Class A playoffs
Region 3 championship
Who: Nicholas County (9-3) at Pikeville (11-0)
Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Location: Hillard Howard Field, Pikeville.
Notes: Nicholas County picked up a hard fought 18-13 win over Bishop Brossart last Friday night, while Pikeville cruised to a 45-12 win over Hazard in the district championship round.
Because of the RPI ranking, Pikeville is the host. The Panthers will host until the state championship game as long as they keep winning.
Nicholas County started the season 0-2. The Bluejackets lost to Fleming County 54-26 in the season opener and followed with a 38-26 loss to Pendelton County. Nicholas County’s third loss came on the road at Ludlow in the last week of September; a 54-14 loss.
The Bluejackets are currently on a six-game winning streak, though.
Nicholas County is averaging 38.66 points per game, while the Bluejacket defense is giving up 22.08 points per game.
Nicholas County has a challenge ahead against Pikeville.
The Bluejackets are a run heavy team.
Nicholas County can throw the ball some, though. On the season, quarterback Tyler Horn is 46 for 104 passing for 798 yards and nine TDs with 12 interceptions. Horn has added 502 yards and nine TDs on 61 carries.
Cain Saucedo leads the team in rushing. Saucedo has rushed for a team-high 1,708 yards and 31 TDs on 242 carries. Michael Tibbs follows with 771 yards and eight TDs on 127 carries.
Reid Allison leads the wide receivers with eight catches for 203 yards and four TDs. Troy Davis has 14 catches for 193 yards and two TDs. Saucedo has four catches for 146 yards and two TDs.
On defense, the Bluejackets have recovered 14 fumbles.
Seth Tincher leads the team with 102 total tackles and three sacks. Ethan Cleaver follows with 63 total tackles and a sack. Spencer Neace has 60 total tackles and a team-high five sacks.
Nicholas County has 13 sacks on the season.
The Bluejackets also have 12 interceptions on the season.
Horn leads the team with eight interceptions. He returned one of those for a TD. Saucedo also has an interception he returned 103 yards for a TD.
Pikeville is focused.
The Panthers got off to a bit of a slow start last week against Hazard. It could’ve been due to the fact that they had a Bye Week in the first round of the playoffs or that Hazard played better this time around.
But once the Panthers got going, they kept the pressure on and put the game out of reach in a hurry.
Pikeville’s offense is explosive.
The Panthers have weapons all over the field.
Sophomore quarterback and senior wide receiver Jackson Hensley were unstoppable last week.
Jon Collum and Cody Raines make up for a prolific backfield.
And Seth Pugh, Zach Lockhart and Clay Tinsley all are threats at wide receiver.
On the season, McNamee is 110 for 170 passing for 1,728 yards and 23 TDs with five interceptions.
Hensley leads the receivers with 39 catches for 579 yards and nine TDs. Pugh follows with 24 catches for 378 yards and three TDs. Lockhart has 15 catches for 357 yards and five TDs. Tinsley has 20 catches for 300 yards and five TDs.
Raines leads the rushing attack with 811 yards and 10 TDs on 150 carries; he also has 10 catches for 105 yards and a TD.
Collum follows with 233 yards and seven TDs on 29 carries. Carson Wright has 219 yards and five TDs on 20 carries. Hensley has added 143 yards and a TD on 15 carries.
Kicker Tanner Hamilton has been solid all season. He has made 36 of his 43 extra-point kicks and has knocked down two of his three field goal attempts.
On defense, the Panthers have recovered eight fumbles. Nate Collins has recovered three fumbles and Pugh has recovered two. Collum and Hensley have each returned a fumble for a TD.
Collum leads the defense with 90 total tackles and two sacks. Kaden Caudill follows with 86 total tackles. Brody Birchfield has 76 total tackles and Collins has 67 total tackles and a sack. Connor Wright has 62 total tackles and a sack and Hensley has 61 total tackles.
The Panthers have seven team sacks.
Pikeville has come up with 14 interceptions on the season as well.
Peyton Boyd-Blair has four interceptions to lead the Panthers. Raines, Hensley and Pugh each have two interceptions on the season. Birchfield, Collum, Wright, and Lockhart all have a pick.
Who 2 Watch: For Pikeville, Hensley.
Hensley is a playmaker.
Hazard couldn’t find an answer for his speed.
Hensley got involved in the offense early with some quick outs and some handoffs.
Once he got going, that opened things up for everyone else and even himself as he hauled in a TD catch last week.
Hensley is a difference maker.
If he gets going early, the Panthers could have an easy path to a region championship and a state semifinal appearance.
Class 3A playoffs
Region 4 championship
Who: Ashland Blazer (10-2) at Belfry (8-3)
Kickoff: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Location: C.A.M. Stadium, Belfry.
Coaches: Ashland, Tony Love. Belfry, Philip Haywood.
Notes: Ashland picked up a 33-14 win over Russell last week, while Belfry cruised to a 60-0 win over Pike Central.
Ashland only has two losses this season and they were both to out of state opponents. The Tomcats fell to Wheelersburg, Ohio 34-33 in overtime and Spring Valley 35-0.
On the season, quarterback Jake Gregg is 81 for 128 passing for 981 yards and 11 TDs with two interceptions.
The Tomcats do have two 1,000 yard running backs. Blake Hester leads the team with 1,772 yards and 21 TDs on 210 carries. Keontae Pittman follows with 1,262 yards and 17 TDs on 174 carries.
JT Garrett leads the receivers with 25 catches for 385 yards and three TDs. Hester follows with 22 catches for 271 yards and two TDs. Andy Layne follows with seven catches for 143 yards and two TDs.
The Tomcat defense has recovered six fumbles this season.
Caleb Tackett leads Ashland with 104 total tackles and a sack. Steele Workman follows with 96 total tackles and two sacks. Tristian Rayburn follows with 73 total tackles and two sacks.
The Tomcats have 18 sacks on the season.
The Ashland secondary has five interceptions on the season. Hester returned his interception for a TD.
Belfry has been good in the playoffs.
The Pirates have outscored their two first round opponents 106-7.
Belfry is finally healthy at the right time.
The Pirates run game has been really solid lately.
On the season, Belfry has rushed for 3,309 yards. That’s 300 yards per game.
Fullback Peyton Hensley leads the way for the Pirates as he has 988 yards and 12 TDs on 126 carries. Ben Bentley follows with 832 yards and 11 TDs on 88 carries. Isaac Dixon has rushed for 703 yards and eight TDs on 61 carries.
Quarterback Brett Coleman has been good for the Pirates. He is 11 for 32 passing for 277 yards and four TDs. Coleman has also added 221 yards and six TDs on 34 carries.
Belfry doesn’t have a receiver with 100 yards on the season. Dixon leads the way with five catches for 77 yards and a TD.
John Ashurst leads the defense with 78 total tackles and three sacks. Jonathan Stepped has 67 total tackles and two sacks. Seth Mounts has added 57 yards.
The Pirates have nine sacks on the season.
Isaiah Birchfield has three interceptions on the year and has returned one for a TD.
Who 2 Watch: Watch Belfry fullback Peyton Hensley.
Hensley is the workhorse of the backfield.
He pounds the ball up the middle and helps wear defenses out.
Once defenses focus on him, that’s when Dixon and Bentley make their presences felt on the outside.
But Hensley does the damage up the middle.
Also Hensley has broke several long TD runs up the middle this season.
If Hensley can set the tone and help move the chains, it may set up a big Pirate win over Ashland Blazer.
Sports Editor’s Note: Belfry didn’t have its stats update on the KHSAA website at press time.