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SHEPHERDSVILLE - The final week of district play can answer all the questions pertaining to the upcoming post-season pairings in Class 5-A.
On the other hand, it might not answer very many questions at all.
Bullitt Central and Bullitt East are familiar with the later scenario as they went through it last year, not knowing who would be playing who and where until after the final Friday night of the regular season.
The late waiting was caused by a three-way tie at the top of Class 5-A, District 4. That could happen again this season if Bullitt East pulls the upset this week and beats Shelby County in Mount Washington.
If Shelby County wins the game, then everything will be set and the final week of the regular season will be a week of preparation for the play-offs.
At this point, the only thing for sure in District 4 is that North Bullitt has the number four seed and will go on the road on Nov. 2, almost assuredly to play John Hardin.
If Shelby County beats Bullitt East, then the Rockets will have the number one seed while Bullitt Central will be number two and Bullitt East will be in the third position. The best bet with that scenario is that Shelby County will host North Hardin while Bullitt Central will host Grayson County. Bullitt East would then make a return trip into Jefferson County to take on Jeffersontown, a team they lost to 28-27 back on Aug. 24.
It gets a lot more complicated if Bullitt East beats Shelby County. First off, the three-way tie won’t be broken until after the final week of the regular season. There would be scenarios in the tie-breaker that could have either Shelby County or Bullitt Central in the first or second spot (the Cougars would have to beat Warren East in the final game of the regular season to be number one). Bullitt East really can’t get the best of Shelby County in a tie-breaker but they could pass Bullitt Central in another scenario and finish second.
Confused? That is life in a four-team district at this point in the season.
Chargers vs. Rockets
Bullitt East will look to put itself in position for a home play-off game as they play host to Shelby County on Friday.
The Rockets set atop Class 5-A, District 4 with a 2-0 record. Bullitt East is at 1-1 after beating North Bullitt 28-0 last week.
This will be a big chore for the Chargers as the Rockets have already beaten two teams that have beaten the red and gold - Jeffersontown and Bullitt Central.
Bullitt East has only a short history with Shelby County in football. The two teams have met five times with the Chargers holding a 3-2 advantage. There were games in 2001 and 2002 that Bullitt East won and now over the past three seasons they have been facing off against each other with the home team winning each of those seasons including a 32-12 win for the Rockets in Shelbyville last season.
Shelby County won just one game in 2010 and only two games last season with one of those being the victory over Bullitt East. This year they have hit their stride, coming into this game with a 6-2 record.
The two losses for the Rockets have both been by a single point - 34-33 to Anderson County and 35-34 to their cross-town rivals, Martha Layne Collins.
The improvement this season is easy to explain. In 2010, Martha Layne Collins High School opened in Shelbyville, splitting the student body and dropping the old high school from 6-A to 4-A and now up to 5-A. Shelby County lost just six players off last season’s team as they have 14 starters returning in 2012.
The obvious key for Bullitt East will be stopping Shelby County senior quarterback Zach Shipley who is now starting for the third consecutive season. Shipley, the son of head coach Todd Shipley, won the Kentucky Class 2-A 300-meter hurdles last spring.
“I saw him play in person and he was good last year,” Bullitt East head coach Darrell Vincent said. “He might be the best player in the region this year. He does kick returns and punts for them and then is the quarterback and a defensive back.”
The Rockets can attack you on the ground or through the air. Through the first eight games of the season, the Rockets have rushed for 1,502 yards and Shipley has passed for 1,435 yards.
In a 38-18 win over Bullitt Central last week, the Rockets had 161 yards on the ground and 152 through the air as Shipley completed 10 of 14 passes including three for touchdowns.
That is a balanced attack.
“They have been averaging about seven yards a play if they run or pass,” Vincent pointed out. “If you do that, you are a pretty good team. They have a lot of speed and athletes.”
On the ground, the top running threat for the Rockets other than Shipley keeping the ball is senior Chase Manica who has moved from the fullback spot right behind Shipley to a wing player this season. Manica rushed for over 100 yards against Bullitt East last season. Shipley takes ever snap out of the shotgun and there is never more than one running back behind him.
Through the air, the top threat is senior wide receiver Michael Barry. He had five catches from Shipley last week and also made three catches from Bullitt Central as he starts in the defensive secondary.
“Our defense is up to the challenge,” Vincent said. “Our defense played its best game of the season last Friday.”
Shelby County does use six players on both sides of the ball, slightly more than the Chargers use.
The top defensive threat for the Rockets is senior middle linebacker Deric Hyman.
This is Fall Break week in Bullitt County this week and there is no school on Thursday or Friday (as well as next Monday). That will give the Chargers a little extra time to practice on Thursday and then they will move the normal Thursday walk-through to Friday morning.
Game time on Friday at Bullitt East is set for 7:30 p.m.
Trigg at North Bullitt
The past four weeks have been disappointing for North Bullitt, but there is still a lot of football to be played.
Game nine of the regular season will take place on Saturday this season when the Eagles play host to Trigg County. Because of the distance involved with the Wildcats coming from far western Kentucky, the game will be played on Saturday and start at 6 p.m.
This is only the second meeting ever between the two schools. North Bullitt made the trip to Cadiz last year and won 41-14.
The Wildcats come into this game with a 5-3 record and are coming off a 48-27 district victory over Heath High School.
Trigg County is a Class 3-A school.
Unfortunately for North Bullitt, which has had a lot of trouble stopping passing teams this season, Trigg County has been putting the ball in the air 25 times a game this season with junior quarterback Luke McKenzie. He has thrown 12 touchdowns against eight interceptions through the first seven games. McKenzie is completing just over 50 percent of his passes.
Still, the Wildcats are relatively balanced. They are averaging 210 yards a game on the ground and right at 175 yards through the air.
The top three receiving threats for Trigg County are David Wease, as well as Darrell Murphy and Chris Acree. Ten different players have caught passes for the Wildcats this season.
On the ground, the leading rusher is junior Jayven Jones. McKenzie also has over 50 carries this season and Acree has rushed for over 300 yards.
North Bullitt is on a four-game losing streak and they have scored just six points in the last three games. Late in the contest with Bullitt East last Friday, head coach Brett Newton was using younger players and could continue to build for the future here late in the season.
Class 5-A Football Standings
John Hardin, 8-0, 3-0
Grayson County, 7-1, 2-1
Jeffersontown, 5-3, 2-1
North Hardin, 3-5, 1-3
Iroquois, 2-5, 0-3
Shelby County, 6-2, 2-0
BULLITT CENTRAL, 6-3, 2-1
BULLITT EAST, 4-4, 1-1
NORTH BULLITT, 3-5, 0-3