Whether you believe in the RPI ratings or not, the Class 1A Regional Championship games have 4 of the premier programs in the D&D Coverage area including the Top 3 in the RPI. Lets take a closer look at each of theses games:
Paintsville Tigers (18th = RPI Rating .56070) at Pikeville Panthers (1st = RPI Rating of .75252)
The two teams faced off against each other in the third game of the season. The Panthers racked up 423 yards of total offense. The Panthers defeated the Tigers on their home field 36-0.
The Panthers have had a balanced attack all season. Sophomore Isaac Duty has developed into a very consistent quarterback for the Panthers. He has completed 76-108 passes for a 70.3% completion percentage. Duty has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns compared to 1 interception on the season.
The ground game has also been exceptional this season. Senior Blake Birchfield leads Pikeville in rushing. Birchfield has carried the football for 152 attempts while gaining over 1407 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season.
As for the Tigers, they have continued to develop as the season has progressed. Similar to Pikeville, the Tigers have a balanced offensive attack. Senior quarterback Frederick “AJ” James has thrown for 1,570 yards. James has completed 63.4% of their passes while throwing for 16 touchdowns. On the ground, it has been senior Harris Phelps. Phelps has rushed for 1471 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
After losing their first two games of the season against 4A powerhouse Corbin and a heart breaker to Covington Catholic, Pikeville finished the regular season 9-2. Paintsville currently sits at 6-5 on the season. The Tiger losses include 4A Perry Central, 2A Powerhouse Beechwood and Somerset, 1A rival Pikeville and Raceland.
The game will be played at Hillard Howard field in Pikeville Friday at 7:30 PM.
Hazard (#3 RPI Rating of .70255) at Raceland (#2 RPI Rating of .72943)
The Hazard Bulldogs will travel north to Raceland to take on the Rams with a chance to advance to the state semifinals.
The Hazard Bulldogs have had a tremendous season under coach Daniel Howard. Sophomore Max Pelfrey has led the was for the Bulldogs. The young quarterback has thrown for over 1,630 yards and 21 touchdowns. Pelfrey’s favorite targets are senior running back Max Johnson has caught 34 passes for 534 yards and 6 touchdowns. Senior Landon Smith has caught 33 passes for 515 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Bulldog rushing attack is led by Max Johnson. Johnson has carried the football 193 times for 1,643 yards and 18 touchdowns.
For the Rams their high powered offense is led by their sensational junior quarter back Logan Lundy. Lundy has completed 61.3% of his passes for 2,018 yards and 32 touchdowns. Ludy’s favorite target is Mason Lykin. Lykin has caught 33 passes for 610 yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.
The Ram rushing attack is led by a duo of junior running backs. Noah Wallace leads the team in rushing with 86 carries for 598 yards and 9 touchdowns. Isaac Browning, also a junior, has 64 carries for 484 yards and 8 touchdowns.
As a team, Hazard (8-4) scored on average over 27 points per game in this season. Hazards only losses on the season were to 3A Bardstown, 2A powers Shelby Valley and Breathitt County,and 1A powerhouse Pikeville.
In comparison, the high powered Rams offense has outscored their opponents. 542-128. The are averaging over 45 points per contest. The Rams (11-1) only loss was to 5A power Highlands.
FINAL THOUGHTS – These are the 4 top 1A teams in the mountains and we are blessed to have these two matchups. For two of these teams the dream of winning a state title will continue but for the other two their season is over. Both games start at 7:30 Friday.