"This is a must-win game," Lucas said. "I've told our sen-iors, 'If you want to spend an extra week or two with us and go to the playoffs, this is the time.'"
Lucas said it is the seniors who have had much to do with Lincoln's modest success of late. He said players such as Logan Boyd, Chris Hart, Daniel Sinkhorn and Tyson Stewart have taken charge of the team since its last loss.
"The leadership of our seniors has picked up tenfold since the Rockcastle (County) game," Lucas said.
The Patriots, who defeated Marion County 34-7 last week, took their lumps from the likes of Rockcastle, Danville and East Jessamine in the first month of the season, but Lucas said they are better for having played those teams.
"Playing those teams really helped prepare us for this," he said. "We're trying to get better and this is a very important game for us.
"If we have the same focus mentally that we've had the last two or three weeks, we could get in the playoffs."
Taylor has lost five straight games since beating Washington County in its opener. The Cardinals have been held to se-ven points or less three times, and they lost 46-17 to Pulaski last week. Still, Lucas said they aren't to be taken lightly.
"Taylor is a good team," Lucas said. "They've had a rash of injuries, and they lost a couple of good running backs, but they've got some nice athletes."
North Oldham at Mercer County
Mercer is in the midst of a two-week school break, but coach Duane Hammons is making sure the Scotties aren't taking it easy.
Hammons said his team lacked aggressiveness in its 20-17 loss to Newport last week, and he drove the point home Monday and Tuesday with long, hard-hitting practices.
"Mercer has always been known as a hitting team, and I thought Friday night we did not hit," Hammons said. "We're just not as physical as I'd like us to be. I think Friday night you're going to see a different team come out."
Hammons said he knows his methods might not be popular this week, but he's willing to sacrifice a little popularity if the pads are popping Friday.
"We're going to line up and hit," he said. "They can dislike me, but I hope Friday night they dislike the other team as much as me."
Hammons said North Oldham, which opened its doors for the first time in August, is a notch better than most first-year programs.
"These kids have played at Oldham County and South Oldham, and their quarterback played two years at Trinity," he said. "They're a lot smoother than a first-year team would be."
The Mustangs dropped a 55-26 decision to Lloyd Memorial in their district opener last week, a week after beating Trimble County for the school's first win ever.
Meanwhile, Hammons said Mercer's margin for error in the district race was eliminated with last week's loss.
"This is a must-win game for us," he said.
Corbin at Casey County
Casey walks out of one dogfight and right into another when it hosts fourth-ranked Corbin.
The Rebels were reeling after their 43-28 loss at Garrard County, and now they must prepare for Corbin's brand of power football.
"They play good, smash-mouth football, and they play really physical," Casey coach Andy Stephens said. "After you play them, you're beat up for the next two or three."
Stephens hopes that isn't the case, because even though a loss to Corbin would drop Casey to 0-2 in the district, the Rebels can still entertain hope of making the playoffs.
"We play the best two teams in our district right off the bat," he said. "If you come out of playing them not beat up too bad and you're healthy, you can compete against the others."
Casey's defense will try to stop the Redhounds' running backs, 210-pound Jarrod Lawson - the state's third-leading rusher before last week with 220 yards per game - and 200-pound Brad Lawson, who help the 'Hounds average 40 points and 353 rushing yards per game.
Corbin comes off a 21-14 loss to No. 5 Middlesboro last week.