By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The last time the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team lost to its in-town rivals came during its last losing season.
That was 1999 when the Thoroughbreds finished 4-8 including a 42-0 season-opening loss to the Newport Wildcats in the battle for the Fireman’s Bell. NewCath has won 13 in a row since that year including twice in 2007.
The Thoroughbreds have also posted double-digits in the win column every year except a 7-6 campaign in 2009. During that run, the Thoroughbreds own three state championships, three state runner-up finishes and have been to the third round of the playoffs 12 consecutive seasons.
In the two meetings since Eddie Eviston took over as head coach, NewCath has outscored Newport, 110-27. This includes a 56-14 verdict last year.
NewCath comes into the game fresh off a 63-22 victory over Lloyd Memorial in Class 2A, District 6 action. The Thoroughbreds (3-4 overall) are ranked seventh in 2A and lead the district with a 2-0 mark. They want to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
“We’re just trying to take things one day at a time,” Eviston said. “We know we need to improve. We know we’re going to get Newport’s ‘A’ game. This game is circled on their schedule. It’s a pretty intense game. We hope we give them our best (effort) and come out with a W.”
NewCath has taken care of business in district action in recent years. The Thoroughbreds beat Bishop Brossart, 58-0 on Sept. 21. They’ve outscored both district opponents by a combined 121-22. The Thoroughbreds have won 21 in a row against district opponents in the regular season going back to 2006.
The Wildcats enter the contest 3-5 overall and 1-1 in district action. Newport has wins over Bishop Brossart, Dayton and Ludlow. The Wildcats opened with four losses. They beat Bishop Brossart, 54-8 last week and fell 42-13 to defending state champion Covington Holy Cross on Sept. 28.
Both teams run spread offenses and 4-4 defenses. NewCath has outscored opponents, 225-153 and outgained the opposition, 2,392-2,068 in total offense. Senior Dylan Hayes has 765 yards rushing on 108 attempts and 11 touchdowns for an average of just under 7.1 per carry.
Hayes ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns against Lloyd Memorial. The Throughbred offensive line opened up big holes in that contest.
“Our offensive line has been working really hard,” said Matt Lenz, NewCath junior center. “Coach (Eviston) told us it was going to be our game up front to lead the team and that’s exactly what we did. It’s a mental thing. We work on blocking until Coach (Eviston) blows the whistle. It’s no different in the game.”
NewCath quarterback Josh Cain has completed 92-of-157 passes for 1,202 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Mac Franzen leads the Thoroughbreds with 31 catches for 614 yards and four touchdowns. Hayes, Pete Collopy and Dan Ruwe also have at least 10 catches for NewCath.
Defensively, NewCath has 14 players with 20 or more tackles. Junior defensive lineman Ross Meek leads the way with 46. Franzen leads the Thoroughbreds with two interceptions and Mason Myers has two fumble recoveries. Myers also returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown against Lloyd Memorial.
On the other side, the Wildcats have been outscored 248-193. Daylin Garland leads Newport with 453 yards on 76 carries and eight touchdowns for an average of just less than six a touch. He also has 13 catches for 350 yards and three touchdowns.
“Obviously, (Garland) is a playmaker and they’ll try to get the ball in his hands,” Eviston said. “We know that and we just have to prepare for that. They have a couple other talented kids that touch the ball. We have to make sure we know where they’re lined up.”
Six different Wildcats have thrown passes. JaShawn Short leads Newport with 560 yards completing 26-of-55 passes with four touchdowns and one interception. Robert Sharp leads Newport with 361 yards on 11 receptions and five touchdowns.
Defensively, David Franco leads Newport with 94 tackles. JaQuan Short has three interceptions for the Wildcats for a combined 142 yards and two touchdowns.