By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
COVINGTON – The Highland Bluebirds football team’s defense faced a spread offense for the second consecutive week.
But it was a different spread look. The Covington Holmes Bulldogs came out in the Diamond spread look unlike the traditional one-back formation that Pendleton County employed last week.
The Bulldogs lined up either quarterbacks Desean Peterson or Frederick Vickers in the shotgun and had two running backs beside them and one behind them in an offense similar to what the University of Nevada employs. Six different players ran the ball for Holmes, who came in without injured quarterback Rashawn Coston.
“Basically, we just had someone key the quarterback and watch his every move,” said Jehad Henderson, Highlands senior linebacker. “When he ran to one side, you came at an angle and tried to (tackle) him the best you could.”
Holmes finished with 289 yards total on 52 carries and a touchdown for an average of 5.6 a carry running out of the Diamond many different directions. Jonathan Scruggs led the way with 187 yards on 21 carries for an average of 8.9 a touch. He also had a touchdown reception of 16 yards and a 79-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Scruggs put Holmes on the board with a 16-yard touchdown reception from Frederick Vickers. After Ryan Greene scored a touchdown for Highlands, Scruggs returned the kickoff back 79 yards for the touchdown to cut the Bluebird lead to 36-14. The Bluebirds kicked the ball short after that point and did recover a kick in the final minute of the game.
“It was not so much us onside kicking it as we were trying to keep (the ball) away from (Scruggs),” said Dale Mueller, Highlands head coach. “He’s one of the most dangerous backs we’ve faced all year long.”
Scruggs broke free for his third touchdown with 10:35 left in the fourth. He broke outside and scored on a 91-yard scamper. Holmes’ last touchdown came with 2:20 left when Vickers completed a 14-yard touchdown to Peterson.
The Bluebirds punted for the first time in a few games. Senior J.C. Mettens had three boots for 88 yards and an average of 29.3 a boot. That was near his average. He came in with 10 punts for 295 yards. Mettens admits he can do better kicking the ball.
“My punts haven’t been that good against teams we usually don’t punt against,” Mettens said. “In a big game, I can actually kick the ball (far). It’s more about not looking at the scoreboard. Every game is important. Even in games that are not close, I still need to pull through.”
Before the season, Highlands came in with 828 wins good for the most in Kentucky in school history and second in the country behind 869 of Valdosta High in southern Georgia.
The Bluebirds have 836 wins and have gained some ground on Valdosta. The Wildcats are 3-3 with a tight 17-14 loss to nearby rival Lowndes County (Ga.) on Friday. The Wildcats have 872 wins overall.
Around the state in 4A:
The Bluebirds know they will be the top seed in the first round of the playoffs and face the fourth seed from District 8.
They will face either Greenup County or Boyd County. The two face off Friday to determine that. Both are 0-3 in district play.
Conversely, Ashland Blazer and Johnson Central meet Friday to determine the District 8 championship. Should Highlands and that winner advance to the third round of the playoffs, the District 8 winner would serve as host.
Over in District 6, Knox Central and Russell County stayed undefeated at 8-0 and will play for the district title on Friday in Barbourville. Russell County knocked off Clay County, 56-14 and Knox beat Rockcastle County, 47-14.
Both could face Boyle County or Lexington Catholic for a spot in the state semifinals. Lexington Catholic quarterback Kyle Bolin for the year with a torn anterior cruciated ligament. Bolin has verbally committed to play at the University of Louisville. The Knights are 7-1 and the Rebels are 4-4.
On the other side of the state in District 2, Warren East stayed undefeated at 8-0 with a 53-20 domination of Allen County-Scottsville. Both are in the same district with Franklin-Simpson, whom Highlands defeated in the 4A title game last year. Franklin-Simpson has a new head coach and is struggling at 2-6.