By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Head Coach Eddie Eviston and the rest of the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds coaching staff made one thing clear to their football team after Tuesday’s practice.
They were not going to let the Thoroughbreds become complacent after breezing through Class 2A, District 6. Fourth-ranked NewCath responded with its biggest win of the season scoring 34 straight points to beat the rival Beechwood Tigers, 34-14 at Newport Stadium on Friday. Both teams finished the regular season 6-4 overall. The Thoroughbreds ended the regular season with four straight wins.
“If you are a champion, and you are a winner, then you’re just going to love the fact that you can go out there and compete on Friday nights,” Eviston told the Cincinnati Enquirer before the game. “It shouldn’t matter what the situation is.”
This marked NewCath’s first win over Class 1A’s fifth-ranked Beechwood since 2009 and first since Eviston took over as head coach in 2010. The Thoroughbreds have still won five of the last seven meetings and moved to 13-23 all-time against the Tigers.
The two Northern Kentucky powers used to battle for district titles in the old four-class system prior to 2007. Beechwood has 11 state championships and NewCath has four.
The difference in the game came in yards per play. NewCath averaged 7.9 yards a play on 48 plays and Beechwood averaged 3.6 yards a play on 69 plays. The Thoroughbreds gained 16 first downs, 215 yards rushing and 163 passing for a total of 378 yards to 18 first downs 174 yards rushing and 74 passing for a total of 248.
Senior Dylan Hayes once again had a phenomenal game for the Thoroughbreds. He gained 170 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns for an average of about 7.4 a touch. Hayes has rushed for 20 touchdowns this season.
“It was a good game for all of us,” Eviston told the Enquirer. “We faced a tough defense, and some very good linebackers, but Dylan ran hard and the offensive line did a great job of making those holes up front for him.”
The Thoroughbreds mixed in some balance with the passing game. Quarterback Josh Cain completed 9-of-16 passes for 163 yards, including a 51-yarder to Mason Myers. Mac Franzen added three catches for 36 yards for NewCath.
NewCath wanted to shut down Beechwood standout tailback Max Nussbaum. The Thoroughbreds held him to 67 yards rushing on 31 carries for 2.2 yards a touch. He quarterbacks the Tigers out of the Pistol formation and completed just 6-of-17 passes for 74 yards.
“Our guys just went after it (Friday),” Eviston told the Enquirer. “We may have bent a little bit, but we never broke.”
Beechwood led 7-0 after the first quarter. Nussbaum scored from nine yards out.
But the Thoroughbreds took the lead for good in the second quarter. Cain had a 1-yard touchdown run and Hayes scored on a 26-yarder to put NewCath up 14-7 at halftime.
The Thoroughbreds extended the lead to 20-7 after the third period. Brady Thacker scored from eight yards out.
Hayes added two more touchdowns in the final stanza to put the game away. They came from six and two yards out.
The Tigers scored their final touchdown in the fourth quarter. Joe Studer scored on a 10-yard run.
NewCath opens the playoffs this Friday at 7 p.m. against the Gallatin County Wildcats. Gallatin County is also 6-4, but has not played the tough schedule that NewCath has faced.