It's round two on Friday night between the 10-1 Southwestern Warriors and the 7-4 Pulaski County Maroons at The Reservation, as these two fierce arch-rivals will battle it out again this season for a district championship.
Both teams come into Friday's contest with plenty of momentum.
Southwestern is in the midst of an amazing season, with a 10-1 record -- with that lone loss being a 23-22 setback to Mercer County. The Warriors rolled in their playoff opener last week, totally outclassing Whitley County by a 41-6 margin.
And, one of those 10 wins came just three weeks ago, when the Warriors went to PC Field and totally dismantled a Pulaski County team by a 42-14 margin, forcing five Maroon turnovers along the way. But, we've seen this movie before, haven't we?
In both 2014 and again in the 2016 season, the Warriors knocked off Pulaski County in the regular season matchup, only to see the Maroons win the rematch in regional title games in both years -- PC rode that 2014 win over the Warriors all the way to a state championship title. Pulaski County also owns a win over the Warriors in the 2018 regional championship game, giving the Maroons a 3-0 record against the Warriors in that round of the playoffs.
However, in recent history, Southwestern has had Pulaski County's number in the playoffs, knocking off the Maroons in the post season the previous two seasons.
Friday night's matchup will mark the 11th time the Maroons and Warriors have battled it out for a district title, with PC owning a 7-3 mark over Southwestern. However, the Warriors are 4-1 against Pulaski County over their last five meetings.
The Maroons were very impressive in their playoff opener last week, with a convincing, 40-14 victory over North Laurel, in a game that saw PC lead in the fourth quarter by a 40-0 margin over the Jaguars.
So, what does all of this mean? Who knows? One thing is for certain. Friday's matchup should be another great tilt, as these two football programs will meet in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.
Both coaches think this game is going to be a great contest -- one that figures to be closer than the previous meeting three weeks ago; a 28-point Southwestern victory.
"Our kids are still very excited about the fact they are able to still be playing football in the second round of the playoffs," stated Pulaski County head coach Johnny Hines. "That's a major accomplishment, and we're excited that we've been able to get this far -- it's an honor to still be playing."
"Southwestern is a very good football team," Hines continued. "We know that -- everybody knows that. Not too many people are giving us too much of a chance, but hey, what's new? Nobody ever gives us much of a chance in these kind of games. But, we're going to show up, and we'll come ready to play, and we're going to give it everything we've got."
As for Foley, the Southwestern coach says no matter what happened in the previous meeting between these two clubs three weeks ago, he expects a hard-fought football game on Friday night against a Pulaski County team that he calls a very dangerous opponent.
"My opinion has not changed one bit -- Pulaski County is a very good football team," stated the Southwestern head coach. "You know, you play a rivalry game two times in three weeks, and you especially play this game two times in three weeks, there's a lot of things that can change."
"We've seen that in the past in this rivalry, from game one to game two," Foley added. "We definitely have full respect for Pulaski County. Looking back at the last game, I thought we did a real good job of capitalizing on the mistakes that they made. But, we know they're not going to make those same mistakes again. We understand this game is going to be a war -- I believe that it's going to be a great game between two very good football teams."
Both teams come into Friday night's clash with much momentum.
Southwestern ran roughshod over Whitley County last week by that 41-6 margin, and the Warriors did a lot of that damage through the air.
Quarterback Collin Burton hit on 9-11 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns, while freshman QB Ryan Anderson threw a pass for another TD.
Dylan Bland hauled in two receptions for touchdowns, while Christian Walden and Mason Hibbard also had TD catches.
Still, the Warriors bread and butter is the ground game.
Southwestern has rushed for 3,423 yards this season, led by Tanner Wright who has accumulated 936 yards rushing and 10 TD's. Giddeon Brainard meanwhile is the other punch in that one-two combination, rushing for 848 yards and 11 TD's. Then, there's the talented sophomore Walden, who has ran for 535 yards and seven scores this year.
"We've got some great kids, and my coaching staff has done a great job this year," pointed out coach Foley. "We've gotten better from start to finish in learning our players, and what we need to do to make our team the very best."
"I think in the area of special teams and defense we've improved drastically from where we were at the beginning of the season," added the Warriors head coach. "We certainly are taking it one game at a time. We know at this point of the season every game is tough. There are no easy games. If you don't show up to play, it will get you."
Pulaski County meanwhile dump-trucked North Laurel last week, racing out to a 40-0 lead, and put the jayvee team in before the Jaguars even got a sniff of being near the end zone.
In that contest, quarterback Drew Polston hit on 31-38 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns. Wide out Chandler Godby had a huge night in the win, hauling in 11 receptions for 221 yards and four TD's.
Polston has enjoyed a phenomenal season, completing 190-249 passes for 2,261 yards and 28 touchdowns.
"I thought we played very well in that win over North Laurel last week, and you know they made some of those same kind of mistakes that we made against Southwestern, that gave us some turnovers and an opportunity to jump out on them early," pointed out Hines.
"We got out to a big lead and caused them a lot of problems, and they were never able to get back into the ballgame," said the PC head coach. "We are fully aware of what we're headed into on Friday night. We're playing a very good Southwestern football team that will be playing this game on its home field. We're going to go over there and lace them up, and go out and play this game as hard as we can and take our best shot."
Kickoff for the PC at Southwestern game is set to get underway on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
The game will be broadcast on iHeartRadio of Somerset on LAKE 102.3 FM, beginning with the pregame show at 7:15 p.m.
"We are fully aware of what we're headed into on Friday night. We're playing a very good Southwestern football team that will be playing this game on its home field. We're going to go over there and lace them up, and go out and play this game as hard as we can and take our best shot."
Pulaski County Head Football Coach
"We definitely have full respect for Pulaski County. Looking back at the last game, I thought we did a real good job of capitalizing on the mistakes that they made. But, we know they're not going to make those same mistakes again. We understand this game is going to be a war -- I believe that it's going to be a great game between two very good football teams."
Southwestern Head Football Coach