Actually, the winner of Friday’s game in Springfield will have home-field advantage throughout the Class AA playoffs. And the game is clearly a big deal at Washington, where one school group is sponsoring a “white-out” in which the home fans are asked to wear white.
“I’m sure it’s going to be standing-room-only,” Harp said.
Washington has had three straight losing seasons under Perry. Harrodsburg native Craig Yeast joined his former Wildcat teammate this year as offensive coordinator, leading to a marked increase in production.
The Commanders are averaging 34.5 points and 289 yards per game, up from 19.1 and 262 last year. They have scored 30 points or more in six of their eight games, and Harp said they’re moving the ball in every way imaginable.
“They’ll line up with no backs, trips, occasionally they’ll go with two backs in the backfield, they’ll run the pistol at times,” Harp said. “They use just about whatever formation known to man and whatever passing routes known to man.
Harp said the biggest changes Yeast has introduced are a drastic increase in all types of screen passes and a drastic increase in pace of play.
“They go no-huddle all the time, they signal everything in (from the sideline). They play fast, and it forces you defensively to do the same,” Harp said.
Senior Quan Turner, who rushed for 1,122 yards last season, is the Commanders’ leader in rushing yards (643, 10 touchdowns) and receiving yards (331, 4 TDs) this season.
“He’s got excellent speed. If he gets into your secondary you’re in trouble, because he can take it to the house any time he touches the ball,” Harp said.
Junior quarterback Trae Abell has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,207 yards and 15 touchdowns and has rushed for 190 yards and four scores.
“He has good pocket presence and throws a good, catchable ball, and he’s a good runner. I think he has good command of their offense,” Harp said.
Five different Washington receivers have caught at least 15 passes each, led by Ben Simms with 21 catches for 313 yards and six TDs.
Even with all that offense, the Washington defense should not be overlooked. The Commanders are allowing 11.1 points and 214 yards per game, down from 32.9 and 308 last year.
"They’re playing with a lot of enthusiasm,” Harp said. “They don’t have a lot of size on defense — they’ve got decent size, but not like some of the teams we’ve played — but what they do well is fly around to the ball.”
Danville rolled up 356 yards on only 31 offensive plays in its win over Fort Knox. Patrick Brand ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 1,022 yards and 14 rushing TDs this season.
But Harp said the Admirals’ offensive line can play better — and must do so this week. “We’ve got to get better play out of our offensive line this week. I don’t feel like our offensive line played the way we need to,” he said.