MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
Russell is in rare company. Of the 48 high school football teams left standing in the state, the Red Devils are one of just three squads to go from 0-3 to the regional finals.
Elizabethtown (0-3) and Trinity (0-5) are the others.
Granted, Trinity’s first-half schedule consisted of four first-rate out-of-state teams as well as Male.
The Red Devils relented 98 points over those first three games. They’ve allowed just 74 in nine games since.
Until Waggener tacked on 13 in the fourth quarter, it appeared as if Russell would post its ninth consecutive contest of 14 or fewer opposing points. Russell withstood the fourth-quarter outburst, though. Waggener had, a week prior, put together a fourth-period explosion to blow by West Carter in the opening round.
Defense has been steady for the Devils. On “Halftime Prep Talk,” sophomore Charlie Jachimczuk pointed
to senior Jacob Thompson as the secondary leader. Thompson has seven interceptions. “He’s been an amazing leader from the beginning,” said the fellow defensive back. “Even though we had the 0-3 start, we’ve really improved. Our safeties coach is coach (Garry) Morris and he’s taught us a ton.
“Not many teams have completed balls on us,” he added.
Nathan Conley paces Russell in tackles with 50-plus stops.
Russell’s rush defense outshined its pass prevention on Friday, limiting the Wildcats to only 38 yards on 14 tries.
Central will pack a thoroughly formidable attack to Henry R. Evans Stadium in four days.
With a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, the Yellow Jackets are run-heavy. However, in a case much like Russell’s, Central’s offense has taken a back seat to its punishing defense. It’s allowed 21 points over its last seven games. For non-math folks, that’s a measly three points a week.
Central denied Bardstown any success on Friday in a 56-0 thumping. The Jackets allowed 19 offensive yards and zero first downs.
Russell is up against some serious odds, but if any team can threaten to break a seemingly impenetrable barrier, it’s one that’s morphed a 0-3 record into a regional-final showing.
Three and out
•Raceland senior Dalton Adkins exited Friday’s playoff game against Paris in the first quarter. He did not return. According to Rams coach Michael Salmons, Adkins sustained an ankle injury. X-rays conducted at the University of Kentucky during Friday’s contest came back negative — which appears to be a positive sign. He will follow up with an orthopedist today. His status is currently unknown, said the coach.
Adkins is as impactful as any Ram on the field, on both sides of the ball.
If he is out, his replacement will obviously become a focal point in Paintsville’s game plan.
Another notable Raceland item: Quarterback Jake Heighton threw for five touchdowns on Friday. Since the KHSAA started recording game-by-game statistics in 2008, that’s the most TD passes any Rams QB has had in a playoff game.
•Ashland’s Keontae Pittman recorded back-to-back 100-plus-yard rushing efforts for the second time this season. He has 304 yards in the playoffs so far. Earlier this season against George Washington and Russell, both Pittman and quarterback Braxton Ratliff accounted for more than 100 rushing yards in two consecutive games.
•Johnson Central’s three-headed monster of Ryley Preece, Devin Johnson and Joe Jackson has been rather scary for opponents to encounter this fall. In 10 of the Golden Eagles’ 12 games, at least two of the trio found the end zone once or more. All three of them scored at least once in each of Johnson Central’s two postseason triumphs.
Playoff Power Rankings
(Area teams still playing) 1. Johnson Central (11-1) 2. Ashland (11-1) 3. Paintsville (10-2) 4. Raceland (10-2) 5. Russell (8-4)
Miss it? Here’s a recap of this weekend’s scores in games involving local teams: Boyle Co. 42, Lawrence Co. 8; Paintsville 42, Nicholas Co. 18; Ashland 27, Harrison Co. 6; Russell 23, Waggener 20; Johnson Central 50, Scott 7; and Raceland 49, Paris 19.
Halftime Prep Talk
Watch the show at dailyindependent. com or by visiting the “Halftime Prep Talk” Facebook page. Our latest promo features Russell coach T.J.
Maynard, Grant Wilburn and Charlie Jachimczuk. It may cause you to do a double-take.
What area receiving duo combined for five touchdowns from the same quarterback on Friday night? The first to answer correctly will receive an invitation to join the TDI Pick ’Em panel this week! Tweet, Facebook- message, email or call in your answer.
Reach AARON SNYDER at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DIndependentQB on Twitter.