The Wayne County Cardinals, 8-1 on the regular season and coming off an impressive 63-32 win at North Laurel, opened the Class 4A state playoffs last Friday night hosting Lincoln County. The Cards finished the final Associated Press poll as the #4 ranked team in 4A.  The Patriots were 3-7 on the season and coming off a disappointing 26-7 loss at Rockcastle County.  The contest marked just the fourth meeting ever between the 12th Region rivals, as Wayne County had won the previous three matchups, including a 55-21 decision at Lincoln County, just over a month ago.

    The Cardinals used 58 plays to net 506 yards of offense with 23 
first downs to roll to a 56-33 opening round win.  The offense never 
punted and had zero turnovers led by 6-1 190 lbs. junior quarterback 
Brody Weaver.  Weaver completed 18 of 23 passes for 212 yards with 2 
TDs, while All-State candidate Braedon Sloan rushed 24 times for 223 
yards and added 6 total touchdowns, which included an 80-yard 
interception return.  Sloan scored on runs of 45, 12, 13, 3 and 41 
yards, as the winners improved to 9-1 on the season.
    "What a good win to start the playoffs, as we knew Lincoln County 
would be a tough, physical game and it was.  We did some really good 
things on offense and have to try and get better on defense, as we 
gave up too many yards and too many big plays.  We also forced three 
turnovers which is a positive, so overall a good effort to advance 
and play another week," said Wayne County head coach Shawn Thompson.
    The senior trio of wide receivers Tito Ruiz, Thomas Spencer and 
Dylan Godsey all had big nights in the win.  Ruiz grabbed a season 
high 8 catches for a career best 111 yards, which included a 29-yard 
touchdown catch, Spencer added 4 balls for 43 yards, while Godsey 
added a 14-yard scoring reception and a two-point conversion run. 
Six different players totaled a catch, as Weaver was as efficient as 
anytime all season.
    "Brody has really been dialed-in the last half of the season and is 
really doing a nice job of running the offense and making good 
decisions.  We know teams are really keying on Braedon and that opens 
up some opportunities for some other guys to make plays.  Now having 
said that, Braedon still had over 240 yards of offense and an 
interception return with six scores, as he brings it every Friday 
night," said Thompson.
    Lincoln County, which lost their sixth straight game to end the 
season at 3-8, was led by senior Clayton Davis and senior quarterback 
Nick Harris.  Davis caught 4 passes for 146 yards with 2 TDs, plus 
rushed 5 times for 52 yards, which included scoring runs of 14 and 6 
yards.
    "Clayton Davis is a player and had another big game, just like he 
did in the regular season.  Four touchdowns and he's a tough matchup 
on the defensive backfield and the Harris kid is a true dual-threat 
quarterback.  He makes plays with both his legs and arm, plus credit 
their guys up-front as they are extremely physical on both sides of 
the football," said Thompson.
    Harris rushed 14 times for a team high 110 yards and completed 8 of 
18 passes for 185 yards with 2 scores against 3 interceptions. 
Lincoln County finished the game with 51 plays for 385 yards and 16 
first downs.
    Wayne County opened the game with the football and used 5 plays to 
march 67 yards and score on a Braedon Sloan 45-yard touchdown run. 
Patrick Radilla booted the kick and the hosts led 7-0 with 9:53 left 
in the opening quarter.
    After the defense forced a quick Lincoln County punt, the offense 
added a 10-play drive for 70 yards, ended with a Sloan 12-yard 
touchdown scamper and the lead was 14-0 with 4:15 left in the first 
period.
    The Patriots answered right back on the following series as Harris 
scrambled for 25 yards and two plays later raced in from 10-yards 
out.  Loren Melton booted the extra point to close the gap to 14-7 
with still 3:47 left in the opening frame.
    The Cards used another 10-play drive of 61 yards on the next 
possession, as Weaver completed passes of 9 yards to Spencer and 13 
yards to Ruiz, which setup a Sloan 13-yard scoring run.  The snap was 
high and an alert Dylan Godsey ran the conversion in to lift the 
score to 22-7 with 11:24 left in the first half.
    Wayne County forced another punt and Brody Weaver connected with 
Tito Ruiz for completions of 32, 11, 4 and 2 yards on the drive, but 
a 35-yard field goal attempt was off, which left the score at 22-7 at 
the 6-minute mark of the second period.
    A Ruiz interception quickly gave the football back to the Cards and 
five plays later Braedon Sloan scored from 3-yards out to lift the 
score to 28-7 with 4:13 left in the second quarter.
    Lincoln County answered with an 8-play drive of 63 yards, capped off 
by a Clayton Davis 14-yard touchdown run.  The Pats attempted a 
conversion pass that failed, leaving the score 28-13 with just 34-
seconds remaining in the first half.
    The Cards opened the scoring in the third quarter, as Weaver 
connected with Ruiz on a 29-yard touchdown pass and Patrick Radilla 
added the extra point to push the score to 35-13 with 8:27 left in 
the third period.
    Sophomore linebacker Lee Shelton intercepted a pass on the next 
series and returned it 85 yards to setup the next Cardinal score. 
After a penalty Weaver connected with Dylan Godsey from 14-yards out 
to push the lead to 42-13 with 6:14 remaining in the third quarter.
    The teams then managed to total three touchdowns in just over three 
minutes of play as the defense struggled on both sides.  Nick Harris 
connected with Clayton Davis from 50-yards out to close the gap to 
42-20 with 4:34 left in the period and three plays later Braedon 
Sloan raced 41 yards for a touchdown to push the score to 49-20 with 
3:39 left in the quarter.  Harris and Davis connected again, this 
time from 51 yards away, which closed the score to 49-27 at the 1:34 
mark of the third.
    "Credit Lincoln County they fought hard all night and never quit, 
but our guys kept working as well and good things happened," said 
Thompson.
    After the teams traded empty possessions Wayne County added their 
final score of the contest, this time on defense as Sloan intercepted 
a Lincoln County pass and raced 80 yards for a touchdown.  Radilla 
added the kick to make the score 56-27 with 6:37 left in regulation.
    Lincoln County added one more score as Davis capped off his big 
night with a 6-yard touchdown run and the kick failed, which left the 
score 56-33 with 2:48 left in the contest.
    The Cards were able to run out the clock, after recovering the 
onside kick and claimed their ninth straight opening round win with a 
56-33 decision.
Senior linebacker Cody Roysdon led the defensive effort with 12 total 
tackles, while Tito Ruiz finished with 9 stops.  Braedon Sloan added 
a career high 6 tackles, while Riley Hancock finished with 5 tackles 
and the trio of Colton Tucker, Cauy Wallace and Nick Green all 
finished with 4 stops each.  Wayne County lost senior stalwart Cody 
Vaughn late in the first half and his status is unknown at press-time.
    "Cody is a such a great kid and hard-worker and does so much for our 
team on both sides of the ball, hopefully it's not season-ending. 
That's a senior that comes to work every day and does everything we 
ask, but this is a team and we know if he can't go, we have to count 
on the next man up to step-in and be ready to go," said Thompson.
    Up next for the Cards is a home rematch with the Corbin Redhounds, a 
42-21 opening round winner over Knox Central.  The teams met a couple 
weeks ago and Wayne County rallied for an 18-16 road win.
    "Corbin has the complete team and does everything well, so we know 
they'll be ready and well prepared.  We have to match their intensity 
and continue to do what we do well and be ready to compete for 48-
minutes," said Thompson.
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Wayne County High 
School's Jewell Field. For a complete preview of the matchup see related story inside this edition of The Outlook.

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