Rivals Logan County, Franklin-Simpson to square off in second-round showdown
Going into last week’s first-round playoff game against Allen County-Scottsville, Logan County had several skeptics in the media in the area that doubted how the Cougars would perform against the Patriots.
The Cougars hushed the whispers of doubt with a commanding 42-3 victory to prove that their current 10-1 record is no fluke, and Coach Todd Adler’s squad will have a chance to make another statement win on the road at defending Class 4A state champion Franklin-Simpson on Friday night.
Despite the Cougars and Wildcats being neighboring rivals, this will be the first meeting between the two teams since Sept. 5, 2014.
“The players are really excited about the opportunity to play the defending state champion,” Adler said. ”Franklin is a big rivalry in all other sports (basketball, baseball, softball, etc.), and we are excited to be here and ready to put it all on the line Friday night.”
Even though Franklin-Simpson is the defending state champion and the Wildcats routed the Cougars 55-6 in their last meeting over four years ago, Logan County has earned the Wildcats’ respect.
“Two tremendous football teams will take the field Friday night,” Franklin-Simpson coach Doug Preston said. “We have a great challenge in front of us in Logan County. They are very talented.”
The Cougars (10-1) are led by running back Gary Hardy, who broke Logan County’s all-time rushing record in the win over ACS. Hardy has rushed for 1,447 yards and 18 touchdowns on 168 attempts so far this season. Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Ezell is the team’s second-best rusher with 480 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground to complement 1,493 passing yards and 11 touchdown passes.
Logan County’s lone loss this season came against Madisonville-North Hopkins as the Maroons escaped Russellville with a 21-17 victory to claim the district title.
But grinding out a victory against Franklin-Simpson will be no easy task as the Wildcats enter Friday night’s game with the second-best run offense in Kentucky with 3,861 yards on the ground. The Wildcats are led by the two-headed monster of Carlos McKinney and Tre Bass, who have rushed for 1,275 and 1,497 yards, respectively, while combining to score 40 of 70 Franklin’s touchdowns this season.
However Adler feels confident in his team due to the way the Cougars have been playing on defense as of late.
“Franklin’s rushing attack is no doubt one of the best in the state,” Adler said. “But our defense is stingy and has been playing really well the past few weeks. Our kids are playing their best football at the right time of year and that’s what coaches want. It will be a tall task to do, but I have a lot of confidence in our players to do what they have to do to compete at a high level.”
The Wildcats (10-1) will look to overcome a Logan County defense that is eight-best in the state with just 8.6 points allowed per game as Franklin-Simpson seeks its fourth straight appearance in the Class 4A Region One title game.
“We are happy to where we are at this point, but we aren’t satisfied,” Preston said.
Meanwhile Logan County is looking for yet another signature win. For a program that endured a 42-game skid from 2012 to 2016, the Cougars have an opportunity to validate their recent climb to the top with a win at Shadetree Stadium on Friday night.
“Our football program is excited for the opportunity to be here still playing in the playoffs,” Adler said. “Add to that playing the defending state champion in the second round is a bonus. If you can’t get up for this game, you’re in the wrong sport. To be the best you have to beat the best. Who knows what will happen Friday night, but with all the buzz and the way this game is getting attention I can assure you both teams will give it their best and it will be a football game you don’t want to miss.”