RACELAND, Ky. — While many will be still be nursing turkey hangovers or taking advantage of Black Friday shopping, the Raceland Rams and Pikeville Panthers will be playing for a shot at a football state championship.
The two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Pikeville’s Hillard Howard Field in the Class 1A state semifinals. The winner will meet either Russellville or Bethlehem at Lexington’s Kroger Field — home to the Kentucky Wildcats — on Dec. 3 in the state championship game.
Pikeville (12-2) and Raceland (12-1) are ranked second and third, respectively, in Kentucky’s Class 1A power ratings. Rams’ head coach Mike Salmons said his team isn’t one to back down from a challenge.
“Our guys don’t flinch, and we’re not going to flinch in seven days,” Salmons said after the regional final win on Friday. “That’s not who we are, our guys are not made that way.”
There will be little room for error against Pikeville, which was undefeated at home this season and hasn’t lost there since Hazard defeated the Panthers 21-12 in the District 7 championship game last November.
“It’s a tremendous program, utmost respect for those guys,” Raceland head coach Mike Salmons said of Pikeville. “Coach (Chris) McNamee and I have competed multiple times over the years. They’ve got a special football team and I feel honored to have an opportunity to be playing football on the Friday after Thanksgiving.”
Pikeville defeated Williamsburg 50-21 last Friday to advance to the state semifinals behind the passing of quarterback Isaac McNamee who completed 14-of-18 passes for 202 yards and five touchdowns.
McNamee had help, too.
Running back Blake rushed 19 times for 193 yards and a TD eclipsing the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the season, according to team statistics.
The Panthers’ two losses this season came to Class 2A Lexington Christian (31-14) and Class 6A Madison Central (21-19).
Raceland counters with a high-powered offense of its own led by sophomore quarterback Logan Lundy, a Russell transfer, who is 117-of-196 passing on the season with 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions, according to team statistics.
Lundy had 190 yards passing and two touchdowns against Bishop Brossart on Friday.
On the ground, Jules Farrow had 13 rushes for 115 yards and three touchdowns but for the season Noah Wallace has been Salmons’ go-to back with 142 rushes for 966 yards and 14 TDs.
Raceland’s lone loss of the year was at Class 3A Russell (28-18), which came during a stretch of four straight road games to open the season that included a win over defending Class 3A state champion Ashland.
Pikeville and Raceland last met during the 2019 regular season, a 12-6 win by the Panthers at Hillard Howard Field.