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Dan Weber's Just Sayin': High School Sports Rankings & Other Musings

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

The first RPI rankings for high school football this week don’t tell us everything since district play hasn’t really started – but they do tell us something. One thing that’s no surprise is that Northern Kentucky’s highest-rated team is unbeaten Class 2 A Beechwood (5-0), coming off a 27-7 win over 5A neighborhood rival Covington Catholic (2-3). The Tigers are No. 3 in 2A behind No. 1 Lexington Christian and No. 2 Mayfield, both also 5-0. 

In Class A, Bishop Brossart’s unbeaten Mustangs (5-0) top Northern Kentucky followed by district mates Newport Central Catholic (No. 13), Dayton (No. 18), Ludlow (No. 27) and Bellevue (No. 29).

Backing Beechwood up in Class 2A are No. 20 Lloyd Memorial, No. 25 Walton-Verona, No. 30 Newport and No. 31 Covington Holy Cross. 

With no local Class 3A teams, 3-1 Holmes comes next as the top 4A team here checking in at No. 12 behind the strong 1-2 pair of Boyle County and Lexington Catholic, both also 4-1. Behind Holmes in the far-flung District 6 are No. 13 Rowan County and No. 24 Boyd County with Scott the lone other local at No. 29.

The ultra-competitive Class 5A has No. 6 Cooper (3-1) topping locals behind No. 1 Woodford County. Then in order, here’s how District 5 shakes out with Highlands (No. 12), Covington Catholic (No. 13), and then a pair of Boone County teams on the rise who could settle the district’s fourth spot in a Friday matchup – No. 17 Conner and No. 18 Boone County, both 3-2.    

And finally, in big school Class 6A, you have Ryle (4-1) at No. 5 behind the likes of Louisville Male and St. Xavier at Nos. 1-2. And with Ryle hosting St. X Oct. 1, there’s a chance to move up for the Raiders. Next in line locally is No. 16 Dixie Heights with Simon Kenton at No. 21 and Campbell County No. 22.

But the shockers among the big school class ratings are the depths to which some of the power teams and towns have sunk. Winless Louisville Trinity (0-5) despite a record 27 state titles, is down at No. 28 and big Lexington schools Dunbar (1-4), Henry Clay (0-5) and Lafayette (0-5) are a combined 1-14 at Nos. 25, 29 and 32. Absolutely amazing how badly some of the state’s iconic athletic programs are performing . . . JUST SAYIN’.

RPI HAS NDA NO. 1

The only Northern Kentucky team at the top of any state sport this first week of the RPI rankings is the unbeaten (17-0-0) Notre Dame Academy soccer team, best among 199 girls soccer teams. The other team here is No 4 Highlands (9-3-0).

Among the 200 boys soccer teams, Ryle (11-0-2) is No. 4 overall in the state and tops locally behind No. 1 North Oldham. Highlands, Conner and Dixie Heights are Nos. 17, 19 and 20 respectively.

Among the state’s 273 volleyball teams, Conner (11-1) has moved into the No. 10 spot ahead of No. 11 Notre Dame (18-3) and No. 12 St. Henry (23-5) for top Northern Kentucky teams behind No. 1 Bryan Station.

Plenty of room and time for Northern Kentucky schools to close the gap at the top if they only will . . . JUST SAYIN’.

*** COMING ATTRACTION

Widely heralded Reed Sheppard, who averaged 30.7 points a game last year as a sophomore sensation at North Laurel High School, the son of former UK basketball stars Jeff and Stacey Sheppard, will make a Northern Kentucky appearance this season Friday, Feb. 11, against what should be a strong Covington Catholic team in Park Hills. The 6-foot-3 junior guard who can shoot it and pass it and do so with great basketball smarts and athleticism, has an offer from John Calipari and the Wildcats, and now UK fans here will be able to watch Sheppard in person, not just on video. Might be a good idea to get there early although maybe this is a game that by the time it gets here, is worth moving to NKU's BB& T Arena . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** KENTUCKY CONNECTIONS

When the eighth-ranked University of Cincinnati Bearcats head to South Bend next Saturday, Oct. 2, for their showdown against No. 12 Notre Dame, Covington Catholic alum and All-America tight end prospect Michael Mayer won't be the only Northern Kentucky product involved in the game. Coaching quarterbacks and passing game coordinator for the Bearcats will be Highlands alum, Ft. Thomas native and former record-setting UC quarterback Gino Guidugli. And his star pupil, a fifth-year senior listed on the extended Heisman Trophy candidate list, Desmond Ridder, is also a Bluegrass State guy. Ridder is from Louisville St. Xavier where he was Kentucky's top QB as a senior. Now he's the winningest quarterback in the NCAA's bowl subdivision. Whichever way you go, it's always more fun when you have a rooting interest . . . JUST SAYIN'.

*** NO LONGER ‘CAKE-EATER’ COUNTRY

Even for someone who grew up in Ft. Mitchell, maybe especially for someone who did, a drive by Saturday way back on Beechwood Road can be an eye opener. There were those majestic trees lining the quiet suburban street draped in toilet paper as Tiger fans celebrated their big win over Covington Catholic much the way you might see it in Auburn, Ala. after a big SEC football win. This is no longer the Ft. Mitchell of the classic saddle-shoe-wearing “cake-eaters” the way it was when we moved to Ft. Mitchell (South Ft. Mitchell in those days) way back when. This is football country with a state-of-the-art football complex anchored by a state-of-the-art weight room overlooking an artificial turf field in a natural bowl that can accommodate up to 3,500-4,000 standing room only crowd fans on a good night, which seems to be most nights for the Tigers these days. When we were kids, if you’d have told us Beechwood would have a Kentucky Mr. Football, no one would have believed you. And now, here we are, 15 state football championships later under three different coaches – Bernie Barre (1984), Mike Yeagle (eight from 1991 through 2004) and current coach Noel Rash (six from 2007 through 2020). Ft. Mitchell is now football country and the folks here seem mighty pleased about that . . . JUST SAYIN’.      

--Dan Weber