On Friday night, the formula is indeed a simple one -- Win or go Home.
It's the first round of the football playoffs in Kentucky, and both Southwestern and Pulaski County will begin their march toward a Class 5A State Championship with home games, while the Somerset Briar Jumpers will kick off the Class 2A playoffs on the road against an old nemesis.
The Wayne County Cardinals meanwhile have a very daunting task indeed, beginning the Class 4A playoffs against highly touted Corbin on the Redhounds home turf.
That's the backdrop for 'Elimination', as the playoffs kick off on Friday evening when it's win and advance, or lose, and wait until next year.
NORTH LAUREL AT PULASKI COUNTY
Pulaski County and North Laurel are heading into the post season in opposite directions.
The 8-2 Jaguars roll into PC Field in the midst of a three-game winning steak, while the 6-4 Maroons begin their playoff push coming off a very disappointing, 42-14 loss to arch-rival Southwestern two weeks ago; a game that saw Pulaski County turn the ball over five times.
However, the Maroons had their bye week last Friday to rest up and tweak some things, and head coach Johnny Hines says his club has learned from its mistakes from two weeks ago, and is more than ready to kick off its march into the playoffs.
"When you start in the playoffs, everybody is 0-0, and it really doesn't matter how many games you won or how many games you lost in the regular season," pointed out the Pulaski County head coach. "As long as you earned your way into the playoffs, everybody's got a realistic chance. You have to take things one day at a time, and that's exactly what we preach to our kids every day."
"The Southwestern game is in our rear view mirror," added the Maroons coach. "We learned from it, we suffered through it, we studied the film, and we know what we did wrong and what we did right, and we worked on those things. The open week was good for us. We had some really good practices, we got back to working on some fundamental things, and I think our guys are ready to come out and show just how good of a football team we have."
In playing the Jags again, it will not be an easy task according to Hines.
In the regular season meeting between the two clubs back on October 8th, PC had its way with the Jags, knocking off North Laurel by a score of 40-16 in London.
In that contest, quarterback Drew Polston connected on 22-27 pass attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns, while Braden Gipson led PC's rushing attack with 86 yards on nine carries and a score.
Then, there are these two little nuggets to consider in Friday's matchup between the Jags and the Maroons in round two.
Number one -- Simply, Pulaski County has owned North Laurel of late -- OWNED.
The Maroons have defeated North Laurel the last nine times the two clubs have met, with the Jaguars not owning a win over Pulaski County since way back in the season opener of 2009, when North defeated PC 36-33 in the closing seconds. In fact, in the all-time series between the Jags and the Maroons, PC leads it 14-2; Maroons OWN North Laurel.
Number two -- Pulaski County simply doesn't seem to lose at home in the playoffs.
Over the last 10 seasons, dating all the way back to the beginning of the 2011 campaign, Pulaski County has amassed a home playoff record of 16-4; good enough for a winning percentage of .800.
Still, Hines says despite all of that history and the earlier meeting this season with the Jaguars -- a 24-point Pulaski County win -- the PC coach believes this is going to be a hard game and a stern test for his football club.
One reason why Hines is concerned is the fact the Jaguars are so balanced on offense.
North Laurel comes into Friday night's contest with almost a 50-50 split in yardage this season, having rushed for 1,846 yards on the ground, and having passed for 1,802 yards.
The PC head coach says that balance on offense makes North Laurel a hard team to try to defend against.
"They have diversified over at North Laurel over the last couple of years," Hines pointed out. "Tucker Warren is a young quarterback that can really throw it, and they've got some talent around him."
"We've talked before, this is the group that won the middle school state championship -- one of the best groups they've ever had -- and the majority of those kids are now sophomores," added Hines. "So, they've opened things up, and they throw the ball now a whole lot more than typical North Laurel style. They use spread formations to get you spread out on defense, where before, the old traditional North Laurel was three yards and a cloud of dust. I think we will see that style as well, where they will line up and try to run it, but we will also see three and four wide receivers spread out as well. They do a very good job at both running and passing the football."
Of course PC will pose some problems for North Laurel as well on Friday night.
Quarterback Drew Polston has thrown for 23 touchdowns on the season, and has thrown for 1,839 yards and 23 touchdowns, while hitting on 159-211 pass attempts, good enough for a completion percentage of .753.
Meanwhile, junior Chandler Godby has enjoyed a tremendous season, picking up the slack when PC's go-to wide receiver -- Barek Williams -- was lost in the second game of the season due to an ankle injury and missed six games.
In his absence, Godby has been Polston's favorite target, hauling in a team-high 59 receptions for 787 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Williams meanwhile has returned to the PC lineup, making the Maroons a dangerous team heading into the post season with a dynamic passing attack.
Kickoff for the Pulaski County--North Laurel game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
WHITLEY COUNTY AT SOUTHWESTERN
The Warriors are rolling into the playoffs, and I mean rolling.
Southwestern -- after an impressive, 26-0 win over Class 6A power Madison Central last week -- come into the playoffs ready for a deep run by welcoming in Whitley County to The Reservation on Friday night.
These two clubs met back on October 8th at The Reservation, with the Warriors throwing a beatdown over the Colonels by the tune of 50-16.
Southwestern has ran roughshod -- literally -- over just about every opponent that has lined up across from Jason Foley and crew this season.
The Warriors have rushed for 3,232 yards this season, and are led by a quality stable of running backs.
Tanner Wright leads Southwestern with 872 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns, while Giddeon Brainard has ran for 797 yards and 10 TD's as well.
On the other side of the ball, the Warriors have been equally impressive this year.
Cody Harmon, Maddox Mink, John Poe, Ezra Major, and Brainard have wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season long.
The Warriors have got it done for much of the season on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and that is yet another reason why a whole lot of media people from across the state of Kentucky are predicting big things and a deep run into the post season by the Warriors.
And, it all starts on Friday night when the 2-8 Colonels come into The Reservation for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
SOMERSET AT DANVILLE
This first round game in the Class 2A playoffs between these two old rivals is a rematch of their game back on October 8th at Clark Field, in a game won by the Admirals by a final score of 41-21.
Danville is 7-4 on the season, but two of those losses are 1-0 forfeits due to Covid 19.
In games the Ads have actually played in, only Bullitt East and Lexington Christian own victories over Danville.
Somerset meanwhile brings a 2-8 record into Friday's contest, and the Briar Jumpers are bringing in some momentum into the post season, coming off a very impressive, 56-20 win over Washington County two weeks ago.
In that contest, Guy Bailey set a school record for Somerset, rushing for an incredible, 408 yards on 24 carries and five touchdowns.
For the season, Somerset has only amassed 2,631 yards of total offense, averaging 263.1 yards per contest.
To get an upset over Danville, Somerset will need to rely heavily on the run game and Bailey, and who knows? It's the playoffs, so anything can happen. Danville will be a heavy favorite in this one, but in rival games such as this, anything can happen. Hopefully for Somerset, the Jumpers can find lightning in a bottle for the second game in a row.
Kickoff for the Somerset at Danville game is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m. from Admiral Stadium.
WAYNE COUNTY AT CORBIN
The Cardinals limp into this game against mighty and highly-touted Corbin with a 4-6 record on the season, and losers of their last four games.
One of those losses came at Corbin just two weeks ago, when the Redhounds knocked off the Cards by a 42-0 score.
In that game, Corbin's Seth Huff rushed for a game-high 129 yards and three touchdowns, while teammate Seth Mills ran for 90 yards and a TD.
Wayne County meanwhile only managed a total of 94 yards on the ground, led by Antajuan Dumphord and Nathaniel Sullivan, who each rushed for 34 yards in that loss.
Corbin has been a juggernaut all season long. The Redhounds are a perfect, 10-0 on the season, and are averaging 44.4 points per game, and are seemingly headed toward a trip to the carpet for a Class 4 A state title.
For Wayne County to have any shot whatsoever of a mammoth upset on Friday evening, the Cards are going to have to try to find a way to flip the script from the first meeting between these two district rivals; easier said than done.
Kickoff for the Wayne County--Corbin game is set for 7:30 p.m.