Local teams will finish up district play tonight

Week 10 will finish out the local team's district slates, as Pulaski County will host county school rival Southwestern, and Somerset will host Washington County. The Southwestern and Pulaski County game has no bearings on post-season play, as the Maroons have locked up the top seed and Southwestern is the four seed. Pulaski County is 3-0 in district play, while Southwestern is 1-2.

The two local county teams will meet each other again in the opening round of the post-season playoffs.

Meanwhile, Somerset must win against Washington County to secure the Briar Jumpers' district two-seed, which would guarantee a playoff first-round home game. Somerset is 1-1 in district play, while Washington County is 0-2

Washington County at #3 Somerset

LAST WEEK: In the much-anticipated showdown between two of the best teams in the state (Class 2A), Somerset and Lexington Christian did not disappoint. In the end, LCA pulled out the narrow 35-34 win on a two-point conversion after the Eagles' last score in the closing minutes of the game

"I am sure as a fan the game was fun to watch, but as a coach it was not," Somerset football coach Robbie Lucas stated. "We had breakdowns in all phases of the game, plus coaching. That is not a shot at Lexington Christian, or taking away anything they did and they made a lot of great plays. Coaching wise, we need to do better in offense, defense and special teams."

"It was a heck of a ball game and our hats are off to (LCA) because they won it at their place and they secured the district title, and if we are lucky enough we will see them in about a month," Lucas added. "Their no-huddle offense took us back a little because you don't get to get in the blitz you want or get in the sets you want. They run their offense very quickly and almost to a perfect tempo. Them running their system the way they do, us getting adjusted to it and it took us about a half to adjust. Also, they had several great athletes that made plays for them."

"It was a good high school football game, but not the outcome we wanted. Even a loss can be a good loss if you learn something from it," Lucas said. "I was really happy with Cam Austin and Mikey Garland on how they ran the ball, and Kaiya (Sheron) ran the ball well. Kade Grundy played extremely well and made several big plays. On defense, Kade held the leading receiver in the state to only three catches, which is exceptional. Kade plays offense and defense, he punts for us and returns punts for us."

"This is the first time we have lost (this season) and anytime you lose you will see some fracture with some players," Lucas stated. "As a coaching staff, our angst was very high and we wanted to win that game badly."

THIS WEEK: While Washington County has had their struggles this season, they are not without an extremely talented quarterback Jatavian Churchill - who has thrown for 906 yards and rushed for another 996 yards.

"Their quarterback is as a good of athlete as you will see,:" Lucas stated. "He is the kind of guy that can slip, slide, and slither, and move all over the place. And their running back Mike Ellery is really good, who is a tough load once he gets going. Also, Javontae Wright is a very good receiver."

"Washington County could easily put us out on Friday night," Lucas warned. "They are a really good football team that if we don't pay attention to one loss could turn into two, and two losses could turn into three. So, certainly this week is big for us."

Despite Washington County's talented offense, Lucas wants to put the LCA game behind him and hopes his players will too.

"We have to refocus on this game and not let LCA beat us twice," Lucas said. "It is also Senior Night and I always worry about the emotion of that. It happened in the LCA game, but that adrenaline is so intense that we drain towards the end of the game. Sometimes you can give so much so early that you get deadlegged towards the end of the game. So, we have to control our emotions."

INJURIES: Somerset players Mikey Garland, Tate Madden and Connor Speaks are battling shoulder injuries, but all three are expected to play on Friday night. The Briar Jumper's biggest health issue right now is a widespread flu virus. According to Coach Lucas, 16 players missed their Monday practice with illness.

Somerset (7-1) and Washington County (4-4) will kick-off at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 25 at William Clark Field.

Southwestern at #8 Pulaski County

For the 31st time in nearly 26 years, Pulaski County and Southwestern will go at it in an always competitive county school showdown. In their previous 30 meetings, Pulaski County has won 16 times and Southwestern has won 14 times.

"You can always throw out the records for this game," Pulaski County High School football coach Johnny Hines stated. "This is the battle of the year and regardless of what won-loss record each team has, it is going to be a battle from start to finish and it always has been."

And while this is the first country school rivalry game as the Warrior head coach, Jason Foley has watched many of these games over the past several years.

"This game is always a big game, and I have watched many of these games over the years," Foley stated. "It is always a very exciting rivalry game. It's fun for the community to watch, and the kids look forward to it."

Both coaches have respect for the talent their opponents possess.

"Southwestern has so many weapons, so much talent, so much speed, and so much elusiveness," Hines stated. "The players they have are just amazing, and the way that they play. Every year Southwestern has incredible talent."

"We have got to find some way to slow down their incredible speed and their wealth of talent from guys like Xavier Streeter, Chase Doan, Tanner Wright and Austin Barnes," Hines stated. "And that is just a few of the great athletes they have on their team. Their front lines are good with the way they play and their technique. It is really hard to find any kind of weakness anywhere with Southwestern. We have got to find ways to score points against Southwestern and slow down their explosiveness."

Likewise, Foley has many concerns about the Maroons.

"We have a big task on our hands, and we understand Pulaski has a very good football team," Foley stated. "They have had a very good season, and won some close games - so they are battle tested. They are strong defensively, and have a great offensive attack as well."

"Pulaski's passing attack in extremely strong with their tall, long receivers," Foley continued. "Drew Polston is a tremendous sophomore quarterback, and I think he is the glue to the team. He does a lot of things that makes it defensively hard to prepare for, because you try to take one thing away from him and then he takes advantage of another aspect of their offense. And of course, everyone knows about Tristan Cox and Jake Sloan, who both make plays all over the field."

"Defensively, we have got to try to limit Pulaski's big plays and offensively we have got to be able to move the sticks," Foley stated. "Hopefully, we can have some ball control throughout the game and have a chance to pull it off in the fourth quarter."

The fact that Pulaski County and Southwestern will battle again in two more weeks in the opening round of the playoffs, makes Friday night's Superintendent's Bowl even more interesting.

"This is an interesting situation with the new district alignment post-season play," Foley stated. "We are preparing for this game on Friday, but I think we can both learn a lot in preparation for the next game."

Either way, Hines feels the game on Friday is just as big as the game the will play against Southwestern in the playoffs.

"Anytime you play Southwestern, it is the game of the year whether it is once a year or twice a year, "Hines said.

Prior to Friday's county school match-up the two teams had played each other for five straight district championship games. Also, the two local teams have played each other for 3 for the last 5 years in regional title games, with Pulaski County downing Southwestern 12-6 for the last one in 2018.

INJURIES: Pulaski County standout tight end Grant Oakes is improving and may see some limited action on Friday night. Konner Hargis, Chase Parmelee and Brysen Dugger have all been healing from shoulder injuries, and are expected to play on Friday.

The Warriors are probably as healthy as they have ever been this season, with several players returning to their line-up over the past few weeks, Defensive end Dylan Asher went down with an injury last week, but will be hopefully for Friday's game at PC. Cameron Pierce will be back, but Kenny Robinson is doubtful with a quad injury.

Pulaski County (7-1) and Southwestern (3-5) will kick-off at 7:30 p.m., on Friday, Oct. 25, at Maroons Stadium.

STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at sports@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.

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