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NKY High School Football Spotlight: Simon Kenton

Simon Kenton football has put together back-to-back quality seasons where they were able to reach the Class 6A quarterfinals in each year, but a state championship game appearance has proven elusive for the Pioneers. This year, the schedule is a doozy with Highlands, Dixie, Bryan Station and Christian Academy slated for the regular season.

“I do think the schedule is a tough one this year,” said head coach Jeff Marksberry. “Of course we’ve added Highlands to the schedule. We play Bryan Station early and we haven’t played them since 2012 when we played them in the playoffs. We run the gamut of Northern Kentucky teams with the big schools so I think our schedule will definitely challenge us and we’re going to have to be prepared every week and hopefully things go our way."

That being said, a visit to the state championship game is by no means out of reach for Simon Kenton. While Marksberry and his team are not overlooking the time and effort it will take to reach that point, it's something that has been talked about in their locker room.

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, but we want to play for a championship. That’s the way that these kids have talked all offseason,” Marksberry said. “That means district championship, regional championship - any opportunity we get to win an opportunity to win a championship, we want to take advantage of that opportunity. At this time of year, everyone is optimistic about their program and everybody feels good about what they’re doing.”

If they are to get there, quarterback Cam Racke will have a lot to say about it. Racke is expected to handle a heavier playbook entering into his junior season than he did a year ago. Racke is expected to use his good size and strong arm to deliver the ball to his current receiver corps. 

“We will stick with the same scheme. Cam did a great job as a sophomore managing our offense and this year with a year under his belt, we don’t have to water some things down that we did last year. Now we will be able to put a little more back on his plate with some reads and some different things,” said Marksberry.

The players he will throw to may hav ea tough time matching the production the electric wide out Logan Winkler provided to the Pioneers last season, but he graduated and now the other Logans are tasked with filling the play-making gap that Winkler leaves behind.

“They will fill his role. Logan Kreidenweis and Logan Scott are different types of players than Winkler was, but these two guys are really good football players. Between the two of them, we think that they can make up for some of the stuff that we lost with losing Wink.”

One of the best defensive lineman in the region last season was defensive tackle Tucker Mueller who consistently disrupted both the passing and running games. Mueller had 71 tackles and 10 sacks in his junior year. Mueller is getting looks from Division II college programs entering into his final year of high school football. 

“He has turned into a vocal leader. He’s had a great summer. He and David Sandlin on the offensive line have been leaders in the weight room. They’re both tremendously strong kids. They both power 325 pounds, but they have focused on staying lean and not gaining a bunch of unneeded weight. Mueller’s motor goes all the time and he is definitely a key cog in our defense.”

Simon Kenton had its season ended last year by the eventual Class 6A champions, Dixie, when they lost 21-0 in the quarterfinals. It may be hard for the players not to get extra amped for that repeat matchup scheduled at home on September 11, but Coach Marksberry has the task for keeping his players focused for each week no matter who the competition and what the history between the two schools is.

“Our kids do a really good job of not looking ahead and not looking behind,” he said. “They’ve done a really good job of focusing on the task at hand and trying to get better every day. That’s what we preach to them. I don’t think revenge is on our minds. It was very painful last year to lose to them twice, especially in the third round of the playoffs, but they had a great team and played better than us on both of those nights. Our kids will be excited to play them like they are in every game.”

Story by Bryan Burke, associate editor/Photo: RCN file