Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Highlands ready for athletic Bryan Station squad

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands quarterback Beau Hoge (7) points ahead in the win at Campbell County. The Bluebirds travel to Lexington Bryan Station on Friday.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Blue and White have displayed similar traits to past football teams more and more each week.

The Highlands Bluebirds (1-0 overall) know they will need to keep doing that Friday when they travel down Interstate 75 to face an upstart, athletic Lexington Bryan Station Defender squad (1-1). Highlands beat the Defenders, 62-44 in Fort Thomas last year to increase the lead in the all-time series to 4-1. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Highlands enters the game fresh off a 23-16 win over Campbell County to open the season. The Bluebirds jumped out to a 23-0 lead after the first quarter. But the Camels scored two touchdowns and converted two two-point conversions to make the game interesting.

“A lot of my responsibility is to keep them going,” said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. “When you jump out on somebody quick, you have to finish them. It’s going to be a battle for four quarters this week. They do a good job getting their athletes in space.”

Highlands showed signs of the balanced, dominant spread offense in the win over Campbell County. The Bluebirds just hurt themselves with penalties. They committed 14 penalties for 112 yards in the win. Weinrich said a lot of that had to do with some players getting used to positions on the offensive line.

But Highlands finished with 356 yards of total offense against the Camels including 173 on the ground. Quaterback Beau Hoge, Josh Watson, Griffin Urlage and Nick Kendall had carries in the win.

Teams have run the ball well against Bryan Station. Harlan County ran for 351 in a 56-22 loss to the Defenders and Louisville St. Xavier ran for 291 yards in a 28-13 win. Tiger running back Tajon Smith had 32 carries for 178 yards against the Defenders.

“Anytime you have balance, you are going to be dangerous,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “We are just trying to figure out where we are now. If you go back and watch film from any season from the first couple games to the last games, guys are starting to figure it out.”

The Bluebirds have generally thrown to many different wide receivers throughout the years. Seven Highlands receivers had at least one catch against Campbell County. Hoge completed 15-of-25 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Senior Alex Veneman led the way with five catches for 66 yards and a score.

“We’ve had to come together more with things like making sure we run nice routes and know who we need to block,” said Mitch Cain, Highlands junior wide receiver. “We’ve been doing a good job lately. We’ll be fine. We have to make sure we catch everything we can.”

Bryan Station and Highlands both run 3-4 defenses. The Defenders are led by junior defensive lineman Mikel Horton. Their secondary is also strong led by junior defensive backs K-Ci Carmichael, Devin Key and Mahari Strugis.

“They have a big, strong defensive line. (The Bryan Station defensive backs) have a lot of range,” Weinrich said. “They’re long and cover a lot of ground. They’re very sound in their coverage. You have to really execute to move the ball on the ground or the air against those guys.”

The Defenders also run a spread offense. Junior Andre Davis and Senior Dallas Bruton have taken snaps at quarterback. Davis has completed 24-of-32 passes for 351 yards and six touchdowns on the season. He completed 6-of-6 passes for 204 yards and five scores against Harlan County.

But Davis struggled against St. Xavier throwing three interceptions. Bruton came in the third quarter and completed 16-of-22 passes for 107 yards on mostly short passes.

Seniors C.J. Walker and Marcus Floyd led the Defenders in receiving against St. Xavier. Walker had nine catches for 71 yards and Floyd had six for 76.

Walker had nine catches for 62 yards in last year’s game with senior Tequan Claitt going for 157 yards on eight catches and a score. Walker added three kick returns for 125 yards and a score.

Ben Ziegler:

“The best thing is to be in position and do the best you can,” said Ben Ziegler, Highlands junior of defending the Bryan Station skill players. “You have to stay focused the entire time.”

Campbell County rushed for 254 yards on 49 carries against Highlands last week. Quarterback Carson Plessinger ran for 135 yards on 35 carries. But the Bluebirds allowed just one long Camel drive in the game.

“The main focus is going to be getting better each week until we get to the playoffs,” Jones said. “We’ll build on what we do well and keep improving on what we need to improve on. We were able to take advantage early on because of certain personnel we had. We didn’t adjust on the one drive. They really only had one drive on us. Our philosophy is when one guy gets hurt, the next guy has to step in.”

Patrick Schoepf had a fumble recovery for Highlands against Campbell County. Senior defensive lineman D.J. Mills helped the defense start off well with a safety against the Camels.

The Bluebirds play three straight home games after Friday. They take on 0-2 John Hardin and Paducah Tilghman to finish off non-district play.

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