This week, inside the numbers, we decided to take a look at the matchup October 26, 2018 in Paintsville, Kentucky between two heavyweights in Kentucky high school football, Johnson Central vs. Belfry. This is a pivotal game for each of these two teams with the playoffs looming. Johnson Central is ranked the number one team in the 4A classification in the Associated Press poll and Belfry is rated number two in the 3A classification this week, again, according to the Associated Press weekly top-10. Johnson Central has played in the Class 4A State Championship game three years in a row and Belfry is coached by the legendary Phillip Haywood who has won 6 titles and is the only Kentucky high school football coach to ever be selected National Coach of the Year. Let’s take a look inside the numbers of this pivotal game and see if we can’t clarify a likely victor when the Pond Creek residents travel to Paintsville, Kentucky, Friday night.
Present records…Belfry is 8-1 and 4-0 in its district. Belfry is 5-1 at home and is 3-0 on the road. Belfry’s only loss on the year was to an out-of-Kentucky team in Huntington, WV, with whom it opened and to whom it lost, narrowly, 17-9. Johnson Central is 8-1 overall and 5-0 in its district. Johnson Central is 5-1 at home and 3-0 on the road and its only loss is a narrow defeat in its opener to Capital, WV, 28-21. Neither Belfry nor Johnson Central has lost a game this season to a team from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. That streak ends for someone Friday night.
Strength of schedule…
The Huntington, WV team to whom Belfry lost by 8 points on Pond Creek is the 7th highest regarded team in West Virginia and the Nation’s 1,879th best high school football team. Belfry has beaten Cabell Midland High School from Ona, WV which is WV’s 10th highest rated team and the Country’s 2,580th. Belfry won this game, at home, by 8 points. The Capital, WV team which beat Johnson Central in Paintsville, Kentucky, to open the year, is the 3rd best team in WV and the 755th best football team in the Nation. Johnson Central lost, at home, to Capital by 7 points. The highest ranked Kentucky team to be vanquished by the Pirates was the Pikeville team it beat in Pikeville, Kentucky, 35-21. Pikeville is the 30th best football team in Kentucky and the 2,345th best team in America (235 places higher than the MaxPreps.com computer has ranked Cabell Midland, WV). Belfry plays in a week district in which it has the misfortune of being the only good team resulting in the clock almost always running the second half and a lot of PT for the junior varsity. That works against the Pirates thought it isn’t anything attributable to Belfry High School. Johnson Central’s district has a very good Ashland-Blazer team with which to contend yearly. Johnson Central, on the other hand, has two impressive victories on the season in beating an 8-1, Louisville Moore team, 49-21, and beating a 9-1 team, just this past Friday night in Ashland-Blazer. The Eagles beat Ashland-Blazer 47-21. Now Moore is ranked the 52nd best team in KY and the Nation’s 4,178th best football team. Ashland-Blazer is ranked the 21st best football team in KY and the Nation’s 1,689th best high school football team. Make a mental note of Ashland-Blazer’s computer rankings both in Kentucky and overall as they will become important later in this same article.
Advantage: Johnson Central
Common Opponents: These two teams have not played a common opponent.
Computer rankings: Oh, those nasty, impervious to bias, algorithms which seem to tell us everything nowadays. For this particular analysis we use two; one being the MaxPreps’ computer algorithm, which ranks teams both in its state or commonwealth and nationally, and, for the other, we rely on the widely publicized, Kentucky-based, Calpreps.com computer poll.
Belfry High School: The Pirates are the 20th ranked team in Kentucky, according to both MaxPreps and Calpreps.com and the 1,665th best football team in the Country. To refresh your recollection, the Ashland-Blazer team Johnson Central just beat was ranked 21st in Kentucky and 1,689th in the Country. Johnson Central won over Ashland-Blazer 47-24.
Johnson Central High School: The Eagles are the 9th ranked football team in Kentucky, according to both MaxPreps and Calpreps.com and the 879th best football team in the Country. The computers slot the Eagles 11 notches above the Pirates in Kentucky and 810 notches, nationally. This is not an impossibly wide gap to bridge as has been shown consistently this season. As a matter of fact, back in September of this year (2018), Hopkinsville High School hosted Christian County. At the time, Hoptown was slotted 12 notches above Christian County among Kentucky high school football programs and 1,472 notches above the Colonels in the National computer poll. In spite of that, Christian County was still able to beat the higher regarded, home team, by 9 points. As the foregoing example shows, being the higher rated team, home or away, isn’t dispositive, but it is an advantage.
Game statistics: These teams are frighteningly similar in regards to game statistics particularly in how they succeed on the ground versus through the air. Belfry has scored 368 points while allowing 149 over its nine games. Johnson Central has scored 402 points while allowing 135 against slightly tougher competition. Belfry, behind what we believe to be the best offensive line in Kentucky has rushed for 2,640 yards while only throwing for 683 yards on the year. For the Pirates, that is a per game average of a little over 293 yards rushing and almost 76 yards throwing the football. Johnson Central has gained 3,066 yards rushing and thrown for 603 yards on the year, in the same amount of games. That is a per game rushing average of 341 yards, approximately, and 67 yards through the air. Johnson Central runs the football on over 83% of its plays from scrimmage while Belfry runs it close to 91% of the time.
Advantage: Johnson Central
Intangibles: It is pretty hard to say the team not coached by Jim Matney is disadvantaged in the coaching department. That is how good Phillip Haywood has both been and is still. You have to give any team coach by Haywood a puncher’s chance to beat any opponent. Neither of these teams have lost on the road and, with that being the case, one might say Belfry has the good fortune of being the visitor. Still, Paintsville, Kentucky and Johnson Central High School in recent years has become one of the rowdiest and most storied venues in Kentucky high school football to both invade and escape intact, much less with a victory. There is one other intangible here and that is neither residents from Belfry nor Paintsville think it possible its team might lose a football game…EVER! At KPGFootball, we kind of love that about both places. One of these teams will lose and we have taken it upon ourselves to forecast which it will be. We believe the 3 point advantage which is generally apportioned the home team in a football game is neutralized by both Belfry’s having not lost on the road this year and its storied football coach. We don’t believe either intangible is enough for Belfry to win the game.
Crunching all of the above, it looks like Johnson Central is about 7 points better than this Belfry team.
Final Score Prediction:
Johnson Central 21 Belfry 14
Well guys, this is what the tea leaves tell us. Our being more impressed with Johnson Central is largely owing to the schedule it has played and its beating an Ashland-Blazer team of the same ilk and quality as the Belfry team it will face in Paintsville, Kentucky on Friday night. Well, I suppose we shall all see how this plays! Either way, we can’t wait to see how this conflict resolves and it will be interesting to see whether the statistical analysis, employed here, foretells anything, at all, about the outcome. The great thing about football is; it still has to be played on the field. Thanks for joining us for Inside the Numbers.
Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.
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