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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Opening at Newport Pavilion

The long waited addition to Newport Pavilion's anchor tenants, Chick-Fil-A, has a trailer at the location near Carothers Road, with a sign stating that the restaurant is "Opening Soon."

After posting this picture with the caption, "Who's Excited?!" garnered over 100 "likes" and 44 comments  on our Facebook page (14 being negative about the chicken retailer moving in), I'm not going to get too political about anything on FTM. 

I like their chicken and I'm happy they are moving to our area. Per one of our Facebook fans, the franchisee is a Fort Thomas resident as well. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Holmes outlasts NewCath, 12-7

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds fell 12-7 to the Covington Holmes Bulldogs on the road Friday.

NewCath (2-4 overall) played well defensively allowing just 210 yards of total offense. But the Thoroughbreds only punched the ball in the end zone once.

It came in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Josh Cain threw a 41-yard score to Mac Franzen.

Holmes moved to 4-2 to match last year’s win total. The Bulldogs finished 4-7 last year losing 66-20 at Johnson Central in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.

Cain completed 15-of-35 passes for 178 yards and three interceptions. Franzen had four catches for 94 yards.

Younger Highlands players taste Friday Night Lights

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

CYNTHIANA – The Highlands Bluebirds football team’s coaching staff likes to use games like these to get the reserves on the field and evaluate them.

They saw plenty of action in the second half with the Bluebirds leading 42-10. Some made their mark in the 69-10 Class 4A, District 7 victory over host Harrison County.

“It gets exciting as a young guy,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “You’ve been playing freshmen and JV. When you get in a varsity game, you’re just fired up to play. But it’s still all the same stuff. That’s how guys getting better. They play a full freshmen schedule and a full JV schedule.”

The Highlands junior varsity generally plays Saturday morning and the freshmen often play at 6 p.m. on Thursdays. The junior varsity and freshmen plays the likes of Cincinnati Moeller, Covington Catholic, Ryle and Louisville Trinity. The junior varsity is 3-2 and the freshmen are 4-2.

Two sophomores carried the ball twice each on Highlands’ only four intended running plays. Josh Watson had a 20-yard run and James Grau scored a touchdown from two yards out in the fourth quarter.

“It feels great preparing for next year,” said Sam Little, Highlands junior offensive linemen. “That’s what football is all about – just getting better.”

Like most opponents, the Bluebirds wore down the Thorobreds with their depth. The Bluebirds do not have players playing on both sides of the ball.

Highlands has 91 players on its roster and Harrison County has 32 including 18 freshmen. The Bluebirds do not dress any freshmen for varsity.

Different Surface:
Highlands plays on turf at David Cecil Memorial Field. The Bluebirds played on grass at Harrison County. Highlands admitted it was an adjustment.

“We were slipping everywhere,” said Brad Veley, Highlands sophomore defensive lineman. “They were used to it so their backs got more of an advantage to get around us. We needed to have wider feet and get lower to cause piles to stop them. That is what helped us toward the end.”

The eye-popping numbers continue:
A week after its slimmest margin of victory in 14 points (35-21) over Covington Catholic, Highlands recorded its largest margin of victory of 59 points by a point over its previous high of 58 in a 61-3 win over Mason County. The Bluebirds’ margin of victory is about 33.8 points.

Highlands unofficially has 3,009 yards in total offense. That averages 501.5 yards a contest.

Scouting  rest of Class 4A:
Highlands is one of four teams in Class 4A still undefeated. Three teams are 7-0 in Russell County, Knox Central and Warren East. Russell County and Knox Central could face off for the District 6 championship and possibly challenge Boyle County and Lexington Catholic for a spot in the state semifinals.

Lexington Catholic is 6-1 with its only loss coming to the Ensworth Tigers, a private school on the west side of Nashville. Ensworth is Tennessee’s two-time Division II-AA state champion. Tennessee separates schools that offer scholarships into Division II and those that don’t into Division I.

Ashland Blazer and Johnson Central lead District 8. Johnson two Central has been just fine despite the graduation of the state’s all-time leading rusher in J.J. Jude. Possible challengers to Warren East in the state semifinals are North Oldham, Collins and Lone Oak.
Highlands faces Pendleton County to continue district action Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.

Highlands thrashes Harrison County, 69-10

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

CYNTHIANA – Once they channeled the energy properly, the Highlands Bluebirds football team rolled to another victory.

Highlands scored more points against Harrison County than any opponent ever had in a 68-0 victory in Fort Thomas last year. This year’s Bluebird squad topped it by a point in a 69-10 victory here Friday.

Top-ranked Highlands stayed unbeaten at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 4A, District 7 action and Harrison County remained winless at 0-6 and 0-1. The five-time defending state champion Bluebirds have won 26 in a row and moved to 79-2 since the start of 2007. The win also guaranteed their 57th consecutive winning season dating back to a 4-5-1 campaign in 1955.

Highlands outgained the hosts, 532-163 in total offense. The offensive line blocked well on all but five plays when the Thorobreds sacked the Bluebird quarterbacks for minus-36 yards.

The Bluebirds intended to pass the pigskin on all but five plays. Senior quarterback Donovan McCoy guided the offense in the first half completing 18-of-22 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Drew Houliston took over in the second half and completed 10-of-13 passes for 160 yards.

“They were really sending a lot of pressure so screens were there,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “We wound up throwing more screens than we normally would and gained a lot of yards with them.”

McCoy and Houliston completed passes to 11 different receivers. They often found themselves with a lot of green grass in front of them. Jensen Feggins and Brandon Hergott had four catches and two touchdowns each. Feggins had 129 yards receiving and Hergott 81. Ryan Donovan and Luke Brockett had four catches a piece for 76 and 69 yards respectively.

“It frustrates (defenses) a lot, but it just shows we can run the ball and pass the ball at the same time,” Feggins said. “It benefits us well. If our passing isn’t working, our run game is there for us.”

Harrison County threw for just 69 yards. Quarterback Robbie Stroub completed 7-of-16 passes for that total with no interceptions.

“We played the deep third (defense),” said Grayson Heck, Highlands sophomore defensive back. “We just kept everything in front of us and did not give up any big plays.”

Highlands overcame two turnovers in the first quarter to lead 21-3 after that stanza thanks to three quick scores. The Bluebirds recovered a Thorobred fumble and appeared headed to the end zone for their first defensive touchdown of the year. But they spiked the ball at the Harrison County 2 out of the end zone for a touchback giving the Thorobreds the ball at their 20.

“Sometimes, things just happen,” Mueller said. “Guys just get a little carried away.”

After McCoy hit Colin Seidl for a 37-yard score after a short Thorobred punt, Highlands forced another three-and-out. The Bluebirds drove the Thorobred 22 before throwing an interception.

But the Bluebirds took over at the Thorobred 2 after a Harrison County turnover. They scored quickly when McCoy found Justin Weyer from two yards out.

Highlands answered a Harrison County field goal quickly. The Bluebirds took the opening kickoff to the Thorobred 49 and Feggins took a pass over the middle 49 yards to the house.

The Bluebirds extended the lead to 42-10 at halftime allowing the younger players to get some playing time (see side story). Feggins scored on a 56-yard touchdown and Jac Collinsworth had a 14-yard touchdown reception. After Justin Hunter returned that kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, Nick True responded with a 39-yard touchdown reception for Highlands.

The Bluebirds forced the running clock with 5:42 remaining in the third. Hergott hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Houlston.

It did not take long for Highlands to score again when Joe Paolucci recovered a Thorobred fumble. Brockett scored on a 27-yard pass from Houliston. The Bluebirds led 55-10 after three quarters.

Highlands scored 14 more in the fourth. Hergott recorded his second touchdown reception from 19 yards out and James Grau scored on a 2-yard run off the right side.

The Bluebirds did well in kicking extra-points. Brockett hit all eight extra-point attempts and Highlands failed on the run on a high snap of the other attempt.

The Thorobreds did have some success running the ball out of their I-formation and split backfields rushing for 94 yards on 37 carries to minus-13 on nine carries for the Bluebirds. Zach Mastin led Harrison County with 70 yards on 13 carries.

“I think they’re a well-coached team,” Mueller said. “They’ve got some stuff that they do well and they stuck with it. I think Harrison County is a football team that’s going to keep getting better and better. They have some young guys that are going to be fired up, be coachable and do well.”

Highlands faces Pendleton County to continue district action Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.

Friday, September 28, 2012

5 Things to Know about Bowman's Framing

This past weekend Fort Thomas celebrated its local businesses with the Merchants and Music Festival.  Fort Thomas Matters sincerely enjoys promoting local business any way we can, so we reached out to a local entity to feature in our next installment of “5 Things to Know”.  Bowman's Framing is a reliable and reputable business on North Fort Thomas Avenue specializing in frames and mattes.  I contacted the president, Ken Bowman, to gather some interesting information that our readers should know about our local framing business more than two decades in the making.

·          Bowman's Framing has a total of four employees (including me) and none have less than ten years of experience working here.
·          Bowman's Framing started here in Fort Thomas in 1988 and will celebrate 25 years in March of 2013.
·          Bowman's Framing gladly does in home or office consultation to arrive at the best solutions for the spaces.
·          Bowman's Framing is also a gallery that represents some great area artists.
·          Many of our repeat customers routinely drop off their work and simply trust us to make all the decisions on framing choices.

If you need a frame for a particular piece or want to explore the gallery that Bowman’s Framing has to offer it is located at 103 North Fort Thomas Avenue, and their website can be found here:

Early congratulations to Ken and everyone at Bowman’s Framing for their 25 years of excellent service in Fort Thomas.

Do you know a business or topic that should be featured in our “5 Things to Know”?  Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

Van Damme It's Friday (Walk to School, School Lunches, #BeatColonels, Old Media)

My man Van Damme, pounding some Coors Light. FTM is not a sponsor for Miller Coors.... but we could be. 

- Superintendent Gene Kirchner checked in with Fort Thomas Matters regarding walk to school day. This is what he said:
The walk to school marquee has to do with encouraging students to be active and fit while reducing pollution and waste due to driving. It is something that our middle school health teachers have embraced and is part of a national initiative. I believe that staff members are also taking part by walking to school with students from various locations. While reduced traffic is not the primary goal, it would certainly be side benefit. 
- On that same note, FTM also checked in with Gina Sawma, Food and Nutrition Director at Fort Thomas Independent Schools. She's going to give us a rundown next week of how Highlands lunches throughout the district has changed recently.

I had seen a funny spoof on YouTube from students at a Kansas high school, remaking FUN's, "We Are Young" into "We Are Hungry." In the video, students take a stand that the federally instituted lunch guidelines are just not enough food.

Highlands students have more options than most kids in high school around the nation, as they still have the privilege for going off campus for lunch, but I think mandating what you can eat and what you can't is the start of a slippery slope.

Here's the video:

- Highlands continues to #BeatColonels. Highlands Soccer defeated Cov Cath and former HHS coach, Jeremy Robertson 1-0 last night at Tower Park in front of a raucous crowd. Highlands won their 3rd game in a row and improved to 9-6-2 on the year. Cov Cath fell to 11-5-2.

If you haven't yet, remember to click on the sports tab at the top of the Fort Thomas Matters to check in with G. Michael Graham's updates. 

- DDAY for online enquirer access is Monday, October 1. It's kind of like Y2K. Not sure how it'll change, but everyone is bracing for the worst. Who's pumped to pay to view content online? I know I'm psyched.

- What's Fort Thomas selling on Craigslist?
It's UK. Check. 3x? Hmmm. Mens or Womens? Double Hmmmm.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mama on a Budget: Artscapade

As much as I love scrubbing paint out of my living room rug, as much as I love scraping clay remnants out from between my floorboards, and as much as I love rubbing the skin off my fingers on the wrong end of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, I love it even more when someone else does it for me.  I am an artist, no doubt about that.  I was a graphic designer by trade previously; you know, the art with no mess.  So, I really want to instill the love of art in my children but I really hate how messy it can be.  Enter Artscapade; a children’s art class held in the Shaw Lane home of Fort Thomas resident Tanith Smith.

Tanith is an art lover herself: graduate of The Art Institute of Phoenix and former graphic designer (what-what) working for various non-profits, architectural firms, and advertising agencies in the southwest; and she is a mom.  Her son acted as her “art helper” and seemed to share his mom’s love for crafts and “get your hands dirty” art projects.  The session Knox and I attended focused on the classic Eric Carle book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and after reading the story we made a craft showing the caterpillar (colored poms and googly eyes) surrounded by sponge paintings of all of the various foods he ate.  Knox really enjoyed this craft and, especially, doing it with all of the other kids.

We did finish the craft in the first 35 minutes which was fine for two-year old kids and so we spent the rest of the time talking with the other moms while our children played and Tanith offered us coffee.  Mommy and Me classes are once per week for a six-week session and cost $65 total which is a bit pricier than most opportunities I highlight in this column space but for an art class with all of the supplies involved, seems reasonable to me.  Although this session has already started, Tanith said it is not too late to enroll for a discounted price and she has $5 coupons at various Fort Thomas businesses such as Blue Marble and Fort Thomas Coffee.   There will be another Mommy and Me session beginning after the holidays.  She also has sessions for older children, up to age 12 and hosts birthday parties.
All of her information can be found on her website at  So make your next escapade, an artscapade!

NewCath prepares for battle with improved Holmes

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Coming off its most complete game of the year, the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team faces another potential challenge from a bigger school in non-district action.

The 2-3 Thoroughbreds travel to Covington to face the improved 3-2 Holmes Bulldogs on Friday. The Bulldogs time finished 4-7 last year in Terry Liggin’s first season. They finished third in Class 4A, District 7 behind Highlands and Covington Catholic before losing 66-20 at Johnson Central in the first round of the playoffs.

Holmes defeated Scott and 1A power Beechwood to open the season before losing on the road to two undefeated teams in Simon Kenton and Cooper. They opened district action with a 64-7 win at Pendleton County on Friday.

The only common opponent is 6-0 Simon Kenton. The Pioneers beat the Bulldogs, 31-7 on Sept. 7 in a game called at halftime because of lightning. Simon Kenton held off NewCath, 28-20 at Newport Stadium eight days later in a game the Thoroughbreds had a chance to tie before fumbling at the Pioneer 5 on 4th-and-2 with less than two minutes left in the game.

“(The Bulldogs) have very good talent and speed,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “It looks as if they are buying in (to Liggins) and they do some things really well.”

Holmes’ quarterback is Rashawn Colston. Their main offensive threats are running back Jonathan Scruggs and wide receiver Desean Peterson. The NCC 4-4 defense will face a Holmes offense that runs unorthodox Wing-T and Spread sets. The Bulldogs have a Diamond shotgun package where two running backs line up next to Colston and another behind him.

The Bulldogs are outscoring opponents by an average of 25-20.6. Conversely, the Thoroughbreds are outscoring the opposition, 31-23.8. NewCath has yielded 745 yards rushing and 783 passing for an average of 305.6 yards a contest.

NewCath runs a spread offense. The Thoroughbreds average 348.4 yards per contest offensively behind a good offensive line. They’ve run for 843 and passed for 899 yards offensively. Dylan Hayes leads NewCath with 523 yards rushing on 78 carries with eight touchdowns for an average of just more than 6.7 a carry.

“We’re getting a lot better at blocking,” said Steve Schneider, NewCath senior offensive right guard. “We’re getting healthy and knowing the formations and who to block is making us better. The (offensive) line has had two good days (of practice) this week – a lot of energy.”

NewCath quarterback Josh Cain has completed 68-of-108 passes for 899 yards and eight touchdowns to 11 different receivers. Mac Franzen leads the Thoroughbreds with 23 catches for 442 yards and two touchdowns. Pete Collopy and Tyler Lyon also have two touchdown receptions for NewCath.

Defensively, Franzen leads the team with two interceptions. Teammate Mason Myers has two fumble recoveries.

Eviston said the injury situation is the about the same as last week. Several key players are back but still nursing a few things with three or four players still out for a while.

“It’s that time of the year, the heart of your season, in which teams just have to grind,” Eviston said. “I honestly believe the teams that can practice well right now and truly focus on their task at hand will be the teams that will be the most competitive at the end of the year. We are preaching that as much as possible to our kids, and even though we have our moments, our kids are working hard.”

Game time is 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ft. Thomas Hump Day Notes (Walk to School Day, Mark v. Food Episode VI, Police Scanner)

- On the way home from dinner Sunday night, I jumped out of my truck at Highlands to the chagrin of my bride. I wanted to snap a quick picture of the Highlands Middle School marquee that was boasting October 3rd as Walk to School Day. 

Perhaps the traffic situation at the middle and high schools are just not getting better despite the Superintendent's efforts. FTM has an email into him to clarify and will update our readers as soon as we hear back.

- The 6th episode of Mark vs. Food is scheduled for Friday, October 12 at Quaker Steak and Lube in Florence. They are opening next week (October 3rd) and will host a challenge with myself, FOX19's Frank Marzullo and Miss Kentucky, Amanda Mertz, representing Kentucky in the Miss Universe circuit.

The challenge is one I've never encountered. It's not timed and doesn't involve me eating as much as I possibly can. This challenge, dubbed the Atomic Hot Wing Challenge, consists of eating only 6 wings. The challenge component comes into play because the sauce covering the wings are supposedly 40 times hotter than a jalapeno. Sounds fun, right?

Just like any other challenge, my mantra will continue to be, "It's all for The Brighton Center. It's all for The Brighton Center. It's all for The Brighton Center."

Check in with Frank's Facebook Page and Amanda's Facebook Page to give them some words of encouragement. 

Segueing from one hot sauce to another, probably one of my favorite tents at Merchants and Music was Dark Star Hot Sauce - which can be found locally at Cobblestone Cafe. They had a ghost pepper chili sauce, which was awesome.

I know Darrin touched on it, but the whole festival was really well run and the number of businesses there was really cool. I was surprised how many people in Fort Thomas and surrounding communities, still didn't know when the festival was, however. If they continue to run smoothly, though, I'm sure that will remedy itself through the years.

- Finally, if you have an iPhone - one of the cooler apps I've downloaded recently has been Police Scanner+. I've had some friends tell me during the plane crash, they were able to listen to the communication between departments, dispatch and officers.

Since then, I've had it on a few times. Every few minutes you'll hear how a traffic stop is handled. Kind of interesting to hear what it sounds like from the other end.

Just don't use it while in your vehicle. Per one of my attorney buddies it's against KRS 432.570.

Highlands continues District 7 action at Harrison County

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It is a tale of two football teams at completely opposite ends of the Class 4A spectrum.

The Highlands Bluebirds sit pretty at 5-0 overall and 1-0 in District 7 action following a 35-21 win over Covington Catholic on Friday. Class 4A’s top-ranked squad owns a 25-game winning streak and is 78-2 since the start of 2007. The Bluebirds average 51.8 points, 7.4 touchdowns and 492.8 yards of offense per contest. Highlands’ average margin of victory is 28.8 points.

Highlands travels to Cynthiana on Friday to face a struggling Harrison County Thorobreds football team that has a new head coach in Jim Carr. Harrison County is 0-5 coming off a bye week. The Thorobreds average just 12.6 points and 213.4 yards a game.

Highlands won last year’s contest 68-0 and this year’s result could be similar based on two common opponents in Scott County and Mason County. A week after Highlands handed 2011 Class 6A state runner-up Scott County its only loss this year 60-37, Scott County manhandled Harrison County, 61-6. Mason County beat the Thorobreds, 37-22 on Sept. 7 before coming to Fort Thomas and losing 61-3 to the Bluebirds a week later.

Highlands just has to be itself to win this game. The Bluebirds wear teams down with their depth. They don’t plan to take their feet off the gas pedal even though they are heavy favorites. Teams often get upset when that happens.

“One thing about us offensively and defensively is we’re geared to adjust to whatever the other team is doing,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “This week is getting ready for Harrison County, but really, it is a lot more so getting better as a football team. Even (Tuesday at practice), we put our ones against our ones working on making blocks and getting off blocks.”

With their spread offense, teams don’t know if Highlands will pass a lot, run a lot or use a balanced attack on a weekly basis. The Bluebirds have run for 1,457 yards and passed for 1,007.

“It just says we’re a group of guys that work really hard to do a lot of things,” said Justin Weyer, Highlands sophomore wide receiver. “We have a lot of confidence in Coach Mueller that he’ll come up with great schemes to help us win the game.”

Highlands senior quarterback Donovan McCoy leads Highlands with 441 yards on 62 carries with 10 touchdowns for an average of just more than 7.1 a touch. Teammate Zach Harris has 392 yards on 66 carries with eight touchdowns for an average of just less than six yards a touch. Ryan Donovan, Colin Seidl and Jaylen Hayes have rushed for at least 168 yards for the Bluebirds.

McCoy has also completed 63-of-105 passes for 919 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fourteen different receivers have catches for Highlands. Luke Turner leads the way with 12 for 217 yards and Seidl has nine for 136. Nick True, Ryan Greene, Turner and Jac Collinsworth have two touchdown receptions a piece for the Bluebirds.

The Highlands defense is allowing 23 points per game but has improved in recent weeks. The Bluebirds just have to watch the trick plays. Covington Catholic and Scott County burned them for scores on those trick plays. Quentin Murray and Blake Schutte lead Highlands with two interceptions each.

“You just have to play your key better,” Schutte said of defending trick plays. “If you know what you need to do, things will play out right. We’re trying to get better and better.”

Harrison County has rushed for 628 yards and passed for 439. Deshon Talbott has 376 yards rushing on 47 carries with four touchdowns for an average of eight yards a carry. Quarterback Robbie Stroub has completed 26-of-55 passes for 354 yards. Harrison County’s leading receivers are Justin Hunter with 11 catches for 123 yards and LeeRonte Roberts with 10 catches for 205 yards.

Teams are scoring an average of 44.6 per contest against the Thorobreds. Robert Pawley has one interception for Harrison County.

“They play a very attacking defense,” Mueller said. “Mason County had a tough time getting the ball off against them. They were sending six, seven or eight guys regularly. With it being a new head coach, we’re not really sure what they’re going to wind up doing against us. We’re going into the game prepared for anything.”

Game time is 7:30 p.m. in Cynthiana.

Coaching Clarification:
After the win Friday against Covington Catholic, Mueller said to call himself and Brian Weinrich co-head coaches. The roster lists Mueller as Head Football Coach and Weinrich as Assistant Head Coach.

The two consult each other on a lot of aspects of the program. Mueller makes a lot of the decisions on offense and Weinrich does the same on defense.

Mueller took over the program in 1994. Weinrich joined the staff a year later and has been the Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator for 10 years.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Plane Crash In Fort Thomas


Tom Morrison, who witnessed the crash and called 911, gave us his first hand information on our Facebook page:

Small Cessna came in somewhat parallel to the river around 9:25pm. It appeared to have lights but no obvious engine noise. It barely stayed outside and cleared the hill behind the soccer field on River Road. It couldn't get over the next hill between River Road and Sergeant. The crash wasn't much louder than the fireworks and no explosion so it wasn't apparent anyone else realized it. Police-Fire responded quickly when we called 911 but the steep wooded hillside was likely difficult. Last we heard they were able to get two people out by 11pm with amazingly limited injury, but that is not 100% confirmed.

So I'm minding my own business. Per the usual. Just took in Jo Dee at Merchants and Music. Hanging at The Pub and I see blue lights a blazing on River Road. I think it's probably got to be something to do with the festival.

Then the whispers start.

"Someone called the police because there were fireworks at Riverbend, they heard the boom, saw a plane flying low and called in a plane crash."

As the night went on, it started getting pieced together.

River Road closed. Somewhere between River Road and Tower Hill a plane went down at around 11:30 PM. 2 people in the aircraft. Apparently not hurt. I'm sure we'll have more as the story progresses.

Merchants & Music A Success

This is what I had in mind when I wrote posts like this about what the amphitheater could be or about the importance of programming to the success of the investment made in Tower Park.

The format, programming, and community and business engagement in the festival this year was excellent.  The weather was great (at least until the sun went down).  The use of the amphitheater as the centerpiece of the festival was a great touch. One great benefit was that it provided seating for all festival-goers but kept the sound of the festival manageable for having conversations either with merchants or friends.

The kid zone with inflatables and kid related vendors was awesome and the food was fantastic.  Mio's had very affordable options, and there was pull pork and burritos.

Overall a very good event and the format was excellent.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Highlands Defense Holds Up In Win

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds knew they’d be facing their toughest challenge defensively this season.

The Covington Catholic Colonels came into town having outscored their four Kentucky opponents, 166-6. Senior Colonel quarterback Blake Bir completed 82-of-144 passes for 1,315 yards and 17 touchdowns entering the contest.

But the Bluebirds contained Bir and company in the 35-21 win. That started with the offense grinding things out on the ground and keeping the Colonel offense off the field.

Bir completed 12-of-17 passes for just 132 yards with one interception and three touchdowns. Matt Summe led CovCath with three catches for 63 yards.

“We just show up every day and keep getting better,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “We’re not worried about stats or points. They’re buying into what we’re doing. Our guys up front did the job. We got a lot of pressure (on Blake Bir).”

The Colonels only rushed for 105 yards on 25 carries. Bir’s brother Luke led the way with 54 yards on six runs.

“They have so many playmakers,” Weinrich said. “I love watching their offense on film as a fan. We just tried to play smart, communicate and get after it.”

The Colonels enjoyed the lead briefly in the first quarter. Bir found Ethan Egbers from two yards out on 4th-and-goal with 2:40 left in the first quarter. That drive was set up when Adam Fischer returned a Highlands punt to the Bluebird 23. Highlands’ Ryan Greene saved a touchdown with an open-field tackle on the return.

The Colonels later tied up the game in the second on a reverse-throwback pass. Bir found Matt Summe wide-open on the play to tie the game at 14 with 4:02 left in the half.

Highlands Dominates Cov Cath (with video highlights)

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Following a week of the usual hype that saw even some well-known figures get into the act, it was time to decide things on the football field.

The result proved similar to the last seven meetings between the two Northern Kentucky powers. The Highlands Bluebirds showed they are still the team to beat in Class 4A with a 35-21 win over the arch-rival Covington Catholic Colonels on Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium in the District 7 opener for both teams.

Highlands moved to 78-2 since the start of 2007 including 8-0 against CovCath. The Bluebirds (5-0 overall, 1-0 district) have won 25 in a row and 43 straight at home.

The Bluebirds did it once again with their offensive versatility. They played quick-strike football the first four games. But in this contest, Highlands moved the quick Colin Seidl into the backfield and grinded things out from many different angles in the victory and kept CovCath’s potent offense off the field.

“It is a great defense,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach, of the Colonel defense. “They have a lot of starters back and we have a lot of respect for them. We felt the run was there and we have a pretty versatile offense so we went with that.”

The Bluebirds ran the ball 61 times for 291 yards for an average of just more than 4.77 a contest. Quarterback Donovan McCoy led the way with 29 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown. Seidl finished with 86 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown and Zach Harris had 75 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.

“This was absolutely our toughest challenge yet defensively,” McCoy said. “They held us to the least amount of points we’ve scored all year. We came in and were expecting to run the ball like we did.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday (Tent Sale, Contests, Jared Lorenzen)

 My man is looking Dapper for Van Damme Friday today. 

- Best Furniture is having a two day tent sale starting today and ending tomorrow (Sept. 21 and 22), which is the biggest savings event in their history. They are selling a lot of items below their cost. Here's your chance to get quality furniture at Ikea costs. 

Tell them Fort Thomas Matters sent you, guess their square footage and you could win $200 no strings attached. 

If you can't get to the store, like their Facebook page here for a chance to win an additional $150. 

- Hope you have your tickets and popcorn ready. The Highlands/Cov Cath game is going to be a doozy. If you didn't get tickets, we'll be live tweeting updates during the game. Our twitter handle is

- FOX19 had a great piece on the rivalry, which aired Wednesday. I thought Joe Danneman's take (below) was interesting. 

- Jared Lorenzen made some headlines this week as he and former University of Kentucky assistant and current Offensive Coordinator at Florida exchanged some pregame trash talk.

- What Fort Thomas is selling on Craigslist. Because you never can be too safe. Especially when driving past a squirrel.

Highlands/Cov Cath: The Showdown in Caketown

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The date of Nov. 11, 2006 seems like ages ago.

The Highlands Bluebirds ventured to Covington Catholic and fell 25-15 in the second round of the Class AAA playoffs. The Colonels won the state championship weeks later in the final year before the Kentucky football playoffs expanded to six classes.

But since then, it has been all Blue and White. The Bluebirds have racked up seven consecutive over their arch-rivals going 77-2 since that day just more than 70 months ago. This includes two victories last year, 42-39 at CovCath in the regular season and 42-14 in Fort Thomas in the state quarterfinals en route to a fifth straight state championship. Highlands increased its all-time record to 41-17 against CovCath with those two wins.

The atmosphere at David Cecil Memorial Stadium should again be rocking Friday when the two Northern Kentucky football powers meet again. The Bluebirds enter the game with a perfect 4-0 mark and the Colonels come in at 4-1 in the Class 4A, Region 4, District 7 opener for both squads.

Covington Catholic’s lone loss came on Aug. 31, 27-11 at Cincinnati La Salle of the Greater Catholic League South Division. The Lancers used stellar defense to win the game and scored when senior defensive back Jaleel Hytchye intercepted CovCath quarterback Blake Bir and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown.

La Salle forced four Colonel turnovers in that game. Freshman running back Jeremy Larkin returned a punt 65 yards and defensive back Lemuel Weyer picked up a fumble and brought it back another 10 yards for two more Lancer touchdowns.

Playing in big games is nothing new for either squad. During the 77-2 run, Highlands also has huge wins over Greater Catholic League South powers Cincinnati Elder and Cincinnati St. Xavier. The Bluebirds opened the year with huge wins over Boyle County and Scott County. Since losing 60-37 in Fort Thomas on Aug. 24, Scott County has won three in a row over Harrison County (61-6), Madison Central (41-16) and Tates Creek (71-13) to move to 4-1 overall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

NCC/Brossart Preview


Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team may still be favored to win another Class 2A, District 6 crown.

But they don’t plan on the other four teams handing it to them. That’s why they’ve always played a tough non-district schedule.

NewCath’s four non-district opponents are larger schools. NewCath faced three teams from Kentucky’s largest Class 6A, District 6 and another from Ohio Division III – Ohio’s third-largest class.

The Thoroughbreds finished 1-3 against that schedule. They lost two decisions by less than 10 points against Cincinnati McNicholas and Simon Kenton and lost 42-16 to Campbell County all after opening with a 37-22 win over Dixie Heights.

“High school football is all about the experience for these players,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “We are not helping that experience if we are not playing good, competitive football. I think our kids understand that our schedule offers the chance to play big, competitive schools and that we have to be at our best, and practice at our best in order to win those games. These games identify our weaknesses and strengths better than say an ‘easier’ opponent. Thus, it will only help us as we move forward.”

NewCath hopes that starts with Friday’s game at the Bishop Brossart Mustangs. Brossart is also 1-3 entering the game and on a three-game losing streak. The Mustangs started varsity action in 2007. They opened with a 42-20 win at Middletown (Ohio) Christian before losing to Bracken County, Dayton and Pendleton County.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Highlands Girls Soccer Double Duty

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Photo by G. Michael Graham: Five Highlands seniors play soccer or either cheer or dance. They are, from left, Taylor Roy, Courtney Wiseman, Jesse Daley, Alli Foellger and Ally Laycock.

During the week, a number of Highlands Ladybirds are making runs, keeping the ball out of the net or marking defenders on the soccer pitch.

Then on Friday nights, you can find them cheering Class 4A’s top-ranked Bluebirds football team. There are five from this year’s senior class trying to balance that act. The three cheerleaders are goalkeeper Jesse Daley, defender/midfielder Taylor Roy and defender Ally Laycock. The two members of the dance team are defender/midfielder Alli Foellger and defender Courtney Wiseman.

All three sports demand a lot of time. Daley said a typical Wednesday is school, cheerleading from 3-5 p.m., soccer from 6:15-6:45 p.m. then she goes to work in the church nursery until 9 p.m.

“It’s a lot of running around and I have to be really organized because I live out of the district so I have to make sure I have my clothes for all the stuff I do,” Daley said. “It’s really hard to keep up with multiple sports and school, but it’s really worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for sleep or anything.”

In addition to both sports, Foellger dances three times a week at LeDance Studio. She takes regular dance and competition lessons at the studio.

“No matter what, I don’t have both sports every day,” Foellger said. “It’s a lot of time and effort. It’s worth it though because I wouldn’t like if I didn’t do one or both.”

Highlands/Cov Cath Rivalry Playing Out on Twitter

I can't believe this Highlands teacher didn't give partial credit on this. Via Twitter.

Image being sent around Twitter via Covington Catholic students.

It's no secret FTM has been on the new media/social media bandwagon for a while now. Twitter is probably my go-to source for breaking news, more so than anywhere else. Sure, you have to occasionally wade through the "look-what-I'm-eating tweet" or "look-how-cute-my-dog/baby-is tweet" but when something breaks on twitter, you're almost forced to ride the wave of information.

You can find me on twitter at @MLorenCollier.

After the final whistle sounded in their respective games this past weekend, Highlands and Cov Cath immediately moved their collective attentions to their matchup on Friday. There's definitely no love lost between the two schools, and students at both institutions have taken to Twitter to build up momentum for the game.

A quick Twitter tutorial for those who haven't made the jump yet:

A "hashtag" on Twitter is a clickable and searchable phrase that accompanies someone's thoughts on a particular tweet. By putting an asterisk at the beginning of the hashtag, Twitter collects all of these phrases and groups them together in order to see what everyone is saying
about a particular subject.

For instance, if I were going to tweet about Fort Thomas Matters, I might say something like: Fort Thomas Matters just had 3,500 page views today. #FortThomasMatters

Now, if you were to search twitter and click the hashtag #FortThomasMatters, you could see
any time anyone had mentioned #FortThomasMatters.

Highlands students are using the hashtag, #BeatColonels. Football team members, the student body, even ESPN analyst Merril Hoge and University of Cincinnati guard, Cashmere Wright, got into the act.

I think it's a pretty cool way to show team spirit throughout the student body and the community.

Cov Cath has taken it a step further, however. You'd think the natural response would be #BeatBluebirds, right? Nope. We're a PG website and it's very NSFW, so you'll have to search it yourself via my twitter, but their hashtag is #F---Highlands.

Classy, huh? I'm glad our coaches, teachers and students have a little more respect than that. Bravo, kids. Stay above the fray.

If nothing else, it adds a little more spark to this already heated rivalry. Highlands leads the all-time series 41-17.