The Regional Championship game which pits Boyle County against Belfry on Pond Creek at the CAM is a game which all of 3A will be watching intensely as will most of Kentucky High School football, as a matter of fact. It will match two of the most storied programs in Kentucky High School football coached by two living legends in the coaching industry. Inside the Numbers is a segment we usually do during the regular season but, what the Hell, it’s a snow day in Hopkinsville and we decided, since some kids in Kentucky are home today (as opposed to in school), we thought you might enjoy our analysis of this key contest occurring tomorrow night in Belfry, Kentucky. It’s win or go home and unfortunately these two teams couldn’t be matched up in the State Championship game on Kroger Field. It is very likely the Class 3A, State Football Champion emerges from this game. Let’s take a look inside the numbers of this pivotal game and see if we can’t clarify a likely victor when the Boyle County invades the CAM, Friday night.
Present records…Belfry is 10-2. Belfry is 7-1 at home, with its only loss to Huntington, West Virginia in the Pike County Bowl which wasn’t played on Pond Creek. Belfry hasn’t lost in the CAM this year. Boyle County, which is the only team of which we are aware with the mascot Rebels not patterned after Ole Miss’ Colonel Reb, but peculiarly fashioned in the manner of a Pirate, has won 24 straight football games dating back to a narrow 10-7 loss to Danville High School last season on August 31. The 12-0 Rebels went 14-1 a year ago in route to the Class 3A, State Football Championship. From the psychology standpoint, there are two schools of thought here….one, Boyle County is certainly due to lose; or, two, Boyle County has won so much none of its players can even fathom losing and, therefore, won’t. What’s that old axiom about all good things?…
Advantage: Boyle County
Strength of schedule…
We should begin by saying the following, neither team has played an opponent this year as good as what either will see Friday night. Belfry is the 13th highest rated team in Kentucky and the 1,341st best high school football team in America according to both the CalPreps.com and MaxPreps.com computer algorithms. Boyle County is the 6th best team in Kentucky and the 751st best team in America according to the same two algorithms. The closest Belfry came to playing a team ranked anywhere in the same zip code as Boyle County was when the Pirates traveled to Paintsville, Kentucky and lost to Johnson Central 34-21. Johnson Central is the 9th highest rated team in Kentucky and the 990th best team in America. One critical difference between this Friday night and the game with Johnson Central though is what real estate agents refer to as location, location, location. Belfry is quite a bit tougher at the CAM. Belfry played a team on the road this year which is pretty good, but not nearly as good as Belfry, when it traveled to Radcliff, Kentucky and beat North Hardin 21-14. North Hardin is the 26th best team in Kentucky and the 2,308th best team in the Country. We are going to give a slight edge here to Belfry as the Pirates have played a team this season in the ball park with what is visiting Friday night and Boyle (through no fault of its own) hasn’t tested itself against an opponent, nor have they played in an environment this year, quite like Belfry at home.
Advantage: Belfry (ever so slightly)
Common Opponents: This particular element is one which KPGFootball doesn’t place an abundance of confidence and, if you go look at previous Inside the Numbers segments, you will notice we have said this in every edition. However, we have consistently looked at this particular element and ascribed it some weight in every other segment published this year, so, why not now? These two teams have three common opponents. Both teams played Floyd Central, with Belfry beating Floyd Central at the CAM, 48-8; and Boyle County beating them in Danville, 49-9. Both teams played Lawrence County with Belfry beating them on the road, 56-28; and Boyle beating them in Danville, KY, 42-8. Both teams played Lexington Catholic. Belfry really struggled with Lexington Catholic’s superstar QB and playmaker, Beau Allen, a player we selected to our Sophomore All-State football team as one of our QBs, last year. Belfry played Lexington Catholic, last week, in the KHSAA playoffs, round 2. Belfry ultimately prevailed 55-51 at the CAM. Boyle played Lexington Catholic, in Lexington, winning 42-8. The difference? Well, for starters Belfry never sees a QB like Beau Allen as Belfry’s QB (Avery Browning), while fantastic and the District Player of the Year, either can’t or isn’t called upon to sling it around the field like either Allen or Lanter. As for Boyle County? Well the other Sophomore All-State QB we selected on our All-State team was Boyle’s Reed Lanter, who (like Allen) can spin the pigskin! It was easier for Boyle to stop the marquee player on Catholics’ squad when they practice every day against a QB who poses opponents very similar difficulty. High School football is about match-ups, and Boyle hasn’t seen an offensive line and a backfield which can get down hill, in the run game, quite like Belfry. Belfry has seen a Beau Allenish type QB and really struggled with it. Can they make the requisite adjustments to fare better this time? We shall see Friday night.
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 13th ranked team in Kentucky, according to both MaxPreps and Calpreps.com and the 1,341st best football team in the Country.
Boyle County High School: The Rebels are the 6th ranked football team in Kentucky, according to both MaxPreps and Calpreps.com and the 751st best football team in the Country. The computers slot the Rebels 7 notches above the Pirates in Kentucky and 590 notches, nationally. This is not an impossibly wide gap to bridge as has been shown consistently this season. We have demonstrated many times in previous segments that being the higher rated team, home or away, isn’t dispositive, but it is an advantage.
Game statistics: These teams are not even remotely similar as each of these teams favor different offensive philosophies. In winning all 12 of its games thus far, Boyle County has scored 504 points on the year (42 a game) and allowed 144 (12 points per). Boyle County has done this by being very balanced offensively, gaining 2,361 yards rushing and 2,395 yards passing. Defensively, the Rebels have yielded 1,373 yards rushing (114.417 per game) and 1,114 yards through the air (92.83 yards per game). As for Belfry, the Pirates have scored 541 points on the season (45.08 points a night) and have allowed the opponents 285 (23.75 points allowed per outing). Obviously, Lexington Catholic dropping 55 on the Pirates, last week, skews the numbers a bit as the Lexington Catholic game, alone, made Belfry’s per outing points allowed statistic rise over two points. Regardless, Belfry wasn’t playing defense at a State Championship level, even before facing Lexington Catholic, while Boyle County certainly is. If Belfry continues at the present pace, allowing 23.75 points a game, and wins it all in Class 3A, it would be almost 6 points a game over the poorest scoring defense to win any of the six of Kentucky’s State Championships in 2017. Belfry has run the football for 4,440 yards on the year and thrown for 735 yards while allowing 1,369 yards passing, on the year, with 451 of those passing yards allowed last week. Here it is in a bottom line…Belfry better not show up with the defense which showed up against Lexington Catholic or this game might get ugly.
Advantage: Boyle County
Intangibles: It is pretty hard to say the team coached by Chuck Smith is disadvantaged in the coaching department. That is how good Phillip Haywood has both been and is still. Chuck Smith and Phillip Haywood are the best two coaches presently coaching the high school game in Kentucky at present and, maybe, ever. However, one has to give any team coach by Haywood, especially if that team is getting to play in front of what will be a rabid home crowd, a puncher’s chance to beat any opponent. Belfry is undefeated at the CAM this year and Boyle County is undefeated ANYWHERE. KPGFootball watched Boyle County beat a very good Elizabethtown High team in 2017 in the Semi-finals in E-Town and playing Belfry on Pond Creek won’t be any rowdier or more intimidating of an atmosphere than that. It will likely rival it but will NOT surpass it. Neither one of these fan basses nor its players ever even conceive losing as a possibility. Both these teams and its fans fully expect it will win Friday night. In the preseason, one Boyle County fan who is a friend of mine and whose identity I will not disclose guaranteed me Boyle County would have a running clock in this game. Boyle County may well win, but we don’t see a running clock. Belfry is the home team here and will get 3 points for playing at home as is the custom but warranted here more so than almost any location in the Commonwealth.
Crunching all of the above, it looks to us like Boyle County is ten points better than this Belfry team but we believe each of the teams will come closer to its average offensive output than either team’s defense limiting the other to its seasonal, defensive, points allowed average.
Final Score Prediction:
Boyle County 44 Belfry 34
Well guys, this is what the tea leaves tell us. Our being more impressed with Boyle County is largely owing to its 24 game win streak, its employing maybe the only football coach in Kentucky which rivals the excellence of Phillip Haywood, and the difficulty Belfry has had on defense this years, particularly last week in facing Lexington Catholic’s Beau Allen considering Belfry has to now defend Reed Lanter. 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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