NKY High School Football: Cov Cath, Beechwood Advance to Finals; Walton-Verona Falls
Three Northern Kentucky teams took the field on Friday night as the Kentucky high school football playoffs reached their semifinals.
Covington Catholic (5A) and Beechwood (1A) will both return to the state title games after racking up big wins.
Walton-Verona (2A), after making it to the state semis for the first time ever, saw its season end.
Covington Catholic has won 29 straight games and improved to 14-0 on the season with a 36-14 rout of Pulaski Co. on the road. The Colonels face South Warren (14-0) on Sunday, Dec. 2. for the Class 5A state championship. It would be Covington Catholic's second straight title.
Beechwood will play in its fourth straight state final, looking for its third straight championship. The Tigers improved to 11-2 with a 48-13 win over Campbellsville in Ft. Mitchell on Friday. Beechwood's two losses this season came in back-to-back weeks, to Covington Catholic and Corbin (3A), two teams that will also be in their respective state finals next week. In Class 2A's finals, Beechwood will take on Pikeville (11-2) on Friday, Nov. 30.
Walton-Verona ends its historic season with an 11-3 record, after falling to Mayfield, 38-7, on Friday night in Walton, in the Class 2A semis.
RCN's Brian Frey was at the Beechwood-Campbellsville game and produced the slideshow below. RCN's Jason Finnell was at the Walton-Mayfield game and has a full recap below.
The Mayfield Cardinals, winners of 10 state titles and nearing the completion of its first season in 2A after moving up from 1A, where it spent the past 20-plus seasons, is back in familiar territory – the state finals. The Cardinals defeated Walton Verona, Friday evening in Verona, 38-7, spoiling the Bearcats’ first trip to the state semi-finals in the 10-year history of the program.
It was a sluggish start for each team, as the first quarter ended 3-0 in favor of the Cardinals. After partially-blocking a Bearcats’ punt early in the second, Mayfield’s Trey Matthews aided his teams’ drive down the field with runs of 16, 10 and 5 yards. Alonzo Daniel followed Matthews with a 34-yard touchdown and the Cardinals’ opened up a 10-0 lead with 6:48 left in the second quarter. Walton Verona steadily moved the ball on its next possession, but the drive fizzled out at the Mayfield 22, when quarterback Garrett Jones was sacked by the Cardinals’ Ethan Couch on the Bearcats’ fourth down try. Like he had done all game long, Matthews’ quickly flipped the field on Walton Verona and put the Bearcats’ defense on its heels. On third-and-one from its own 45, Matthews broke through the middle of the Bearcats’ line for 23 yards down to the WV 32, and the Cardinals’ called timeout as the clock ticked under the two-minute mark. Mayfield quarterback Jayden Stinson then called his own number, racing around the right side 32 yards to give the Cardinals’ more cushion into the break, 17-0.
Receiving the kickoff to begin the third, Mayfield’s Diaz Perry took a screen pass from Stinson 40 yards to the Bearcats’ 41 where he slipped and fumbled but fell on the ball and the Cardinals’ drive would continue. Stinson’s 16-yard carry up the middle put the Cardinals’ inside the WV 20, with Crouch putting another dent in the scoreboard for Mayfield on a six-yard run and a 24-0 lead early in the quarter.
Despite Mayfield penalties such as the fourth down offsides that gave new life and a first down to the Bearcats on their initial possession of the third quarter, Walton Verona was never able to get the ball moving, turning the ball over on downs after Jones’ pass for receiver Peyton Smith fell harmlessly to the turf on fourth down just inside of Cardinals’ territory. Taking advantage of good field position to begin its next possession, Matthews and Stinson led another scoring drive for the Cardinals, culminating in a 16-yard run for Stinson and a 31-0 Mayfield lead. After another failed fourth down attempt for WV, the Cardinals’ final touchdown of the evening with nine seconds remaining by Matthews on a one-yard TD run ensured the fourth quarter would be played with a running clock.
Walton Verona was finally able to get in the scoring column with nine minutes to go in the game as Tyler Wagner broke through the middle of the Mayfield defense for a 76-yard touchdown run to put the margin at 38-7. As the clock ticked closer to the end with the Cardinals’ once again advancing deep in Bearcats’ territory, frustration boiled over for Walton Verona’s Dawson Catlett, who received a personal foul penalty and was removed from the game, appearing to argue the call with a referee. The penalty gave the Cardinals’ a new set of downs inside the five-yard line, but WV recovered, stopping backup running back Jax Rogers on fourth-and-goal at the three.
For Walton Verona head coach Jeff Barth and the Bearcats, his team had nothing to hang their heads about despite the tough loss. “Your seniors, I can’t be more proud of what you guys have done; the guys that have been here all four (years) and the guys who came out late. That’s a heck of a run we had there guys; an unfortunate ending but I’m proud of the way we played and conducted ourselves this year…We have to make sure we have a hell of an offseason to put ourselves in this situation again. There’s no reason to hang your head tonight. But if this is it, you guys gave us one hell of a run.”
The Bearcats finish their season at 11-3, its most wins in school history.
Photos by Brian Frey