Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Holmes outlasts NewCath, 12-7

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds fell 12-7 to the Covington Holmes Bulldogs on the road Friday.

NewCath (2-4 overall) played well defensively allowing just 210 yards of total offense. But the Thoroughbreds only punched the ball in the end zone once.

It came in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Josh Cain threw a 41-yard score to Mac Franzen.

Holmes moved to 4-2 to match last year’s win total. The Bulldogs finished 4-7 last year losing 66-20 at Johnson Central in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Cain completed 15-of-35 passes for 178 yards and three interceptions. Franzen had four catches for 94 yards.

NewCath outgained Holmes, 261-210 in total offense. The Thoroughbreds rushed for just 83 yards on 21 carries. Dylan Hayes had 69 yards on 15 attempts.

The connection of Rashawn Coston to Desean Peterson made the two big touchdowns for the Bulldogs. The first came in the second quarter from 30 yards out. NewCath blocked the point-after touchdown. Holmes led 6-0 at halftime.

The second touchdown came in the third quarter. The two-point pass failed keeping the Holmes lead at 12-0.

Peterson finished with five catches for 107 yards. Coston completed 10-of-20 passes for 134 yards.

NewCath continues Class 2A, District 6 action Saturday at Newport Stadium against Lloyd Memorial. Game time is 7 p.m.

Younger players taste Friday Night Lights

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

CYNTHIANA – The Highlands Bluebirds football team’s coaching staff likes to use games like these to get the reserves on the field and evaluate them.

They saw plenty of action in the second half with the Bluebirds leading 42-10. Some made their mark in the 69-10 Class 4A, District 7 victory over host Harrison County.

“It gets exciting as a young guy,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “You’ve been playing freshmen and JV. When you get in a varsity game, you’re just fired up to play. But it’s still all the same stuff. That’s how guys getting better. They play a full freshmen schedule and a full JV schedule.”

The Highlands junior varsity generally plays Saturday morning and the freshmen often play at 6 p.m. on Thursdays. The junior varsity and freshmen plays the likes of Cincinnati Moeller, Covington Catholic, Ryle and Louisville Trinity. The junior varsity is 3-2 and the freshmen are 4-2.

Two sophomores carried the ball twice each on Highlands’ only four intended running plays. Josh Watson had a 20-yard run and James Grau scored a touchdown from two yards out in the fourth quarter.

“It feels great preparing for next year,” said Sam Little, Highlands junior offensive linemen. “That’s what football is all about – just getting better.”

Like most opponents, the Bluebirds wore down the Thorobreds with their depth. The Bluebirds do not have players playing on both sides of the ball.

Highlands has 91 players on its roster and Harrison County has 32 including 18 freshmen. The Bluebirds do not dress any freshmen for varsity.

Different Surface:
Highlands plays on turf at David Cecil Memorial Field. The Bluebirds played on grass at Harrison County. Highlands admitted it was an adjustment.

“We were slipping everywhere,” said Brad Veley, Highlands sophomore defensive lineman. “They were used to it so their backs got more of an advantage to get around us. We needed to have wider feet and get lower to cause piles to stop them. That is what helped us toward the end.”

The eye-popping numbers continue:
A week after its slimmest margin of victory in 14 points (35-21) over Covington Catholic, Highlands recorded its largest margin of victory of 59 points by a point over its previous high of 58 in a 61-3 win over Mason County. The Bluebirds’ margin of victory is about 33.8 points.

Highlands unofficially has 3,009 yards in total offense. That averages 501.5 yards a contest.

Scouting  rest of Class 4A:
Highlands is one of four teams in Class 4A still undefeated. Three teams are 7-0 in Russell County, Knox Central and Warren East. Russell County and Knox Central could face off for the District 6 championship and possibly challenge Boyle County and Lexington Catholic for a spot in the state semifinals.

Lexington Catholic is 6-1 with its only loss coming to the Ensworth Tigers, a private school on the west side of Nashville. Ensworth is Tennessee’s two-time Division II-AA state champion. Tennessee separates schools that offer scholarships into Division II and those that don’t into Division I.

Ashland Blazer and Johnson Central lead District 8. Johnson two Central has been just fine despite the graduation of the state’s all-time leading rusher in J.J. Jude. Possible challengers to Warren East in the state semifinals are North Oldham, Collins and Lone Oak.

Highlands faces Pendleton County to continue district action Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.

Highlands thrashes Harrison County, 69-10

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

CYNTHIANA – Once they channeled the energy properly, the Highlands Bluebirds football team rolled to another victory.

Highlands scored more points against Harrison County than any opponent ever had in a 68-0 victory in Fort Thomas last year. This year’s Bluebird squad topped it by a point in a 69-10 victory here Friday.

Top-ranked Highlands stayed unbeaten at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 4A, District 7 action and Harrison County remained winless at 0-6 and 0-1. The five-time defending state champion Bluebirds have won 26 in a row and moved to 79-2 since the start of 2007. The win also guaranteed their 57th consecutive winning season dating back to a 4-5-1 campaign in 1955.

Highlands outgained the hosts, 532-163 in total offense. The offensive line blocked well on all but five plays when the Thorobreds sacked the Bluebird quarterbacks for minus-36 yards.

The Bluebirds intended to pass the pigskin on all but five plays. Senior quarterback Donovan McCoy guided the offense in the first half completing 18-of-22 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Drew Houliston took over in the second half and completed 10-of-13 passes for 160 yards.

“They were really sending a lot of pressure so screens were there,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “We wound up throwing more screens than we normally would and gained a lot of yards with them.”

McCoy and Houliston completed passes to 11 different receivers. They often found themselves with a lot of green grass in front of them. Jensen Feggins and Brandon Hergott had four catches and two touchdowns each. Feggins had 129 yards receiving and Hergott 81. Ryan Donovan and Luke Brockett had four catches a piece for 76 and 69 yards respectively.

“It frustrates (defenses) a lot, but it just shows we can run the ball and pass the ball at the same time,” Feggins said. “It benefits us well. If our passing isn’t working, our run game is there for us.”

Harrison County threw for just 69 yards. Quarterback Robbie Stroub completed 7-of-16 passes for that total with no interceptions.

“We played the deep third (defense),” said Grayson Heck, Highlands sophomore defensive back. “We just kept everything in front of us and did not give up any big plays.”

Highlands overcame two turnovers in the first quarter to lead 21-3 after that stanza thanks to three quick scores. The Bluebirds recovered a Thorobred fumble and appeared headed to the end zone for their first defensive touchdown of the year. But they spiked the ball at the Harrison County 2 out of the end zone for a touchback giving the Thorobreds the ball at their 20.

“Sometimes, things just happen,” Mueller said. “Guys just get a little carried away.”

After McCoy hit Colin Seidl for a 37-yard score after a short Thorobred punt, Highlands forced another three-and-out. The Bluebirds drove the Thorobred 22 before throwing an interception.

But the Bluebirds took over at the Thorobred 2 after a Harrison County turnover. They scored quickly when McCoy found Justin Weyer from two yards out.

Highlands answered a Harrison County field goal quickly. The Bluebirds took the opening kickoff to the Thorobred 49 and Feggins took a pass over the middle 49 yards to the house.

The Bluebirds extended the lead to 42-10 at halftime allowing the younger players to get some playing time (see side story). Feggins scored on a 56-yard touchdown and Jac Collinsworth had a 14-yard touchdown reception. After Justin Hunter returned that kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, Nick True responded with a 39-yard touchdown reception for Highlands.

The Bluebirds forced the running clock with 5:42 remaining in the third. Hergott hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Houlston.

It did not take long for Highlands to score again when Joe Paolucci recovered a Thorobred fumble. Brockett scored on a 27-yard pass from Houliston. The Bluebirds led 55-10 after three quarters.

Highlands scored 14 more in the fourth. Hergott recorded his second touchdown reception from 19 yards out and James Grau scored on a 2-yard run off the right side.

The Bluebirds did well in kicking extra-points. Brockett hit all eight extra-point attempts and Highlands failed on the run on a high snap of the other attempt.

The Thorobreds did have some success running the ball out of their I-formation and split backfields rushing for 94 yards on 37 carries to minus-13 on nine carries for the Bluebirds. Zach Mastin led Harrison County with 70 yards on 13 carries.

“I think they’re a well-coached team,” Mueller said. “They’ve got some stuff that they do well and they stuck with it. I think Harrison County is a football team that’s going to keep getting better and better. They have some young guys that are going to be fired up, be coachable and do well.”

Highlands faces Pendleton County to continue district action Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Highlands softball coach Rob Coffey and staff to hold meeting on Oct. 8

HHS Fastpitch Softball Announcement

There is a new era in softball starting at Highlands for the 2013 season!

Whether you are a player, parent, parent of a future Bluebird star or just interested in Highlands sports, we invite you to join us for our “Meet the Coaches” night at Highlands.

·         You will hear new head coach Rob Coffey’s vision for the future of the program.

·         Get information about their plans for instructional camps, clinics and the introductions of the new “Baby Birds” program.

·         Hear updates on field improvements

·         And the official introduction of the Softball Parents Association (SPA).

The meeting is scheduled for October 8th at 7pm in the Cafe of the high school.

Drinks and snacks will be provided.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday/Thursday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Highlands Bluebirds soccer team recorded a huge 1-0 victory over the Covington Catholic Colonels on Thursday.

Highlands has won three in a row to move to 9-6-2 overall. Covington Catholic, coach by former Highlands coach Jeremy Robertson, fell to 11-5-2.

Emerson Holladay scored the game’s only goal on an assist from Michael Cirulli. Nick Breslin recorded 10 saves at goalkeeper.

The Bluebirds take on Covington Holy Cross at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Lightning cancels Highlands, NewCath women’s soccer game:
Lightning storms forced the postponement of Wednesday’s annual District 36 clash between the Highlands Ladybirds and Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds soccer teams. NCC head coach Kevin Turnick said a rescheduling of the game “does not look promising.”

The teams played the junior varsity contest then held Senior Night activities. The lightning started shortly thereafter.

The game is not needed for seeding purposes like the old days in District 19 with Bishop Brossart and Campbell County. The teams face off for the district title on Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at Tower Park.

Both teams resume action Saturday. Highlands plays host to Boyle County at 7 p.m. and NewCath plays host to Russell.

Cooper beats NCC volleyball:
The Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds volleyball team fell to Conner, 3-0 (25-10, 25-22, 30-28) Wednesday. The Lady Breds are 9-19 overall.

NewCath played without two injured starters. Nikki Kiernan and Keyiara Lankeit led NCC with seven kills each. Alyssa Maier had 20 assists and Maria Froendhoff 16 digs to lead the Lady Breds.

NewCath travels to Simon Kenton on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

NewCath prepares for battle against improved Holmes

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Coming off its most complete game of the year, the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team faces another potential challenge from a bigger school in non-district action.

The 2-3 Thoroughbreds travel to Covington to face the improved 3-2 Holmes Bulldogs on Friday. The Bulldogs time finished 4-7 last year in Terry Liggin’s first season. They finished third in Class 4A, District 7 behind Highlands and Covington Catholic before losing 66-20 at Johnson Central in the first round of the playoffs.

Holmes defeated Scott and 1A power Beechwood to open the season before losing on the road to two undefeated teams in Simon Kenton and Cooper. They opened district action with a 64-7 win at Pendleton County on Friday.

The only common opponent is 6-0 Simon Kenton. The Pioneers beat the Bulldogs, 31-7 on Sept. 7 in a game called at halftime because of lightning. Simon Kenton held off NewCath, 28-20 at Newport Stadium eight days later in a game the Thoroughbreds had a chance to tie before fumbling at the Pioneer 5 on 4th-and-2 with less than two minutes left in the game.

“(The Bulldogs) have very good talent and speed,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “It looks as if they are buying in (to Liggins) and they do some things really well.”

Holmes’ quarterback is Rashawn Colston. Their main offensive threats are running back Jonathan Scruggs and wide receiver Desean Peterson. The NCC 4-4 defense will face a Holmes offense that runs unorthodox Wing-T and Spread sets. The Bulldogs have a Diamond shotgun package where two running backs line up next to Colston and another behind him.

The Bulldogs are outscoring opponents by an average of 25-20.6. Conversely, the Thoroughbreds are outscoring the opposition, 31-23.8. NewCath has yielded 745 yards rushing and 783 passing for an average of 305.6 yards a contest.

NewCath runs a spread offense. The Thoroughbreds average 348.4 yards per contest offensively behind a good offensive line. They’ve run for 843 and passed for 899 yards offensively. Dylan Hayes leads NewCath with 523 yards rushing on 78 carries with eight touchdowns for an average of just more than 6.7 a carry.

“We’re getting a lot better at blocking,” said Steve Schneider, NewCath senior offensive right guard. “We’re getting healthy and knowing the formations and who to block is making us better. The (offensive) line has had two good days (of practice) this week – a lot of energy.”

NewCath quarterback Josh Cain has completed 68-of-108 passes for 899 yards and eight touchdowns to 11 different receivers. Mac Franzen leads the Thoroughbreds with 23 catches for 442 yards and two touchdowns. Pete Collopy and Tyler Lyon also have two touchdown receptions for NewCath.

Defensively, Franzen leads the team with two interceptions. Teammate Mason Myers has two fumble recoveries.

Eviston said the injury situation is the about the same as last week. Several key players are back but still nursing a few things with three or four players still out for a while.

“It’s that time of the year, the heart of your season, in which teams just have to grind,” Eviston said. “I honestly believe the teams that can practice well right now and truly focus on their task at hand will be the teams that will be the most competitive at the end of the year. We are preaching that as much as possible to our kids, and even though we have our moments, our kids are working hard.”

Game time is 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Highlands continues District 7 action at Harrison County

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It is a tale of two football teams at completely opposite ends of the Class 4A spectrum.

The Highlands Bluebirds sit pretty at 5-0 overall and 1-0 in District 7 action following a 35-21 win over Covington Catholic on Friday. Class 4A’s top-ranked squad owns a 25-game winning streak and is 78-2 since the start of 2007. The Bluebirds average 51.8 points, 7.4 touchdowns and 492.8 yards of offense per contest. Highlands’ average margin of victory is 28.8 points.

Highlands travels to Cynthiana on Friday to face a struggling Harrison County Thorobreds football team that has a new head coach in Jim Carr. Harrison County is 0-5 coming off a bye week and faces Highlands for its first district contest of the year. The Thorobreds average just 12.6 points and 213.4 yards a game.

Highlands won last year’s contest 68-0 and this year’s result could be similar based on two common opponents in Scott County and Mason County. A week after Highlands handed 2011 Class 6A state runner-up Scott County its only loss this year 60-37, Scott County manhandled Harrison County, 61-6. Mason County beat the Thorobreds, 37-22 on Sept. 7 before coming to Fort Thomas and losing 61-3 to the Bluebirds a week later.

Highlands just has to be itself to win this game. The Bluebirds wear teams down with their depth. They don’t plan to take their feet off the gas pedal even though they are heavy favorites. Teams often get upset when that happens.

“One thing about us offensively and defensively is we’re geared to adjust to whatever the other team is doing,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “This week is getting ready for Harrison County, but really, it is a lot more so getting better as a football team. Even (Tuesday at practice), we put our ones against our ones working on making blocks and getting off blocks.”

With their spread offense, teams don’t know if Highlands will pass a lot, run a lot or use a balanced attack on a weekly basis. The Bluebirds have run for 1,457 yards and passed for 1,007.

“It just says we’re a group of guys that work really hard to do a lot of things,” said Justin Weyer, Highlands sophomore wide receiver. “We have a lot of confidence in Coach Mueller that he’ll come up with great schemes to help us win the game.”

Highlands senior quarterback Donovan McCoy leads Highlands with 441 yards on 62 carries with 10 touchdowns for an average of just more than 7.1 a touch. Teammate Zach Harris has 392 yards on 66 carries with eight touchdowns for an average of just less than six yards a touch. Ryan Donovan, Colin Seidl and Jaylen Hayes have rushed for at least 168 yards for the Bluebirds.

McCoy has also completed 63-of-105 passes for 919 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fourteen different receivers have catches for Highlands. Luke Turner leads the way with 12 for 217 yards and Seidl has nine for 136. Nick True, Ryan Greene, Turner and Jac Collinsworth have two touchdown receptions a piece for the Bluebirds.

The Highlands defense is allowing 23 points per game but has improved in recent weeks. The Bluebirds just have to watch the trick plays. Covington Catholic and Scott County burned them for scores on those trick plays. Quentin Murray and Blake Schutte lead Highlands with two interceptions each.

“You just have to play your key better,” Schutte said of defending trick plays. “If you know what you need to do, things will play out right. We’re trying to get better and better.”

Harrison County has rushed for 628 yards and passed for 439. Deshon Talbott has 376 yards rushing on 47 carries with four touchdowns for an average of eight yards a carry. Quarterback Robbie Stroub has completed 26-of-55 passes for 354 yards. Harrison County’s leading receivers are Justin Hunter with 11 catches for 123 yards and LeeRonte Roberts with 10 catches for 205 yards.

Teams are scoring an average of 44.6 per contest against the Thorobreds. Robert Pawley has one interception for Harrison County.

“They play a very attacking defense,” Mueller said. “Mason County had a tough time getting the ball off against them. They were sending six, seven or eight guys regularly. With it being a new head coach, we’re not really sure what they’re going to wind up doing against us. We’re going into the game prepared for anything.”

Game time is 7:30 p.m. in Cynthiana.

Coaching Clarification:
After the win Friday against Covington Catholic, Mueller said to call himself and Brian Weinrich co-head coaches. The roster lists Mueller as Head Football Coach and Weinrich as Assistant Head Coach.

The two consult each other on a lot of aspects of the program. Mueller makes a lot of the decisions on offense and Weinrich on defense.

Mueller took over the program in 1994. Weinrich joined the staff a year later and has been the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator for 10 years.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds volleyball team wrapped up a perfect run through District 36 action 2-0 (25-10, 25-7) over Newport High on Tuesday.

NewCath moved to 9-18 overall and 4-0 in district play. The Lady Breds will be the top seed in the district tournament.

Nikki Kiernan led NewCath with four kills and six aces. Molly Mertle added four kills. Alyssa Maier followed with 14 assists and Maria Froendhoff had five digs.

NewCath travels to Conner tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Highlands volleyball loses at Ryle:
Highlands fell 3-0 (25-6, 25-13, 25-19) at Ryle on Tuesday. The Ladybirds have lost 11 in a row to fall to 8-18.

Highlands plays in the Jefferson County Invitational Tournament over the weekend.

Simon Kenton edges NCC:
The tough luck continued for the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds soccer team Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at Simon Kenton.

The Thoroughbreds are 2-7-5 and have a five-game winless streak. Their last win came Sept. 13 at Calvary Christian.

Sam Barth scored the goal for NCC and Nathan Grosser had eight saves at goalkeeper.

NewCath plays host to Russell on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

Highands blanks Calvary Christian, 3-0

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

For the second straight game, the Highlands Bluebirds soccer team put a team away.

The Bluebirds scored two goals in the second half to down the visiting Calvary Christian Cougars, 3-0 Tuesday at Tower Park. They’ve won two in a row to move to 8-6-1. This comes after a 1-4-1 stretch after starting the year 5-2.

“We’re just trying to instill good values in them that when you get a lead, let’s be comfortable with that lead,” said Matthew Winkler, Highlands head coach. “We need to get our risk-taking to a normal level. If it’s a 3-0 or 2-0 win, it’s okay. They’re good wins against a quality team.”

Calvary fell to 6-5-1. The Cougars tied Dixie Heights on Sept. 15.

This marked the fifth shutout of the year for Highlands. Goalkeeper Nick Breslin stopped all six Cougar shots and received nice help from defenders like Jimmy Penrod and Alex Shepherd. One Calvary shot hit the top bar.

“(The Cougars) were just like us,” Breslin said. “They had a lot of talent up top. Our defense stuck together and fought through that 3-0 win. They had some unlucky shots. But our defense did well overall.”

Highlands managed nine shots. Calvary goalkeeper Dilan Grote stopped six of them.

The Bluebirds scored the only goal of the first half with 10:32 remaining. Andrew Barnes saved the ball from going out near the goal and passed back to Christian Austin. Austin landed the shot to Grote’s right for the score.

“We seem to come out flat sometimes,” Barnes said. “It seems like when we get a goal, we pick it up. It makes us comfortable. It gives us hope even though we should have it in the beginning.”

The first goal of the second half came with 24:06. Grote fouled Emerson Holladay in the box. Holladay nailed the penalty kick passed Calvary’s Kipp Barnes. Grote had to come out of the game for the penalty kick because he committed the hard foul drawing a yellow card.

Highlands added an insurance goal with 21:09 remaining. Franklin Graves scored for the Bluebirds.

It was a physical game. Calvary drew three yellow cards to none for Highlands.

“I’m a former referee and they know that,” Winkler said. “I still have a good (relationship) with the guys that work (our games) so tell the guys it’s my job to deal with it if there’s a call that’s controversial. They just need to be out there playing soccer.”

Highlands faces Covington Catholic on Thursday at 8 p.m. back at Tower Park.

Ladybirds, Lady Breds meet for annual tilt

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The two Northern Kentucky women’s soccer powers meet again for bragging rights Wednesday at Tower Park.

But it’s not like it was even a year ago in the old 19th District. The Highlands Ladybirds and Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds often met many times for postseason survival and seeding purposes in those days. The two battled Campbell County and Bishop Brossart to advance to the 10th Region tournament.

They both advance to the 9th Region Tournament this year. Bellevue and Dayton have teams but won’t participate in the 36th District Tournament.

Last year saw two tight battles. NewCath won the regular season game 3-2. But Highlands came back and beat the Lady Breds, 1-0 in the district semifinals. The Ladybirds won the district championship before falling 4-1 to eventual state champion Notre Dame in the 10th Region title game.

So far this season, NewCath has tasted victory way more than Highlands. The Lady Breds are 10-4-1 after losing 3-2 to Covington Holy Cross on Monday. Sam Bunzel and Christina Seibert scored goals for NewCath with Erin Ackerson making two saves. The Lady Breds have outscored opponents 51-16.

“I like their work ethic and commitment to keep getting better as the season goes,” said Kevin Turnick, NewCath head coach. “They are willing and eager to always learn more about the game and even play new positions if it benefits the overall team. We have stressed to always be accountable for your play on the field and learn from our opportunities. We have been very competitive in all of our games so far this season and our record and goals for and against prove that. Our scoring has been diverse and our defense has played solid so far.”

Meanwhile, Highlands has struggled to a 2-9-2 record against a tough schedule. The Ladybirds have been outscored 38-9 and have been shut out seven times.

“I think they’re a great group of girls. They’d obviously love to be winning more games,” said Tommy Kearns, Highands head coach. “But sometimes, the results don’t go your way. They come to practice every day and work hard. They’re trying to get bigger, faster and stronger every day. They know they’re playing better. We’re playing some of the best teams in the state to challenge ourselves for October.”

Freshmen Brooklynn Rivers has emerged as Highlands’ leading goal-scorer. She has six goals and junior Kelsey Etherton has scored two. Jesse Daley and Sarah Owen split time at goalkeeper for the Ladybirds. The Ladybirds have lost Kara Painter and Ava Abner for the year with injuries.

“Basically, we take one game at a time,” Owen said. “We look at what we’ve done well at that game and we learn from all our mistakes. We take the next play and the next game as the important one. Our fans should not let down on us because we’re not letting down.”

NewCath graduated a number of seniors from last year’s team that finished 16-6-1. That includes Olivia Huber and Aubrey Muench, the second and third-leading point-scorers in team history. But Seibert said the team chemistry has been great this year. The Lady Breds won the Poage Landings Tournament in Ashland and Russell earlier this season.

“I think any issue on the team is considered our issue,” Seibert said. “We take that to heart when someone else is hurting. We all help them do better on the field.”

The Lady Breds may be favored to win. But NewCath Sweeper Courtney Hagedorn said Highlands is still dangerous. Both teams run a 4-4-2 (defender-midfielder-forward) attack.

“They have a lot of speed up top,” Hagedorn said. “We’re going to do our best to mark up on them and contain them.”

The old saying in rivalry games goes, “Play with emotion, but don’t get emotional.” That could prove to be the case this year.

“One of the things we say here is ‘Be quick but don’t hurry,” Kearns said. “You need to play within yourselves and don’t try to do too much.”

Turnick has a simple way to handle emotion. He’s been the head coach of the Lady Breds since 1999.

“For 80 minutes, your focus should be on soccer and the role you play on the team,” Turnick said. “Keep your emotions in check and then at end of the game, you can celebrate.”

Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Weekend Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds soccer team reached double-digits in the win column Saturday with a 6-1 win over the George Rogers Clark Lady Cardinals.

NewCath improved to 10-3-1 with the triumph and George Rogers Clark fell to 4-8. The Lady Breds are 4-1 in their last five games.

Sam Bunzel led NewCath with three goals. Christina Seibert followed with two goals and sister Lucy had another. Teammate Erin Ackerson made four saves in net.

NewCath faces Covington Holy Cross at 6 p.m. Monday.

Highlands volleyball drops five in Cake Classic:
The losing streak for the Highlands Ladybirds volleyball team hit 10 over the weekend as it lost all five matches in the Cake Classic.

Things started with a 2-0 loss (25-13, 25-15) to Beechwood for the second time this year on Friday. Jessica Ginter led Highlands with six kills. The other leaders for the Ladybirds were Kaitlin Hall with 11 assists, Sarah Schweitzer with two blocks, and Katie Van Curen with 14 digs.

Highlands then lost to Boone County, 2-0 (26-24, 25-18) on Saturday for the second time this season. Hall led the way with 11 assists and Sydney Lindeman had six kills and 14 digs. Mallory Seidel followed with three blocks and Ginter had two aces.

The Ladybirds then lost to Lexington Tates Creek, 2-0 (25-22, 27-25) to complete pool play. Ginter had six kills and two aces and Hall had 16 assists. Van Curen followed with 14 digs and Seidel had three blocks.

Highlands followed that with a third loss this season to Beechwood, 2-0 (25-21, 25-14). Hall had 14 assists and Van Curen 10 digs. Seidel followed with six kills.

The Ladybirds came close to earning their first win but came up a few plays short in a 2-1 defeat (15-25, 25-8, 15-17). Ginter had six kills with Hall recording eight assists and two blocks. Van Curen had 14 digs. Sarah Schweitzer had two blocks and Abby Schweitzer had four aces.

Highlands travels to Ryle on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

Ladybirds fall at Woodford County:
The Highlands Ladybirds soccer team played better Saturday but came up short in a 2-1 loss at the Woodford County Lady Jackets.

The Ladybirds fell to 2-9-2 with the loss, including 0-6-1 in their last seven games. They are 0-9-2 against teams outside Boone County. Woodford County also beat Highlands, 3-1 on Sept. 12 in the Lexington Catholic Challenge Cup.

Kelsey Etherton scored the lone goal for the Ladybirds. At goalkeeper, Jesse Daley made three saves and Sarah Owen had one.

Highlands takes on Newport Central Catholic on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

NewCath volleyball loses four at Fall Classic:
The Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds lost all four matches in the Fall Classic at Mother of Mercy in Cincinnati. They are 8-18 overall.

NewCath lost to Findlay (Ohio) on Saturday, 2-0 (25-6, 25-9). Whitney Fields led the Lady Breds with three kills and Alyssa Maier had five assists with Maria Froendhoff making 11 digs.

The Lady Breds then lost 2-0 to Columbus Bishop Hartley, 2-0 (25-17, 25-17). Fields had four kills with Maier making 11 assists and Froendhoff nine digs.

On Sunday, NewCath fell 2-0 (25-8, 25-11) to Louisville Holy Cross. Five players had one kill each for the Lady Breds. Maier had four assists and Froendhoff 12 digs.

The Lady Breds finished the classic with a 2-1 (23-25, 25-18, 25-4) loss to Lexington Henry Clay. Nikki Kiernan led NewCath with nine kills with Maier contributing 18 assists and Froendhoff 11 digs.

NewCath travels to Newport on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Highlands downs NewCath, 2-0

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It was as even of a game as expected.

The Highlands Bluebirds and Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds soccer teams got off 11 shots a piece. But the Bluebirds connected on two of them in a 2-0 victory on Saturday at Tower Park.

The Bluebirds snapped a three-game winless streak to move to 7-6-2 overall and 2-4-2 since starting the year 5-2. They also moved to 11-0-2 against NewCath since 2004.

“It does not matter if we’re having a good year, an off year or if they’re having a good year or off year, this is always a fantastic game,” said Matthew Winkler, Highlands head coach. “(NewCath head coach) Mike (McDonald) and I get along really well so it’s fun to bring the squads together and see where we are. After the last couple weeks, it’s really nice to have a decent win. We’ll see where we can go from there.”

NewCath dropped to 2-6-4. The Thoroughbreds once again played good defense but could not manufacture goals. They’ve been outscored 20-14 this year.

“We made big mistakes in the back,” McDonald said. “When we do that, we give up goals. That’s what it came down to (Saturday). Once we get everybody on the same page playing as a team, we’ll be good. We have talent all over the field. We just have to put it together.”

Both goalkeepers made big saves with a lot of help defensively. Highlands goalkeeper Nick Breslin made 11 saves and NewCath counterpart Nathan Grosser made nine. Highlands defenders like Jimmy Penrod, Alex Shepherd and Franklin Graves constantly booted balls away from the goal.

NewCath blasts Brossart in District 6 opener, 58-0

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team snapped its three-game winning streak in a big way Friday in Alexandria.

The smashed the host Bishop Brossart Mustangs, 58-0 to open Class 2A, District 6 action. NewCath (2-3 overall, 1-0 district) ran away with 30 points in the second quarter to go up 44-0 at halftime to force the running clock.

The Thoroughbreds outgained the Mustangs (1-4, 0-1), 453-63 in total offense in a balanced attack. NewCath had seven first downs to four for Brossart.

This included 248-37 on the ground. NewCath ran the ball 27 times for an average of about 9.2 per carry. Brossart averaged just more than one yard per rush.

Dylan Hayes led the Thoroughbreds rushing for 90 yards on nine carries with a touchdown. Freshman running back Jacob Smith came in and ran for 84 yards on four carries with a touchdown.

“We just prepared to play sound football,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “We really didn’t look at anything like, ‘We can’t let him run outside or we can’t let him run inside.’ When we do that, we can be pretty good and stop someone. That’s what we did (Friday).”

Defensively, NewCath focused on Brossart senior running back Jacob Elbert. He had seven carries for minus-2 yards and completed just 1-of-3 passes for nine yards before leaving with an injury.

Highlands contains Bir, Colonel offense

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds knew they’d be facing their toughest challenge defensively this season.

The Covington Catholic Colonels came into town having outscored their four Kentucky opponents, 166-6. Senior Colonel quarterback Blake Bir completed 82-of-144 passes for 1,315 yards and 17 touchdowns entering the contest.

But the Bluebirds contained Bir and company in the 35-21 win. That started with the offense grinding things out on the ground and keeping the Colonel offense off the field.

Bir completed 12-of-17 passes for just 132 yards with one interception and three touchdowns. Matt Summe led CovCath with three catches for 63 yards.

“We just show up every day and keep getting better,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “We’re not worried about stats or points. They’re buying into what we’re doing. Our guys up front did the job. We got a lot of pressure (on Blake Bir).”

The Colonels only rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries. Bir’s brother Luke led the way with 54 yards on six runs.

“They have so many playmakers,” Weinrich said. “I love watching their offense on film as a fan. We just tried to play smart, communicate and get after it.”

The Colonels enjoyed the lead briefly in the first quarter. Bir found Ethan Egbers from two yards out on 4th-and-goal with 2:40 left in the first quarter. That drive was set up when Adam Fischer returned an interception to the Bluebird 23. Highlands’ Ryan Greene saved a touchdown with an open-field tackle on the return.

The Colonels later tied up the game in the second on a reverse-throwback pass. Bir found Matt Summe wide-open on the play to tie the game at 14 with 4:02 left in the half.

“We just had to adjust to his calls,” said Andrew Abner, Highlands defensive back, of Bir. “He was audibling every play. We have to stay back (on running plays) until it’s a guaranteed pass then come up.”

The Bluebirds came back with a big special teams play in the third quarter. The Colonels muffed a punt and senior Blake Myers recovered for Highlands at the CovCath 18. The Bluebirds scored minutes later to take a 28-14 lead.

“There’s a rule where you’re not allowed to advance a muffed punt,” Myers said. “I picked up the ball and remembered that rule so I stopped. It gave us momentum because it gave us the ball inside their 30 in very good scoring position.”

The Colonels did score their final touchdown in the third when Bir completed a 3-yard pass to Summe with 5:09 left in the third. CovCath drove to the Highlands 34 later in the quarter but Quentin Murray picked off Bir’s pass at the Bluebird 16.

The Colonels had just one more possession after that. They ended up punting.

Emotional week for Highlands:
The Bluebirds carried the initials of Janet Hewling on them for the game. Hewling, 87, a long-time Fort Thomas Independent Schools employee, passed away recently. Hewling is Weinrich’s grandmother and helped raise him.

“She really epitomizes what you like to see in a high school football player,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “She was such a great worker. She never missed a day. We’re all products of our environments. But if there’s anybody who is a product of one person, it’s Brian and his grandmother. Brian is a great husband and father. He’s also a great servant to the team.”
Highlands continues District 4 action Friday at Harrison County. Game time is 7 p.m. in Cynthiana.

Highlands responds to hype with big win over CovCath

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Following a week of the usual hype that saw even some well-known figures get into the act, it was time to decide things on the football field.

The result proved similar to the last seven meetings between the two Northern Kentucky powers. The Highlands Bluebirds showed they are still the team to beat in Class 4A with a 35-21 win over the arch-rival Covington Catholic Colonels on Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium in the District 7 opener for both teams.

Highlands moved to 78-2 since the start of 2007 including 8-0 against CovCath. The Bluebirds (5-0 overall, 1-0 district) have won 25 in a row and 43 straight at home. The Bluebirds also improved to 42-17 all-time against the Colonels.

The Bluebirds did it once again with their offensive versatility. They played quick-strike football the first four games. But in this contest, Highlands moved the quick Colin Seidl into the backfield and grinded things out from many different angles in the victory and kept CovCath’s potent offense off the field.

“It is a great defense,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach, of the Colonel defense. “They have a lot of starters back and we have a lot of respect for them. We felt the run was there and we have a pretty versatile offense so we went with that.”

The Bluebirds ran the ball 61 times for 291 yards for an average of just more than 4.77 a contest. Quarterback Donovan McCoy led the way with 29 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Seidl finished with 86 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown and Zach Harris had 75 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Coffey aims to elevate Ladybirds softball program

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The belief for great things starts with the head coach.

New Highlands Ladybirds Head Softball Coach Rob Coffey has high expectations for the program and the search committee saw that enthusiasm. The committee consisted of Principal Brian Robinson, Director of Athletics Dale Mueller and Head Baseball Coach Jeremy Baioni. The hiring became official Monday.

“We think we’re in position to not only win the (Ninth) Region, but battle for state championships,” Mueller said. “There’s a lot of young girls who are fired up in Fort Thomas and are excellent, college-scholarship players. Rob is looking to have a year-round softball program so the girls can develop their skills all year. He’s looking to step up every aspect of the program to another level.”

Robinson said the committee reached out to teachers in the Fort Thomas Independent School District first, but none showed interest. They had several applicants before naming two finalists.

Coffey, 44, has 20 years of coaching experience that includes basketball and soccer in addition to softball. That may not include any high school experience. But Coffey started the Amateur Athletic Union organization called Gametime that he currently directs. Coffey played baseball, basketball and football during his high school years. He graduated from Highlands in 1986.

“I think with the young group we have right now, we have a chance to compete and start winning real soon,” Coffey said. “We have several talented players already in the pipeline. I’m not naive enough to think we’ll win the (Ninth) Region within the next two years. But with some training and creating some depth in the program, we should be able to compete with some of the top teams in the Ninth Region. Going forward, the biggest challenge I think we’ll have is keeping the pipeline wet.”