Perhaps area teams can catch fire with the little heat wave sweeping through the state this weekend.
Some will need any luck they can get.
Exceptionally tough opponents have been lying in wait.
Ashland, Covington Catholic, Lawrence County and Ironton have their collective hands full, while Fairview and Raceland figure to be on a collision course for a Class A regional championship.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Belfry 35, Lawrence County 12: The physical Pirates are stingy when it comes to ground getaways — they’ve outrushed opponents by nearly 200 yards a game. A 1,000-yard rusher himself, Bulldogs QB A.J. Cyrus may be forced to the air in this one. The Dawgs are capable of passing the football, but they’ve relied on the run for most of the season. Belfry will put the Bulldogs out of their comfort zone quickly as Lawrence County will attempt to merely make it more respectable than it turned out earlier this season (41-6 loss).
Fairview 44, Nicholas County 14: Nicholas County has a habit of making things interesting when they shouldn’t be. However, tonight, the Eagles make a statement by bruising the Bluejackets with their arsenal of weapons on both sides of the ball.
Highlands 38, Ashland 17: There’s not a more balanced team in Class 4A than Highlands. There may not be too many more balanced high school teams in the country than Highlands. Check it out: 2,857 rushing yards on 354 plays; 2,666 rushing yards on 267 plays. Nine different players have carries, and 16 different players have catches. Sheez! How do you defend it? Ashland’s fantastic season comes to a close, but the Tomcats don’t go down without a fight.
Covington Catholic 30, Johnson Central 22: I know the Golden Eagles have a positive history against Covington Catholic, but based on some of the numbers the Colonels are throwing up (and their opponents’ lackthereof) every week, home field advantage might not be quite enough for Johnson Central this time. Zach Gound has done an admirable job at quarterback this season, and he, along with those home fans, allow Central to make it close. CovCath by a score.
Ironton 34, Johnstown-Monroe 26: I don’t know much about the Johnnies, but because of Ironton’s challenging schedule, I think the Fighting Tigers will become the first team that doesn’t rhyme with Anville to beat them. Johnstown-Monroe’s two losses were against Danville and Granville.
Raceland 42, Pikeville 20: While I was impressed with the Panthers’ sophomore quarterback, Austin Charles, in the team’s Week 3 matchup with the Rams, Pikeville was overall overwhelmed. Youth is all over the place for the defending regional champions. Their run ends much earlier this year as Raceland takes care of business on the road using hard-nosed front line play.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.