|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior Taylor Vaughn fires off a shot last season. She signed her letter of intent to play college soccer at Wittenberg University on Wednesday.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
It’s the day when high school athletes all over the country cement their letters of intent to take their talents to the next level.
Three Highlands football players and one Ladybird soccer player did that Wednesday. They already verbally committed to play at the respective colleges.
Highlands quarterback Beau Hoge inked his letter with the Brigham Young Cougars of Provo, Utah. BYU plays independent of any conference currently and finished 8-5 last year losing 55-48 to Memphis in the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 22.
“Beau in an absolutely tremendous football player,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Football Coach. “His highlight film is amazing, but it does not show is football IQ, decision-making ability and the countless hours that Beau has put into making himself the player that he has become. He is the perfect example of what can happen to someone who completely commits to a goal. As he did here at Highlands, he will leave BYU better than he found it.”
Hoge gave opponents fits as a dual-threat quarterback. Hoge completed 235-of-373 passes for 3,459 yards, 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 865 yards on 126 carries and 26 touchdowns. His final touchdown run proved to be the game-winner against Owensboro in the Class 4A state championship game. Hoge ran a sweep left and scored the game-winner with 2:30 left in the game as Highlands rallied from a 42-21 halftime deficit to beat the Red Devils, 49-42.
Fellow senior defensive lineman John Abner will attend nearby NCAA Division III Mount St. Joseph of the Heartland Athletic Conference located across the river in Cincinnati. The Lions finished 8-2 last year. Abner had a fumble recovery and combined for an 11-yard sack.
“John has been a tireless worker and is the epitome of a Highlands football player,” Weinrich said. “His work ethic, positive attitude and unselfishness were invaluable to the team’s success this year. The entire community of Mount St. Joseph will benefit from having someone of John’s character on their campus. We are excited to see John continue to grow as a player, but more importantly, as a person, as he enters the next stage in his life at Mount St. Jospeh.”
Offensive lineman Lou Bunning will take his talents to Columbia to play for the Lindsey Wilson Blue Raiders of the Mid-South Conference. Lindsey Wilson finished 10-3 last year winning the National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics MSC East Division. The Blue Raiders made the playoffs and lost to St. Xavier (Ill.), 30-17 in the NAIA quarterfinals.
“Lindsey Wilson got a steal when Lou committed to play football there,” Weinrich said. “After not playing football for two years, Lou committed himself this year to becoming a great football player. He not only possesses tremendous physical size and skills, but he is a natural leader, both on and off the field. We will desparately miss Lou’s passion and excitement for football, but we are excited to see him spread the championship values to the campus of Lindsey Wilson.”
Vaughn signed with Wittenberg College in Springfield (Ohio). Wittenberg finished 8-8-1 overall and 4-4 in the NCAA Division III North Coast Athletic Conference.
“Wittenberg is getting on very dedicated and talented soccer player,” said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. “Taylor is a very talented soccer player and a natural leader who will motivate others through her exceptional leadership skills. We look forward to watching Taylor promote her work ethic and positive leadership approach within the Wittenberg community.”
Vaughn played a huge role in leading Highlands to the most wins in a season since the program’s last region title in 2010. The Ladybirds finished 12-9-1, won an eighth district championship in nine years and lost to Notre Dame in the 9th Region semifinals. Vaughn led Highlands with 13 goals and six assists.