Who: Johnson Central vs. Franklin-Simpson
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Location: Kroger Field, Lexington.
Coaches: Johnson Central, Jim Matney. Franklin-Simpson, Doug Preston.
Notes: Johnson Central rolled past Knox Central 59-20 in the Class 4A semifinals, while Franklin-Simpson knocked off Taylor County 33-0 in the other semfinal.
This will be the third straight meeting between Johnson Central and Franklin-Simpson in the Class 4A state championship game.
The Golden Eagles won the first meeting in 2016 48-0.
Last season, Franklin-Simpson avenged the shutout loss with a 35-21 win over the Golden Eagles.
This will be the rubber match between to two schools.
In last season’s championship game, the speed of Franklin-Simpson’s Tre Bass was apparent on the first drive. Bass scored on a 30-yard TD run with 7:26 left in the first quarter to give the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead.
After holding Johnson Central on the Golden Eagles’ second drive, Bass struck again for the Wildcats. Bass caught a pass from quarterback Rylan Thomas and he broke a 73-yard TD run. He found the end zone with 3:13 left to play in the first quarter. That pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 14-0.
Bass led the way for the Wildcats on offense. Bass rushed the ball seven times for 76 yards and two TDs. He caught one pass for a 73-yard TD and a TD.
On Franklin Simpson’s third possession, the Wildcats put together a 50-yard drive. Thomas scored on an one-yard sneak with 9:50 left in the first half to push the lead to 21-0.
Thomas was six for seven passing with 195 yards and a TD. He also had a rushing TD.
The Golden Eagles hadn’t had any success on offense until Riley Preece found Seth Dalton for a 49-yard TD pass. Dalton got behind the defense on a go route. That score cut the lead to 21-7 and gave Johnson Central some life.
Preece led the way for Johnson Central. Preece was four for nine passing for 180 yards and two TDs. Dalton caught two passes for 111 yards and two TDs.
The Johnson Central run game was ineffective.
The Golden Eagles only rushed for 66 yards on the game.
Franklin-Simpson held a 21-7 lead at halftime.
Bass struck again to open the third quarter of play. Bass scored on a 16-yard run with 8:03 to push the lead to 28-7.
The Golden Eagles went back to the air. Preece found Evan Adkins, Adkins went 62-yards for a TD with the pass to cut the lead to 28-14 with 3:36 left in the third.
Franklin-Simpson put together a drive on its next possession. A 16-play 92-yard drive that lasted 8:53 seconds. Carlos McKinney capped the drive off with a three-yard TD run with 6:35 left in the game to seal the win.
Johnson Central didn’t quit, though. The Golden Eagles added another score. Blake Gamble found the end zone on a seven-yard TD run with 1:08 left in the game.
Gamble finished the game with 33 yards on the ground on nine carries and the TD. Devin Johnson followed with 29 yards.
Bass returns for the Wildcats this season and he has a back that compliments him well in Carlos McKinney.
Bass leads the team in rushing with 1,963 yards and 29 TDs on 157 carries. McKinney is right behind with 1,632 yards and 21 TDs.
The Wildcats do have a different starting quarterback this season in Luke Richardson. Richardson is 36 for 66 passing for 695 yards and nine TDs with six interceptions.
Johnson Central has Joe Jackson and most of its starters back from last season and the Golden Eagles are rolling.
The Golden Eagles have scored at least 50 points in all four playoff games.
Last week, quarterback Ryley Preece led the way for the Johnson Central offense. He rushed for 141 yards and three TDs on seven carries and was three for three passing for 75 yards.
Jackson rushed for 179 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.
Devin Johnson added 103 yards and a score on 11 carries for the Golden Eagles.
The defense had 3.5 sacks last week. Alex Horn had two sacks and Hunter McCloud added 1.5 sacks.
Who 2 Watch: For Johnson Central, Joe Jackson.
Jackson didn’t play in the state title game last year.
But he has state championship experience.
As a sophomore, Jackson was named the MVP of the 2016 state championship game.
He’s bounced back strong this season after missing all of last season with a season ending knee injury in the opening game of his junior season.
This season, Jackson has rushed for 2,203 yards and 29 TDs on 199 carries.
He has his second 2,000 yard season in his career at Johnson Central.
Jackson will look to be the extra piece that brings home another state championship for Johnson Central.