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NKY Football: Holmes Beats Newport - Analysis, Story & Photos; Full NKY Scoreboard

The River City News's coverage of Northern Kentucky high school football this week includes a column from Dan Weber, a game report from Jason Finnell, and a photo slideshow from Brian Frey who were all at the Holmes-Newport game (see photos at bottom of article). The full regional scoreboard is below.


Dan Weber writes a sports column for The River City News. Contact him at

It was my first World Series, and while I may have been a rookie on the Yankees beat in 1996, it didn't take long to learn that if you didn't spend too much time in the clubhouse before games, you could hustle out to the dugout 90 minutes before the first pitch and if you were lucky, get a seat next to Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer.

And you could talk baseball with the Cincinnati native who spent the entirety of his 65-year working career in professional baseball. He'd never earned a single paycheck doing anything else but play and coach and manage baseball. The onetime American Legion Baseball National Player of the Year from Western Hills High School, Zim had managed four Major League teams and played for six of them in his 12 years in the big leagues by the time Yankees manager Joe Torre asked him to sit next to him as his bench coach.

Talk about a life in baseball, Zimmer had been married (to his high school sweetheart) in a ceremony at a minor league field, had nearly been killed twice in beanball incidents (once having been left in a coma for 14 days) and when he finally retired, was one of just four surviving members of the legendary "Boys of Summer" Dodger team from 1955 that won Jackie Robinson his lone World Series title.

So there I was, talking baseball with Don Zimmer. But after a couple of questions, maybe it was my accent or lack of one, Zimmer asked me where I was from. Now I probably should have said "Northern Kentucky," but having been born in Covington and having last lived in Covington, I said "Covington, Kentucky."

Zimmer got this big smile on his face. A multiple-sport star in high school, he immediately responded with "Oh my gosh, the 1946 Covington Holmes football team killed us. That was the best high school team I'd ever seen or played against. They were that good."

It was a different time, for sure. That Bulldog team led by the legendary Tom "Big Daddy" Ellis in those post-War years was made up of men, not boys. Kentucky permitted returning servicemen with high school eligibility to play as long as they hadn't reached their 21st birthday.

Ellis himself, for whom the football field at Holmes, is named, was a bigger-than-life big teddy bear of a man. He'd played in the first college football game he'd ever seen when he arrived at Western Kentucky University. And at Holmes, he was the last of a breed, coaching all three major sports - football, basketball, and baseball and serving as athletic director at what was then one of Kentucky's biggest high schools.

Ellis would send players off to coaches like his close friend, Alabama's Bear Bryant, who signed two Holmes Bulldogs - Ron Bird and Al Lewis - the same year. Or baseball "bonus baby" Bob Barton, who would have a 10-year major league career as a catcher after turning down Kentucky's Adolph Rupp who had signed him to play basketball.

But that 1946 Holmes football team was so special that here was Mr. Baseball Don Zimmmer talking about it 50 years after having played against it.

Ben Nevels smiles and nods at the story, hoping that this year's team is moving in that direction after Friday's 38-8 home romp over a game Newport team that just did not have the athletes to keep up with this now 3-1 Bulldog team.

"Good win, good win," Nevels said as he participated in the dance-off celebration led by his senior fraternal twins Quantez and Tayquan Calloway, the Bulldogs athletic and agressive quarterback-running back duo.

"Winning is always fun," said Nevels, a special education teacher who's been working at getting Holmes football back since taking over in 2013. Led by the Calloways, Holmes will flat out come at you and you'd better be ready to tackle them.

"We know what we're good at," Nevels and his quarterback Quantez say in unison. "We're going to make you tackle us," the coach says. "Yes sir," his quarterback nods in agreement.

The basic theme on offense, Nevels says, "is to spread you out and then power run at you." It's no secret.

And now they've got a nucleus from their peewee football days with the Latonia Bengal Tigers, Quantez says. "We've all been together, 15 or 20 of us, since then."

That helps in a 4A Class that is mostly located downstate with only Scott in its district here. They have to handle the likes of Harrison County and Boyd County to move on in the playoffs.

This helps as well: "The ability to run the football "is going to travel," Quantez says. "We're not going to throw it."

Oh maybe "three or four times," Nevels says with a laugh, which is what they did Friday night in piling on a Newport team that had trouble holding on to the football with bad snaps and fumbles that gave a Holmes team that is Top-10 in rushing in the state plenty of chances to do just that.

Nevels says that he'd heard of some of the stories about those Holmes teams of Coach Ellis "but now I'm going to have to check into those more."

On this night, in a facility as good as any in Northern Kentucky, a Holmes team that dresses just 34 players and comes out with a laid-back vibe, got right to business with the Calloways splitting up 47 of the opening scoring drive before junior Curtez Hill powered it in from the 3.

The Calloways spit two plays -- a 32-yard Quantez keep and a 13-yard Tayquan burst through right tackle -- to make it 16-0 including a pair of two-point Quantez keeps for the PATs.

At 6-feet-2 and 200 pounds, Quantez is the hammer while the 170-pound Tayquan, at 6 feet, is the speedster with the ability to just keep his feet and legs churning as he totaled 140 yards in 16 carries.

A Newport snap out of the end zone for a safety made it 18-0 with 3:42 left in the first half before a Quantez keep had it 24-0 at halftime where the big attraction was a Covington policeman racing some of the younger kids on the track in front of the stands to the obvious approval of the crowd.

On the other side of the field in a game that featured a female linesman and a male Holmes cheerleader, both of whom did a great job and seemed to be having great fun as they did, there was a backyard picnic for fans observing through the fence. Two happy dogs, three kids playing touch football and eight adults around a picnic table could not have enjoyed this any more.

Hill upped the score to 32-0 to start the second half and when 215-pound backup running back Preston Perkins powered it in from the 9, it was 38-0 and time for a running clock to the finish.

With backups in the game, Newport took advantage with Davion Hayes going for 24 yards and then MyKel King cutting back through the entire defense for a 56-yard TD to end the shutout for the 1-3 Wildcats whose lone win is a 1-0 Covid forfeit over Pendleton County.

"No practice Monday," Nevels told his cheering kids. The Bulldogs have a bye week before returning to action in two weeks against Holy Cross.

"It's a great neighborhood rivalry," Nevels said with a smile at the football fun coming his team's way.

"The First High School in the Commonwealth," the sign says greeting all who drive down the entrance way to the Holmes campus of this historic school founded in 1853.

"We've turned the program back around," Quantez Calloway said as he headed off to celebrate with his teammates.

-- Dan Weber

Game recap by Jason Finnell

Holmes rolled over Newport Friday night in Covington, 38-8, its second straight big margin of victory after defeating Boone County last week by two touchdowns. The Calloway twins led the way, bookended by a teammate’s first varsity touchdown in the Bulldogs’ winning night.

Junior running back Curtez Hill put the Bulldogs on the board with a three-yard touchdown run midway through the opening quarter with fellow back Tay Calloway finding the end zone from 13 yards out with his twin brother and Holmes’s quarterback Tez Calloway, completing the two-point conversion for a 16-0 lead for the Bulldogs early on.

Newport quarterback Davion Mayes bobbled the shotgun snap and the Bulldogs recovered, giving it a short field to convert its second scoring play in a matter of minutes. Mayes and the Wildcats offense struggled to move the football all night and its special teams were also a part of the struggle. A handoff to MyKel King lost yards after he lost his footing trying to cut back up the middle, Newport was forced to punt.

Pinned on its own five, the snap to Wildcats punter Julian Maxwell sailed over his head and out of the end zone for a safety and an 18-0 advantage for Holmes.

On its ensuing possession, Calloway scrambled through the middle of the Newport line to the seven before offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on both teams stalled the drive but only for a moment. Two plays later, Calloway called his own number from three yards out for another Holmes TD and a 24-0 lead it carried into halftime.

Receiving the second half kickoff, Holmes continued its momentum at the conclusion of the first half, capitalizing on several Newport penalties, punching the ball in the endzone on a nine-play, 63-yard drive, capped off by a 14-yard touchdown by Hill.

The Wildcats pieced together several plays of eight yards and 18 yards and found itself inside the Bulldogs 40 on its possession, but ultimately went backwards and turned the ball over on downs as the quarter wound down with the score remaining a five-score advantage for Holmes, 32-0.

As the fourth began with the Bulldogs driving once again, a new Bulldog contributor added six points for the home team. Running back Preston Perkins received his first carry of the season, which happened to be a 10-yard touchdown, widening the margin to 38-0. With a running clock in effect the Wildcats offense, which had been stymied all night by the Bulldogs, finally broke the shutout, with a 56-yard touchdown run by King with under three minutes to go followed by successful two-point try. 

Holmes (3-1) has a bye next week while Newport (1-3) returns home to face Cincinnati College Prep Academy. 

-Jason Finnell


Conner 28

Scott 3

The Cougars bounced back from two-straight losses to win the night at Scott in Taylor Mill. Both teams are now 2-2 on the season. Next week, Conner welcomes Campbell Co. to Hebron while Scott travels to Grant Co.

Estill Co. 50

Dayton 8

The Greendevils were roughed up at home against an Estill Co. team whose only loss so far is a mutually canceled covid-related forfeit last week. Dayton (2-2) hits the road to Lexington next week for a date with Sayre.

Magoffin Co. 40

Bellevue 14

The Tigers continue their search for a first victory this season after another overwhelming loss. Bellevue (0-4) has been outscored this season 178 to 27. Next week, the Tigers greet Gallatin Co.

Paris 32

Ludlow 28

The Panthers were upended at home to fall to 1-2 on the season. Next week, Ludlow visits Carroll Co.

Holy Cross 0

Bishop Brossart 21

The Mustangs remain undefeated at 4-0 this season easily dispatching their guests from Covington, and scoring their third shutout in four games. Brossart has only given up a single touchdown so far this season. Next week, Brossart welcomes Lloyd to Alexandria. Holy Cross (1-3) travels to Newport Central Catholic.

Newport Central Catholic 23

Walton-Verona 14

Both the victorious Throughbreds and losing Bearcats are now 2-2 on the season. Next week, New Cath welcomes Holy Cross while Walton greets Boone Co.

Dixie Heights 8

Covington Catholic 24

Both sets of Colonel squads are now 2-2 after this game. Next week, Cov Cath travels to Beechwood while Dixie has nothing scheduled until Sept. 24 when Highlands visits Edgewood.

Beechwood 49

Simon Kenton 21

The Tigers gave up points for the first time this season but still managed to win in a rout of their hosts in Independence. Beechwood is now 4-0 and will play host to Covington Catholic next week in Ft. Mitchell. The Pioneers are still searching for their win and have nothing scheduled next week. On Sept. 24, Simon Kenton will travel to Connersville (In.).

DeSales (Louisville) 7

Ryle 49

The Raiders have piled up three-straight wins following their season-opening loss to improve to 3-1 on the year. Ryle visits Highlands next week. 

Highlands 21

McNicholas (Cincinnati) 27

The Bluebirds tasted defeat for the first time this year, falling in their trip across the Ohio River. Highlands (3-1) welcomes Ryle to Fort Thomas next week.

Lloyd 6

Boone Co. 26

Both squads are now 2-2 on the season. Next week, Boone travels to Walton-Verona while Lloyd travels to Bishop Brossart.

Campbell Co. plays at Cooper on Saturday at 7 p.m.

-Scoreboard compiled by Michael Monks, editor & publisher

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