By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
Two teams that have never participated in the Class A State Championship will get a chance to do just that as Raceland and Williamsburg battle things out with a spot in the state title game on the line.
Both teams captured their respective program's first-ever region championship last week, and will now meet up against one another in a Class A Semi-State match-up.
So who's the favorite?
It's about as even as it can get.
The Rams will enter today's contest riding a seven-game win streak while bringing in an impressive 11-2 record while the Yellow Jackets are winners of eight straight while compiling a 10-2 mark along the the way.
Both teams have used solid defensive efforts to get where they are.
Raceland is only allowing 15.8 points per game and eight points per game during their current win streak while Williamsburg has outscored its opponents, 221-7, during the past five games, and 121-7 during each of its playoff wins.
“We're ready to go, and I'm sure Raceland is too,” Williamsburg coach Jerry Herron said. “We're both in uncharted territory right now. The key for us is to refocus and go back to work.
“This is a huge game for us,” he added. “We realize what's at stake, and I'm sure Raceland does, too. This should be a good one for everyone that comes and watches.”
The Rams' two losses this season were against Ashland Blazer (35-34) and Lawrence County (38-35) while the Yellow Jackets have dropped games to both North Laurel (31-14) and Wayne County (41-16).
“I believe we're both pretty evenly matched,” Herron said. “They are very big. They have a lot of senior and juniors on this team, and have numbers like a Class 2A team.”
Raceland is led by quarterback Adam Elkins, who has completed 109-of-181 pass attempts for 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions while also running for 400 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Tailback Daylin Beach leads the way with 1,450 rushing yards on 174 carries. He has 10 rushing touchdowns and 20 receptions for 299 yards and four touchdowns.
“They're going to line up and spread you out and run the ball,” Herron said. “They have some very good tailbacks, so we're going to have to be ready to play.”
Another concern for Herron is Raceland's defense. They've limited opposing teams to 247 total yards on offense per game, including only 77 passing yards per game.
Williamsburg will enter today's contest averaging 40.9 points per game and 355 yards of total offense per game with 217 yards coming through the air.
“They've got a lot of talent,” Herron said. “Our schedule will help us. We have played some tough teams. We've got to stay focused on their defense because they really come at you.”
Raceland will have to find a way to slow down the Yellow Jackets, too.
Quarterback Dalton Sizemore has completed 146-253 pass attempts for 2,556 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions. He's also ran for 414 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Jefferson Patrick leads Williamsburg with 660 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns while Sizemore's main receiving threats are Corey Shelton and Skyler Griffith.
Shelton has 44 catches for 990 yards and 13 touchdowns while Griffith also has 44 catches for 848 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“I really believe it's going to come down to which defense can stop the other team's offense,” Herron said. “We've got to play physical on defense and attack the football. If we can do that, I believe we can be successful. We've got to take what they give us on offense. We've got to execute and not turn the ball over. We didn't turn the ball over last week, and Hazard has four turnovers, and we won. Not turning the ball over is going to be key.”
With that said, Herron believes his team is ready to play.
“The kids realize what's at stake,” he said. “We're one game away from the state championship game. You've got two teams that have never been in this position before, and for either team to win, they're going to have to stay away from turning the ball over.
“We changed history last week by defeating Hazard,” Herron added. “Hopefully, we can continue to change history by winning in the state semi's. Who is going to blink first? That's the key.”
Yellow Jackets playing for a spot in State Championship Game
By Les Dixon for the Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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