Predictions, stats and rankings for Kentucky’s 2021 high school football playoff semis

·14 min read

Each of Kentucky high school football’s six competitive classes has reached the state semifinals.

Friday night, 12 teams will book their next weekend at Kroger Field to battle for the ultimate prize, a state championship.

While many of the top RPI-rated teams have advanced to this point, there have also been a number of upsets along the way and more are sure to come this week.

Here’s a look at all of this week’s matchups with scoring offense and defense averages, top players’ stats, pedigrees and predictions.

All numerical rankings are the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s RPI ratings which were frozen after the final week of the regular season. The rankings were used to seed last week’s regionals and this week’s final fours. Some records include COVID-19 forfeited games.

Pikeville running back Blake Birchfield (12) has rushed for 2,137 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Pikeville running back Blake Birchfield (12) has rushed for 2,137 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.

Class A

NO. 3 RACELAND (12-1) AT NO. 2 PIKEVILLE (12-2), 7:30 P.M.

Raceland Rams: (38.4 points per game/11.9 points allowed per game) QB Logan Lundy — 1,914 yards/23 TDs passing, 415 yards/nine TDs rushing; RB/DB Noah Wallace — 966 yards/14 TDs rushing/49 yards, one TD receiving, 75 tackles, four interceptions/one TD; WR/DB Connor Hughes — 718 yards, 11 TDs receiving, 61 tackles, three interceptions; LB Cole Conlon — 92 tackles/14 for a loss/nine sacks.

Pikeville Panthers: (34.1 ppg, 8.6 papg) QB Isaac McNamee — 1.554 yards/25 TDs passing, 131 yards/two TDs rushing; RB Blake Birchfield — 2,137 yards/20 TDs rushing; WR/DB Zac Lockhart — 720 yards/10 TDs receiving, 22 tackles, four interceptions; LB Luke Ray — 121 tackles/five for a loss.

Pedigree: Raceland — One state finals appearance. Pikeville — Five state titles (1987, 1988, 1989, 2015, 2019) in nine finals appearances.

Note: McNamee recently announced his commitment to Murray State.

@HLpreps pick: Pikeville 28, Raceland 13.

NO. 7 BETHLEHEM (11-2) AT NO. 1 RUSSELLVILLE (11-1), 7 P.M.

Bethlehem Eagles: (42.7 ppg, 10.8 papg) QB Cooper Stone — 2,087 yards/21 TDs passing, -20 yards/six TDs rushing; RB Zane Wickliffe — 1,207 yards/17 TDs rushing, 134 yards/one TD receiving, four kickoff-return TDs; LB/CB LaDarion Montgomery — 847 yards/17 TDs rushing, 459 yards/seven TDs receiving, one punt return TD, 32 tackles, three interceptions; WR Haydon Osborne — 611 yards/six TDs receiving; DE Luke Popovich — 53.5 tackles/seven for a loss/8.5 sacks.

Russellville Panthers: (32.3 ppg, 9.8 papg) QB/S Lennon Ries — 1,086 yards/16 TDs passing, 542 yards/three TDs rushing, 64 tackles/six for a loss/two sacks; RB Jovari Gamble — 1,218 yards/21 TDs rushing, 118 yards/one TD receiving; RB/DB Chevis Elliott — 444 yards/four TDs rushing, 35 yards/two TDs receiving, 67 tackles/three for a loss, eight interceptions/one for a TD; WR Anthony Woodard — 335 yards/three TDs receiving; DE Braxton Baptiste — 58 tackles/21 for a loss/10 sacks.

Pedigree: Bethlehem — No state finals appearances. Russellville — Three state titles (1980, 1983, 1990) in six finals appearances.

Note: Eagles Coach Bryan Walker ranked his team in the Class A top four in his Herald-Leader preseason survey. He was right. Among all the coaches participating in that survey, Russellville ranked 12th.

@HLpreps pick: Bethlehem 42, Russellville 35.

Mason Moore (16) has been a stat stuffer this season as a versatile two-way player for Lexington Christian operating at multiple positions.
Mason Moore (16) has been a stat stuffer this season as a versatile two-way player for Lexington Christian operating at multiple positions.

Class 2A

NO. 3 MAYFIELD (12-1) AT NO. 2 BEECHWOOD (13-0), 7 P.M.

Mayfield Cardinals: (44.6 ppg, 12.9 papg) QB Zane Cartwright — 2,209 yards/23 TDs passing; RB Kylan Galbreath — 1,552 yards/24 TDs rushing, 184 yards/three TDs receiving; WR/S Daniel Coles — 794 yards/10 TDs receiving, two punt return TDs, 48 tackles/four for a loss; WR Isaac Stevenson — 624 yards/eight TDs receiving; LB Jutarious Starks — 48 tackles/13 for a loss/7.5 sacks.

Beechwood Tigers: (48.3 ppg, 5.8 papg) QB Cameron Hergott — 2,218 yards/31 TDs passing, 1,522 yards/25 TDs rushing; RB Avery Courtney — 435 yards/11 TDs rushing, 193 yards/four TDs receiving; WR/DB Parker Mason — 613 yards/six TDs receiving, three interceptions/one for a TD; WR Mitchell Berger — 541 yards/seven TDs receiving; 259 yards/seven TDs rushing; DL Xavier Campbell — 12 sacks.

Pedigree: Mayfield — 12 state titles (the last in 2015) in 24 finals appearances. Beechwood — 15 state titles (including last year) in 20 state finals appearances.

Note: Mayfield and Beechwood only ever face off in the playoffs. The Cardinals are 8-0 in those meetings, including two state championships. Hergott is on the verge of surpassing every stat that helped earn him last year’s Mr. Football award.

@HLpreps pick: Beechwood 49, Mayfield 21.

NO. 5 MIDDLESBORO (13-0) VS. NO. 1 LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN ACADEMY (13-0), 7 P.M.

(At Paul Laurence Dunbar)

Middlesboro Yellowjackets: (42.4 ppg, 14.7 papg) QB Cayden Grigsby — 1,738 yards/21 TDs passing, 856 yards/11 TDs rushing; RB Caleb Bogonko — 1,454 yards/23 TDs rushing; WR Jay West — 494 yards/nine TDs receiving; DB Tyler Kelly — 80 tackles/eight for a loss; LB Terrance Brooks — 34 tackles/10 for a loss/two sacks.

Lexington Christian Eagles: (48.2 ppg, 11.9 papg) QB Drew Nieves — 1,568 yards/23 TDs passing, 205 yards/three TDs rushing; RB Xavier Brown — 1,399 yards/19 TDs rushing, 385 yards/six TDs receiving; RB Jeremiah Riffle — 534 yards/10 TDs rushing; WR/S Mason Moore 879 yards/10 TDs receiving, 28 tackles/two for a loss, four intereptions/two for TDs; LB Tyler Morris — 47 tackles/18 for a loss/11.5 sacks; LB Jeffrey Selby — 85 tackles/eight for a loss/one sack.

Pedigree: Middlesboro — One state title (1998) in four state finals appearances. LCA — One state title (2009) in three state finals appearances.

Note: Middlesboro Coach Larry French has 349 career wins, passing Newport Central Catholic’s Bob Schneider (345) this year for third-most in state history.

@HLpreps pick: Lexington Christian 42, Middlesboro 14.

Fifth-year senior running back Isaac Dixon (3) has helped lead Belfry back from an 0-5 start this season.
Fifth-year senior running back Isaac Dixon (3) has helped lead Belfry back from an 0-5 start this season.

Class 3A

NO. 14 BELFRY (7-6) AT NO. 5 EAST CARTER (11-3), 7:30 P.M.

Belfry Pirates: (30.4 ppg, 22.8 papg) RB/DB Isaac Dixon — 1,365 yards/20 TDs rushing, 184 yards/three TDs receiving, 53 yards/one TD passing, 32 tackles, three interceptions/one for TD; RB Dre Young — 502 yards/five TDs rushing; QB Caden Woolum — 237 yards/five TDs passing, 106 yards/five TDs rushing, RB/SS Zayne Hatfield — 444 yards/four TDs rushing, 27 yards/one TD receiving, 79 tackles, two interceptions/one for TD.

East Carter Raiders: (32.3 ppg, 16.5 papg) QB/DB Kanyon Kozee — 1,194 yards/five TDs passing, 413 yards/three TDs rushing, 43 tackles/two for a loss, three interceptions; RB Charlie Terry — 1,794 yards/32 TDs rushing; WR/DB Connor Goodman — 667 yards/four TDs receiving, 24 tackles/one for a loss, four interceptions; LB Rylan Yoak — 84 tackles/three for a loss/one sack; DL Izack Messer — 52 tackles, eight for a loss/four sacks.

Pedigree: Belfry — Seven state titles (the last in 2019) in 14 finals appearances. East Carter — No state finals appearances.

Note: Belfry began this season 0-5; Pirates running back Isaac Dixon is a fifth-year senior. He’s topped 1,000 yards rushing for four straight seasons.

@HLpreps pick: Belfry 22, East Carter 21.

NO. 15 PADUCAH TILGHMAN (7-6) AT NO. 2 GLASGOW (12-1), 7 P.M.

Paducah Tilghman Blue Tornado: (33 ppg, 25.2 papg) QB Jack James — 2,466 yards/29 TDs passing; RB Malachi Rider — 998 yards/12 TDs rushing; WR Brian Thomas — 877 yards/11 TDs receiving; WR/S Camdon Marshall — 451 yards/eight TDs receiving, 50 tackles/one for a loss, four interceptions; LB Uriah Virzi — 86 tackles/5.5 for a loss; LB Turner Humphrey — 59 tackles/seven for a loss/four sacks.

Glasgow Scotties: (37.2 ppg, 20.7 papg) RB/LB Keiran Stockton — 1,214 yards/24 TDs rushing, 50 yards/one TD receiving, 39 tackles/six sacks; QB/DB John Myers — 704 yards/nine TDs passing, 325 yards/three TDs rushing, 69 tackles, four interceptions/one for TD; RB Hunter Scott — 506 yards/seven TDs rushing, 259 yards/four TDs receiving; WR Andrew Phillips — 460 yards/three TDs rushing, 424 yards/three TDs receiving; LB Clint Maulden — 51 tackles/five sacks.

Pedigree: Tilghman — Three state titles (1973, 1985, 2009) in eight state finals appearances. Glasgow — Four state finals appearances, the last in 2011.

Note: This is Coach Sean Thompson’s first season with the Blue Tornado after leading his hometown Class A Crittenden County to two district titles in three seasons. Tilghman knocked off Class 3A No. 1 Christian Academy-Louisville last week.

@HLpreps pick: Paducah Tilghman 35, Glasgow 33.

Cole Lanter, who has scored 23 touchdowns for Boyle County this season, has committed to play college football at Kentucky.
Cole Lanter, who has scored 23 touchdowns for Boyle County this season, has committed to play college football at Kentucky.

Class 4A

NO. 7 LOGAN COUNTY (10-4) AT NO. 1 BOYLE COUNTY (12-1), 7:30 P.M.

Logan County Cougars: (32.9 ppg, 18.5 papg) QB/DB Davin Yates — 1,274 yards/six TDs passing, 480 yards/seven TDs rushing, 68 tackles/four for a loss, four interceptions/two for TDs; RB Ryan Rayno — 1,171 yards/14 TDs rushing, 118 yards receiving; RB/DB Wyatt Blake — 736 yards/10 TDs rushing, 581 yards/seven TDs receiving, one punt-return TD, 90 tackles/three for a loss, two interceptions/one for TD; LB Elijah Hawkins — 120 tackles/14 for a loss/five sacks.

Boyle County Rebels: (42.5 ppg, 12.2 papg) QB Jagger Gillis — 2,247 yards/27 TDs passing, 422 yards/12 TDs rushing; RB Avery Bodner — 1,030 yards/13 TDs rushing, 162 yards/two TDs receiving; WR Cole Lanter — 1,111 yards/19 TDs receiving, 227 yards/four TDs rushing; DE Tommy Ziesmer — 53 tackles/10 for a loss/10 sacks; LB Dalton Stone — 80 tackles/14 for a loss/one sack.

Pedigree: Logan County has not reached a state finals; Boyle County has won nine state titles (including last year) in 11 finals appearances.

Note: Boyle County’s Lanter accepted a preferred walk-on offer from Kentucky this week.

@HLpreps pick: Boyle County 35, Logan County 13.

NO. 5 FRANKLIN COUNTY (10-3) AT NO. 4 JOHNSON CENTRAL (11-2), 7:30 P.M.

Franklin County Flyers: (36.3 ppg, 11.5 papg) RB Kaden Moorman — 1,328 yards/25 TDs rushing, 169 yards/two TDs receiving, two kickoff-return TDs; QB/DB Gavin Hurst — 1,056 yards/11 TDs passing, 251 yards/two TDs rushing, 20 tackles, four interceptions; WR/DB Zach Claudio — 594 yards/five TDs receiving, 140 yards/two TDs rushing, 33 tackles four interceptions; LB Brenton Sears — 117 tackles/nine for a loss/2.5 sacks.

Johnson Central Golden Eagles: (43.5 ppg, 15 papg) RB Zack McCoart — 977 yards/15 TDs; RB Matt Crum — 736 yards/nine TDs; QB Grant Rice — 312 yards/four TDs passing, 465 yards/11 TDs rushing; RB Carter Conley — 603 yards/nine TDs; LB Mason Lemaster — 93 tackles/6.5 for a loss/one sack; DT Jesse McCoy — 54 tackles/six for a loss/five sacks.

Pedigree: Franklin County — Reached state finals last year. Johnson Central — Two state titles (2016, 2019) in five finals appearances.

Note: This is a rematch of last season’s Class 4A state semifinal, a game Franklin County won 20-12 at Johnson Central.

@HLpreps pick: Franklin County 21, Johnson Central 19.

Woodford County’s Jacob Jackson (1) celebrates scoring a touchdown with Preston Stacy (36) during a Yellow Jackets win this season. Woodford County is seeking its first state championship.
Woodford County’s Jacob Jackson (1) celebrates scoring a touchdown with Preston Stacy (36) during a Yellow Jackets win this season. Woodford County is seeking its first state championship.

Class 5A

NO. 3 OWENSBORO (12-1) AT NO. 2 FREDERICK DOUGLASS (12-1), 6 P.M.

Owensboro Red Devils: (48.5 ppg, 15.8 papg) QB Kasey Boone — 1,304 yards/22 TDs passing, 73 yards/one TD rushing; RB Tramel Barksdale — 1,177 yards/14 TDs rushing, 95 yards/two TDs receiving; RB/DB Kenyatta Carbon — 654 yards/12 TDs rushing, 103 yards/three TDs receiving, 39 tackles, four interceptions; RB/LB Jeremiah Goodwin — 561 yards/eight TDs receiving, 49 tackles/17 for a loss/12 sacks; DL Sahvon Hines — 54 tackles/12 for a loss/six sacks.

Frederick Douglass Broncos: (41.8 ppg, 8.6 papg) QB Samuel Cornett — 2,123 yards/22 TDs passing, 82 yards/two TDs rushing; RB Davaun Hart — 409 yards/eight TDs rushing; RB TJ Horton — 374 yards/10 TDs rushing; RB/DB Ty Bryant — 247 yards/10 TDs rushing, 50 tackles/two for a loss, two interceptions/one for TD; WR Dane Key — 729 yards/seven TDs receiving, one kickoff-return TD; WR Cameron Dunn — 571 yards/seven TDs receiving, one kickoff-return TD; LB Caden Johnson 42 tackles/seven for a loss/two sacks.

Pedigree: Owensboro — Two state titles (1974, 1986) in seven finals appearances, including last year. Douglass — One state finals appearance (2019).

Note: This is the third straight meeting between these teams for a berth in the Class 5A state finals. The home team has won each time: Douglass 28-17 in 2019; Owensboro 28-27 in 2020.

@HLpreps pick: Douglass 28, Owensboro 21.

NO. 4 SOUTH WARREN (12-1) at NO. 1 WOODFORD COUNTY (13-0), 7:30 P.M.

South Warren Spartans: (37.6 ppg, 9.2 papg) QB Caden Veltkamp — 2,308 yards/30 TDs passing, 95 yards/seven TDs rushing; RB Kobe Martin — 1,026 yards/16 TDs rushing, 181 yards/two TDs receiving; WR Avrin Bell — 635 yards/nine TDs receiving; WR Mason Willingham — 513 yards/six TDs receiving; LB Tyler Snell — 90 tackles/15 for a loss/three sacks; DL Jake Jackson — 56 tackles/23 for a loss/10 sacks.

Woodford County Yellow Jackets: (47.9 ppg, 13.2 papg) QB Bryce Patterson — 2,096 yards/24 TDs passing, 413 yards/15 TDs rushing; RB Preston Stacy — 1,349 yards/13 TDs rushing, 182 yards/two TDs receiving; RB/LB Jackson Geilear — 727 yards/13 TDs rushing, 157 yards/two TDs receiving, 99 tackles/20 for a loss/three sacks; WR/DB Aden Nelson — 635 yards/eight TDs receiving; WR Makhi Smith — 519 yards/seven TDs receiving, 53 tackles/two for a loss, four interceptions; DE Grant Garrison — 51 tackles/10.5 for a loss/12 sacks.

Pedigree: South Warren — Two state titles (2015, 2018) in two finals appearances. Woodford County — One state finals appearance (1978).

Note: This year’s Yellow Jackets have set the school’s wins record. South Warren quarterback Caden Veltkamp is committed to Western Kentucky.

@HLpreps pick: Woodford County 28, South Warren 24.

Male’s Nic Schutte (12) runs the ball against Trinity during last year’s Class 6A state championship game, which Trinity won 28-0.
Male’s Nic Schutte (12) runs the ball against Trinity during last year’s Class 6A state championship game, which Trinity won 28-0.

Class 6A

NO. 19 TRINITY (6-7) AT NO. 1 MALE (12-0), 7 P.M.

Trinity Shamrocks: (33.2 ppg, 24.4 papg) QB Brady Willis — 1,999 yards/21 TDs passing, 543 yards/seven TDs rushing; RB Armon Tucker — 605 yards/10 TDs rushing; WR Chris Whittington — 525 yards/seven TDs receiving; WR Colin Bratcher — 440 yards/four TDs receiving; LB Cole Wickliff — five sacks. *Trinity doesn’t post tackle stats to KHSAA website.

Male Bulldogs: (41.7 ppg, 6.6 papg) QB Nic Schutte — 2,282 yards/28 TDs passing, 75 yards/two TDs rushing; RB Daniel Swinney — 1,377 yards/23 TDs rushing, 285 yards/three TDs receiving; WR Vinny Anthony — 912 yards/12 TDs receiving, one kickoff return TD; LB Elijah Manning — 84 tackles/two for a loss; LB Noah Thomas — 55 tackles/16 for a loss/seven sacks.

Pedigree: Trinity — 27 state titles (last in 2020) in 31 finals appearances. Male — Eight state titles (last in 2018) in 16 finals appearances.

Note: Over the last two decades Trinity and Male have met 23 times, 11 of them in the playoffs, five of them for a state championship, including the last two Class 6A finals. Trinity has won 13 of the 23 matchups, including four state crowns.

@HLpreps pick: Male 19, Trinity 14.

NO. 7 MADISON CENTRAL (10-3) at NO. 2 ST. XAVIER (12-1), 6 P.M.

Madison Central Indians: (33.2 ppg, 14.4 papg) RB Brady Hensley — 1,684 yards/28 TDs rushing, 116 yards/two TDs receiving; RB Adrien Parks — 732 yards/six TDs rushing; QB Hagan Harrison — 567 yards/four TDs passing, 495 yards/four TDs rushing; WR Jayden West — 605 yards/four TDs receiving. DL Kyran Jackson — 61 tackles/13.5 for a loss/five sacks. DB Brock Eads — 55 tackles/seven for a loss/two sacks, four interceptions.

St. Xavier Tigers: (34.6 ppg, 13.7 papg) QB Jack Sivori — 1,906 yards/23 TDs passing, 1,038 yards/20 TDs rushing; RB Justin Walsh — 588 yards/three TDs rushing; WR Mekhi Smith — 706 yards/seven TDs receiving; WR Michael Duddy — 462 yards/eight TDs receiving. LB Luke Saner — 67 tackles/seven for a loss/six sacks.

Pedigree: Madison Central has not reached a state finals; St. Xavier — 12 state titles (last in 2009) in 17 finals appearances

Note: Madison Central Coach Mike Holcomb, who led Breathitt County to three state titles, has 299 career wins entering this contest. He ranks 13th on the state’s all-time wins list.

@HLpreps pick: St. Xavier 27, Madison Central 20.

Last week’s @HLpreps picks: 19-5.

Overall 2021 @HLpreps playoff picks: 58-14.

Last year’s @HLpreps state semis picks: 9-3.

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