Friday’s game at Benny Watkins Field will be a battle between two of the state’s top-ranked teams.
Not that the coaches are paying much attention to rankings.
“The only No. 1 that counts is the one at the end of the season,” said Franklin County coach Chris Tracy, whose Flyers are hosting Frankfort High Friday night.
“It’s nice for the kids and that kind of stuff, but the only one that matters is at the end of the season.”
FCHS and FHS are both 3-0. The Flyers are ranked fourth in the state in Class 5A, and the Panthers are ranked third in Class 1A.
“Their attention is there,” Frankfort coach Craig Foley said about his team, “but this is a loose group. Sometimes that’s aggravating. I talk to them before every game about being focused, and they are focused.
“They’re not getting caught up in all the hype, and that’s not a bad thing. They’re focused and they definitely want to win this game and every game when they step on the field.”
That’s a sentiment shared by the Flyers.
“It’s important insofar as reaching two of our goals, going undefeated and winning the city championship for the third straight year,” Tracy said about Friday’s game.
“It’s important to the kids. It’s for bragging rights, and I get that. The biggest thing is we don’t have to get their attention this week. They’re focused and getting after it.”
FCHS has a leg up on the city championship, having beaten Western Hills two weeks ago. Frankfort plays Western Hills next Friday.
“It’s like Chris said in the paper after the game Friday night,” Foley said. “We can’t say anything about the city championship because we haven’t played Western Hills yet, but we want to win all our games.
“We want to be undefeated going into district play and run the table there as well.”
Frankfort, long known for its running game, has gotten a big boost from its passing game this year. Senior quarterback Chris Hawkins has passed for over 400 yards and seven touchdowns in the Panthers’ last two games.
In its 42-27 win at Rockcastle County, FHS had just 56 rushing yards.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on it,” Foley said of the passing game, “and our kids have grown up. Chris took a lot of criticism last year, but he’s grown up.
“Aaron (Jackson) has had his moments, and he’s stepped up and played well, but so has Teantre (McGee), (Chris) Brooks, Jalen (Washington). It’s been everyone. All the kids have done all we’ve asked of them.
“It starts up front,” Foley said. “The kids up front have bought into it, and that’s a big part of it.”
Franklin County has been scoring at an astonishing rate. In Friday’s 77-28 win over Letcher County Central the Flyers ran just 27 offensive plays.
Directing FCHS’ offense is senior quarterback Logan Woodside, who has completed 26 of 33 passes for 761 yards and 12 touchdowns with no interceptions.
Senior Ryan Timmons has caught 10 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns, and he’s rushed for 122 yards on 10 carries for another five touchdowns.
“They present a ton of challenges,” Foley said of the Flyers. “I think they have four or five D-I athletes on their team, and they’ve got depth we don’t have.
“We know their schemes, what they’re going to do and not going to do, but when you put those type of athletes out there it’s tough to defend.”
Tracy sees something the two teams have in common as the biggest challenge his Flyers face.
“They have a lot of speed, equal speed that we do I’d say,” he said. “I’m not sure they have as many kids (with that speed), but that’s part of being a bigger school.
“If we miss an assignment on defense they’ll go for a touchdown. If we get lazy on offense they can step in front of the ball and be going the other way for six, and they’re very capable of doing that.”
Tracy says his team’s defense is improving.
“We’re getting better on defense. There’s still some work to do. It’s a work in progress, but we made some changes in the second half of the first game, and we’re doing a lot better. We’re making progress.
“On offense it’s hard to say,” Tracy said. “We had the ball a total of 3½ minutes Friday and we scored 56 points. Our defense has to get off the field on third down. That’s the big thing.
“Everyone says ‘your offense scores so fast,’ but if we’re not getting off the field on third down it’s going to be a while.”
Foley agrees speed is a key component for both teams.
“We feel like we match them,” he said. “We don’t have the straight-away speed Ryan has, but we feel we have as much speed and quickness as anyone we’ll face this year.
“They do a good job with their system and they run it well, but I think we’ll come out and surprise some people.”