The Beechwood Tigers have long been a powerhouse in Kentucky Class A football, but after missing out on the state finals a year ago this year's squad has faced pressure to return to the big stage.
Frankfort has faced their fair share of challenges over the years and doesn't boast the playoff pedigree of the Tigers. However, this year's team is built to win.
Head coach Noel Rash has prepared his team for the post-season push by playing one of the toughest schedules of any small schools in the entire state. After taking some early lumps to bigger schools, the Tigers have reeled off eight straight victories.
Let's take a closer look at the matchup:
BEECHWOOD (9-3) AT FRANKFORT (9-3)
7:30 p.m. kickoff
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior Cameron Vocke is Beechwood's best playmaker. He enters this contest with 1,645 yards on 133 attempts and has rushed for 31 touchdowns. Tigers' quarterback Michael Colosimo has been productive through the air, passing 1,565 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Panthers' offense is built around bruising running back Kaleb Leach, who has the ability to run through defenders.
TEAM TRENDS: Frankfort has lost three games this season, but is a perfect 6-0 at home where they have outscored their opponents by a 338 to 66 margin. They have scored at least 47 points in four of their last five contests. Beechwood averages 43 points per contest. They have held their seven Class 1A opponents to just 5.8 points per game and are a perfect 7-0 in those matchups. Beechwood did not play Frankfort in 2009 after knocking them out of the playoffs in each of the previous two years.
FRANKFORT'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Panthers need to establish the tone early in the game defensively and come up with some big stops and even bigger turnovers. Junior Tim Davis and sophomore Aaron Jackson are amongst the players that head coach Craig Foley will turn to for help in stopping the Tigers. While Leach is the focal point of the offense speedster Jojo Morgan, along with senior Zach Mason, offer nice change-of-pace options for Frankfort. The trio will need to get some help from quarterback Dylan Quinn and the passing game to keep Beechwood honest and keep the chains moving.
BEECHWOOD'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Playing on the road in the playoffs is never easy and Beechwood can ill afford a bad start to the game. Not only will give the Panthers early momentum, but it will allow the crowd to become a factor. Establishing Vocke and its running game early on will go a long way towards wearing Frankfort down. The Panthers are not built to come from behind, so look for head coach Noel Rash to force the issue early on and put the Panthers in a precarious position.
FINAL TAKE: The Tigers have a deeper roster and have played against much stiffer competition to get here. Those factors should prove decisive despite playing on the road…BEECHWOOD 37, FRANKFORT 20
Written by: Dan Clasgens, TriStateFootball.com