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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Highlands Weekend Notes

Playoff Opponent for Highlands Unknown Until Next Week

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands sophomore wide receiver Brody Benke (8) hauls in a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against Cooper.

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The Highlands Bluebirds football team (5-5 overall) does not know who the opponent will be in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

The Bluebirds created doubt in that regard after a 35-7 win against the Cooper Jaguars (6-3) on Friday. The only thing decided is Covington Catholic (6-3) will again be the top seed after another 4-0 run through the current District 5 alignment. The Colonels finished off the run with a 27-7 win over Conner.

Highlands, Cooper and Conner finished 2-2 in district play going 1-1 against each other. That means the Ratings Percentage Index will decide the seedings for the playoffs.

"That math is way over my head. I'm a high school football coach," said Bob Sphire, Highlands Head Coach. "You have to play the same teams over. Who gives a hoot whether you play them the first week, second week or whether you play them home or away? We've played equally or maybe even better on the road than we have at home. We just have to be ready to come play football like we did (Friday)."

The Kentucky High School Athletic Association said the RPI is way to compare a team's relative strength to others based on their strength of schedule. It is calculated from the team's Winning Percentage (WP), the Opponent's Winning Percentage (OWP) and the winning percentage of opponents of teams they have played (OOWP).

Sphire pointed out the win over Cooper brought the Bluebirds a lot of RPI points. The Jaguars have a winning percentage of .667 based on six wins divided by nine games played. 

The X-factor is Highlands and Cooper have played one out-of-state opponent each and Conner has played none. Out-of-state opponents have different values than in-state opponents do. That hurt Highlands last year in terms of having to go to Conner for the first round of the playoffs compared to playing at home after a loss to Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller. Highlands lost 27-21 at Cincinnati (Ohio) McNicholas on Sept. 10 and Cooper defeated Madison (Indiana) on the road, 51-19 on Oct. 1.

Highlands finished 1-3 at David Cecil Memorial Stadium and 4-2 in games not played there. That included a 21-18 win over Bowling Green at the neutral Western Kentucky University to open the season Aug. 21.

The Bluebirds have their bye week the last week of the regular season entering the playoffs. But things will be settled after the other four district opponents play non-district games this Friday. Cooper hits the road to play Louisville Butler and Conner plays host to George Rogers Clark. Covington Catholic plays host to Ryle and Boone County travels to Tates Creek.

Highlands is currently slated to travel to Covington Catholic for the first round of the playoffs with a .51791 winning percentage as the fourth seed. But Conner is one spot ahead of Highlands with a .52033 percentage. Cooper is second with a .56239 percentage.

9th Region Volleyball Pairings:

Highlands (28-7 overall) will have to overcome a huge challenge to advance in the 9th Region Tournament on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Conner. The Bluebirds lost twice to the Lady Jaguars (21-11) during the regular season and have lost 15 straight against Cooper. 

Highlands has one win in school history against Cooper. It came in a 2-1 (25-17, 17-25, 15-13) win on Sept. 19, 2009. Cooper opened in 2008.

The Bluebirds won their fifth consecutive 36th District championship on Wednesday. They are 12-7 against region opponents overall including a 4-6 record against teams in the 9th Region Tournament. The winner faces either St. Henry or Covington Holy Cross on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Highlands Head Coach Katelyn Sallee announced she will not be returning next season. Sallee is in her eighth season as head coach. She took over the program in the spring of 2014.

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