Friday football digest, week 15

Once again, it’s basically a coin flip.

The game that Boyle County fans have waited 51 weeks is hours away, with Bell County on its way to Rebel Stadium for a second straight Class 4A semifinal showdown with the Rebels. And it looks like it could be every bit as close as last year’s game on the first Friday of December in Pineville.

Boyle lost that game 17-15 after committing six turnovers, and I said both before and after that game that both of those two teams were capable of winning the 4A championship, which Bell did one week later. The same thing looks to be true this year: Both teams are good enough to win the title, but only one of them will get the chance to play for it next week.

And while neither the Rebels nor the Bobcats would be a lock to win next week in Bowling Green, it’d be safe to say that whichever team wins tonight’s game would be a heavy favorite over either Marion County or Lone Oak, the teams that are playing in the other 4A semifinal.

Bell County coach Dudley Hilton is fully aware that Boyle and its fans — especially its fans — would love to avenge last year’s loss, but coach Larry French won’t make this game about revenge. It’s about two of the top 10 teams in the state, teams with very little separation between them in any category you care to compare.

And even though it’s a tired, old cliche, that means it’s about which team makes fewer mistakes. That was painfully obvious in last year’s game, and I think I can go ahead and guarantee that if either team makes six turnovers tonight, that team can call it a season.

Little else can be guaranteed about this game, except that it figures to be about as interesting as any of the 12 semifinals being played across the state (and even in Clarksville, Tenn., where Fort Campbell is hosting Monroe County). I’ll take Boyle County because I believe the Rebels are a better team than they were a year ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised by any outcome.

Picks of two weeks ago, when the blog was last fully functional: 3-0; season: 44-10 (.815).

Here’s a link to Jay Compton’s preview story from today’s edition of the Middlesboro Daily News, as well as the latest stats submitted to the KHSAA from Bell and Boyle. I’d love to add a link to Hal Morris’ preview story from Wednesday’s Advocate, but in yet another technical difficulty, somehow the story never made it to amnews.com.

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