Here’s my class-by-class breakdown of the Kentucky high school football playoffs. All rankings from The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.
* Top 20 teams: No. 1 Trinity, No. 3 Scott County, No. 4 Simon Kenton, No. 6 St. Xavier, No. 7 Male, No. 8 Ryle, No. 9 Lafayette, No. 14 Conner, No. 15 McCracken County, No. 16 Pleasure Ridge Park, No. 18 Cooper.
* Final pick: Trinity over Scott County.
* Potential road blocks: Trinity is ranked No. 1 in the state, has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and should cruise into the state semifinals, where Male or St. Xavier likely will be waiting on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Scott County could have to face an undefeated Ryle squad in the third round, with the winner likely facing either Simon Kenton or Lafayette in the semifinals.
* Dark horse: With senior quarterback Walker Wood, a University of Kentucky commit, Lafayette is never out of a game. He’s accounted for 38 touchdowns (20 passing, 18 rushing) this season and could lead the Generals to the state final for the second straight year.
* Best first-round matchup: Pleasure Ridge Park (6-4) at McCracken County (7-3) is the only first-round matchup in any class that includes two Top 20 teams.
* Top 20 teams: No. 2 Bowling Green, No. 12 Covington Catholic, No. 13 Christian County.
* Final pick: Bowling Green over Southwestern.
* Potential road blocks: Bowling Green hasn’t been challenged by a 5-A team all season but could have to face a fairly tough road to the final with Christian County in the second round, Owensboro in the third round and a trip to Covington Catholic in the semifinals.
* Dark horse: Pulaski County has one of the state’s top receivers in Jake Johnson and would like to get a rematch with rival Southwestern in the third round. If the Maroons can avenge their 21-6 loss to the Warriors during the regular season, they could get to Bowling Green.
* Best first-round matchup: Highlands (3-7) at Doss (5-5). Bluebirds haven’t lost in the first round of the playoffs since 1991, but Dragons have a chance in this one.
* Top 20 teams: No. 11 Johnson Central, No. 19 Hopkinsville, No. 20 Franklin-Simpson.
* Final pick: Franklin-Simpson over Johnson Central.
* Potential road blocks: Franklin-Simpson could host Hopkinsville in what would be a big-time matchup in the third round. Johnson Central is a heavy favorite to win the East side of the bracket, though a potential matchup with Wayne County or Rockcastle County in the semifinals could prove tough.
* Dark horse: Shelby County reached the state semifinals last year and has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs this year. John Hardin could visit in the third round.
* Best first-round matchup: Knox Central (4-5-1) at Mercer County (6-4) looks to be a good one.
* Top 20 teams: No. 5 Belfry, No. 17 Corbin.
* Final pick: Belfry over Lexington Catholic.
* Potential road blocks: Belfry likely will have to travel to Corbin in the state semifinals in what could be a classic. Lexington Catholic leads the top half of the bracket, but Caldwell County, Boyle County and Central all could make runs.
* Dark horse: Central has the talent and speed to make a run but will have to survive a likely Boyle County-Lexington Catholic double in the second and third rounds. If the Yellowjackets do get through, they would host the state semifinal.
* Best first-round matchup: Garrard County (5-5) at Central (5-5) matches two teams that like to run the ball.
* Top 20 team: No. 10 Mayfield.
* Final pick: Mayfield over Danville.
* Potential road blocks: Mayfield should have little trouble reaching the semifinals, where a trip to Louisville to face either Christian Academy or DeSales likely awaits. Danville lost to Lexington Christian 42-40 on Oct. 21 and could get a rematch in the third round.
* Dark horse: Newport Central Catholic always seems to be in the hunt, so it’s hard to consider the Thoroughbreds true dark horses. But their 5-5 record means they’ll likely be overlooked by many.
* Best first-round matchup: Somerset (6-4) at Prestonsburg (6-4) could provide fireworks, as both teams average more than 31 points per game.
* Top 20 teams: None.
* Final pick: Beechwood over Paintsville.
* Potential road blocks: Beechwood should have little trouble reaching the semifinals, where a matchup with Russellville likely awaits. Paintsville faces a tough road in the bottom half of the bracket, with potential matchups against Raceland in the third round and defending champ Pikeville in the semifinals.
* Dark horse: Raceland dropped a 27-21 overtime decision to Paintsville on Oct. 21 and would love to get a rematch in the third round.
* Best first-round matchup: Fairview (4-5) at Bracken County (8-2) looks to be an even matchup.