NKY Football: Scott Advances Over Holmes; Cov Cath Downs Highlands Again; Scoreboard
The first round of the high school football playoffs is in the books. RCN's Dan Weber has a full report from Covington Catholic ending Highlands's season; Contributor Jason Finnell and photographer Brian Frey were at the Scott-Holmes game where the Eagles avenged a late regular season loss to advance. Those stories, photos, and the full scoreboard are below.
Covington Catholic 38, Highlands 8
Dan Weber writes a sports column for The River City News. Contact him at email@example.com.
The last time these old rivals played in the regular season three weeks ago, Covington Catholic escaped Ft. Thomas with a one-point victory.
On a blocked field goal, at that, for an 8-7 win over Highlands that didn't feel like a win. Didn't feel like it at all. It felt like the Colonels got lucky. That was the word on the street.
"We wanted to prove it wasn't just luck," CovCath quarterback Preston Agee said after leading the way once again as the Colonels aimed for their sixth straight win.
So here was Highlands, coming in at 5-5 in a season Bluebirds fans felt might be their turnaround time under first-year coach Robert Sphire, who had a great recent run in Georgia.
Only it was the Colonels who came into the opening round of the Class 5A district playoffs in Park Hills Friday with revenge on their minds. That one-point win wasn't who they were, wasn't really representative of the team they were coming to be, the team they wanted to be, they told themselves.
You could see it. CovCath coach Ed Eviston could see it. "I saw it when you came out at 6 o'clock to warm up," he told his guys after the postgame prayer. "You were laser focused."
And that laser was focused on a young Highlands team that was overwhelmed from the get-go in a CovCath 38-8 romp that the Colonels dominated from the start, outgaining Highlands 187 yards to 13 in the first half despite leading just 10-0 at intermission.
They may not be all that "balanced," CovCath's Eviston says, with the way the ground-and-pound Colonels have developed behind run-first quarterback Agee and his sidekick, Reid Hummel -- "Bonnie & Clyde" -- Agee calls the two of them. But it's who they are.
And no matter what you call the pair who combined for 298 yards rushing on 39 carries (Hummel, 154 on 18; Agee, 144 on 21), they're becoming effective as heck if CovCath's 30-point win is any indication.
Agee got things going with a 46-yard burst just 1:36 into the game that saw him clear a big Highlands blitz up front and then realize there was no one else to beat. After an Eli Nally 19-yard field goal to end the half after CovCath had squandered a drive to the Highlands 2, Hummel exploded one in from the 26 to make it 17-0.
But it's not his speed that the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Hummel surprises you with. At his weight, he'd better be quick. But no, the thing that sets Hummel apart is how tough he is. He knocks people down. He runs through them. He runs over them. He pops people.
"Something like that," he says with a little grin when you note how he likes to do the hitting, not the other way around. "We've started to find ourselves," he says of his Colonel team that opened 2-3 and is now 8-3.
As to the difference in the two Highlands games, "We knew we could play 100 percent better," he said, "We knew it was time . . . just come out and play better."
But know who you are. "You're figuring out your identity," Eviston says of the midseason move to the quick-footed 6-foot-2, 175-pound Agee as the focal point of the run-it-right-at-'em offense.
Two ways that has impacted his team. "Playing together is what it's all about," Eviston says for starters. Oh, that and playing tough.
"Physicality," Eviston says. "A couple of weeks ago we made it a focus . . . if we have some things click, we can put points on the board."
They did here, rolling up 453 yards of offense to Highlands' 160. And they did it by playing keepaway, piling up another incredible time-of-possession advantage -- 37:58 to 10:02, much as they did last week against Ryle.
"When you have an O-line like ours, it's hard not to run the ball," Agee said. "Our offensive line was great," Hummel said. "They're just moving people," Eviston said.
But next week, they don't have to move from Wooten Field. "We've got that home field advantage," Agee says of the excitment of playing the first two playoff games of his career at home.
And they'll get a Conner team they beat 27-7 on the road two weeks ago after Conner's 14-3 upset of second-seed Cooper.
Despite the CovCath victory, Highlands still leads this 73-game series 48-25. But no question the Colonels measure their program against Highlands. So much so that CovCath's famed student cheering section, the "Crazies," serenaded the Bluebirds with the first Christmas carol of the season.
"Silent night, Holy night, . . . " they sang as the clock ticked down to zero in the chilly atmosphere that seemed more like late December.
Scott 35, Holmes 8
What a difference two weeks makes. Scott bounced back from a 40-point shutout loss against Holmes on October 21, to payback the Bulldogs in a big way on its home field in the first round of the state 4A playoffs, 35-8, Friday evening in Covington.
The Bulldogs offense appeared poised to pick up where it left off vs. the Eagles on that Thursday night in Taylor Mill as Tayquan Calloway raced down the field sixty-one yards to put Holmes in position to get on the board first. One play later, Curtez Hill found the end zone from nineteen yards out for a Bulldogs touchdown and an 8-0 lead following a successful two-point conversion. But unlike their previous meeting when Holmes piled on, the Eagles countered when it mattered most on the night a loss meant your season was over.
Spreading the ball around to his receivers Cam Patterson, Riley Huff, Nolan Hunter, and handing the ball off to Bennie Hill, Nate Meyer, the Eagles ensuing drive determined the Eagles’ fate in their first-round playoff rematch vs. the Bulldogs. Senior quarter Gus Howlett was bailed out on second down and eleven, throwing into three Holmes defenders at the goal line but his pass fell harmlessly to the turf and out of their grasp. As he scrambled to find an open receiver on the Eagles next play, running left, then back right near the sideline, he found a hole and dove toward the end zone, pulling his team within one, 8-7. Holmes’ ensuing drive covered forty yards with the majority of carries to Emauryon Arnold, but it stalled out in Scott territory, as the Eagles defense stuffed a fourth-and-two run attempt up the middle. Following their defensive stop, Hill’s first down carry to the 44-yard line put the Scott offense in great position to add on to its momentum.
Howlett then found Huff over the middle at the Bulldogs 33 and a new set of downs. Two plays later, he found himself scrambling again to find an open receiver and raced down the left side, squeezing across the goal line near the left pylon for a 35-yard TD and a 14-8 advantage into halftime.
Scott’s defense kept the strong running game of Holmes at bay all night and continued to do so in the second half, forcing it to punt after the Bulldogs were unable to move into Eagles territory on its initial drive of the third quarter. With the ball back, Scott looked to carry over its momentum starting with Hill, as the senior running back took a screen pass out to near midfield. Hunter then turned a 10-yard reception into a 43-yard catch-and-run down to the Bulldogs three-yard line.
Howlett called his own number on two-consecutive unsuccessful attempts to burrow his way into the end zone, but his third try was successful, and Scott led 21-8, with 5:42 remaining in the quarter. The Eagles defense bent but did not break, keeping Holmes’s offense from gaining any momentum on what turned out to be its best chance to cut into the margin in the second half. Hill found daylight around the left side for a 25-yard gain to begin the Bulldogs drive.
Calloway’s carry added ten more yards and a first down and the Bulldogs seemed to be in business for the first time since the game’s early moments. Quarterback Miguel Garcia’s keeper down the Holmes sideline added fifteen yards to the drive. Carries by Arnold and Hill advanced the ball inside the twenty, but Holmes stalled out there. On fourth-and-three from the Eagles 16-yard line, Calloway’s run up the middle was stopped a half yard short of the first down and Scott took over, putting the game away as the quarter wound down. After an offensive holding that set Scott back five yards to its own ten, Howlett lofted a screen to Meyer, who outraced Bulldogs defenders eighty-six yards to the end zone and a 28-8 lead with 10 seconds left in the third.
Now down by three touchdowns, Holmes’s offense turned the ball over to Scott on multiple fourth down attempts and fumbled deep in its own territory giving Scott another score as it picked up the loose football and crossed the goal line. Ahead 35-8 and time winding down, the Eagles sideline was in a celebratory mood, sensing the impending victory and redemption from two short weeks ago.
When it faced the Bulldogs in Taylor Mill, “A lot of kids weren’t healthy but this week we had 99% of those kids back,” Eagles offensive coordinator Greg Hacker said. “We’ve been preaching all year, step it up for four quarters. That’s the blessing that we’ve had: How hard these kids worked; during the offseason and how hard they worked during the season and dealing with some of the adversity…The seniors (leadership) did a great job.”
Scott continues its 4A playoff run vs. Harrison Co. which it faced in week seven, a 35-14 victory. That game will be in Taylor Mill. Holmes concludes its season at 8-3.
Brian Frey's photos are in the slideshow below
The Greendevils snapped a three-game losing streak to topple Ludlow on the road in the opening round of the Class 1A playoffs. Dayton (5-6) will visit Newport Central Catholic (8-3) next week (the 'Breds beat Bellevue on Thursday night). Ludlow's season ends at 3-8.
Bishop Brossart 14
The Mustangs are still perfect at 11-0 this season, but their visitors from Paris gave the home team its biggest scare yet. Avoiding the upset, Brossart moves on to the second round in Class 1A and hosts Nicholas Co. next week.
Holy Cross 35
The Indians are hot at the right time, winning three of their last four games, to improve to 4-7 on the year in advancing to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs. It was on Oct. 22 that Lloyd easily bested Holy Cross, but the story in Erlanger on Friday night was different. Holy Cross plays at Beechwood next week. Lloyd's season ends at 3-7.
The Tigers are still untouchable, easily running away from Newport in Ft. Mitchell on Friday. Beechwood (11-0) will host Holy Cross in Class 2A's second round next week. Newport ends its season at 4-8.
Owen Co. 21
The Bearcats extend their win streak to six games in easily besting their visitors in Class 2A's opening round. Walton (8-3) hosts Carroll Co. next week.
The Cougars avenged an earlier season loss to the Jaguars to advance to the second round in Class 5A. Conner (7-4) plays at Covington Catholic next week. Cooper's season ends at 7-4.
Simon Kenton 0
Dixie Heights 38
The Colonels have racked up three straight wins and advance to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs. Dixie (7-4) plays at Ryle next week. SK's season ends at 2-9.
In Thursday's playoff games:
Newport Central Catholic beat Bellevue, 36-20 in Class 1A. The Thoroughbreds are 8-3 and host Dayton next week.
In Class 6A, Ryle beat Campbell Co., 35-7. The Raiders host Dixie next week.
Scoreboard compiled by Michael Monks, editor & publisher