|Younger Highlands Players See First Friday Night Lights Action|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. The Highlands Student Section known as the OZone had a Country theme in the game against Campbell County.|
Sophomore wide receiver Jacob Welch made the most impressive debut with three touchdowns on four touches for the Bluebirds. Welch had two rushes for 22 yards and a touchdown and two catches for 38 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore offensive lineman Nate Weidner took over at center in the fourth quarter.
"I was excited to get out there and play," Weidner said. "You just have to get out there, know your plays well and get after it."
The last shut-out for the Bluebirds came on Oct. 6, 2017 by a 47-0 score over Dixie Heights in Fort Thomas. The closest Highlands came to that last season was a 40-3 win at Ryle on Sept. 7.
OZone Goes Country:
The Highlands student section known as the O-Zone has a theme for most of the football games. Against Campbell County, it was a Country theme and it was a white-out against Scott to open the season. One senior who took part in the country them was Caraline Walsh. Walsh is a member of the Chamber Choir and the National English Honors Society.
"There's nothing better," Walsh said. "Every year when we play Campbell County, this is the go-to theme. I feel like it represents our school. I'm glad to show our pride."
Highlands senior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth wore number 22 instead of the usual 10 in honor of the late Highlands and University of Kentucky great quarterback Jared Lorenzen. Highlands painted the 22-yard lines blue in Lorenzen's honor before the season.
Around Class 5A, District 5:
The Bluebirds watched part of the fourth quarter of the Covington Catholic-Lexington Catholic game on the big screen in the locker room.
Covington Catholic trailed 38-24 in the fourth quarter, but came back to beat the Knights, 39-38 and stay undefeated at 3-0. Junior quarterback Caleb Jacob snuck it in from a yard out and senior running back Daniel Felix ran over the right side for the two-point conversion to give the Colonels for the first time in the game.
CovCath held on with a fourth-down stop at its 46. On 4th-and-1, LexCath quarterback Beau Allen lined up under center with five wide receivers. He tried the quarterback sneak, but the Colonel defense snuffed it out with around 1:32 left in the game.
Allen, a University of Kentucky commit, competed 23-of-32 passes for 448 yards and five touchdowns. Jacob threw for 247 yards and a touchdown. Senior tight end Michael Mayer had six catches for 71 yards for the Colonels.
The Colonels play host to Dixie Heights on Friday at 7 p.m.
Conner moved to 2-1 with a 35-0 win at Dixie Heights. The Cougars play host to Lloyd Memorial (2-1) on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.
Cooper and Boone County both lost for the first time this season falling to 2-1. The Jaguars lost 20-16 in the battle of Union against Ryle at home on Friday and Lloyd Memorial beat Boone County, 22-14 in Erlanger.
Next Opponent for Highlands:
The Bluebirds travel to Independence to face the Simon Kenton Pioneers on Friday at 7 p.m. in a battle of 2-1 teams. The Pioneers opened the season with a 38-27 win over Lexington Henry Clay before facing two Ohio opponents.
Simon Kenton lost to Cincinnati Anderson, 44-16. But the Pioneers bounced back to beat the Cincinnati Oak Hills Highlanders.
Highlands Wins Two at September Slam:
The Bluebirds moved to 7-1 on the season with two wins in the September Slam on Friday at Woodland Middle School. Highlands bested Covington Holy Cross, 2-0 (25-15, 25-16) before taking out South Laurel from the 13th Region, 2-0 (25-9, 25-17).
"Our focus has been not only to maintain our composure, but our level of play," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "We want to control the tempo of the match regardless of who we're facing. This weekend is going to be a really big test to have five matches back-to-back-to-back. You have to stay disciplined. You have to stay on it and they did that."
In the victory over Holy Cross, Highlands had six aces, 16 kills, one block, 15 assists and 52 digs. Senior outside hitter Casey Dunn led the way with two kills, three aces and 14 digs. Senior setter Audrey Graves had 15 assists, one ace and seven digs. Sophomore middle blocker CC Shick had seven kills and assisted on a block.
Highlands junior Laura Winkler and sophomore Lauren Buemi had three kills each. Buemi also had two assisted blocks. Senior Ava Hockney had the team's lone solo block to go with an ace.
The senior defensive specialists also came up big. Senior Rylee Kirschenbaum had 12 digs and an ace with Brooke Biltz adding nine digs.
Against South Laurel, Dunn had seven kills, one assisted block and 10 digs. Graves had 18 assists, three digs, three kills and two aces and Hockney had three kills and two assisted blocks. Shick recorded four kills, one solo and one assisted block.
Winkler played some setter and had six assists and two digs. She also had two kills. Kirschenbaum had a team-high 11 digs. Buemi, Hockney and sophomore Nicole Ossege added three kills each.
"In a game of three, I feel like, 'Let's just get this over. Let's do what we can do," Ossege said. "We have to play to our level and not down to anyone else's level. We always focus on team and then we're very fast with whatever we do so I always feel that we need to maintain that speed and just try to run more things when we have the opportunity with the less-advanced teams."
Highlands continues pool play Saturday morning at Scott. The Bluebirds take on Calvary Christian (6-6) at 9 a.m. on court one and Conner (2-6) on court two at 10 a.m.
Highlands 1, Evansville (Indiana) Reitz Memorial 1:
Highlands (4-0-3 overall) tied the Tigers in the annual Zionsville (Indiana) Invitational on Friday. Zionsville is located northwest of Indianapolis.
Reitz Memorial (4-0-1) came into the game as the 16th-ranked team in the country in the Top Drawer Soccer Fab 50 poll. Reitz owns four state championships in school history.
"I felt that we played one of the best teams that we'll see this regular season. Going into the game, we kind of looked at what they've done so far this year," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "We knew it was going to be tough. We wanted to make sure that we played well. If we could get a win, great. A tie is great. A one-goal loss where we're playing hard is a win for us. We were fighting hard. We gave up a goal pretty early. We made sure we didn't give up another one. Then, we had an outside back step up and hit one from about 18 (feet) out to tie the game then we kind of made sure we didn't lose the game after that. After the game. we were pretty excited. The other team was kind of upset. That was a good feeling even though it was just a tie."
Highlands senior midfielder Kelsey Mathis tied the game in the second half. That marked her first goal of the season.
"I think this team is really strong all-around and I think everyone contributes what they can," Mathis said. "I'm glad I could help the team. I think we played well considering we left school early, had to ride up a few hours and shortly warm up."
Both teams had 18 shots. Reitz had 14 on goal and Highlands had nine. Highlands junior goalkeeper Jasmine Rehberger had 13 saves.
Highlands plays Carmel (Indiana) at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday to conclude the tournament.