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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Playoff pairings set for Highlands, NewCath football teams


By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The playoff matchups have been set for the Highlands Bluebirds and Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football teams.

Both will be top seeds in their respective classes and favored to win state championships. Highlands (8-1) is going for a Kentucky record six in a row and 22nd overall and NewCath (5-4) hopes for its second in three years and fifth overall.

The Bluebirds won their 16th district championship in 17 years smashing the rest of Class 4A, District 7 by a combined 232-59 with one shutout. The only close game came Sept. 21 in a 35-21 win over the Covington Catholic Colonels.

Newport Central Catholic was never seriously challenged in Class 2A, District 6. The Thoroughbreds outscored the other four opponents, 219-32 with two shutouts. NewCath has won eight straight district championships.

Highlands could play host in the first four rounds of the playoffs if some things fall into place. The Bluebirds play host to District 8 fourth-seed Boyd County (4-5).

Boyd County defeated Greenup County, 47-7 on Friday to make the playoffs.

Highlands dominated the Lions, 63-7 last year in Fort Thomas en route to the state championship. This will mark the second meeting all-time between the schools.

That winner will face either Ashland Blazer (8-2) or Covington Holmes (5-4) in the second round. Blazer lost to Johnson Central, 22-21 in the District 8 title game Friday and Covington Catholic beat Covington Holmes, 49-28 to win the second seed out of District 7.

On the other side of the backet, Johnson Central (8-1) will play host to Harrison County and Covington Catholic (7-2) will face Rowan County (4-5). If the Bluebirds and Johnson Central both advance to the third round, Johnson Central will play host. But if Highlands and Covington Catholic both make the third round as expected, Highlands will play host.

The winner of the fourth region will play host to the winner of the third region in the state semifinals. That could be District 5 winner Lexington Catholic or runner-up Boyle County or District 6 winner Russell County (9-0) or Knox Central (8-1). Russell County beat Knox Central, 35-19 for the district championship in Barbourville on Friday.

The Warren East Raiders (9-0) still look to be the favorite to play in the state title game. The Raiders knocked off Breckinridge County, 49-0 to wrap up District 2 on Friday.

In 2A, NewCath will face Gallatin County (5-4) in first-round rematch from last year. The Throughbreds trounced the Wildcats, 56-0 in the first round last year. The winner takes on either Owen County (5-4) or Covington Holy Cross (3-6) in the second round.

On the other side of the bracket, Walton-Verona (7-2) won District 5. The Bearcats (7-2) take on Newport (3-6). The winner gets either Lloyd Memorial (7-2) or Carroll County (6-3).

If both Walton-Verona and NewCath advance to the third round, the Thoroughbreds will play host. That winner will most likely battle Somerset (7-2) or Danville (7-2) in the state semifinals.

Top-ranked Owensboro Catholic is a favorite to come out of the other side in the state title game. The Aces moved to 9-0 with a 64-8 win over McLean County on Friday. NewCath dominated Owensboro Catholic, 42-0 in the 2A title game in 2010.

Both teams conclude the regular season with non-district contests. NewCath plays host to Beechwood (6-3) at Newport Stadium at 7 p.m. and Highlands travels to Ryle (3-6) at 7:30 p.m.

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