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Dan Weber's Just Sayin': Breaking Down NKY Football Stats Through Week 3

Dan Weber writes a column for The River City News. Contact him at dweber3440@aol.com.

Just a personal note here. After nearly two decades in Southern California and watching the evolution of high school football there from an Orange County home no more than five miles from Mater Dei, the nation's top prep program, I'd felt those teams had a terrific advantage. Or a number of advantages when it comes to the passing game.

They had the ability to play 12 months a year in good weather with all-star seven-on-seven teams and private quarterback coaches making six figures. It was going to be a tough challenge for anyone anywhere else to keep up.

And as far as team football, it's probably not happening. Mater Dei, for example, the only high school with a pair of Heisman Trophy-winning alumni (Notre Dame's John Huarte and USC's Matt Leinart) and the home of the starting quarterback at No. 1 Alabama (Bryce Young) and No. 2 Georgia (JT Daniels) - not to mention other SoCal QBs starting at Ohio State and Clemson - the sophistication of the passing attacks there seemed untouchable. Not to mention the talent of their receivers.

But I might be able to be convinced that it's getting a good bit better around here, despite the weather in November. My alma mater St. Xavier (Cincinnati) got it going a year ago with a pass offense that blew Ohio schools away on a romp to the state title and those guys are mostly back again.

And then there's what I'm seeing in Northern Kentucky. Sure, I knew Beechwood's Cameron Hergott was a returning Mr. Football as a fifth-year senior. But until you see someone, even if he is 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, if he's not listed on a national recruiting site like that of the 247 folks, the bible of high school prospects, he pretty much doesn't exist nationally.

But clearly Cameron Hergott should be listed among Kentucky's top 18 high school prospects by 247. Not sure why he's not. As a dual-threat guy with athleticism and competitiveness who can throw it, Cameron could play for a number of teams on the very fast track that is Southern California high school football. Thus far he hasn't had to throw it all that much for the dominant Tigers, unbeaten at 3-0 and with a 133-0 scoring edge over opponents. Cameron has had to throw it just 41 times in three games (completing 25, 61.0 percent) for 496 yards and eight TDs with no interceptions. He's also carried it 23 times for 339 yards (113 yards a game) and three TDs.

But the Eastern Kentucky commit is not alone. Highlands's Charlie Noon and Simon Kenton's Chase Crone, both juniors and 6-2 and 185, have live arms, no fear and also could play for a ton of big-time national programs. That they didn't get to the national camps, much as Hergott didn't a year ago thanks to Covid, hasn't helped their national profiles.

Noon is No. 4 in the state in passing stats with 33 of 52 (63.5 percent) for 552 yards and seven TDs against two interceptions in two games. He's also carried the ball 22 times for 197 yards and a TD. Simon Kenton's Crone, also an athletic, competitive playmaker, has had to face a tough schedule and not always great protection against the likes of Lexington Catholic and Highlands, but he's 45 of 86 (52.3 percent) for 763 yards, nine TDs against two INT in leading the Pioneers to 100 points. He's also carried it the ball for 143 yards and four TDs.

The early verdict: Northern Kentucky has a top quarterback crop that can spin it: JUST SAYIN'.

KEEPIN' UP WITH COVID

The final numbers for Covid-19 cancellations are in for last week, Week 3, of the 2021 Kentucky high school football season and the total was 30, the highest thus far. And for the first time this year, a Northern Kentucky school was impacted with Newport earning a 1-0 win over forfeiting Pendleton County. But the good news this week is that there are just seven announced Covid cancellations in the 109 games. The hope here is that Covid cancellations are a leading indicator for the pandemic: JUST SAYIN'.

FLYIN' HIGH IN FT. MITCHELL

Not that this will surprise anyone around here but the runaway leader in the Kentucky high school football statistics scoreboard after three weeks is an unbeaten - and unscored upon - Beechwood Tiger team, averaging 44.3 points per game. Beechwood is No. 7 in scoring in the state but after limiting its three opponents to zero points, it's No. 1 there just ahead of another Northern Kentucky school, the also unbeaten Bishop Brossart, which has allowed just seven points in three games - a 2.3 average.

*** SCORING MARGIN:  Beechwood's 133-0 scoring edge (a 44.3 margin) is also No. 1 while Brossart's 28.0 margin (91-7 edge) is No. 19.

*** TEAM RUSHING: The lone Northern Kentucky team - and maybe a bit of a surprise - is Covington Holmes, No. 11 with an average of 315 yards (946 total) in three games while giving up just 143 total - an average of 48, good for No. 10 in rushing defense. Shouldn't be a surprise that a team that runs the ball well also defends it.

*** TEAM PASSING: Highlands is No. 6 with 794 yards (265 average) and Simon Kenton (No. 9 with 763 yards, a 254-yard average) lead here. No surprise. 

*** TEAM PASS DEFENSE: Brossart tops Northern Kentucky at No. 19 allowing an average 45 yards per game. Boone County (allowing 48 yards a game) and Scott (50) are Nos. 21 and 22.

*** TEAM SACKS: Newport is the lone local team in sacks with a 4.5 average.

***  FORCED FUMBLES: Holmes is all alone in the Top 25 with six in two games.

*** INTERCEPTIONS: Beechwood is No. 10 with a 1.7 average per game with Ryle, Scott, and Highlands all tied at No. 13 with a 1.3 average.

So as much as schedule is a big determinant here, even this early in the season, stats don't lie all that much. The best teams tend to do the best: JUST SAYIN'. 

BEECHWOOD, HOLMES, HIGHLANDS, SIMON KENTON TOP INDIVIDUAL STATS

We've already reviewed the individual and team passing stats leaders above but as for the top rushing numbers, it's not all the marquee programs. 

*** RUSHING: Holmes' Tayquan Calloway has racked up 455 yards in 56 carries in three games (an 8.1 average) for the No. 12 spot in the state. Ludlow's Braxton Newborn, with 262 in 32 in two games, has an 8.2 average, good for the No. 31 spot. Brossart's Jed Martin (389 yards in 57 carries, a 6.8 average) is No. 34.

*** RECEIVING: Simon Kenton's Chase Williams, with 23 catches in three games for 428 yards and four TDs, an 18.6-yard average and 1.3 TDs per game, is No. 4 overall. Highlands' Jacob Welch has 16 catches in three games for 299 yards, an 18.7 average and three TDs, good for No. 15.

*** SCORING: Brossart's Jacob Leicht is tied for No. 18 with 16 points a game. Holy Cross' Javier Ward is tied for No. 40 at 14.0 ppg.

*** PAT: Beechwood's Jake Conrad, with 19 of 19, is No. 2. Highlands' Davis Burleigh is 15 for 15 and tied for No. 8.

 *** FG: Cooper's Drew Warth, with two in three games, is No. 12. Highlands' Davis and Simon Kenton's Andrew Petty are tied for No. 23 with one each.

*** TACKLES: Cooper's Jack Lonaker, with 42 in three games (14.0 average), is No. 6. NewCath's Kwintin Gilliam, with 38 in three (12.7 average) is No. 16.

*** SACKS: Beechwood's Xavier Campbell is tied for No. 5 with five in three games, Newport's Robert Sanders is No. 15 with four in two games and Bellevue's Zach Noonchester is No. 20 with three in three.

*** FUMBLES FORCED: Holmes' Damian Green, with three in three games (two recovered) is No. 6. 

*** INTs: Ryle's Nathan Yowan leads a group of five here and is No. 7 with two in six games for 61 yards and a TD. Right behind him at No. 8 is Scott's Cameron Patterson with two for 18 yards. Others with two in three games are Beechwood's Brett Holladay and Campbell County's Nathan Smith.

-- Dan Weber

Photo: Holmes faced Newport Central Catholic in Week Two (Brian Frey/RCN)