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Saturday, September 29, 2012

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.

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