For a half, the Pikeville Panthers gave the Lexington Christian Eagles all they wanted. LCA, ranked #4 in the state coming in, used their depth to pull out a 31-14 win in the Kroger KSR Game of the Week. The Panthers, however, won’t face a team like the Eagles when they start postseason play in the state’s smallest class.
Junior Blake Birchfield ran for 213 yards in the first half including an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of the game and a 75-yard score in the second quarter. He finished with 239 yards rushing.
“It was not the result that we wanted but Coach Mac (Chris McNamee) gets us fired up before every game,” Birchfield said about the team’s hot start. “We came in here with confidence. We can play with anyone no matter the class.”
LCA’s Mason Moore noted how hard it was to stop Birchfield.
“He’s really quick out of the backfield especially behind those big, huge o-linemen. You can’t really see him, so when he gets to the second level, he is just kind of gone.
The Panthers, who won the 2019 Class A state title, are the favorites again this year, but they know they can’t let their guard down.
“We can’t have what happened last year. Coach Mac, it’s reminded every day, 21-12 Hazard,” Birchfield said about last year’s shocking second round loss to their district rival. “We are hoping for a different result and end up at Kroger (Field) again.”
The Panthers are also capable in the passing game, as Zac Lockhart set a state record for touchdowns in a game (7) last year versus Henry Clay.
LCA Coach Doug Charles, a Pikeville alum, had had high praise for the Panthers calling Birchfield “country strong” noting that they have a Division 1 caliber quarterback in Isaac McNamee, who holds an offer from Marshall.
“Pikeville’s a good football team. I told anybody that would listen to me. Pikeville matched up with us well. They are big and physical,” Charles said. “There is not a classier bunch of people than Pikeville. Those are the nicest kids we have every played. They knock you on your butt and help you up. That is just a credit to Pikeville and Coach McNamee. I hope both of us make it to Kroger Field here in December.”
If both teams keep playing like this, fans need to start clearing out their calendars for state championship weekend.