has been a house of horrors for them in years past. They would host Mascoutah, which went 6-3 (as did Massac) during the regular season and is seeded lower than the Patriots.

• Russell County, which travels to Calloway County for a Class 4A playoff game last week, had an emotional week. Luke Evans, a junior running back and linebacker whose father is a coach in the Lakers' program, was killed in an automobile accident last week.

Calloway coach Josh McKeel also figures that facing Graves County's Wing-T offense helps better prepare his team for Russell County, which runs a smimilar scheme.

"They do a little throwing out of the spread, too," McKeel said of Russell County. "It's a good way for us to get an extra week of practice against it, especially because we don't see it in western Kentucky except against Graves. Plus, you don't see many teams that run it as well as Graves does. We'll see it run and run well."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 rankings ...

Class A

1. Beechwood
2. Raceland
3. Lexington Christian
4. Frankfort
5. Hazard
6. Louisville Holy Cross
7. Williamsburg
8. Crittenden County
9. Mayfield
10. Bellevue

Class 2A

1. Fort Campbell
2. Newport Catholic
3. Corbin
4. Monroe County
5. Green County
6. Louisville DeSales
7. Prestonsburg
8. Danville
9. Trigg County
10. Middlesboro

Class 3A

1. Belfry
2. Louisville Central
3. Breathitt County
4. Mason County
5. Estill County
6. Elizabethtown
7. Harlan County
8. North Oldham
9. Russell
10. Sheldon Clark

Class 4A

1. Boyle County
2. Bell County
3. Lexington Catholic
4. Franklin-Simpson
5. Calloway County
6. Lone Oak
7. Western
8. North Bullitt
9. Hopkins Central
10. Allen County

Class 5A

1. Fort Thomas Highlands
2. Bowling Green
3. Johnson Central
4. Christian County
5. Louisville Doss
6. Owensboro
7. Oldham County
8. John Hardin
9. Lexington Bryan Station
10. Whitley County

Class 6A

1. Louisville St. Xavier
2. Louisville Trinity
3. Louisville Manual
4. Scott County
5. Louisville Eastern
6. Lexington Lafayette
7. Louisville Ballard
8. Madison Central
9. Louisville Fern Creek
10. Louisville Male

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Still stewing in Heath ... and rightfully so

Heath's soccer program is still reeling from last week's 2-1 loss to Henderson County in the sectional final, with Henderson breaking a longstanding 1-1 tie with a goal in the final 30 seconds. The defeat cost the Pirates their first appearance in the state semifinals.

It isn't the loss that has the Pirates stewing — it's the way it happened. Heath midfielder Brock Jordan was assessed a red card with a little over 30 minutes remaining, ejecting him from the match and forcing the Pirates to play a man down for the rest of the night.

Given a chance to review a tape of the match, it's obvious that Jordan's ejection — officially, for throwing a punch at an opposing player — was an injustice to him and his teammates.

Here's what happened:
See video posted to You Tube ...
Henderson puts the ball into Heath territory with a free kick, and two players — Jordan and Henderson star Jordan Gregory — converge on the loose ball near midfield with Heath defender Eric Straub close by.

The rest occurred exactly as Jordan described it after the match: the two players' arms get tangled as they battle for control of the ball, when it appears that Jordan is wheeled around and forcefully thrown to the ground. No visual evidence, whatsoever, shows Jordan throwing a punch at the Henderson player, and indeed it is Jordan that ends up on the turf.

At the time, play was stopped, and I was under the impression that Heath would be awarded possession and that perhaps Gregory would receive a yellow card. Instead, Jordan — once he got up after spending a few seconds on the ground — was assessed the red card.

Heath coach Mark Madison was told by the referee that Jordan threw a punch, but Madison — like everyone else associated with the Pirates' program — remains incredulous at the decision ... not to mention, a little angry.

Officially, the Pirates have no recourse. They can't ask for the match to be replayed from the time of the incident detailed above, and the result stands — Henderson takes on Fort Thomas Highlands in Thursday night's semifinals at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown.

Madison isn't planning to let the incident drop quietly. He intends to send copies of the match to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and to the Elizabethtown-based organization that sanctions the referee and two linesmen that worked the match.

He also hopes to rescind Jordan's one-game suspension that is automatically assessed with a red-card ejection, so that he can play in next season's opener.

Unfortunately, nothing more can be done. And it won't certainly change the disappointment and the feeling that Heath didn't get much of a fair shake.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Seay out for season?

Marshall County's basketball program got some bad news this weekend. Denver Seay, expected to be a starter at forward, will undergo surgery to repair a separated shoulder and could miss the entire season. Seay, a starter at quarterback and defensive end on Marshall's football team, sustained the injury in an Oct. 24 loss to Henderson County.

Seay will have the surgery this week, and is expected to need five months to recover and rehab the shoulder. That would knock him out of the season altogether.

Josh Madding, who is expected to start at shooting guard, broke his right arm in the Henderson game, and it might be around Christmas before he can work his way on to the court. Madding was also slowed by an injury last year — a separated shoulder that nagged him for most of the 2007 football season may have cost him a starting spot, because by the time he had regained his health, Marshall was off to a hot start and reluctant to change the starting lineup and alter team chemistry.

Madding only started twice last season, including a performance in which he hit four 3-pointers in a 61-57 loss to Paducah Tilghman in the First Region semifinals.

Football leftovers ... Week 10

— If I was a betting man, I would venture to say that Paducah Tilghman will retain Randy Wyatt as its football coach after a 2-8 season that included a forfeit loss to Webster County for the use of an ineligible player and no postseason play for the first time since 1984.

Wyatt's supporters note his local ties and the need to give his coaching style more than a single year to make his mark on the program. Fair enough.

Others would question why a team that made the state semifinals and returned double-digit starters went belly-up this fall, going 3-7 on the field and losing two district games (on the field) to Union County and Muhlenberg South, neither of which is likely will post a winning record this season — Union is 5-5, including subsequent losses to Caldwell County and Crittenden County, and Muhlenberg South is 5-4 with back-to-back games against a Butler County team that is 8-1. Their regular-season finale previews their playoff game the next week.

— Notice how quiet the local schedule is for the final two weeks? No high-profile district games with playoff implications are on the schedule, as was the custom in years past.

For that, you can thank the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and its insistence on using a scheduling grid that mandates district games be played in certain weeks.

"I don't like it at all," Crittenden County coach Al Starnes said. "In the past, you always told your players about having to be ready to play your best in the last few weeks of the season, when we played our district games. Now it's Week 3 and Week 5 and it's all spread out. Then at this time of the year, you have a little (lull) and then you have to get back up for the playoffs."

The scheduling grid, which generally mandates district games on alternating weeks throughout the season, was an idea copied from Tennessee, which generally has much bigger districts (7-8 teams apiece, compared to 4-6 in Kentucky's watered-down six-class format) and teams sometimes have to squeeze to fit in all of their district games in a 10-game schedule.

The KHSAA has kept the format intact for the next two-year cycle, as well. The idea was that teams would have more flexibility in scheduling, but the opposite effect seems to be more true. Because of that, Paducah Tilghman and Mayfield will play their rivalry game in Week 2 in 2009 and 2010, much earlier than it's ever been staged, because both teams didn't have the same non-district weeks open later in the year.

— The race for second place in Class 4A's District 1 between Lone Oak and Hopkins Central still isn't settled, but it will take a series of dominoes to fall for the Storm to overtake Lone Oak's bid for second and a home first-round playoff game. As best as we can tell, this is what has to happen:

First of all, Hopkins Central has to beat Hancock County. Then the Storm hopes that Trigg County beats Fulton Countyand Ballard Memorial clips Muhlenberg North. Then it also needs a series of upsets (Webster County over Todd Central, Ohio County over Madisonville, Reidland over Fulton City and Heath over Lone Oak) to come out ahead in the three-team tiebreaker.

Neither team will have a gimme first-round game by any stretch — the No. 2 seed hosts Warren East, which lost to Lone Oak in the semifinals last year and has a University of Louisville commitment in running back-linebacker Shenard Holton. The Raiders were decimated by injuries in the early part of the season, but seems to have gotten healthier and impressed Lone Oak's coaching staff in last week's 34-16 loss to crosstown rival Bowling Green, which is ranked second in Class 5A.

The third-place team will have to travel to Franklin-Simpson, a speed-laden team led by quarterback Courtney Dalcourt, who is being recruited by a host of BCS-league schools as a defensive back/athlete.

Calloway County is already locked in for the district title and the No. 1 seed and will host Russell County. Muhlenberg North, which beat Webster County for its first win last week, goes to District 2 champ Allen County.

— Given the travel distance involved for some of the first-round playoff games, it seemed likely that one or two games might be played on Saturday. At this point, however, only the Fulton City at Louisville Holy Cross game is a possibility for Saturday afternoon.

Fulton City athletic director Angie Nanney said that her school would prefer to play on Saturday but has yet to receive an answer from Holy Cross.

The rest of the three Class A games — Ballard Memorial at Caverna, Bethlehem at Mayfield and Kentucky Country Day at Crittenden County — seem likely to be played on Friday. Crittenden coach Al Starnes said he prefers to play on Friday night, but hasn't yet discussed the issue with Kentucky Country Day's administration.

Calloway County coach Josh McKeel, whose team hosts Russell County, said plans are to play on Friday night. Russell County, which finished fourth in District 2, is about 30 miles west of Somerset and borders the Eastern Time Zone. Also known as the Lakers, Russell County lost to district champion Allen County 20-13 a couple of weeks ago and will have to travel 220 miles for their playoff opener.