NKY Football: Beechwood Rolls; Ryle Beats Cooper; Scott Downs HC; Scoreboard
The River City News's coverage of Northern Kentucky high school football this week includes a column from Dan Weber who was at the Ryle-Cooper game, a game recap from Jason Finnell who was at the Beechwood-Somerset game, and a photo slideshow from Brian Frey who was at the Scott-Holy Cross game (see photos at bottom of article), and the full regional scoreboard below.
Dan Weber writes a sports column for The River City News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in the day before the interstates when the way to Louisville was down US 42, you knew when you hit Union - was there one traffic light or just a stop sign? - you knew you were leaving Northern Kentucky. Were those horse farms?
One thing for sure, the official population of Union in 1970 was a mere 233. Today, the town of maybe 7,400 souls just happens to have, by some sort of geographical quirk, two - count 'em - two of Kentucky's larger public high schools within the city limits.
There's Ryle, right there on US 42, the ninth biggest high school out of 280 in the state, and No. 33 Cooper, 10 years younger than its 23-year-old big brother, just a few miles away.
"It's not far - like three miles," said Cooper athletics director and head football coach Randy Borchers, the only coach the Jaguars program has had in its 15 seasons. Actually they're not quite that close. Mapquest offers two different routes from Ryle to Cooper - one 4.8 miles via Old Union Road, the other - via Camp Ernst Road - is 6.3 miles, although each take 12 minutes.
Wherever this game is played, it's pretty much a home game for everybody, as the Ryle players came in cars with family and friends carrying their equipment as they would for a home game. The near-capacity crowd of some 3,500 looked like it was split right down the middle, except that Cooper's band was here giving the edge to the home team.
There is a bit of a difference in the student body makeup. "A majority of their kids are from Union," Borchers said after his team fell to 2-1 as Ryle held on for a 14-7 win thanks to a trio of missed scoring opportunities by the Jaguars. "Ours are from everywhere - Burlington, Florence and Union," Borchers said.
And since they're not in the same class - Ryle with an enrollment of 1,983 is 6A while Cooper's 1,399 enrollment puts it into 5A - a loss in this game doesn't do serious damage to either team's playoff hopes. Although being in 5A with Highlands and CovCath isn't exactly a benefit either.
"They're a good football team," Ryle coach Mike Engler told his team afterward. "You gave me a few more gray hairs," he said before taking off his cap to reveal a closely shaved nearly-bald head with hardly any visible hair. "See you in the morning (for an 8 a.m. postgame session). Fight song, Baby."
Sophomore quarterback Logan Verax was the ultimate difference-maker for the visiting Raiders with a 27-yard sprint to the flag on a zone-read keep with 8:35 left in the game to put this one out of reach - 14-0.
"I saw they didn't have an outside linebacker," he said when he broke the huddle. "That happened earlier and I didn't keep it and I was mad at myself."
This time Logan was pleased as he could be. "I got a great block from my left tackle, Drew Dickerson . . . and as soon as I pulled it (the ball), I saw I could go." And go Logan did, beating the last defender the final couple of yards to the front corner of the end zone.
Good thing he did. After struggling all night to get into the end zone, including once on a fourth-and-a-foot and twice more from inside the 15, the Jaguars got on the board four minutes later with senior Brendon Tye taking it the final yard after a long drive with 4:29 left.
"It means a lot to beat them," Verax said, "I wouldn't expect anything less. They're a great team."
Cooper's Borchers agreed about what it means. "Down 14-0 with our young kids, we could have packed it in."
But they didn't, even if the Jags weren't able to get back to the level they played at last week in a 19-10 win over Dixie Heights.
"It's a big game and they've had our number," Borchers said of the 15-game series where the youngest Boone school, Cooper, has won just three times. But that's not an easy climb. The first year Cooper had varsity football in 1998, it lost to all three Boone County opponents by a combined score of 167-15.
"Our defense played lights-out," Borchers said. "We're going to take this stuff and learn from it . . . and the sun's going to come out tomorrow."
FOOTNOTED: One of the pleasures of getting out to high school games is the chance to see old faces you haven't caught up with in years. Two of those were on the Cooper sidelines, each with a son on the Jaguars' roster. Shane Beckett is the director of operations for Cooper and an athlete we got to write about back in the day. His son Lucas is a junior Jaguar. Shane was a 1000-yard rusher at tailback for Owen Hauck's powerful Boone County teams in 1982 and 1983 . . . and Tom Gamble, who founded the In-Games Sports organization that created and manages all the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown games after getting the sports business and management program started at NKU, was there for son Nathan, out with a broken finger until next week. Tom worked for us at The Kentucky Post while in college . . . Also in a look to the future: Boone County and Alabama alum and NFL great Shaun Alexander's nephew, Austin, is a freshman tight end/defensive lineman who sees considerable action for Cooper on defense.
-- Dan Weber
-Jason Finnell, RCN contributor
Beechwood has bulldozed its way through the first three games of 2021, outscoring opponents 133-0, and continued its early dominance Friday evening in Fort Mitchell vs. Somerset, 49-0.
Reigning Kentucky Mr. Football, Cam Hergott, put the Tigers on the board early with a 68-yard touchdown run on Beechwood’s first play from scrimmage. The Briar Jumpers' second play of its drive featured running back Guy Bailey being swarmed under by Beechwood defenders, a sign of what was to come for the duration of the game.
After the visitors were forced to punt, the Tigers took over inside the Somerset 40-yard line.
On second-and-five at the 32, Hergott rolled to his right and found Tanner Jackson streaking past Briar Jumpers defenders for a 32-yard touchdown reception and a 14-0 lead for Beechwood three minutes into the opening quarter.
Somerset was unable to convert a Tigers unsportsmanlike penalty into momentum on its ensuing possession, as quarterback Josh Gross fumbled the snap but fell on it, losing six yards on a third-and-five at midfield. But punter Christian Whitis pinned the Tigers back on their own three and held them to only four yards on a short carry by Avery Courtney.
Somerset had decent field position to begin their next possession and drove the ball inside Beechwood’s 20, however a 28-yard field goal attempt was wide left and kept the Briar Jumpers scoreless into the second quarter. As often occurs in football, the opponent capitalized on the deflation of an offense’s missed opportunity. On first-and-10 from their own 20, Hergott hit Parker Mason and the receiver outraced everyone into the end zone for a quick 80-yard score and 21-point advantage for Beechwood.
Things began to spiral out of control for the Briar Jumpers, as the Tigers regained possession once again only two plays into Somerset’s drive, as Keaton Durrett intercepted Gross, giving the Tigers only 23 yards to go. A keeper up the middle by Hergott followed by Courtney bulling his way to the two, put Beechwood in position for another touchdown, this time a run by Torin O’Shea.
After another Somerset punt, the Tigers continued to play add on and spread the wealth, this time a five-yard TD reception by Liam McCormack.
With 3:14 remaining before halftime, Beechwood was only a point shy of a running clock, 35-0.
A new half did not equate to better luck for the Briar Jumpers, as Gross was picked off again on their first drive by Mason and he had his second touchdown of the evening, this time on defense. Mason’s 35-yard interception return gave Beechwood a 42-0 margin.
The Tigers would put their final points on the board after stopping Somerset’s Hayden Dick of a first down after the Briar Jumpers fourth-and-eight try. Like it had done all night, Beechwood immediately cashed in. From its own 41, Hergott floated a screen pass to Mitchell Berger and the junior did the rest, 58 yards to cap a dominant night for Beechwood.
And the fourth quarter had not yet begun.
Despite Tigers starters now resting, the Briar Jumpers could not find the end zone. Somerset came within two yards as the clock ran out, but was stopped short, mercifully putting an end to a nightmare and a long bus ride home for the purple and gold visitors.
Beechwood travels next Friday to Simon Kenton, while Somerset takes on Paintsville, whom the Tigers defeated in week two.
Campbell Co. 7
The Bluebirds continue to soar in the early days of the Coach John Sphire era, improving to 3-0 with an easy victory over the visiting Camels. Highlands is now 3-0 on the season and will cross the Ohio River next week to face Archbishop McNicholas in Cincinnati. Campbell Co. falls to 1-2 after dropping its second straight game, and will look to rebound next week at Cooper.
Lexington Catholic 34
Covington Catholic 27
The visitors spoiled Covington Catholic's home-opener in a shootout in Park Hills. Lexington Catholic remains undefeated through three games as the Colonels fall to 1-2. Cov Cath stays at home next Friday, welcoming Dixie Heights.
Holy Cross 12
See a photo slideshow from the game below. Scott took care of business at Holy Cross on Friday night, improving to 2-1 on the year. The Eagles fly home to Taylor Mill next week for a date with Conner. The Indians are 1-2 on the season and visit Bishop Brossart in Alexandria next week.
Grant Co. 21
Since opening the season with a loss to Scott, the Bearcats have put up 82 points in their last two games and now stand at 2-1 before next week's home game against Newport Central Catholic.
Providence (In.) 21
The Juggernaut offense is living up to its name, scoring 93 points over the last two games and improving to 2-1 on the year. Lloyd travels to Boone Co. next week.
Dixie Heights 42
The Colonels put up a win at their first home game of the season and now stand at 2-1. Next week, Dixie visits Cov Cath. Conner (1-2) hosts Campbell Co. next week.
Boone Co. 14
The Bulldogs doubled-up their hosts in Florence on Friday night to improve to 2-1 on the season. Holmes hosts Newport next week. Boone Co. (1-2) hosts Lloyd next Friday.
Pendleton Co. 0
This game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols and Newport was awarded the forfeited win for the Wildcats' first victory of the year. Newport (1-2) visits Holmes next week.
Western Hills (Ky.) 6
The Greendevils have won two straight and are now 2-1 on the year ahead of next week's home game against Estill Co.
-Scoreboard compiled by Michael Monks