Football

Class A final preview/pick | Beechwood vs. Hazard

Beechwood RB Aiden Justice celebrates his TD with teammates in the game against Kentucky Country Day in the KHSAA Football Playoffs at Beechwood High School.

Beechwood RB Aiden Justice celebrates his TD with teammates in the game against Kentucky Country Day in the KHSAA Football Playoffs at Beechwood High School.

CLASS A STATE FOOTBALL FINAL

BEECHWOOD VS. HAZARD

When: 8 p.m. EST Friday.

Where: Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green.

BEECHWOOD TIGERS (13-1)

* Coach: Noel Rash (11th year).

* Top rushers: Aiden Justice (5-9, 182, Sr., 156 carries, 1,074 yards, 17 TDs); James Davis (5-11, 185, Jr., 112 carries, 827 yards, 12 TDs).

* Top passer: Brayden Burch (6-1, 185, Jr., 135 of 210, 2,245 yards, 26 TDs, 6 INTs).

* Top receivers: Aiden Justice (5-9, 182, Sr., 29 catches, 582 yards, 7 TDs); Garrett Ratliff (6-2, 185, Sr., 25 catches, 348 yards, 2 TDs); Daniel Mescher (5-11, 184, Jr., 23 catches, 458 yards, 3 TDs); Logan Castleman (5-10, 182, So., 20 catches, 324 yards, 6 TDs).

* Defensive leaders (top tacklers not available): Elijah McKenney (5-8, 175, Jr., 7 INTs); Jake Massie (5-10, 170, Jr., 2 INTs).

* State-final history: Beechwood is 11-5 all-time in state finals after falling to Pikeville 42-28 in last year’s final. The Tigers’ last championship came in 2008.

HAZARD BULLDOGS (12-2)

* Coach: Mark Dixon (14th year).

* Top rushers: Cory Smith (6-0, 205, Jr., 301 carries, 2,777 yards, 38 TDs); Bailey Blair (5-8, 140, So., 70 carries, 336 yards, 3 TDs).

* Top passer: Bailey Blair (5-8, 140, So., 131 of 205, 2,253 yards, 20 TDs, 8 INTs).

* Top receivers: Jason Johnson (6-1, 160, Sr., 67 catches, 1,119 yards, 7 TDs); Braxton Whitaker (6-1, 155, Jr., 19 catches, 446 yards, 6 TDs); Skylar Pelfrey (6-1, 160, So., 18 catches, 371 yards, 2 TDs).

* Defensive leaders: Kade Holland (6-2, 180, Jr., 100 tackles); Ethan Caldwell (5-10, 205, Sr., 82 tackles, 1 INT); Skylar Pelfrey (6-1, 160, So., 82 tackles, 1 INT); Braxton Whitaker (6-1, 155, Jr., 79 Tackles, 7 INTs); Andy Baker (5-5, 140, So., 55 Tackles, 4 INTs).

* State-final history: Hazard is 1-2 all-time in state finals. Its last appearance and only state title came in 2011, when the Bulldogs beat Mayfield 24-6.

OUTLOOK

Both teams can light up the scoreboard, with the Tigers averaging 41.6 points per game and the Bulldogs averaging 40.1. Cory Smith has been a workhorse for Hazard, scoring 15 touchdowns over four playoff games, so he’ll be the focus of a Beechwood defense that is allowing just 11.9 points per game.

PICK

Beechwood 28-14. Tigers’ defense will be the difference in this one.

0 comments