G. Michael Graham Photo. The Highlands defense pursues Trinity quarterback Reggie Bonnafon in Friday's scrimmage at Marshall Stadium. The Shamrocks won the three-quarter scrimmage, 48-21. Both teams are tied for the most state championships in Kentucky with 22 each.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
LOUISVILLE – Scrimmaging the highly-ranked Louisville Trinity Shamrocks definitely prepares you for the regular season.
It was not as bad as last year’s 63-31 Shamrock victory. But Trinity still won 48-21 in three quarters worth of action Friday at Marshall Stadium. The Shamrocks have won all four scrimmages in four years between the two teams that share the state record of 22 state football championships. Trinity entered the season ranked second in the USA Today Preseason Top 25 poll.
Trinity outgained Highlands, 526-255 in total offense mostly through the air. Shamrock standout quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed 22-of-28 passes for 377 yards and four touchdowns against a banged-up Bluebird secondary. Highlands played most of the scrimmage without junior defensive backs Andrew Abner and Griffin Urlage. Abner could be seen on crutches on the sidelines when the junior varsity and freshmen teams scrimmaged on different sides of the field.
“If we prepare for (Bonnafon more), we do special things for him,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator. “But we just went out and played our base (defense). We have a lot of respect for them. They’re a heck of a football team.”
Cody Swabek led Trinity with 10 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns. Teammate C.J. Ott had six catches for 158 yards and a touchdown.
“We now understand what it’s like going against a team faster than us,” said James Hinkel, Highlands junior defensive back. “We have to execute and make sure we stand with our feet under us. We need to make sure we stay square with (opponents) and be ready to move where they move.”
Offensively, Highlands put up 255 yards of total offense, but could not establish a consistent running game against Trinity netting 10 yards. Trinity sacked Highlands quarterback Drew Houliston several times.
Houliston completed 14-of-29 passes for 245 yards. Junior Jensen Feggins led Highlands with four catches for 88 yards and a touchdown. Feggins broke several tackles on his touchdown reception.
“It teaches us that we need to be a lot quicker for teams that are going to be close or even with us, maybe even better,” said Kyler Dalton, Highlands junior offensive lineman. “We need to keep our feet moving and keep the (defensive) linemen out of Drew’s face to give him time to throw.”
Highlands did make a lot of plays defensively. Senior standout lineman Seth Hope had two tackles for a loss and junior linebacker Jacob Noe recovered a fumble.
“We got better (Friday) than we had all year. It’s a thing where you get a lot of plays on film and you go back and look at them and learn how you did,” Mueller said. “We play as hard as we can, but we don’t play the scrimmage like a game. We don’t prepare for them like a game. Neither do they. But it’s a valuable day for us.”
Trinity led 14-0 after the first quarter and 21-0 before Highlands scored on a Feggins 23-yard touchdown reception. Following another Trinity score, Houliston completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Hergott. The Shamrocks led 35-14 after two quarters.
The Bluebirds did have a chance to score in the first quarter. But they did not run their traditional full-house goal-line formation and could not punch it in.
Trinity also won the third quarter 13-7. Zach Harris scored from three yards out with 3:50 left in the stanza.
Highlands opens the season in a week against the University Christian (Fla.) Fighting Christians on ESPNU. Game time is 3:30 p.m.
Highlands did see several players not play because of injuries. Senior offensive lineman Johnny Kemplin said he’s out for the year because of back issues.
Newport Central Catholic shuts out Holmes, 24-0:
The Thoroughbreds shut out the Bulldogs in the scrimmage at Thomas More College on Friday.
The varsity teams played for 2.5 quarters then the reserves took the field. Both teams have new head coaches in Dan Wagner at Newport Central Catholic and Ben Nevels at Holmes.
The Thoroughbreds knew they had to contain Holmes senior standout running back Jonathon Scruggs. The Bulldogs displayed more one and two-back shotgun sets unlike the Diamond formation they ran last year.
“We did okay with that,” Wagner said. “We bottled (Scruggs) up for the most part. You can’t do that with one guy. You need all 11 there. We made sure he went side-to-side and not straight ahead.”
NewCath scored its three touchdowns on runs. Quarterback Mac Franzen broke off a 45-yard touchdown run with Jack Sutkamp and Kalvin Moore adding the other two. John Caudill added a 32-yard field goal.
“We obviously have a lot of work to do,” Wagner said. “As long as we keep improving, we could be okay. We’ll see how it goes.”
NewCath opens the season Friday against Ashland Blazer in Newport. Game time is 7 p.m.