After crushing Glasgow 56-8 last week (Glasgow won the last game in 2001), the Wildcats now have Owensboro Catholic in their crosshairs in the second round for the second straight year.
Trigg County (9-2) will travel to Rash Stadium Friday to face the Aces (10-1).
Owensboro Catholic beat the Wildcats 26-14 last year and 28-7 two years ago. Both games were in the second round.
The winner of Friday’s game will likely face unbeaten and top-ranked Fort Campbell in the region finals. The Falcons, who beat the Wildcats 14-7 in September, host Caldwell County Friday.
Despite getting another crack at the Aces and possibly the Falcons, Wildcat head coach Curtis Higgins said his team will just be concentrating on making themselves better in trying to advance to their first region title game in four years.
“When you get to the second round of the playoffs, you shouldn’t need anything to motivate you. Everyone knows what’s on the line,” he said.
But secretly, you know the Wildcat seniors want a chance to knock off the two-time defending region champion on their home field.
The Wildcats were well on their way to winning at Owensboro Catholic last year, leading 14-7 at halftime before the Aces answered with 19 unanswered points and outgained the Wildcats 217-123 in the second half.
For the Wildcats to end their two-game losing streak in Owensboro, they will have to find a way to contain an Aces’ offense that is every bit as potent as the last two years.
With an experienced line and backfield returning, the Aces have been more of a ground team than the past two seasons, averaging over 200 yards on the ground and 230 through the air.
Speedy Houston Kamuf (5-10, 170, Sr.) is Owensboro Catholic’s leading rusher with over 850 yards and 14 touchdowns. He rushed for 99 yards on 20 carries against the Wildcats last year and had 174 yards against Heath last week.
Stewart Ijames (6-1, 195, Jr.) has added nearly 600 yards and eight scoring runs this year. He returned to action last week in the Aces’ 56-18 win over Heath after missing a couple of games due to sickness.
Higgins said the Aces appear to run the football more this year than in past years.
“We have to contain their backs and not give up big chunks of yardage,” he said.
Trigg County’s defense has improved dramatically as the season has worn on, giving up an average of nine points a game during a six-game winning streak.
Wildcat opponents average just 143 yards rushing. Only Fort Campbell and Bowling Green have rushed for more than 200 yards against Trigg’s defense. Both games were Wildcat losses.
Catholic’s speedy backs run behind an offensive line that averages 240 pounds across, led by 6-foot-4, 310-pound Paul Millay and Jordan Allison (6-4, 260, Sr.).
Last year, Zach Barnard threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats.
This year, David Woodward (6-1, 185, Sr.) has put up similar numbers in Catholic’s spread offense, throwing for 2,433 yards and 33 touchdowns.
The Wildcats defensive unit, which has recorded 29 sacks on the season, hopes to put pressure on Holland, who has only been sacked six times this year.
After graduating a pair of talented receivers, Neil Holland (5-11, 160, Jr.) and Jared Johnson (5-9, 145, Sr.) have stepped into the starting roles and excelled this year.
Both receivers have over 700 yards receiving and have combined for 21 touchdowns.
The Wildcat secondary has been an improving unit since August, holding eight straight opponents to under 100 yards through the air.
Opponents are averaging just 70 yards against the Wildcats on the season and have thrown 11 interceptions.
Defensively, the Aces give up over 200 yards a game and allowed Heath last week to rush for over 220 yards.
Several of the linemen play on both sides of the football, and the Aces have a pair of battle-tested linebackers in David Jarboe (5-10, 210, Sr.) and Adam McBride (6-0, 180, Sr.).
While the Wildcats will give up some size up front, Higgins knows the Wildcats have several offensive threats for the Aces to focus on instead of one or two like the past two years.
“We have six or seven weapons we can use. They give us chances to score a lot of points,” he said. “We’ll spread the field with them and make it difficult to defend us.”
Five different Wildcats have been the leading rusher this year, with Scotty Mayes (54.0), quarterback Tommy Woodall (48.0), Taylor McGee (38.0), and Devin Tejada (37.3) all averaging over 35 yards a game on the ground.
Through the air, Woodall has overcome a slow start to throw for 1,657 yards and 21 touchdowns. During Trigg County’s six-game winning streak, he has completed 48-of-75 passes (64-percent) to go with 16 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
In the secondary, sophomore Brian Winklepeck has a school record 12 interceptions from his safety position, mainly playing centerfield and making quick breaks on deep passes.
With more weapons at his disposal, Higgins knows the Wildcats must put together a complete game to knock off the second-ranked team in the state.
“We can’t give up the big play and turn the ball over. Big plays have killed us the past two years,” he said.
Unlike the last two games with the Aces, the Wildcat defense may be counted on the come up with the big play.
Trigg County’s defense has forced 22 fumbles this year – two behind the school record – and returned ten fumbles for touchdowns.
If the Wildcats score first, it could be a good omen. Trigg has won 22 straight games when they score first. They are just 5-7 when the opponent scores first. Owensboro Catholic has scored first each of the last two years.
“We need to come out quick like we did against Glasgow and move the football…make them defend us,” Higgins said.
Kickoff for Friday’s game at Rash Stadium (located behind Owensboro High School) will be 7:30 p.m.
TWO-MINUTE DRILL – Trigg County’s 476 points scored this year is already the third most in history…Trigg has scored 69 touchdowns this year, five behind the record set in 2000…Jamaal Boyd’s 1,273 career receiving yards rank him fourth on the all-time list, just 101 yards behind Donovan Lander for third. His 17 touchdowns already rank second…Tommy Woodall is only the third TCHS quarterback to throw for more than 20 touchdowns in a season. His 36 career touchdown passes also rank third all-time…Trigg County has scored on their first offensive possession in nine of their 11 games. The only two games they did not were losses to Bowling Green and Fort Campbell.