Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama on a Budget: Fall Youth Sports


First off, sorry for the complete “radio silence” for the last few weeks.  I was on “holiday”; I was “summering”.  I was traveling the globe, so to speak . (OK, I was in Lake Mary, Florida visiting my mom but hey, a world-traveler can dream, right?).
I came back and read the last few posts and got nervous.  Michael has done such a great job keeping everyone up to date on the high school sports, I got concerned that we in Fort Thomas do not have a strong enough “feeder” program to keep Coach Mueller happy.  Fear not, I have compiled a list of upcoming sports and recreation opportunities in the city (links to applicable websites are at the bottom).  I’ll share my particular experience with YMCA soccer in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, I missed the cut-off for a community-led Junior Olympics that occurs annually in the area (this year it was at Newport Stadium on August 11) and for YMCA soccer (registration closed August 1 for the Fall) but keep these in mind for this time next year.  By all accounts (Facebook accounts, that is), the Junior Olympics was a great Track and Field Meet (ages 5-18) and medals were awarded to the top three finishers.  Additionally, the YMCA has a spring season for which you can register.
In addition to soccer, the YMCA also offers kick-boxing, a Fall basketball league, Tween Fit, and Fit and Fun.  The basketball league registration begins on September 1 for members but is open to non-members beginning on September 10 with registration closing on October 1.  The price is $44 for members and $88 for non-members.  I assume the league is run similarly to the soccer league (for which I am now a proud soccer mother- Knox gained early admission) and coaches are parent volunteers.  However, the emphasis with such a league is on “fun” which is, obviously, most important for three to six year olds.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mark vs. Food feat. Tricia Macke and Family Recap

By Mark Collier, Fort Thomas Matters Editor
-------------

"You've got a Bear, I've got a Saylor."

It was a a playful, but demonstrative declaration by FOX19's Tricia Macke, before the start of the 5th installment of Mark vs. Food at Mio's Pizzeria in the heart of Fort Thomas on a perfect August night.

"It actually worked out that (the eating challenge) was going on tonight,"
said Tricia, "Tonight is our 21st wedding anniversary so you kind of let Chris (her husband) off the hook."

Before a rousing crowd and with the help of Bear Clifton, Director of Development of the Brighton Center, I took on Tricia and her family (Chris, Spence, Piper, Dash and Saylor) in a 15-inch stuffed pizza challenge.

The odds and shear amount of Mackes had us at a big disadvantage - even if Tricia had to cut little Saylor Macke's stuffed pizza for her. A flash poll before the event had odds of the Mark vs. Food crew at a 10% chance of winning.


Even when the Macke's starting chanting, "Mark's going down, Mark's going down, Mark's going down..." I didn't lose faith.

In just under 10 minutes with 5 pieces of stuffed pie under my belt and not quite 3 in the belly of the Bear, we were on the verge of victory.

I looked over to Bear and with just the crust left on his plate between us and victory, I asked him if he needed me to finish. Without saying a word, and wiping some succulent Mio's sauce from around his mouth, he gave me a reassuring nod. I had seen the look before. It was the look of, "there is no freaking way I'm going to be able to eat even one more bite."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Highlands 60 - Scott Co. 37


By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter


A. They're better than us.
B. They outcoached us.
C. They're better than us on offense.
D. They're better than us on defense.
E. They're better than us in the kicking game.

The above comments from Scott County Cardinals head coach Jim McKee stated the obvious of what many opponents might say or think this season after the Highlands Bluebirds football team overwhelmed his team, 60-37 on Friday.

The Bluebirds did it once again with another big quarter. This time, Highlands used a 33-7 run in the second quarter to build a 47-14 halftime advantage. The Bluebirds used a 27-0 run in the third quarter to pull away in the season-opening 52-31 win over Boyle County on Aug. 17.

The win extended Highlands' home winning streak to 41 in a row and 22nd overall. The Bluebirds improved to 75-2 since the start of the 2007 campaign.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links


- IT'S FRIDAY Y'ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- Via Fort Thomas Matters Sports Writer, G. Michael Graham:

Mueller’s Head Coaching Record Clarification:

Another media outlet reported this week that Mueller is a few wins shy of 300 as a head football coach.

Mueller’s record is 283-64 overall, including 224-33 at Highlands including Friday’s win over Boyle County. Mueller took over at his alma mater in 1994.


Prior to coming back to Highlands, Mueller spent three years as head coach at Cincinnati Sycamore and the six previous seasons at Cincinnati Withrow. Mueller’s squads went 48-12 at Withrow and 11-19 at Sycamore.


- Friend of the blog, Will Chambers is collecting donations for a food drive for Welcome House and Be Concerned, both of Northern Kentucky. If you have any food items or toiletries you'd like to donate, you can contact him at WillChambers@CHASSELIGMAN.com .

- A couple of back to school notes from our friends at Mio's via their Facebook page.

Back to school! I hear a few boos and many hallelujahs from parents!

Student lunches begin today. We will offer pizzas and hoagies along with buffalo chicken and chicken caesar wraps. With a choice of drink, $5. Good stuff!

We would
really like to hear from parents & students alike. Let us know if you have requests for our student lunch offerings. We listen and act on your feedback:-)

Best of luck this school year!

Mark & the Mio's Crew.

They are delivering now, by the way. Order a Collier Mama. They're damn good.

- An update on Clay Frink from the Pray for Clay Facebook Page:

Clay and I headed to the PT room together then afterwards Clay and I played with a small soft soccer ball. I just put it in his hand to hold and before I knew it he threw it and of course I did not catch it! We had a few rounds and I improved in my catching ability.

Later 'speech' came in and brought chocolate pudding. This is the first food post injury. Clay held the spoon and brought it to his mouth for a taste or two.

This afternoon Clay's OG tube was removed (that is the one in his mouth). There was a hint of a smile afterwards and he seems happier to have that tube gone.

After all of that a big nap is now on the agenda.


Sounds like he's doing better. Keep praying, Fort Thomas.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Superintendent Gene Kirchner Responds to Traffic Issues

Superintendent Gene Kirchner had a response to our readers' questions and concerns regarding the traffic situation at Highlands. Specifically, some posters on our Facebook page and commenters on FTM were perturbed about how the traffic is flowing now that the high school and middle school have the same start time.

Without further adieu, Fort Thomas Independent Schools Superintendent, Gene Kirchner:

The schools are on the same schedule this year for several important reasons , none of which have to do with traffic flow.


Placing the two schools on the same schedule allows us the opportunity to provide a more seamless experience for middle school students, many of whom are ready to take high school courses. Being on the same schedule provides much more flexibility in making that happen. It enables us to utilize our teaching staff more efficiently by making it easier to share staff between the two schools. This also allows more opportunity for middle and high school teachers to work collaboratively in vertical teams. Thus enabling us to ensure that our curriculum is clearly aligned in grades 6-12 toward college and career readiness. We believe this represents the greatest benefit to our students and the most cost effective approach to staffing.


All of that being said, we did anticipate traffic problems as a result of this change and have been proactive in working with the City of Fort Thomas in planning for better traffic flow. We are continuing to look for ways to improve the situation. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that may have been caused to community members. As always, our decisions are based on what is best for students.

___

I have to say I'm super impressed with the media savvy the new superintendent has. He realized that families in his community had a concern and went out of his way to try to proactively address them via Fort Thomas Matters. Kudos Mr. Kirchner.

Highlands Football: Scott Co. Preview

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter


They ended up quickly erasing the tough first half with a 28-point outburst in the third-quarter.


But the Highlands Bluebirds still would not mind a quicker start in the first half, especially with another tough opponent coming to town. The Bluebirds scored 37 consecutive points en route to a 52-31 victory over the visiting Boyle County Rebels on Friday. That run erased a 24-15 halftime deficit.


“Boyle County executed well in the first half,” Mueller said. “We had (scoring) opportunities in that half and they stopped us. We outplayed them in the second half and wore them down.”


After beating one of its top challengers in Class 4A, the Bluebirds welcome the 2011 state runner-up from Kentucky’s largest Class 6A to Fort Thomas on Friday in the Scott County Cardinals. Scott County finished 14-1 losing 62-21 to Louisville Trinity in last year’s 6A title game. Visiting Trinity knocked off Highlands, 63-31 in a scrimmage on Aug. 10.


Like the Bluebirds, Scott County won its home opener, 46-14 over Louisville Seneca on the same day. But it was not as easy as the score might indicate.


Senior standout tailback Dieries Dumphord sprained his ankle in a preseason scrimmage and did not play on either side of the ball in the win. As of Wednesday morning, Scott County head coach Jim McKee said Dumphord will only play on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive end. McKee also said senior defensive end Akil Campbell will most likely not play either, also because of an ankle injury. Dumphord rushed for 1,148 yards and 19 touchdowns last year.


“It’s unfortunate, but injuries happen. That’s part of football,” McKee told the Georgetown News-Graphic. “The next guy will just have to come in and step up for us.”


The Cardinals more than made up for Dumphord’s loss in the win over Seneca out of their traditional Wing-T offensive attack. They ran for 360 yards as a team. Kevo Edwards ran for 148 yards and Kevin Clausen ran for 110.


“They do such a good job of attacking you at various places,” Mueller said. “They fake well and make it hard to get a good read. Each player has to do his assignment. You can’t say, ‘Oh gosh. They’re hurting us here so I have to quit doing what I was coached to do and do something different.”


Running backs go many different directions in the traditional Wing-T trying to confuse defenses. The main plays in a Wing-T are fullback dives up the middle and wingback sweeps around the corner.


Another common play is the counter criss-cross where the quarterback hands off to a halfback sweeping one way before the halfback hands off to a wingback going the other way trying to get that speedy back out in space.


“As long as everyone holds his gap and does his job, we’ll do just fine,” said Michael Ayers, Highlands junior linebacker. “(Highlands Defensive Coordinator Brian) Weinrich will get us game-ready. We’ll face them and hopefully, come out with a victory.”


Highlands will counter with its 3-4 defense. The Bluebirds did have some problems with Boyle County’s wishbone attack in the first half. The Rebels rushed for 226 yards on 33 carries in the first half led by Seph Burke’s 101 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns. But the Bluebirds held Boyle to just 56 yards on 19 carries in the second half. Burke finished with 165 yards on 32 carries.


Turnovers played a big key in the second-half turnaround and could play another big role in this game. The Bluebirds recovered two Rebel fumbles and picked off a pass. They scored 19 points off the turnovers.


Depth could again play a huge factor in the game. The Bluebirds currently have 91 players on the roster. Mueller said they had about 50 guys receive playing time while the Rebels had about 20 and that showed in the second half.


Highlands had a lot of success running the football out of its spread attack against Boyle County. The offensive line made holes for the Bluebirds running backs to go for 286 yards after going for just 67 in the first half. Running backs Zach Harris, Jaylen Hayes and quarterback Donovan McCoy ran for 113, 98 and 93 yards respectively in the win.


“We have great running backs,” said Tyler Schweitzer, Highlands offensive lineman. “We need to open holes for them and they’ll make plays for us. We’re very well-conditioned. Our offseason workouts are crazy. We’re always running hard and going 100 percent and that will show in games like it did Friday. We had so much more energy than (the Boyle County defenders).”


The Cardinals ran a variety of five and six-man defensive fronts with mixtures of man and zone coverages. They allowed 173 yards passing to Seneca.


McCoy threw just 10 passes because Highlands had so much success running the ball against Boyle County. He completed four of them for 107 yards including two to Luke Turner for 31 yards and a 57-yard bomb to Colin Seidl.


Game time is 7:30 p.m. at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. The Bluebirds own a 40-game home winning streak and a 21-game winning streak overall.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School Hump Day Notes (Traffic Edition)

Quick site note: Most of the Sports notes will be filed under the Sports Tab above (above the Marshall Granger logo). Major sports stories will be published here, but you can just click on the tab to view everything from now on.

Sing it with me now: "OH, Back to school..."

- Fort Thomas Independent Schools is back in session. Without Andrea Conners.

I noticed a few items on my way into work this morning. It seems that the Gripe of the Day posted by Marc Roth back in February of this year, has made its way to the front offices of Highlands High School. Marc talked about how parents, who decide to drop their kids off in the middle of the road, cause a big mess on Memorial Parkway in front of the middle and high schools.

Scrolling on the marquee, amid the "Welcome Back" and "Go Bluebirds!" electronic affirmations, was Marc's manifesto: "Please pull over when dropping off kids" (or something to that effect - I was driving).

Journalism. It works.

- While that was one positive note, a commenter on our Facebook page noted that traffic was terrible today. They attributed it to the fact that the high school and middle schools now have the same starting time. Anyone with any insight on that?

- Raise your hand if you have ever had to go to driving school after a ticket to avoid getting points on your license? It's okay, I'm sure most of us have been there. Well now thanks in part to friend of the blog, Circuit Clerk Taunya Nolan Jack, there's an alternative.

It's called the CATS (County Attorney Traffic School) and it consists of a short, online education program you can take from your home. The cost is about the same as driving school and you'll have 60 days to complete it.

If that hasn't sold you yet, instead of having to plead guilty to the traffic citation, it will be DISMISSED!

Did I mention Taunya Nolan Jack is up for reelection this year?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

HHS, Boyle Co: Halftime Adjustments Key in Win

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

video


Highlands Tearing Through the Cheerleaders' Banner to Start the Game


The Boyle County Rebels played smashmouth football in the first half with their wishbone attack.


The Rebels piled up 226 yards on 33 carries for an average of about 6.9 per carry. Junior Seph Burke led the way with 101 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns.


But that changed at halftime. The Highlands’ 3-4 defense held the Rebel rushing attack to just 56 yards on 19 carries in the second half for an average of just under three yards per touch in its 52-31 victory.


Boyle quarterback Casey Whittle often faked the handoff to the fullback up the middle before handing off to either Burke or Lloyd Hall on sweeps. Burke finished with 165 yards on 32 carries averaging just over 5.1 per touch.


“The (defensive) line forced them (outside) and the outside linebackers forced them (inside),” said Joe Paolucci, Highlands senior linebacker. “We just came out ready to play (after halftime) and adjusted a few things. They could not get by it. We shut them down.”


The Bluebirds cut off the sweeps better in the second half. Burke fumbled at the Rebel 20 on Boyle’s first possession of the second half. Junior Michael Ayers recovered at the Rebel 19.


Following a Highlands score, the Rebels fumbled again. Highlands senior defensive lineman Gabe Schultz picked up a Whittle fumble and returned the ball to the Rebel 45.


“Turnovers are the key to winning football games,” Mueller said. “Ball security is the number one key. Good teams win games by not having turnovers.”


The Rebels recorded their third turnover in the middle of the fourth quarter. Jackson Bardo dove to pick off a Whittle pass that set up another Bluebird score. Highlands scored 19 points off the Rebel turnovers and the Rebels did not score off the lone Highlands turnover, which was an interception as time ran out in the first half.


Boyle County scored on its first four possessions to go up 24-15 at halftime. Burke had a 1-yard run with 6:27 left in the first quarter and Hall scored on a 42-yard sweep with 58 seconds left in the quarter to give the Rebels a 14-8 advantage.


Boyle County added two more scores in the second stanza. Burke had a 15-yard touchdown run and Will Harris had a 21-yard field goal with 2:38 left in the half.


The Bluebirds will face some more tough running games. But they see a lot of spread formations.


“It’s different from what we usually face,” Highlands junior defensive lineman Seth Hope said of defending the wishbone offense. “We had to make some changes in our defense. But we figured it out after a while.”


The Rebels did not score again until late in the fourth quarter. Josiah Robbins hauled in a 26-yard touchdown from Whittle with 1:05 left in the game.


Highlands continues action with another home game. The 2011 Class 6A state runner-up Scott County Cardinals come to town for a 7:30 p.m. contest.


Highlands 52, Boyle County 31

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter


The Highlands Captains and Boyle Co. Captains Meet at Mid-Field for the Coin Flip


It looked as though the visitors might challenge the overall and home winning streaks of the Highlands Bluebirds football team at halftime.


But the Bluebirds dashed those hopes quickly with 37 unanswered points en route to a sound 52-31 victory over the Boyle County Rebels on Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. Highlands preserved its 40-game home winning streak and won its 21st overall. The Bluebirds snapped the Rebels’ 30-game winning streak with a 35-14 win in Danville to open the 2011 campaign.


Highlands outgained Boyle County, 460-414 in total offense. But at halftime, the Rebels held the advantage, 255-92. The Bluebird defense made some adjustments at halftime (see side story) against Boyle’s wishbone attack.


The Bluebirds exploded for 286 yards rushing in the second half after managing just 67 in the first half. They finished with 353 yards rushing on 37 carries for an average of about 9.5 per touch against an experienced front seven of Boyle County’s 4-4 defense. The Bluebird running backs made plenty of adjustments with the ball in their hands.


“Most running plays are designed to go one place,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands head coach. “But linemen may overpursue one way so the back takes it the other way.”


Junior Zach Harris led the way with 113 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries. Fellow running back Jaylen Hayes had five carries for 98 yards with two touchdowns and quarterback Donovan McCoy ran for 93 yards on 10 carries with four touchdowns.


Many thought the Bluebirds would try to test the young Rebel secondary out of their spread offense. McCoy did complete 4-of-10 passes for 107 yards. Two went to Luke Turner for 31 yards and Colin Seidl had one catch for 57 yards in the fourth quarter.


“We started off running the ball and we were killing them so why change something that is not broken,” Harris said. “We just kept pounding the ball inside. Our offensive line did a great job moving everybody. They were getting tired because they have guys going both ways. It was easy running after the first half.”


The Bluebird running backs have no problems trying to get the extra yards. They often lowered their shoulders before the Boyle County defenders tried to tackle them.


“When you’re running the ball, you have to run it as hard as you possibly can every down,” Harris said. “That is the way we’re taught. We have a great running back coach (Jason Lynch). He always tell us if you’re going out of bounds to give someone a hit that way they won’t hit you next time. You don’t ever want to go out of bounds. You want to get that extra yard every time.”


Highlands took full advantage of the three Boyle County turnovers. The Bluebirds scored 19 points off them.


The Bluebirds used two of those scored to take the lead for good in the third quarter. Highlands needed just two plays to score after a Boyle fumble. Harris had a 15-yard run and McCoy scored from two yards out after a Rebel offsides penalty to trim the Rebel lead to 24-22 after an Evan Allen kick with 9:59 left in the third quarter.


“The best thing about (the rally) was the play of the players when they were down nine at half,” Mueller said. “Boyle got the ball to start the second half. We stopped them, scored, stopped them, scored right off the bat so it was the composure of the guys.”


Another fumble gave Highlands the ball at the Rebel 45. McCoy ran to the right for an 18-yard score to put the Bluebirds up 28-24 with 6:14 remaining.


Highlands added two more quick scored to complete the 28-point outburst in the third quarter. Hayes broke free on an outside sweep and took it 80-yards down the left sideline before cutting back inside for the score and McCoy added a 47-yard run to put the Bluebirds up 43-24 after the third quarter.


The Bluebirds put the game out of reach in the fourth. Allen booted a 20-yard field goal and McCoy added another 2-yard run to give Highlands a 52-24 advantage with 2:52 left in the game.


video


Highlands QB Donovan McCoy runs it in from 2 yards out


Highlands continues action with another home game. The 2011 Class 6A state runner-up Scott County Cardinals come to town for a 7:30 p.m. contest.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

NCC 37, Dixie 22

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

EDGEWOOD – There may have been a lot of uncertainties going into this season-opening Skyline Showdown game.

One was not the running game for the visitors. The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds rode it to the tune of 227 yards on 42 carries to a 37-22 victory here Friday over the host Dixie Heights Colonels.
Senior Dylan Hayes led the way running for 138 yards on 23 carries with three rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return for another score. He scored 26 points overall adding a two-point conversion run after the first touchdown.

“We had to stick to what we were doing,” said Eddie Eviston, NewCath head coach. “We got a big play early, then we settled down. I think we know we can play better football. Dixie kept fighting. But we kept getting a play here or there to extend our lead each time.”

The Thoroughbreds outgained the Colonels, 349-287 in total offense. Pete Collopy added 51 yards rushing and quarterback Josh Cain completed 16-of-24 passes for 122 yards. Wide receiver Mac Franzen hauled in seven catches for 58 yards. NewCath did not turn the ball over in this contest.

Franzen and Hayes also had interceptions defensively for NewCath. Franzen intercepted Dixie Heights quarterback Drew Moore and took it back to the Colonel 2. That set up a 2-yard Hayes score to put the Thoroughbreds up 23-7 just 16 seconds into the second half following Josh Caudill’s first of three extra-point attempts.

Dixie Heights entered the year with a new head coach in Dave Brossart, a former Covington Catholic head coach. The Colonels stayed in the game until the last minute behind the play of Moore, a sophomore. Moore completed 16-of-23 passes for 167 yards with two interceptions and ran for 92 yards on 15 carries. His 78-yard run with 9:50 left in the first quarter gave Dixie its only lead at 7-0 following teammate Alex Lopez’ extra-point attempt.

“I have to give a lot of credit to (Moore),” Eviston said. “He played a heck of a game for his first varsity game. We knew they’d come out fired up.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Van Damme It's Friday Links





- How about G. Michael Graham? Dude is on fire. Enjoy him now, FTM readers cause if my man keeps up at this pace, he's going to get a real journalism job. (And then when the industry collapses, he can write for us again). He's got jokes, ladies and gentlemen.

- Mark vs. Food at Mio's Pizza with the Macke's was a rousing success. It was probably the best episode of Mark vs. Food we've had to date. Thanks to Tricia and her family, Mio's all of our sponsors and everyone who came out. This deserves its own post and when I get some more time, I'll crank it out.

- Big ups to the Fort Thomas League Friday softball champs. Loyal reader, Berz Wagner, submitted this picture of their team in all their glory after their championship game a few Fridays ago. It's only fitting that they make it on this week's Van Damme It's Friday links. Congrats fellas.

- Darrin touched on it briefly, but we're about 3 weeks away from the University of Kentucky and Patrick Towles' debut in blue and white. As training camp hits its stride, it looks like Patrick has settled in as the number 3 Quarterback on the depth chart.

Learning the playbook, taking command of the team and unseating 2 incumbent quarterbacks at an SEC school was going to be a tall order for anyone. Seeing Patrick play and interacting with him closely, I had nothing but confidence in his ability to try to get it done.

It looks like Head Coach Joker Phillips, in a year that may make or break his long term future with the team, is looking at going with his more experienced players.

Maxwell Smith, a redshirt Sophomore, is currently highest on the depth chart, followed by Senior Morgan Newton. If that order holds true, a redshirt year may be best for Patrick. The following year Newton will be gone to graduation, and Smith will have 2 years left at UK. The year that Patrick could conceivably have to study, get his bearings in Lexington and learn to lead his teammates on another level should put him at or near the depth chart next year.

- Anita's Mexican Restaurant opened Monday. I had some twitter mini-reviews on it: a) a little more expensive than rio grande (in newport). b) much lighter atmosphere. c) outdoor seating. d) margaritas not as strong and not enough salt on the rim.