NKY High School Football: Cov Cath Blasts Highlands; Walton-Verona, Beechwood Move On
Five Northern Kentucky high school football teams took to the field on Friday night and three are moving on to the state semifinals in their respective classes.
Covington Catholic had no trouble with Highlands, dropping the Bluebirds in Park Hills, 36-0, in Class 5A. Covington Catholic (13-0) will face Pulaski County (11-2) next week.
Walton-Verona advanced in Class 2A with a win over Glasgow, 18-14. Walton-Verona (11-2) will play undefeated Mayfield (13-0) next week.
In Class 1A, Beechwood moved on, beating Frankfort, 49-8. Beechwood (10-2) faces Campbellsville (11-1) next week.
Conner and Simon Kenton saw their seasons end in Class 6A. The Cougars lost to Madison Central, 28-27, in overtime, and the Pioneers went down at the hands of Scott County, 56-28.
Simon Kenton ends the season at 10-3 while Conner finishes at 9-4.
RCN photographer Brian Frey and contributor Jason Finnell were at the Cov Cath-Highlands game. Their story and photos are below. The full scoreboard is also below (if the date on the scoreboard shows something other than Friday, simply hit back to the date you wish to see).
Covington Catholic won its second consecutive regional championship Friday night on the strength of 233 yards rushing and four touchdowns – all in the second half – for senior running back Casey McGinness, as the Colonels pulled away from Highlands down the stretch, 36-0, in Park Hills.
It was a tale of two halves for CovCath as the Bluebirds’ defense bottled up McGinness in the first half and held the Colonels’ standout in check during the first two quarters. Other than Michael Mayer’s 65-yard touchdown reception on CovCath’s opening driving drive of the game, Highlands held the Colonels offense in check early; on its next four drives, the Colonels’ came up empty. The Bluebirds’ chance came midway through the second when McGinness fumbled a punt standing on his own 20-yard line and Highlands recovered. Cooper Schwalbach’s nine-yard run on second down put the ‘Birds on the Colonels’ 11 but he was stopped for no gain on the ensuing play and again on fourth down turning the ball over to CovCath. Much like it did during the game’s entirety, the Colonels’ relied heavily on McGinness. His first carry went for 24 yards, followed by runs of four and 11 yards that extended the drive, giving CovCath a new set of downs. But on second-and-seven from the Highlands’ 18, Colonels’ quarterback Caleb Jacob didn’t see linebacker Jackson Hagedorn sitting in coverage in the middle of the field and Hagedorn picked off the sophomore and kept the margin at seven for the Bluebirds into halftime.
Entering the third quarter, CovCath – and especially, McGinness – appeared to be a different team. “We adjusted a couple things like we always do but at the same time we had to focus in a little bit on what we were doing and challenge them a little bit. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit in the first half and really didn’t get things going. With Casey, once he gets going, he’s hard to stop,” Colonels’ head coach Eddie Eviston said. On its initial possession of the third and the ball at midfield, McGinness took off up the middle, outracing Bluebirds’ defenders 50 yards into the end zone and a 14-0 Colonels’ lead. Down by two scores and possibly facing the pressure mount, Highlands’ fake punt went awry and CovCath recovered inside the Bluebirds’ 40 and struck quickly. Jacob found Mayer inside the 10 and the Colonels’ were again knocking on the door. McGinness’ three-yard TD run was negated by a holding penalty but his next run from 15 yards out stretched the CovCath lead, 21-0. Unable to put together a momentum-building drive, the Bluebirds’ had to punt the ball away. Like its previous drive, a holding penalty wiped away a big gain from Duncan Summe but McGinness’ run on the next play resulted in his third touchdown on the second half. His 55-yard score gave the Colonels a 28-point advantage as the quarter came to a close.
The Colonels’ successful two-point conversion following a fourth McGinness touchdown early in the final quarter resulted in a running clock and a 36-0 lead for CovCath.
Friday night’s game was only the second time in 25 years the Colonels’ played host to the Bluebirds during the playoffs, the last time coming in 2006.
CovCath travels to Pulaski County (11-2) next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. to take on the Maroons for a chance at a birth in the State Finals at University of Kentucky’s Kroger Field.
Photos by Brian Frey