The 3-0 Southwestern Warriors – fresh off of last Friday's bye week -- return to action Friday night on the road in arguably what could be the Warriors stiffest test of the season up to date.
The Somerset Briar Jumpers will also be on the road Friday in another very tough matchup for Robbie Lucas and crew, as the 1-3 Jumpers go on the road to take on an old nemesis – the Corbin Redhounds – who just so happen to be the number one ranked team in Class 4A.
Meanwhile, the Pulaski County Maroons – losers of their last three games against a Class 4A gauntlet of Lexington Catholic, Boyle County, and Corbin – return home Friday in the hopes of breaking that losing skid against the 1-3 Madison Southern Eagles.
And, rounding out action involving local teams, the Wayne County Cardinals – also coming off a bye week – will be back at home Friday to face a McCreary Central team that has won its last two games of the season.
That is the backdrop of week 5 heading in to tonight's matchups.
SOUTHWESTERN AT MERCER COUNTY
This game features – not only two of the best football teams in the state of Kentucky in their respective classes – but it is also a game that features two high-powered offenses.
Southwestern is 3-0 on the year, and is averaging 56.6 points per contest.
Jason Foley's club is coming off an impressive, 62-33 win over Class 6A foe Simon Kenton two weeks ago, in a game that saw the Warriors rush for 392 yards, and rack up 528 yards of total offense.
Tanner Wright led the Warrior rushing attack in that win over the Pioneers with 165 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns, while Dylan Bland carried the ball six times for 80 yards, and scored 3 TD's.
Pretty impressive numbers indeed.
"I'm happy with where we are at as a football team, but I am not satisfied, because we know we can get better," stated Foley earlier this week. "We definitely think we can improve in certain aspects."
"The thing that I do feel real confident in right now is that we've got so many kids making plays," added the Southwestern head coach. "When you do that, you're hard to defend. I think we've got eight to 10 guys that you have to worry about, and I think that is definitely helping us, because we're able to wear teams down as the game goes on."
Southwestern has been on a roll since the season kicked off a month ago.
The Warriors have put up points, and put them up in a hurry regardless of the opponent.
Southwestern has wins over Madison Southern 55-14, West Jessamine 55-25, and the last time out a 62-33 win over Simon Kenton.
In those three wins, the Warriors have rolled up 1,229 yards rushing, and have been impressive in doing it.
So coach Foley, did the bye week come at a good time, or a bad one, considering all the momentum your team has had going for it over the first three weeks of the season?
"Truthfully, we would have rather kept going and played last week, but it's just one of those things that is where our bye week fell this year," pointed out Foley.
"When we did the schedule, it's just the way it worked out," he added. "We didn't want to take it in week four, but that was the week where we weren't able to schedule a game, so it is what it is. It did allow us to get some guys that were banged up some rest, but we also have now had some guys that have gotten banged up, so we may have two or three out for this week's game against Mercer County."
In Mercer County, the Titans arguably will present Southwestern with its stiffest test to date.
David Buchanan's team – 3-1 on the season and ranked number three or four in Class 3 A depending on which poll you look at – have some offensive weapons as well, and like Southwestern can put points up on the scoreboard in a hurry.
Take for instance Mercer County's last two games.
The Titans have defeated Anderson County 58-12, and last week pitched a shutout over Western 45-0.
Mercer County is led by Brayden Dunn, who has rushed for 329 yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season, and the Titans are quarterbacked by the coach's son in Trosper Buchanan.
And, this game is at Mercer County, which can be a very, very tough place to play. Simply put, this should be a stern test for the Warriors.
"Mercer County has a really good rushing attack, they've got some different kids that can rush the football, and on top of that they've got a senior at quarterback in (Trosper) Buchanan who is the coach's son, and he's got a really good grasp of the offense," pointed out Foley. "And, he can really hurt you with play-action passing. They've got good balance on offense."
"This is a road game for us, they've gotten some really good wins, and they have all kinds of confidence, so yes, this is our probably our stiffest test to date," Foley added. "This will be a very good indicator of where we are, and it will give us an idea of things we need to work on."
SOMERSET AT CORBIN
This is probably the biggest David vs. Goliath matchup in the state of Kentucky tonight.
In Corbin, you've got a team that is 4-0 on the season, ranked number one in the state of Kentucky in Class 4A, and is a team coming off of last week's impressive, 49-6 drubbing over Pulaski County, in a game where the Redhounds won the turnover battle over the Maroons by a count of 5-0.
Somerset meanwhile, comes in with a 1-3 mark, but that lone victory was a 1-0 forfeit win over Russell County. On the field in games actually played, the Briar Jumpers have struggled mightily, losing all three times they've suited up to play.
Robbie Lucas' club fell last week to a previously winless Paintsville club by a final of 33-6, and looked very ugly in doing so. Prior to that game, Somerset's losses were to Lincoln County 50-20, and a 49-0 setback to Beechwood. Now losses to Lincoln County and Beechwood are nothing to be ashamed of, as those are two pretty good football teams. Last week however may have been a head scratcher of sorts in that loss to the Tigers.
The lone bright spot last Friday for the Briar Jumpers was Guy Bailey, who led Somerset with 103 yards rushing in the loss to the Tigers.
Meanwhile, Corbin rushed for 227 yards in that win last week over PC, led by Seth Mills who gained 118 yards on the ground and scored two TD's while carrying the ball only 10 times.
The Redhounds do not throw the ball a great deal, but in Cameron Combs, Corbin does have a guy that can get the ball downfield, as he has completed 28-48 pass attempts this season for 382 yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile on the outside, Corbin has two speedsters in Treyveon Longmire who has signed with the University of Kentucky, and Dakota Patterson who is being recruited by UK.
On paper at least, this one has all the indications that this could be a very lopsided game. Then again, Robbie Lucas and crew have had their backs up against the wall before and shocked people. Tonight, we'll see if the purple and gold magic can work again.
MADISON SOUTHERN AT PULASKI COUNTY
The Eagles may be the perfect opponent for a 1-3 Pulaski County football team that is beat up – both mentally and physically. Are the Maroons the best 1-3 football team in the state of Kentucky? Could be.
Over the past three weeks, the Maroons have played a gauntlet of opponents in Class 4 A, in losses at Lexington Catholic, at Boyle County, and last week against Corbin.
The Maroons have had Madison Southern's number for the past several years, including last season, when the Eagles defense pitched a shutout against Johnny Hines and company, only to see Pulaski County block a punt in the closing minute for a game-winning touchdown, for a come from behind, 21-15 Maroon victory.
In that game last year, Pulaski County had two pick six's for scores, and the block punt returned for another score.
Since 1999, the two clubs have played 13 times, with Pulaski County holding an 11-2 edge in those matchups.
And, the Maroons may need some more of that good karma tonight at PC Field.
The PC offense has struggled of late, guilty of five turnovers in last week's 49-6 loss to Corbin.
Johnny Hines's team had several starters out last week due to being in quarantine, but you can bet the ole' ball coach has not used that one bit as an excuse for his team's performance in that loss last Friday to Corbin.
Hopefully, the Maroons get some of those guys back this week, to take on an Eagles team that is – like PC – 1-3 on the season.
However, two of those games are 1-0 forfeit losses due to Covid. The Eagles are actually coming in to tonight's game off their lone win of the season last week – a 23-19 victory over Lafayette. So, Jon Clark's team does bring a little momentum into tonight, while the Maroons are mired in a three-game losing streak.
Madison Southern boasts a great player in Walter Smith, who does just about everything for the Eagles. Smith will lineup and play at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and he will return kickoffs and punts. He's a 'Mr. Do Everything' for Madison Southern.
Meanwhile, Pulaski County's Brysen Dugger threw for 182 yards in that loss to Corbin last Friday, but he was picked off three times. And on top of that, Pulaski County was guilty of two fumbles. Losing the turnover battle 5-0 will not get it done. Pulaski County needs to clean things up offensively.
If the Maroons can take care of the football Friday night, Pulaski County has a shot to snap its three-game losing streak.
MCCREARY CENTRAL AT WAYNE COUNTY
Wayne County returns to action after last Friday's bye week, and the Cards come in with plenty of momentum.
Tyler Guffey's club won a thriller its last time out – a 23-20 win over Adair County.
Tonight, Wayne County – 2-1 on the season – take on the 2-2 McCreary Central Raiders.
The Raiders come into tonight with back to back wins over Clinton County – 36-22, and last week over Pineville – 33-26.
McCreary Central is led by Blake Botts, who has rushed for 426 yards and two TD's through McCreary Central's first four games to begin the year.
Quarterback Maddox McKinney has thrown for 292 yards and six touchdowns, and the Raiders are averaging just over 296 yards per contest offensively.
Wayne County meanwhile has gotten two outstanding games from quarterback Wesley Cares, as he leads the Cards rushing attack with 276 yards and seven TD's over the first two games (played) on the year.
Both of Wayne County's games the Cardinals have actually played this season have been on their home turf where they have a great home field advantage.