By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
It may not be time to press the panic button yet.
But the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (0-1) know they have to figure things out offensively or they could be in for some long football games. Their usually rugged non-district schedule continues Friday against the Campbell County Camels (1-1) at Newport Stadium.
Both teams enter the game off losses. The Thoroughbreds lost to Cooper, 31-0 and the Camels dropped a 23-16 decision to Highlands.
NewCath Head Coach Dan Wagner said the staff would evaluate a lot of things and make the necessary changes to get the ship riding in the right direction. The Jaguars outgained the Thoroughbreds, 341-147 in total offense.
The one bright spot for the Thoroughbreds was senior Brandon Gray. He had six catches for 53 yards.
“We have a lot of new faces in spots,” said Dave Schneider, NewCath Offensive Coordinator. “We didn’t play as well as we can the first week so we’re hoping to take a big step forward. You can’t force leadership. Someone has to do that on their own. It’ll come eventually.”
Offensive line play will be the key for the Thoroughbreds. They ran for just 34 yards on 27 carries against Cooper and completed just 11-of-26 passes for 113 yards and two interceptions. They have experience on the offensive line with senior Jacob Weiland, senior Colin Hoover and junior Maleek Lawrence. They hope to get experienced junior running back Jacob Smith better lanes this week.
“We’re just giving our best effort hoping the quarterback can make a play,” Weiland said. “We’ve been practicing hard all week. We’re trying to step up and lead by example and not yell because that seemed to be one of our problems on the sidelines last week. We’re aiming for a more positive attitude.”
The NewCath offense faces a 3-3-4 stack defense. The Camels are led by senior linebackers Robert Metz and Nick Sauerbeck along with defensive back Brandon Oldendick. Campbell County did allow 356 yards of total offense against Highlands and fell behind 23-0 in the first quarter before rallying to make things interesting.
That alone gives the Camels confidence. Many teams fold when falling behind the Bluebirds like that.
“I really like our team this year,” said Stephen Lickert, Camel Head Coach. “I talked when I got to Campbell County about the way to close the gap with teams like Highlands is to have a group of freshmen that work extremely hard and match their offseason intensity for four years. Our seniors were freshmen that year and have developed into mentally and physically tough young men that lead by example for the younger players. Our kids refuse to quit and truly believe we can win until the game is over.”
The Thoroughbreds face a tough test defensively against an offensive line that averages six feet and 235 pounds. Senior Josh Griffith stands at 6-5, 280.
The Camels saw junior quarterback Carson Plessinger rush the ball on 35-of-58 plays for about 60 percent. Plessinger ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns against the Bluebirds. He also had two two-point conversion runs.
Campbell County ran the read option two years with Tyler Durham and Tyler Walsh. The backs go different ways after the snap in the backfield.
“As a defense, if we buy the backfield action, we are in for a long night,” Wagner said. “We must stay in our gaps, play our responsibility and concentrate on stopping the run.”
The Camels have other players capable of contributing. That includes senior running back Josh Carroll and wide receiver Matt Mayer.
“We felt we had to get Carson comfortable after a rough first quarter,” Lickert said. “He settled in and showed the type of player he is. Our quarterback is definitely a key figure in our running game, but we would rather him not have to carry that type of load.”
The Thoroughbreds saw Cooper junior running back Torey Cordell-Armstrong rush 124 yards on 15 carries. That was an average of 8.2 yards per touch and senior quarterback Billy Prickett completed 13-of-15 passes for 178 yards, three scores. Prickett rushed for another.Campbell County has won the last two meetings in the series. The Camels edged the Thoroughbreds, 21-20 in Alexandria last year.