Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team felt like another one got away last week in a 12-7 loss at Covington Holmes.
The Thoroughbreds said part of the reason was a bad week of practice. The Thoroughbreds may be 2-4 overall. But they are still 1-0 in Class 2A, District 6 action and face the Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts on Saturday in a crucial district contest.
“I think our kids understand we need to practice better if we want to play better on Fridays,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “Our kids are responding right now. Obviously, things start to get real in district play. We hope our kids respond on Saturday afternoon.”
The Juggernauts come into the contest at 6-1 overall and 2-0 in district play. Lloyd Memorial has wins over Owen County, Dayton, Walton-Verona and Gallatin County and has lost to Garrard County in non-district action. The Juggernauts edged defending state champion Covington Holy Cross, 36-35 on Sept. 21 before beating Bishop Brossart, 28-0 last week in district action.
Of those seven opponents, only two are not in Class 2A in Dayton (1A) and Garrard County (3A) and only Walton-Verona (4-2 overall) and Gallatin County (5-2) have winning records. Those seven opponents have a combined record of 19-25. Lloyd Memorial has outscored those opponents, 228-145 for an average of about 32.6-20.7.
Bishop Brossart is the only common opponent between the two teams. NewCath beat the Mustangs, 58-0 on Sept. 21.
Aside from Bishop Brossart, the Thoroughbreds have played teams in bigger classes in Kentucky and Ohio. They’ve faced three 6A opponents, one 4A opponent and one from Ohio’s third-largest Division III.
NewCath has still outscored the opposition, 162-131 for an average of 27-21.8. NewCath’s six opponents are a combined 18-13 outside of Bishop Brossart’s 1-5 mark.
Lloyd Memorial will bring a spread offense attack against NewCath’s 4-4 scheme led by senior quarterback Dexter Smith and senior wide receiver Akintomide Mejolagbe. Smith leads the team with 576 yards rushing on 102 carries and 12 touchdowns for an average of just more than 5.6 a carry.
“He has good instincts,” Eviston said of Smith. “He’s the one that makes their team go, especially on the offensive side. Obviously, he’s someone who is circled on our scouting report. We know we have to contain him as much as possible.”
Smith has also completed 84-of-164 passes for 1,423 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Mejolagbe leads the Juggernauts with 31 receptions for 693 yards and four touchdowns.
The Thoroughbreds have battled through injuries on defense. Players like junior linebacker Jack Sutkamp have recently returned.
Defensively, Lloyd Memorial brings a 3-4 scheme against NewCath’s spread formation. Dillon Smith leads the Juggernauts with 20 tackles. Hayden Molitor has four interceptions and Zach Riddle two fumble recoveries for the Juggernauts.
On the other side, junior Ross Meek leads NewCath with 41 tackles. Also for the Thorughbreds, Mac Franzen has two interceptions and Mason Myers has two fumble recoveries.
Offensively, NewCath has outgained opponents, 2,003-1,738 in total offense for an average of 333.8-289.7. Dylan Hayes leads NewCath with 592 yards on 93 carries with eight touchdowns for an average of about 6.4 a touch even though defenses have keyed on him like crazy. Quarterback Josh Cain has completed 83-of-143 passes for 1,077 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. Franzen leads NewCath with 27 catches for 536 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think we’ve had a great week of practice,” Sutkamp said. “We’ve been working extra hard this week. Practices have been longer. We have to cleaning up to do offensively and I think we’ll be fine.”
Game time is 1 p.m. at Newport Stadium.