Story Matters

Story Matters

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why are the NewCath, Lloyd records potentially deceiving?

G. Michael Graham Photo. Newport Central Catholic's Job Freppon (24) and Luke Kues (7) pursue Dixie Heights quarterback Drew Moore (7) in Saturday's loss. The Thoroughbreds open district action Friday at Lloyd Memorial at 7 p.m.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It is a case of the looks on paper being potentially deceiving.

The defending Class 2A state runner-up Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds enter the game in Erlanger on Friday winless at 0-4. On the other side, the upstart Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts come in confident with an undefeated mark of 4-0. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday.

But a look at the schedules tells a drastic difference in competition. The Thoroughbreds have lost to Class 5A Cooper and Class 6A opponents Dixie Heights, Campbell County and Simon Kenton after the season-opener at Ashland was rained out. The four opponents own a combined record of 15-4.

The Juggernauts have faced 1A Dayton, struggling 4A Covington Holmes and 2A opponents Gallatin County and Owen County that are a combined 4-14. They’ve won those games by a combined 185-44.

NewCath drilled Lloyd, 63-22 two years ago in Newport when the Thoroughbreds entered the game with a 2-4 record while Lloyd came in 6-1. The contest was much closer last year as NewCath pulled away in the second half for a 22-7 win.

Eric Turner is in his second season as head coach of the Juggernauts. He previously served as the Offensive Coordinator at Boone County.

“We’re facing another team this week that thinks they’re pretty good,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “We have to get after it. I think we will. We had a good day of practice (Tuesday). Eric has done a great job with them. They play hard and do have some athletic ability.”

The Thoroughbreds are a perfect 24-0 in district games dating back to 2006. They’ve won 16 straight against Lloyd Memorial dating back to 1991 and lead the all-time series, 31-6.

“We don’t even mention that. I couldn’t have told you that stat,” Wagner said. “We just talk about a team that’s 4-0. They’re riding high and we have to make sure we take some of that wind out of their sails. That gets done by executing and playing hard on our end.”

The Thoroughbreds did move the ball better in Saturday’s 34-13 loss to Dixie Heights. They’re back on the plus side rushing the ball as a team with a net yardage of 32. Junior Jacob Smith leads NewCath with 46 carries for 127 yards.

“I think our offensive line is getting better every week playing more physical,” Smith said. “They’re showing it every game. We just have to find the holes and run harder each game learning from mistakes.”

NewCath still struggled with quarterback sacks in the loss to Dixie Heights allowing 10. Some of them came on delayed blitzes. Thoroughbred Offensive Coordinator Dave Schneider said he expects Lloyd to put pressure on the NewCath offense in its 3-3-5 stack defense.

“We have to get the ball out of our hands,” Schneider said. “Patrick (Henschen) struggles with that every once in a while but he’s working at it. He has to see the defense a little better, find who’s hot and get them the ball.”

The Thoroughbreds have made things happen when the ball comes out quick. Henschen has completed 43-of-72 passes for 438 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Senior Brandon Gray continues to have a solid season with 22 catches for 195 yards.

“We hope they gained some confidence and we’ll go from there,” Schneider said. “They played hard. We still have some work to do. But we’ll keep plugging away.”

Teams have rushed for 410 yards and passed for 557 yards against the Juggernauts. Senior defensive lineman Sergio Gutierez and sophomore defensive back Justin Durham lead Lloyd with 23 tackles each. Lloyd’s defense has three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Junior Eric Bruner anchors the Lloyd defensive line and senior Zach Riddle anchors the linebackers.

The Thoroughbred 4-4 defense did give the Colonels some fits despite giving up some big plays. Junior Maleek Lawrence stopped a number of runs up the middle. Junior linebacker Kobe Tallon leads the Thoroughbreds with 36 tackles.

NewCath recovered four Colonel fumbles. Senior defensive back Clint Bartels has one fumble recovery and an interception for the Thoroughbreds. Teams have rushed for 892 yards and passed for 671 yards against NewCath.

The Thoroughbreds face a Juggernaut offense that has rushed for 855 yards and passed for 557. Senior Hayden Molitor has completed 36-of-54 passes for 523 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. Durham leads Lloyd with 238 yards on 36 carries and six touchdowns with sophomore Lashunn Townsend going for 234 yards on 11 carries and four scores.

Tallon said the Juggernauts like to run jet sweeps and also like to fake to the fullback before handing off to a tailback. They’ve had 17 different players carry the ball this year.

“When they do the jet sweeps, we’re going to try to contain it,” Tallon said. “Our defensive ends will go out and force them back inside to our linebackers. That gives us a lot of chances to come up and make plays. We’re going to run around hitting people as hard as we can filling the holes.”

Junior Charles Gaines leads Lloyd with 18 catches for 244 yards and two touchdowns. Townsend is second with five catches for 123 yards and two scores.

The two teams will stay in the same district the next four years with Newport and Covington Holy Cross. Current district rival Bishop Brossart drops to 1A next season.

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