Forcing a once-known pass heavy Ballard Memorial squad to zero passing yards and a 57-16 drubbing on homecoming night, Caldwell County didn't let a few first quarter hiccups shake them, and took care of business in Barlow in Week 6 last Friday night to move to 5-1 on the season.
This Friday, however will not be business as usual, as the Class 2A powerhouse Mayfield Cardinals (also 5-1) come into Princeton Friday night in what might be the most anticipated game of the week across western Kentucky.
De'Eric Hollowell needed just three carries on his three touchdowns after a 233 rushing-yard performance the week before against Union County, and Baron Wells got into the scoring party with three TD scores of his own as the Tigers took their fourth running clock win to the house early Friday night, but things will not be quite so easy in Week 7.
Caldwell County had a 43-8 halftime lead and got to rest most of their starters in the second half, but the defense still was a huge bright spot and played very encouraging as the Tigers roll into their most formidable opponent of the regular season.
Ben Holt led the way with 11 tackles (including four for loss), Elijah Shaheen came up with eight tackles and Max Kramer helped block a punt as the special teams were very special on this night.
Wells scored on two punt returns, sending the Tigers into their first District win of the season.
If they are to get district win No. 2 on Friday night at Tiger Stadium, it's going to take a near-perfect game of Caldwell County football to do so.
Tigers are back in their beds with home cooked meals against Mayfield and will be again next week against Fort Campbell in their final home game of the regular season, but for head coach Wayne McGowan and the Tigers, the focus lies on a team that needs no introduction as Mayfield finished 14-1 with 14 straight wins last year until a heartbreaking 34-26 loss in the Class 2A State Championship against Christian Academy-Louisville.
Mayfield beat Caldwell County 31-14 last season, and the Tigers will be looking for their first win in the season series since 2013 (a 48-41 win when Purdue QB's Elijah Sindelar was at the helm in Princeton), as the Cards have won five straight games with Caldwell County in the last half-decade.
Mayfield will be losing top rusher in Kent Trey Matthew (1872 rushing yards with 29 rushing TDs a season ago) to graduation, but the Cardinals return seven starters on offense and six starters on defense. This season, the all-state quarterback candidate Jayden Stinson leads the charge (73-for-116 in the air through five games with 1363 passing yards and 16 TD passes against six interceptions.
The Class 2A 2019 KHSAA State Runner-Up Cardinals will bring back their top wide-receivers in Kade Neely (473 yards in 23 receptions with five TD catches), Alonzo Daniel (four TD catches) and Diaz Perry (326 receiving yards with four TDs) into the fold, losing just one starter from a season ago.
Tate Puckett, Tony Parrott and James Top will round out the wide-receiver core, and despite losing Matthews to graduation, this Mayfield team hardly looks any different than the ones before it.
Kylan Galbreath is Mayfield's top rusher at 81 carries for 467 yards and two TDs so far, while Travion Haliburton and Markesio Jackson also seeing carries.
Lucas Henley, Colin Price and Wyatt Inman return for the Cardinals up front with the offensive line, and Jack Taylor, Ethan Bowland, Tre Arnold and Andrew Lamb will also be names to watch on Friday night.
Haliburton, Derek Smith, Daniel and Parrott all return to the defense this year for the Cardinals, who look to avenge their lone loss of the season thus far after McCracken County stunned them a few weeks back at War Memorial Stadium 45-35.
Since the loss, Mayfield has put up back to back wins against Fort Campbell and Graves County with a combined 90-7 score.
The Cards also hold big wins against Hopkinsville (Caldwell's lone loss thus far) and Paducah Tilghman.
Tre Arnold could be a force on the defensive line with Nathan Watkins, Derek Stewart, Wyatt Inman, Gabe Spalding and several others for Mayfield.
Micah Haley, one of the top kickers in western Kentucky who nearly had 80 extra points last year with six field goals, returns as well, as Mayfield coach Joe Morris is in his 21st season as Mayfield's head coach.
In an ironic twist, the Tigers and Cardinals are ranked in the top six in Class 2A District 1 in the latest KHSAA RPI ratings.
Mayfield (5-1) is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A with an RPI of 0.741, while Caldwell County (5-1) is No. 6 with an RPI of 0.694.
Caldwell County' opponent in two weeks, Murray High, is just behind them at No. 7 with an RBP of 0.693.
In the latest AP Prep Poll, Caldwell County is ranked No. 5 in 2A while Mayfield is ranked No. 2.
Caldwell County looks to up their winning streak to four straight games Friday night with kickoff against Mayfield at 7 p.m.
Week 6 Box Score
CALDWELL COUNTY 57
BALLARD MEMORIAL 16
Caldwell Co. 23 20 7 7 - 57
Ballard Memorial 8 0 0 8 - 16
CC: De'Eric Hollowell 4-yard run (Blake Vivrette PAT GOOD) 7-0, 7:59 1Q
CC:Baron Wells 50 yard return (Vivrette PAT GOOD) 16-0, 6:11 1Q
BM: Trenton Howard 95 yard return (Parker Rathman run) 16-8 5:54 1Q
CC:Hollowell 29-yard run (Vivrette PAT GOOD) 23-8, 0:46 1Q
CC:Wells 34 yard pass from Russ Beshear (PAT GOOD) 30-8, 8:12 2Q
CC: Tate VanHooser 4 yard pass from Beshear (PAT GOOD) 37-8, 4:29 2Q
CC: Hollowell 10 yard pass from Beshear (PAT no good), 43-8 1:55 2Q
CC: Wells 71 yard return (PAT GOOD) 50-8 11:39 3Q
CC: Travion Samuel 2 yard run (PAT GOOD) 57-8 11:00 4Q
BM: Rathman 52 yard run (2-pt conversion) 57-16 4:51 4Q
Caldwell County Week 6 Individual stats
CC: Russ Beshear 3-45, DeEric Hollowell 3-39, Travion Samuel 5-32, Jamus Carneyhan 1-24, Logan Chamblis 1-7, Jack Stevens 2-0.
CC:Russ Beshear 8-11-1 115 yards, Jack Stevens 2-4 12 yards, Gab Dyer 0-2 0 yards.
BM:Rathman 0-3-0, 0 yards.
CC: Tate VanHooser 3-24, Baron Wells 2-67, DeEric Hollowell 2-22, Clayton Woford 1-8, Aaron Ziobro 1-4, Logan Smiley 1-2.
Blake Vivrette 7-8 PAT.
CC: Ben Holt 11 (six solo), Elijah Shaheen 8, John Paredes 5, Drew Davis 5, Travoin Samuel 4, Brady Holeman 4, Barrett Cotton 3, Aaron Hensley 3, Russ Beshear 2, Logan Chambliss 2, Clayton Woford 2, Tate VanHooser 2, Jamus Carneyhan 2, Jack Stevens 2, Max Kramer 2, Max Ashley 1, Nick Sherrill 1, Canyon Richardson 1, Michael Vickery 1, Tripp Branch 1, Devin Kilgore 1, Jordan Ladd 1.
Davis 1, Paredes 1.
Caldwell County 5-1
Week 7, Caldwell County (5-1) vs Mayfield (5-1), 7 p.m.
Caldwell County Team stats
Rushing yards: 147
Rushing yards allowed: 96
Passing yards: 127
Total yards: 275
Passing yards allowed: 0
Pass attempts: 17
Rushing attempts: 15 (10 yards per rush)
3rd down conversions: 2-3
Fumbles lost: 0
Turnovers forced: 0
Penalties: 3 (22 yards lost)