Rebels host LexCath Friday in playoff opener

By MIKE MARSEE
Contributing Writer

Lexington Catholic’s latest victory was both good news and bad news for Boyle County.

On one hand, LexCath did Boyle a favor by beating Covington Catholic in its regular-season finale, because it gave Boyle home-field advantage for the duration of the Class 4A playoffs.

On the other hand, the Knights’ victory made it clear that the Rebels’ road to the later rounds of the postseason might be more difficult than it once appeared.

Boyle (7-0) will host longtime district rival LexCath (5-2) in a second-round playoff game Friday at Rebel Stadium, seven weeks after the Rebels routed the Knights 40-0 in their regular-season meeting. LexCath hasn’t lost since that Oct. 9 game in Lexington, and the Knights turned heads across the state with a 29-28 victory over CovCath — a Class 5A powerhouse that hadn’t lost a regular-season game since 2016 — on Nov. 6.

In that game, LexCath took the lead with a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 38 seconds to play, then blocked a field goal attempt as time expired.

After the start of the playoffs for this season altered by the coronavirus pandemic was delayed for one week in reaction to a spike in COVID-19 cases, both LexCath and Boyle got first-round byes when their scheduled opponents withdrew from the postseason.

That means Friday’s game to decide the District 4A-5 championship will be the first in 21 days for both teams.

It will also mark the 13th time since 1990 that these familiar foes have faced off in both the regular season and the postseason.

Boyle has won seven of the 12 playoff games — including a 54-7 victory last season — and leads the series 18-13 overall with six straight wins.

Boyle shut out its three district opponents this season by a combined score of 135-0, and only one of its seven opponents has scored more than seven points.

The Rebels’ first-team defense has allowed only four touchdowns all season, and they held the Knights to 155 yards in their shutout win last month. LexCath quarterback Jack Gohmann was just 13 for 32 for 98 yards with three interceptions in that game, but he went 16 for 27 for 180 yards with four touchdowns and one interception against CovCath earlier this month.

LexCath’s win over CovCath obviously raised the Knights’ rating percentage index, but it also gave Boyle’s RPI a boost. The RPI is a measure of a team’s strength relative to other teams based largely on strength of schedule, and the KHSAA began using it last year to determine pairings and host sites for third- and fourth-round playoff games.

The increase in Boyle’s RPI gave the Rebels the top rating in Class 4A at the end of the regular season, meaning the Rebels would host any possible regional final or state semifinal game.

LexCath is No. 5 on the 4A RPI list, behind Boyle, Johnson Central (2), Corbin (3) and Central (4).

If Boyle beats LexCath, its regional final would be against the lowest-rated surviving team in its half of the bracket, which will be the winner of the Boyd County (28)-at-Rowan County (18) game.