The Wayne County Cardinals, 8-1 on the season and coming off an impressive 63-32 win at North Laurel, open the Class 4A state playoffs this Friday night hosting Lincoln County.  The Patriots are 3-7 on the season and coming a disappointing 26-7 loss at Rockcastle County.  The contest marks just the fourth meeting ever between the 12th Region rivals, as Wayne County has won the previous three matchups, including a 55-21 decision at Lincoln County, just over a month ago.

    Wayne County is hosting a playoff game for the seventh time in eight 
seasons, as the program has advanced into at least the second round 
every season since 2011.  This is the first year of the new KHSAA 
format that requires district opponents for the first two rounds of 
the postseason.
    "I personally liked the cross-district matchups and region setups we 
had in the past, but we're certainly excited to still be playing 
football, regardless of the setup.  Playing the same team so close 
together can be difficult, but we're all doing it, so nobody has any 
kind of advantage.  Our goal is to just keep working hard and get 
ready for a very dangerous Lincoln County team.  That earlier game 
was much closer than the score indicated, as we really struggled on 
both lines of scrimmage," said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
    The Patriots were the biggest surprise of Class 5A last season under 
then first year head coach Spencer Crutchfield, as the squad finished 
7-5 and won a road playoff game.  The second season under 
Crutchfield, a former stalwart player at Garrard County, has been a 
regular season of heartbreaking losses.  Lincoln County is 3-7 on the 
season but is just a few plays from being over .500 with tough 
overtime losses to East Jessamine (42-35), North Laurel (25-24) and 
Knox Central (34-33), plus a (26-21) lost to Corbin, less than two 
weeks ago.
    "Lincoln County really has a dangerous football team and watching 
film on them that is a team that could've easily won a couple 
district games.  Their record is certainly not an indicator of the 
type of team they have.  Everyone is 0-0 and if we don't realize that 
it could be a short run.  The regular season allowed us to get to be 
at home and we're thankful for that, but we know we have to give 
great-effort for 48-minutes," said Thompson.
    The Patriots average 26 points per game and 272 yards of offense per 
outing with 146 of that on the ground led by senior quarterback Nick 
Harris.  Harris has completed 74 of 138 passes for over 1200 yards 
with 12 TDs against 13 interceptions, plus has rushed 94 times for 
327 yards and 8 scores.  Senior running back Dylan Burchfield leads a 
deep rotation in the backfield with 95 rushes for a team best 439 
yards and 3 scores.
    Junior Rodney Alcorn has totaled 338 rushing yards and 2 scores, 
while senior Zack Hazlett is a threat on the ground and in the air. 
The stalwart has 204 rushing yards and two scores, plus 353 receiving 
yards and 3 TDs, on 18 catches.  Clayton Davis has a team best 40 
receptions for over 600 yards with 7 scores, while Levi Daugherty has 
26 carries for 118 yards and 5 TDs.
    The Cardinal defense, which is allowing 24.9 points per night, is 
led by the 85 total tackles and one sack of sophomore linebacker Lee 
Shelton, while Cody Roysdon is second on the unit with 79 total 
stops.  Seniors Cody Vaughn and Riley Hancock are next with 62 and 58 
stops, as Hancock also leads the unit with a team high 3 
interceptions.  As the unit will look to bounce-back after allowing 
56-plays and 313 yards last week at North Laurel.
    The Wayne County offense, facing a Lincoln County defense that 
allows just under 28 points per game, is tallying 46 points per game 
and 446 yards of offense and that starts with junior running back and 
All-State candidate Braedon Sloan.  Sloan has rushed for 2072 yards 
and 35 TDs on just 183 carries and also leads the receivers with 17 
catches for 413 yards and 6 scores, while senior wide receiver Tito 
Ruiz adds 18 touches for 268 yards with 3 scores.
    Thomas Spencer also is a weapon that has totaled 19 catches for 399 
yards and 5 TDs, while Carson Simpson has 150 yards rushing with 166 
yards receiving on 21 touches with 5 TDs.
    Junior quarterback Brody Weaver has completed 75 of 134 passes for 
1441 yards with 16 TDs, against just two interceptions and has rushed 
56 times for 173 yards and two scores.
    Another wrinkle to the offense has been the emergence of sophomore 
kicker Patrick Radilla.  The first-year player has connected on 46 of 
48 extra points and is 3 of 4 on field goal attempts, after kicking a 
27-yard game-winner two weeks ago.
    "This is what we work all season for is the postseason, so hopefully 
we'll pack the place Friday night and be loud.  We have had great 
crowds both home and away and expect another great one Friday night, 
as it means so much to our kids and program," said Thompson.
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Wayne County High 
School's Jewell Field.

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