Warriors, Maroons battle for district supremacy

It's one of the greatest high school football rivalries in the state of Kentucky. And, since its inception way back in 1993, it's been as close as a rivalry can get with upsets, blowouts, last-second victories -- you name it, this rivalry has seen it all throughout the years.

Yes, on Friday night it's 'The Game of the Year' for both Pulaski County and Southwestern, as the Maroons and Warriors renew a rivalry where, there's not a lot of love lost to be perfectly honest, between these two football programs.

First place in the district standings, and homefield advantage guaranteed for the first two rounds of the playoffs will be on the line Friday evening at PC Field in the annual Don Franklin Bowl, when these two bitter county foes square off one more time on the gridiron.

Meanwhile, Somerset will return home to Clark Field to face Washington County in the Briar Jumpers' regular season finale, while Wayne County finds itself in the unenviable position of going on the road to take on the number one team in Class 4A in the state of Kentucky in the Corbin Redhounds.

That's the backdrop for week 10 of the high school football season involving local teams.

SOUTHWESTERN AT

PULASKI COUNTY

(DON FRANKLIN BOWL)

As with most rivalries, the PC-Southwestern rivalry has seen it all, and it's a matchup that has been as even as one can be.

A look inside the numbers of the Maroons-Warriors football rivalry tells the story:

(1) The all-time series headed into Friday night's clash is even, at 17-17 after 34 matchups between these two Class 5A powers.

(2) The two teams have met in the playoffs six times, with each team going 3-3 in those contests.

(3) In the last five seasons, Southwestern holds a 5-4 edge, with the two teams splitting four playoff games.

(4) Johnny Hines is 14-14 all-time verses Southwestern as PC's head coach.

(5) In his first two seasons at Southwestern, Jason Foley is 3-1 against PC, with a 2-0 mark in the post season.

(6) PC is 8-3 in the Don Franklin Bowl; Southwestern has a record of 7-4.

And Friday's contest will add yet another chapter in this storied rivalry, where based on the past month, something's got to give.

Southwestern is 7-1 on the season -- with that one loss coming at Mercer County 23-22 -- and has won its last four games.

Pulaski County meanwhile -- 6-3 on the season -- is riding a five-game winning streak after a 1-3 start to the season.

Both teams are 3-0 in district play, so there's a lot on the line tonight -- bragging rights, first place in the district standings, and home field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Yes, the stakes are high once again this season. However, that is exactly what Johnny Hines says he expects each and every year when the Maroons and Warriors tee it up on the football field.

"This is the game of the year," stated Hines. "It's a game that means more than anything else. It's like Ohio State verses Michigan, Alabama verses Auburn, Oklahoma verses Texas, or USC verses UCLA -- this is the game of the year for both teams."

"Our kids look forward to this game, their kids look forward to it, and it's the game they talk about all year long," added the Pulaski County head coach. "You guys in the media talk about it all year long, and it's the game of the year -- no doubt about that. Records don't matter in this one. The amazing thing about this game for the past several years, is that this game has had a huge bearing on the district championship as well. No such thing as low stakes in this deal."

Friday's game will feature Pulaski County's aerial assault led by quarterback Drew Polston, going up against the vaunted rushing attack of Southwestern.

For the season, Polston has completed 140-193 pass attempts, good enough for a completion percentage of .730. The senior QB has thrown for 1,756 yards, to go along with 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

However, maybe the most important stat for Pulaski County, is that for the first time in three years, the Maroon quarterback is 100 percent healthy, and is actually going to get to play in this affair, after missing both of the playoff games (two losses for Pulaski County) against the Warriors the past two seasons due to various injuries.

Southwestern meanwhile has a tremendous backfield, led by the likes of Tanner Wright and Giddeon Brainard.

Wright leads the Warriors with 711 yards rushing on the season with nine touchdowns, while Brainard is right behind him with 618 yards rushing and six TD's.

Then you've got other guys like Connor Crisp, Dyland Bland, and Christian Walden in the Southwestern backfield, three guys that can take the ball to the house any time they touch it.

Those three have combined to rush for 957 yards this year to go along with 15 touchdowns, so one can see that the Pulaski County defense is going to be facing its stiffest challenge of the season when it comes to trying to stop the run.

The Warriors have had success on the ground all season long, and could very easily be a perfect, 8-0 on the season instead of 7-1.

Then, there's this.

This week would be a hectic and stressful week for any coach trying to get his team prepared for a 'Showdown' game against an arch-rival, but this week has been an especially trying week for Warrior head coach Jason Foley. Earlier in the week, Foley lost his long-time friend and his grandfather -- H.M. Bottom -- and dealing with that loss, while trying to get ready for Pulaski County has led to some very tough days indeed this past week.

"I lost my grandpa, and that's someone who has supported me all through my sports life," pointed out Foley. "He was a big supporter, and it's definitely been challenging, but I know he'd be wanting us to get ready and prepare, so that's what we're going to do."

While coach Foley has had to deal with that loss, he's at the same time been trying to get his team ready for a high stakes game against the Maroons.

Foley has a 3-1 record against Pulaski County in this matchup over the past couple of years, but he says his club is in for its biggest challenge of the season on Friday night.

The Southwestern coach says you can set aside highly touted Mercer County -- a 23-22 loss to the Titans. As he sees it, Foley says his club is going to be facing a huge challenge on Friday night.

"I think they (Maroons) are definitely the best team that we will have played up to this point of the season," stated coach Foley. "Watching them on film and evaluating them, PC is the best team that we've faced."

"This is a big game -- especially the way the district standings are -- because we're both 3-0 in the district. so this game is going to determine the one and two seeds, and homefield advantage," continued the Southwestern head coach. "So, this is a big game. We've tried to prepare like it is a big game. It's always a great game no matter what, and this is going to be another good one."

Tonight's game will be the annual Don Franklin Bowl, and the night will begin at 6 p.m. with the Pulaski County Youth Football League kicking things off at 6 p.m., featuring one school from the northern part of Pulaski County squaring off against a team from the south.

Hines says thanks to adding that game to the Don Franklin Bowl, it's going to make it a great night to celebrate football in the community, and will be a night for all fans to come out and enjoy.

"There will be a north team from PCYFL facing a south team, and we're going to introduce all the youth league teams and the cheerleaders, and all the folks that are part of the youth league -- we're thrilled to have them here to be our guests," stated Hines. "Also, there will be introductions to the new athletic Hall of Fame Class for Pulaski County High School -- we're excited about that."

"The nightcap will be PC verses Southwestern, which should be another great game," continued the Maroons head coach. "We're very grateful to all the folks with the Don Franklin Family of Dealerships being the sponsor of this bowl game, and heck, I'm sure they will have some cars here on hand, and would be willing to sell them on the spot. So, everybody needs to come out to see a great night of football."

Kickoff for the Southwestern-Pulaski County game will get underway some time around 8:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., depending on the length of the youth league football game and all of the pregame festivities.

Washington County at Somerset

This is a matchup of two teams that have both struggled mightily this year, with both teams coming in with identical, 0-2 records in district play.

The Briar Jumpers -- coming off their 63-13 loss at Lexington Christian last week -- finish off the regular season on Friday night by hosting the Washington County Commanders.

Simply put, Somerset needs a win, and in the worst way.

The Jumpers come into their final regular season game with a 1-8 record, with that one win being a 1-0 forfeit victory over Russell County.

Washington County meanwhile hasn't fared much better this season.

The Commanders are 3-6 on the year, and in their two previous district games against LCA and Danville, the Commanders have been outscored by a margin of 95-2. Yikes!

Somerset on the other hand has been trying to put a complete game together all season long. So far, that has not happened for coach Robbie Lucas and company.

At times, the Briar Jumpers have shown flashes of being a complete team, but take last week at LCA for example.

Guy Bailey led Somerset with 114 yards rushing and a TD in the loss to the Eagles, but the Somerset defense allowed LCA to put up 625 yards of total offense, with 433 of those yards coming on the ground.

LCA's Xavier Brown rushed for 154 yards and two TD's, and he did it on ONLY three carries. To get a win on Friday night against Washington County, Somerset's defense has to be better -- much better.

The Briar Jumpers are in the playoffs no matter the outcome of Friday night's game, but a loss means Somerset will more than likely be heading back to LCA for the first round of the post season, facing an Eagles team that beat the Jumpers by 50 points just last week.

Kickoff for the Washington County at Somerset game is set for 7:30 p.m.

Wayne County at Corbin

Wayne County limps into Corbin on Friday night with a 4-4 record on the season, and the Cards have a daunting task ahead of them playing on the Redhounds' home turf.

The Cardinals have lost their previous two games headed into Friday night -- district losses to Lincoln County and Knox Central.

Wayne County fell at Lincoln County two weeks ago, getting shutout against the Patriots by a 29-0 margin.

Last week playing at home against Knox Central, the Cards fell for the second week in a row by a count of 21-10.

In that loss to the Panthers last week, Antajuan Dumphord led Wayne County with 56 yards rushing, while Wesley Cares added 51 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Still, that wasn't enough for the Cards to pick up their first district win of the season.

Corbin meanwhile is the number-one ranked team in Class 4 A in the state of Kentucky, and is a perfect, 8-0 on the season. And, the Redhounds have steamrolled over just about every opponent that has lined up across from them in 2021.

The Redhounds are led on the ground by the one-two punch of Seth Mills and Seth Huff.

Mills leads Corbin with 767 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, while Huff has accumulated 405 yards rushing and seven TD's.

Then, there's speedster and UK signee Treyveon Longmire on the outside, who has 469 yards receiving this season and seven touchdowns.

Simply put, Wayne County has a tall order on Friday night in an attempt to snap its two-game losing skid.

Kickoff for the Wayne County at Corbin game is slated to get underway at 7:30 p.m.

Trending Video

Recommended for you