"You've got to win this game," Mercer coach Duane Hammons said. "We felt like we could win that ballgame at Newport. We didn't, and now we've got to dig ourselves out of a hole."
But while both Mercer and Harrodsburg are in desperate need of a win, they still might not be as desperate as their opponents.
An improving North Oldham team will be trying to earn a second straight playoff berth in a district where one win will likely be sufficient. Trimble is looking for any victory as it approaches the two-year anniversary of its last one.
Meanwhile, both Harrodsburg and Mercer must deal with the unique challenges caused by their schools' two-week fall break.
"Kids are trying to adjust their work schedules to their sleep schedules, everything," Hammons said. "It's just a bigger change. I think kids are creatures of routine."
Second time Scotties have lost two straight
This is the second time this season Mercer (3-4, 0-1 Class AA, District 5) has dealt with consecutive losses. In their most recent defeat, the Scotties fell behind 20-0 early, then rallied to within 20-14 in the third quarter before Newport burned them for an 80-yard touchdown pass that started a string of 22 unanswered points.
North Oldham (3-4, 0-1) had a 14-7 lead at Lloyd Memorial early in the second quarter, but Lloyd scored 34 points before halftime and went on to win 47-14.
Hammons said he's impressed with the Mustangs, a second-year program with 12 seniors who began their careers at Oldham County or South Oldham.
"Last year they were able to make the playoffs, and this year they're trying to build on that," Hammons said. "Hopefully we can get up on them early and go from there."
The Mercer coach said a quarterback change in the second week of the season has given life to North Oldham's offense, and senior running backs Mark Kusnir and C.J. Holcomb give the Mustangs a solid ground game. Kusnir has rushed for 656 yards and seven touchdowns.
Hammons said they have a strong defensive leader in senior Chad Gallas, who can play either at end or tackle.
Harrodsburg (4-2, 0-1 Class A, District 3) hits the road after consecutive home losses to Grant County and Frankfort.
They Pioneers are averaging 318 yards per game, 61 more than their opponents. And they have outscored their six opponents 53-7 in the first quarter, which could spell trouble for Trimble (0-6, 0-1).
Trimble's 70-12 loss to Carroll County last week was its 20th consecutive loss. The Raiders have been held to 15 points or less in 19 of those 20 losses and have been shut out seven times, including 50-0 by Harrodsburg last year.
The Pioneers managed only 135 rushing yards last week, but they will try to reestablish their ground game against a Trimble defense that allowed Carroll to rack up 424 yards on the ground.