The Wayne County Cardinals, 11-1 on the season and coming off a 

38-24 home win over Rockcastle County, travel to Louisville Western 
this Friday night in a contest for the Region Three championship. 
The Cardinals, on an eight-game winning streak are making their third 
straight appearance in the region finals, with championships in 2015 
and 2016, while the home standing Warriors own a seven-game winning 
streak and 8-4 mark overall.  Western is coming off a 12-3 home win 
over Knox Central last week and opened the playoffs with a 43-0 
shutout of Clay County.  The matchup marks the second ever meeting 
between the two schools, with the Warriors claiming a 21-7 postseason 
win on November 11 of 2005.
    "We are very excited to still be playing and excited to be playing 
for our third straight region championship.  Western has a very 
athletic football team that is very well-coached, and not only do 
they have good athletes with speed, their size and strength on both 
lines is impressive.  We know going into their home and trying to get 
a win will be a challenge, but we're very excited to get on the 
practice field to get ready," said Wayne County head coach Shawn 
Thompson.
    Western, under the second year direction of head coach Preston King, 
has made a big bounce-back from last year's 4-7 campaign with a 
district championship and is seeking a region title for the first 
time since 2010.  The program is no stranger to postseason success 
with region finals appearances in 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
    "We lost up there in 2005 in the second round and while it doesn't 
seem like it has been twelve years, I guess it has.  They have a good 
football program and watching film their team has all the ingredients 
of a very good football team.  Their losses have come against Butler, 
Male, Central and Manual, so we certainly won't overwhelm them with 
athleticism, or anything like that.  Offensively they have a good 
offensive line and maybe the best running back in the Thompson kid 
that we've faced this season," said Thompson.
    The Warriors are averaging 27.8 points per game and 316 total yards 
of offense, with 213 of that on the ground led by 5-10 200 lbs. 
senior running back Kenneth Thompson.  The stalwart has rushed for 
1132 yards and 15 TDs going into last week's game on 184 attempts. 
Tristian Swain, a 5-6 185 lbs. senior helps carry the load in the 
backfield and has 582 rushing yards with 6 TDs heading into the Knox 
Central game last week.
    Senior quarterback Tyon Pearson runs the offense with experience and 
is a another dual-threat signal caller with nearly 300 yards and 8 
rushing scores, plus has completed 66 of 147 passes for 1061 yards 
with 8 TDs against 10 interceptions.
    Senior Jaelin Shannon, at 6-2 200 lbs. is his favorite target and 
leads the squad with 12 receptions for 320 yards and 2 TDs.  ZayQuan 
Black, a 6-1 senior wide receiver, is also a dangerous weapon with 18 
catches for 259 yards and a score.
    "They have a lot of experience on offense led by a very good group 
of seniors and also have several athletic playmakers, so we have to 
play very aggressive on defense.  We have to swarm the football and 
be very sound on defense, which I think starts with focused work in 
practice.  Last week we didn't have a good Wednesday and that 
reflected in our effort on Friday, so that has to improve," said 
Thompson.
    Wayne County's defense, which allows 16.3 points per game is coming 
off an uneven performance against Rockcastle County, as the unit 
allowed the Rockets to 381 rushing yards on 62 attempts, but managed 
two key turnovers at opportune times.
    The Cardinal offense is coming off a solid effort last week, as the 
squad used 43 plays to total 336 yards with Lorenzo Linsey totaling 5 
TDs in the win.  Linsey connected on 13 of 19 attempts for 204 yards 
with 3 TDs and now has completed 144 of 250 attempts on the season 
for 2494 yards with 28 TDs, against just 7 interceptions.  The All-
State candidate also had a season high 81 rushing yards on 11 
attempts with scores from 38 and 6 yards out, to total 415 rushing 
yards and 10 scores on 86 attempts on the season.
    "Lorenzo made some good decisions with the football and made some 
big throws, plus was able to make some plays with this legs as well. 
Aubrey made some big-time catches to finish off some drives and our 
offensive line played better, but a big key was we took care of the 
football. We only had one turnover and that's something we have to 
continue on if we want to keep playing," said Thompson.
    Junior Aubrey Weaver had a career night last week with 7 catches for 
158 yards, with scores from 53, 15 and 8 yards and now leads the unit 
in catches with 52 for 830 yards and also has 10 TDs.  Senior wide 
receiver Stetson Simpson has 38 receptions for a team best 938 yards 
and team high 12 TDs, while Grant Shoemaker has 29 balls for 378 
yards and 3 touchdowns.
    Running back German Ruiz leads the rushing attack with 127 attempts 
for 978 yards and a team best 13 rushing TDs, as Wayne County is 
averaging 37.8 points per game and faces a stingy Warrior unit that 
allows 15.8 points per outing.
    Senior kicker Riley Woods added to his single season school record 
(10) last week with a 40 yard field goal as scoring opportunities and 
field-position should be key.
      "We have to be able to run the football and that will be tough 
with their size up front and they have excellent linebackers as 
well.  We have to match their intensity and physicality and we need 
to make sure we finish off drives with points.  Riley hit another big 
one last week, which those 3-pointers are so key when making sure we 
don't have empty drives.  We just need to play solid football in all 
phases and see what happens," said Thompson.
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night as Wayne County travels 
Louisville Western.
    "Our fans have been tremendous and in 2013 at Louisville Central I 
still remember how many folks were there and how much that meant, to 
the kids and our program.  We're getting to go to Louisville again, 
so I expect us to pack the place, as they have all kinds of visitor 
seating.  These kids appreciate it so much and we're trying to do 
something special and should we win we get to come back home," said 
Thompson.

    Details on the matchups will be in next week's edition of The Outlook.

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