The Wayne County Cardinals, 9-1 on the season and coming off a hard-fought 56-33 opening round win over Lincoln County, returned to action last Friday hosting district rival Corbin, with the district championship on the line.  The Cardinals owned the #4 ranking in the final Associated Press Class 4A poll, while the Redhounds claimed the #8 spot.  Corbin entered with a 6-4 mark on the season and is coming off a 42-21 opening round win over Knox Central.  The Hounds own a 26-5 series edge, but Wayne County has won four of the last six meetings, including an 18-16 decision just three weeks earlier, at Campbell Field.

    Wayne County used 65 plays to total a season high 616 yards and 
forced five turnovers, while committing just one, rolling to a 63-49 
win. Junior All-State candidate Braedon Sloan smashed the record 
books as well rushing 37 times for 408 yards with seven touchdowns, 
plus added a 30-yard reception, as Wayne County built an early 35-7 
lead, before seeing that lead evaporate and fighting back for the 
championship win.  Sloan scored on runs of 85, 25, 3, 14, 22, 61 and 
42 yards, the last two in the fourth quarter, as the winners improved 
to 10-1 on the season.
    "What a great effort to win the district championship and I couldn't 
be prouder of our kids.  Offensively we had a great night and took 
care of the football.  We got off to such a great start, but we knew 
Corbin wasn't going anywhere.  Our kids never flinched, never 
panicked and we made some huge plays down the stretch. We gave up way 
too many yards, but we also forced some big turnovers, so while the 
score was a wild one, we'll take it.  Special credit to our offensive 
line, I think as a unit, they played their best game of the season," 
said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
    Sloan set a Wayne County single game record for rushing yards, 
eclipsing his own mark of 362 yards against Lincoln County in the 
regular season, plus broke the single season scoring mark in KHSAA 
history with 55 total touchdowns, eclipsing the 53 of Boone County 
great and former Alabama Crimson Tide great Sean Alexander.
    "Unbelievable season, unbelievable effort and an unbelievable kid. 
Braedon just does some tremendous things every week and I'm just 
thankful, as well as blessed that he is on our team.  To put up those 
type of numbers every week he's a tremendous athlete and credit the 
maturation of our entire offense as well.  Brody Weaver has been as 
efficient with the football as any quarterback we've had, our 
receivers continue to make plays and all that opens up with the 
improvement of our offensive line.  Those guys aren't the biggest, or 
the strongest, but they continue to improve, which is all we'll ever 
ask for," said Thompson.
    Weaver, a 6-1 190 lbs. junior, completed 9 of 19 passes for 169 
yards with 2 TDs and rushed 8 times for 37 yards, as the stalwart now 
has 20 TDs against just three interceptions.  Senior wide receiver 
Tito Ruiz followed up a "career night" the week before with 4 
receptions for 91 yards, which included a 46 yard touchdown catch. 
Thomas Spencer added 4 catches for 48 yards, which was highlighted by 
a 27 yard scoring reception on a fourth down, as the Cards finished 
with 23 first downs.
    Corbin, which dropped to 6-5 and was eliminated in the second round 
of the playoffs for the first time since 2013, used 50 plays for 559 
yards led by freshman quarterback Cameron Combs.  Combs completed 22 
of 34 passes for 457 yards with 5 TDs, but also had two interceptions 
and a fumble, while freshman Dakota Patterson added a career high 9 
catches for 188 yards with scoring connections of 57, 32 and 4 
yards.  Jacob Steely added 6 catches for 98 yards and Ethan Wine 
totaled 3 receptions for 86 yards and a score, while senior running 
back Nick Yeager added 11 carries for 57 yards with scoring runs of 
11 and 2 yards.
    "The big lead really forced their hand to go four and five wide and 
they just have too many athletes to cover.  They have great size, 
speed, strength and our inability to get a pass rush really made it 
tough on our guys on the backend.  We did force some turnovers and 
ended the game a plus four, which was the difference in the game," 
said Thompson.
    Wayne County forced a fumble on Corbin's first drive of the game and 
one play later Braedon Sloan raced 85 yards to pay-dirt and Patrick 
Radilla added the point after and the hosts were leading 7-0 with 
9:24 left in the first quarter.
    Corbin answered right back on their next series as Cameron Combs 
connected with Ethan Wine from 57 yards out and Jacob Baker added the 
kick to knot the score at 7-7, with 8:34 left in the first period.
    The Cards dominated the next 10-12 minutes of game-clock reeling off 
28 straight points to grab a convincing 35-7 lead.  Brody Weaver 
connected with Tito Ruiz on a 46 yard scoring connection at the 4:44 
mark of the first, Braedon Sloan scored on a 25 yard run at the 1:55 
mark of the first, then added a 3-yard scoring run with 9:39 left in 
the second, followed by a 12 yard run, as Patrick Radilla was perfect 
on the night as Wayne led 35-7 with 7:40 remaining in the first half.
    Corbin responded with some offensive fireworks of their own as Combs 
connected with Dakota Patterson on a 57 yard touchdown pass and Combs 
added the conversion run to close the gap to 35-15 at the 7:25 mark 
of the second quarter.
    Wayne County answered back with a 12-play drive of 65 yards, capped 
off by a Weaver 27 yard strike to Thomas Spencer, which left the 
score 42-15 with 2:04 left in the first half, but that was more than 
enough time for the visitors.
    Combs completed 4 of 5 passes for 81 yards on the march and Nick 
Yeager rambled in from 11 yards out to make the halftime score 42-22.
    The Cards opened the second half with the football and battled thru 
a deflected pass that was intercepted and then fumbled back to the 
Cards to a healthy diet of Braedon Sloan. Sloan rushed for 7, 7, 4, 
1, 4, 4, 0 and then 22 yards to make the score 49-22 with 6:33 left 
in the third period.
    Corbin retuned the favor with a 21-0 run of their own to make the 
game a one possession contest, as the Hounds used 8 plays to drive 61 
yards and score on a Yeager 2 yard run, at the 4:04 mark of the third 
period.  Cameron Combs added a 65-yard touchdown pass to Dylan 
Massengil with 31-seconds left in the quarter and then connected with 
Dakota Patterson from 32-yards out, as the lead was cut to 49-43 with 
7:27 left in the ballgame.
    Braedon Sloan put the rally to rest on the next two possessions as a 
Weaver to Ruiz 24-yard third down conversion setup a Sloan 61-yard 
touchdown run.  The Patrick Radilla kick made the score 56-43 with 
6:25 left in regulation.  That was followed by a Justin Curry 
interception and Sloan followed that with a 42-yard scoring run, to 
push the lead to 63-43 with 1:48 left in the contest.
    Corbin managed one final score as Combs connected with Patterson 
from 4-yards out with 22-seconds remaining, but it was too little too 
late, as Wayne County claimed their fifth win in the last seven games 
against the Hounds with a 63-49 home win.
    A review of the defensive stats shows senior defensive back Cauy 
Wallace led the way with 12 tackles, while senior Riley Hancock added 
9 stops.  Tito Ruiz and Carson Simpson finished with 6 total tackles 
each, while Lee Shelton, Braedon Sloan and Cody Roysdon finished with 
5, 4 and 4 tackles each.
    Next up for the Cards is a Friday night trip a familiar foe in 
Johnson Central.  The Eagles are a perfect 12-0 on the season and 
coming off a 50-6 district championship win over Harlan County. 
Johnson Central dominated that district, outscoring their opponents 
296-25 in six games and has eliminated Wayne County in the state 
semifinals in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
    "We're excited to still be playing football and we're not playing 
2015, 2016 and 2017, we're playing Friday night in 2019 and we know 
they have a tremendous team.  We've played hard and very competitive 
against those guys and had chances to win and another time we failed 
to get off the bus, so I told our guys basically nothing to worry 
about, as we've played them about every way possible," said Thompson.
    Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Johnson Central and for 
a complete preview of the matchup see related story inside this edition of The Outlook.

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