Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Highlands-Simon Kenton Sidebar

Bluebirds Win 30th Meeting with Pioneers

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, The Highlands student section known as the OZone came to the game with a USA theme Friday.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior defensive lineman Sylvan Frazier (44) makes the tackle while junior defensive back Shabaz Butt (22) converges.
The Simon Kenton Pioneers football team had come into the game against the Highlands Bluebirds undefeated four straight years.

But unlike the past three seasons, Simon Kenton did not leave that way. The Bluebirds put the clamps down on the Pioneers in a 38-9 non-district victory Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. That marked the first win over Simon Kenton since 1998.

That was the 30th meeting against the Pioneers all-time Friday. Highlands improved to 26-4 against Simon Kenton in school history.

The Bluebirds and Pioneers renewed their series in 2015 after not playing for 16 seasons. Simon Kenton rallied for a 35-30 win in Independence in the final two minutes recovering an onside kick. The Pioneers won a shoot-out, 77-53 in Fort Thomas two years ago after dominating the 2015 contest, 42-3 in Independence.

Highlands and Simon Kenton played each other on a yearly basis between 1987 and 1998 with the Bluebirds winning all 12 games including a 76-0 victory in 1997. Highlands had last beaten Simon Kenton, 28-12 on Oct. 30, 1998. The teams used to be in the same district.

The teams also played each other on a regular basis between 1970 and 1983 with the Bluebirds going 13-1 against the Pioneers. The only Simon Kenton win over Highlands prior to 2015 came 10-7 in 1974.

Jeff Marksberry is in his 19th season as the head coach of the Pioneers. Simon Kenton is 144-80 during that time. The Pioneers have made it to the Class 6A region finals every year since 2008 except 2011 when they went 2-9. That 2011 campaign has been the lone losing season for the Pioneers since 2004.

Of those nine appearances in the region title game, Simon Kenton has won it three times in 2008, 2009 and 2015. The Pioneers beat Male in the 2008 state semifinals, 28-10 before losing 48-0 to Louisville Trinity in the state championship for the lone runner-up finish in school history led by former University of Kentucky player Miles Simpson. Simon Kenton lost 48-34 to Louisville St. Xavier in the state semifinals in 2009 and 42-28 to Lexington Lafayette in the state semifinals in Independence in 2015.

Simon Kenton went 6-4 in Marksberry's first season as head coach. After struggling the next four years, the Pioneers put together three straight six-win seasons between 2005 and 2007 before the 2008 breakthrough. Between 2000 and 2007, Simon Kenton made the playoffs three times losing in the first round all three times.

Another Victory Milestone:

In 104 seasons of football starting in 2015, Highlands owns an all-time record of 890-250-26. The Bluebirds are just the second team in the country to hit that mileston.

The Valdosta Wildcats from south Georgia hit the 900-win plateau two seasons ago. The Wildcats (2-3 overall) are 919-233-34 following a 71-35 defeat to the county rival Lowndes Vikings on Friday.

USA Theme for OZone:

The Highlands students came wearing USA themed outfits to the game Friday. Lillian Reynolds, a Highlands senior involved with Drama Club and Theater, danced to some tunes trying to cheer up the OZone prior to the game.

"The thing I love most about the OZone is how even though you are a freshman and they are scared to be here, we can all come together and cheer for our school," Reynolds said. "No matter if you're in Drama Club. You play tennis. You do speech and debate. Anything like that. Everyone is together for a Friday night and we're all cheering on our football team. It's so awesome."

Combined with College Band:

The Ohio University band made an appearance at the game Friday. The band is playing at Ohio University's game at the University of Cincinnati on Saturday. The OU band played at halftime and in connection with the Highlands band after the game.

Colorado, Kentucky Meet on Gridiron:

Class 5A's third-ranked South Warren Spartans stayed undefeated at 6-0 with a convincing 46-0 win over the Rocky Mountain High Lobos from Fort Collins (Colorado). South Warren's quarterback is Gavin Spurrier, the son of former Florida Gators and South Caroline Gamecocks Head Coach Steve Spurrier.

The Spartans forced the running clock before the end of the third quarter. Gavin Spurrier threw for 215 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

The teams found themselves in need of a game earlier in the year. A team in Colorado had a game with Rocky Mountain scheduled the same day and wanted to honor the contract with the other school. On the other side, South Warren and Bowling Green from District 2 had to find games when Barren County dropped out of district play and dropped those two teams from the schedule in the last year of the two-year contract.

Highlands had to play host to teams from Florida in 2013 and 2014 when local teams would not schedule the Bluebirds. Highlands lost to Christopher Columbus from Miami (Florida), 38-34. Christopher Columbus flew into the Cincinnati Airport down the road while Rocky Mountain flew into Nashville then came north for the game.

Mapquest listed a difference of less than 100 miles between both travels. Christopher Columbus is 1,102 miles from Highlands and Rocky Mountain is 1,174 from South Warren.

The trip cost about $20,000 for the 40 players, eight coaches and two administrators that made the trip for Rocky Mountain. That included airfare and staying in hotels. Schools used the buyouts from the originally scheduled, broken contracts to offset the travel costs.

Bowling Green, ranked second in the latest Associated Press poll, also stayed undefeated with a 49-7 win over Greenwood (2-4). Greenwood comes to Highlands later in the season. Highlands picked up Greenwood after Grant County dropped out of district play before last season. Bowling Green plays at Warren Central from Indianapolis (Indiana) later in a few weeks in place of Barren County.

District 5 Update:

Top-ranked Covington Catholic stayed undefeated pulling away from Columbus (Ohio) St. Francis de Sales, 35-14 to stay undefeated at 6-0.

CovCath is off this week before traveling to Indianapolis (Indiana) Bishop Chatard on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. Chatard defeated Guerin Catholic from Noblesville (Indiana), 21-13 to move to 6-0 on Friday.

The third team in the district in Dixie Heights (0-6) lost again Friday. The red Colonels are 0-6 following a tight 28-27 loss at Boone County (2-3) on Friday. This marks the first time since 2011 Boone County has won more than one game in a season.

Dixie Heights still has a game against idle Cooper (1-4) on Sept. 28 in Edgewood. Campbell County and Ryle also had bye weeks Friday.

Class 5A Update:

Only one other team is ranked ahead of fifth-ranked Highlands. That's the 5-0 Southwestern Warriors. They had their bye week Friday. Their three District 7 opponents in Pulaski County, South Laurel and Lincoln County own four wins each.

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