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The Indians (10-3) faced teams ranked higher than them in both of the two rounds of this year’s Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Class 6A Playoffs.

And they beat both of them.

“I’m sure (our players) know the rankings, but we’ve got to just take each game one at a time,” Madison Central coach Mike Holcomb said.

On Friday night, the Indians will once again take on the familiar role of the underdog.

Central is set to face perennial state powerhouse St. Xavier (12-1 — No. 2 ranked in Class 6A) in Louisville.

Game time is set for 6 p.m.

The winner advances to the state championship game next week at Kroger Field in Lexington.

“We know what we’ve got to do,” Central senior linebacker Edgren Sweat said. “We just want to go up there and get a win. We can do it.”

The Tigers have won 12 state titles — most recently in 2009.

The Indians have never advanced to the championship game.

Central’s coach, though, has been in this situation before.

Holcomb won three state titles at Breathitt County (1995, 1996 and 2002).

“Our kids have gotten a taste of this success,” Holcomb said. “They are excited and I have no doubt in my mind that they will play their hearts out.”

The Indians won just one game each of the past two seasons, but have put together a remarkable turnaround in Holcomb’s first season at the school.

Central won seven-straight games during the regular season, then claimed the district championship with wins over Oldham County (42-9) and Bryan Station (41-18).

Another dominant performance last week gave the Indians their second region title in program history. Sophomore running back Brady Hensley had five touchdowns in a 43-7 win at home over Paul Laurence Dunbar (7-6).

“We will be prepared. We believe in ourselves and the coaches believe in us,” Central junior receiver Travis Grant said.

The Indians had 445 yards rushing against Dunbar and have more than 3,200 yards on the ground this season.

They will be challenged this week, though, by one of the top defenses in the state. The Tigers are giving up just 13.7 points a game (second-best in 6A) and 90 rushing yards a game (third in 6A).

St. Xavier has allowed only 22 points points in the past four games, including two shutouts.

“Once you get to this point of the year, every team has a good defense,” Holcomb said. “That’s usually a common denominator.”

The Tigers topped Butler, 48-0, in the playoff opener before beating DuPont Manual, 18-16, in the district title game. They blasted Daviess County, 42-6, at home to claim the region title.

Quarterback Jack Sivori completed 10-of-11 passes for 232 yards with three touchdowns last week and also ran for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Michael Duddy had three catches for 141 yards.

On the season, the senior has 43 touchdowns (23 passing, 20 rushing) and has accounted for almost 3,000 yards of total offense (1,906 passing, 1,038 rushing). Duddy has eight TD catches and Mekhi Smith has seven TD receptions.

“We do what we do and I’m sure they are going to do what they do,” Holcomb said. “We just need to go out and execute and do what we are capable of doing.”

The Indians have shown they are capable of running the ball against anyone.

Hensley has 1,684 yards on 201 attempts and 28 rush TDs. Adrien Parks has 732 yards rushing with six touchdowns and quarterback Hagan Harrison has 495 yards rushing with four TDs.

Wide receiver Jayden West also has a team-best four receiving touchdowns.

“This is the state semifinals. St. Xavier is the next team up,” Holcomb said. “They understand what this is about.”

The game will mark the first match-up between Central and St. Xavier in more than two decades.

The Tigers beat the Indians 56-3 in the Bluegrass Bowl on Aug. 19, 2000.

The winner of this showdown will advance to face either Male (12-0) or Trinity (6-7) in the 6A title game.

The Indians know the Tigers will be the favorite to get back to the championship game for the 15th time, but they are still confident.

“We’ve just got to stay humble,” Central senior center Noah Shipley said. “We can’t run our mouths. We’ve got to keep everything inside of us and go out there and talk with our pads.”

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