|Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands junior defensive back Cody Stamper (23) and linebacker Conner Welsch (5) tackle Ashland's Jalon Taylor (24) in Friday's second-round playoff game. The Bluebirds won 30-15|
|Allen Ramsey Photo. The Highlands offensive line including Carson Haas (61) sets up in Friday's game against Ashland.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Like many teams they are facing this year, the Highlands Bluebirds and Ashland Blazer Tomcats may not play again for a while.
The Bluebirds move to Class 5A next year and the Tomcats stay in 4A. The Bluebirds beat the Tomcats, 30-15 in the closest second-round playoff match-up in Fort Thomas in the past three seasons. The Bluebirds dominated the Tomcats last year (56-6) and in 2012 (52-13).
Highlands moved to 21-5-1 in the series. The teams have met just five times since 1969. They’ve been in the second round of the playoffs and the Bluebirds won all five. They’ve won 15 in a row in the series dating back to a 20-20 tie in 1955. Ashland’s last win in the series came 38-7 in 1954.
The Bluebirds moved to 33-5-1 all-time against the current District 8-4A. They’ve never lost to Greenup County (2-0), Johnson Central (4-0), Rowan County (2-0) or Boyd County (4-0).
CovCath up next:
Like the past two years in the same round, Highlands will take on Covington Catholic (8-4) in the Region 4 championship game. The Bluebirds lead the all-time series, 46-17 including a 42-7 win on Sept. 26.
Highlands has beat Covington Catholic 12 straight times dating back to 2006. The Bluebirds beat the Colonels twice in 2007, 2011, 2012 and last year.
The playoff picture:
The winner of Friday’s game takes on either Lexington Catholic (9-3) or Boyle County (11-1) in the state semifinals the day after Thanksgiving.
The other side of the bracket is wide open after defending state champion Collins lost in the first round of the playoffs. Madisonville-North Hopkins (10-2) travels to Owensboro (10-2) and Louisville Fairdale (7-5) plays host to North Oldham (9-2).
Big opportunity to gain ground on Valdosta:
Highlands became the second team in the country to reach 865 wins as a program. The Bluebirds moved to 865-229-26 all-time with the win.
The team with the most wins in the country in Valdosta (Georgia) finished 9-1 in the regular season, but lost 27-14 to Newton in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs. The Wildcats fell to 891-216-34 all-time.