Featured Match-up, Raceland High School vs. Ashland-Blazer

We are excited about what we cover at KPGFootball. We absolutely love football season and this upcoming season is going to be riveting. We picked six games to feature, last week, and went 4-2 in week zero, picking the winner. With the turnover in high school football constantly occurring and with schools having new players transfer both in and out, together with what little we know about JV stars across the Commonwealth, week zero games are difficult to forecast. To refresh everyone’s memory, we correctly picked Pikeville over Holy Cross (Covington), Owensboro over Madisonville North-Hopkins, CAL over South Oldham, and Franklin-Simpson over Elizabethtown. We missed on Caldwell County over Christian County and Hopkinsville over South Warren. This week, we have taken Belfry over Huntington (WV) High and we will now break down Raceland-Worthington High School, a.k.a. the Raceland Rams, from Class 1A, District 6, which travels to play the Class 4A, District 8 Tomcats from Paul G. Blazer High School in Ashland, Kentucky, a.k.a. Ashland-Blazer. As discussed ad nauseam, on this site, we ascribe zero significance to one of the teams being a Class 4A team and the other playing in Class 1A. At the end of this article, and at the bottom, will will make some additional picks.

In 2017…

Raceland went 10-5 in 2017 and played for the State Championship, losing to Beechwood 41-0 at Kroger Field on the campus of the University of Kentucky. Ashland-Blazer was 10-3 in 2017 and lost to Johnson Central in the quarters (Regional Finals) 54-27. The teams played in 2017 with Ashland-Blazer beating Raceland 14-0 in Ashland, Kentucky, where the game is set to be played again this year.

EDGE: Ashland-Blazer

What they did week zero…

Raceland and Ashland-Blazer both enter the contest 1-0. Ashland-Blazer beat a Class 5A, District 8 opponent in Harlan County. Harlan County went 8-6, in 2017, and lost to Madison Southern in the State-semis, 27-20. Harlan lost 19 seniors from off its 2017 team, however, including leading rushers Quinton Mickens (163 carries, 966 yards, 11 TDs) and Tyrese Simmons (76 carries, 811 yards, 9 TDs) so the Harlan County team which beat Ashland-Blazer in the 2017 opener 49-28 wasn’t the same team which lost to Ashland-Blazer, in week zero of this year, 49-6. Raceland opened up, in week zero, with a 31-12 win over Class 3A, District 6, Lawrence County. Raceland ran for 264 yards in the contest but, alarmingly, allowed Lawrence County to gain 233 yards rushing. Hunter Lacks carried the football for the Rams 16 times against Lawrence County and gained 195 yards from scrimmage and scored 3 TDs. Raceland was also the beneficiary of two recovered fumbles, in week zero, one recovered by Gunnur Lewis and the other by Derek Pennington. In 2017, Raceland beat Lawrence County at home 35-19 to open the 2017 season, week zero’s game was played in Lawrence County. Lawrence County was 5-6 in 2017.

EDGE: Ashland-Blazer

Seniors lost from off each ball club and what has returned…

Raceland lost 16 seniors from off its 2017 ball club but have 1,000 yard ground gainer, Judd Adkins, back for his senior year, though he didn’t play in week zero against Lawrence County. Second leading rusher from 2017, Hunter Lacks, is also back and looks ready to do more than the 766 yards rushing he contributed in 2017. Even without Adkins, as Raceland gained 264 yards rushing its opener, the team appears able to pound the ground with Adkins or without. Ashland-Blazer lost 15 seniors from off its 2017 roster with one of the losses being 2017 leading rusher Aroq Colburn. Two of the three-headed rushing monster for the Tomcats, Blake Hester and Braxton Ratliff are both back in 2018 for another tour. Looking a bit deeper however, in 2017, Blazer allowed 1,761 yards rushing and 212 points over 13 games while scoring 487. Blazer ran for 3130 yards and passed for 1747. We have already discussed the fact Aroq Colburn departed, leaving Braxton Ratliff and Blake Hester to carry the load in 2018. Ratliff’s being back is even more crucial as Ratliff, in addition to running the football, threw for 1745 yards, together with the 762 he gained rushing, and accounted for 37 TDs scored, either rushing or passing for Ashland-Blazer last season. Now, in contrast, Raceland scored 398 points in 15 games and allowed 220 points. Raceland has already shown itself susceptible to giving up yards rushing with its less than stellar effort defending the run in week zero. Lawrence County piled up 233 yards in ground gains against the Ram defense. In 2017, over 15 games played, opponents rushed for 1325 yards and passed for 1766 yards, meaning the defense which took the field against Lawrence County in week zero didn’t resemble the 2017 edition. Hey, it was only one night. As for the Raceland offense, Damon Black, the starting QB who threw for 1615 of its 1,789 passing yards in 2017, with 13 aerial TD passing strikes, has graduated. With Ratliff back for Ashland-Blazer, and Damon Black gone… 

EDGE: Ashland-Blazer

Intangibles…

Both Tony Love at Ashland-Blazer and Michael Salmons at Raceland do excellent jobs coaching up their respective clubs and both teams are coming off deep play-off runs with a slight edge going to Raceland who played for the whole enchilada last year, whereas Ashland-Blazer lost in the quarters. We like to say at KPGFootball, if you play 15 games in a single-season, you have done something right. The game is being played in Ashland, Kentucky and, we must confess, we have no idea why, as it was played there, last year, too.

EDGE: Even

Taking all of these things into account, we believe this will be a tight ball game like it was last year. We do, however, expect that Ashland-Blazer will run its record to 2-0 by, once again, beating the Raceland Rams, and a lot of it has to do with the fact Raceland gave up 233 yards rushing to Lawrence County in week zero. Letting teams run for that type of yardage against your defense is a cancer from which most teams will find themselves unable to recover…

Predicted Final Score:

Ashland-Blazer 21        Raceland   7

 

Additional picks…

Mayfield over Hoptown, Clarksville (TN) NE over McCracken County, Rossview (TN) over Christian County, Madisonville North-Hopkins over Marshall County, Logan County over Muhlenberg, Todd County Central over Fort Knox, Owensboro Sr. High over Evansville (IN) Reitz, Evansville (IN) Memorial over Owensboro Catholic, CAL over Eastern, South Oldham over Doss, Evansville (IN) Mater-Dei over Apollo, Franklin-Simpson over Monroe, Johnson Central over Capital (Charleston, WV).

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of you ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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