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Saturday, November 3, 2018

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Highlands Reserves Take Advantage of Playoff Atmosphere

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Carter Crawford (7) makes a move in the fourth quarter.
A number of starters and reserves had not played in a playoff game for the Highlands Bluebirds before. But that changed Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium when the Bluebirds beat Madison Southern, 36-7 to open the Class 5A playoffs.

Sophomores Jason Noe at defensive back and running back Joe Buten were two regular contributors to see their first varsity playoff game. Buten had a touchdown run and Noe had some key tackles. Highlands Offensive Coordinator Zach Deaton said the nerves are generally gone a matter of minutes into the game. Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich and staff generally save the regulars once games become lopsided.

"We just have to listen to Coach Weinrich," Noe said. "It's pretty crazy to be where we are right now. It's a good feeling. I definitely get comfortable everygame after a couple plays."

Sophomore linebacker Andrew Arentsen saw action in the second half. He's received some varsity experience in the last couple weeks.

"I'm hoping to play a lot of varsity next year so I'm getting a feel for the flow, making plays and having fun," Arentsen said. "The coaches say it a lot. Trust your guys next to you, read your keys and fly around."

Junior offensive lineman Preston McAlpin blocked for the likes of junior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth and junior running back Tyler Brune in the second half. The Bluebirds put up 377 yards of total offense.

"It's amazing because everyone in the audience is watching," McAlpin said. "It just puts you in that moment. When you do get on the field, you have that feeling of not letting people in the stands down because they are counting on you."

Highlands had some injured players helping out on the sidelines. One was senior wide receiver Tyler Bracken. He tore his right Anterior Cruciated Ligament in the off-season and has not been able to play this year.

"I love coming out to support the guys," Bracken said. "Even though I can't be on the field, it's really fun just being out here with them. I always try to help out someone in need. If I see something that one of them might be doing wrong or could be doing better, I'll make my best effort to help them out."

Class 5A Playoff Notes:

There were no major upsets in Region 3 on Friday where two of the three undefeated teams remain. Highlands plays District 6 champion Anderson County (10-0) on Friday in Lawrenceburg after the Bearcats received a bye into the second round. District 5 has had just two teams this season and last season after the KHSAA allowed Grant County to drop out of district play.

Covington Catholic (11-0) extended the state's longest winning streak to 26 in a row with a 49-0 convincing win over the Woodford County Yellow Jackets (2-9). CovCath will play host to the Montgomery County Indians (9-2) Friday, who held off Dixie Heights (1-10) by a 35-28 score in Mount Sterling.

The other undefeated team in Class 5A is South Warren (11-0). The Spartans beat Owensboro Apollo, 48-0 to open the playoffs.

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