Friday, November 26, 1999

Pikeville (12-1) at Beechwood (11-2)

        • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today

        • WHERE: Beechwood High School, 54 Beechwood Road, Fort Mitchell

        • WHAT TO WATCH: Time for a high-stakes game of Keep Away. Beechwood will try to milk the clock with its running game, keeping the ball out of Pikeville's potent hands.

        “Their offense is extremely dangerous,” Beechwood coach Mike Yeagle said. “When you throw the ball 3,000 yards, you can score every time you're under center.”

        Pikeville, which uses a shotgun formation and sends four wideouts every play, has produced a 3,194-yard passing season for junior QB Matt Branham. It averages 47.4 points per game, which makes Beechwood's 37.1-average seem pedestrian.

        But Beechwood is finally finding form. Struggling at 5-2 in mid-October, the Tigers have since gone 6-0, outscoring opponents by an average score of 45-4.

        Last week's 35-0 beating of top-ranked Bellevue, which had beaten Beechwood earlier in the season, was a study in textbook execution.

        “We grew up a great deal last week,” Yeagle said. “But the biggest key is to go up another level now.”

        Beechwood reached the state championship game in each of Yeagle's first seven seasons but had that streak snapped last year in a state semifinal loss at Middlesboro. The Tigers need to win to avoid starting a new streak of futility.

        “Absolutely the guys are thinking about last year,” Yeagle said. “But we've been in this situation before. The guys know what's at stake.”

        Beechwood, averaging 350 yards per game, has three primary rushers: Ben List (1,125 yards, 24 TDs), Joey Hampel (826 yards, 14 TDs) and Nick Sketch (761 yards, eight TDs).

        The Tigers, having won 41 consecutive home games, should earn a trip back to Louisville.

        • PICK: Beechwood


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