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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Notebook: Bluebirds handle heat well

G. Michael Graham Photo. Highlands running back Zach Harris (center) takes a handoff in Friday's 50-8 win over Campbell County while Ryan Greene (80) and Tyler Schweitzer (77) block. The Bluebirds improved to 51-9 all-time against the Camels with the victory.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Hydration is a big thing during the early warm months of the season.

Games have been played in 80-degree temperatures to start the season. But that does not bother Highlands Bluebirds football team because of its depth. The Bluebirds are 2-0 after a 50-8 win over Campbell County on Friday.

“The guys do a good job of getting water,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator. “They start all through the day. You see them in classes drinking water or Gatorade. Then they get to the game and they’re already ahead in the game.”

The Bluebirds have a new water system this year. Bluebird defensive end Jake Parker also said drinking a lot of Gatorade helps prevent cramps.

“It’s really important, because if not, you’re going to go out there, be lazy and miss blocks,” said Matt Farney, Highlands senior offensive lineman. “You’ll give up a sack. Then you’ll want to do better and you’re going to make mistakes.”

Tough First Quarters, Strong Finishes:
Highlands has not scored any points in the first quarters of either game this year.

But the defense has come through holding University Christian (Florida) and Campbell County to a combined three points in that quarter.

“They were playing us well,” Mueller said of the Camel defense. “They were dropping great into coverage. They had a great game plan. They guys try hard. They’re playing good, reliable football.”

But it’s been different in the other three quarters. The Bluebirds outscored the Fighting Christians and Camels, 97-22 the rest of the way.

Highlands has scored at least 22 points in two quarters this year. The Bluebirds posted 27 in the third against University Christian and 22 in the second against Campbell County.

No Luck against the Alma Mater:
Campbell County Head Coach Stephen Lickert fell to 0-3 all-time against his alma mater. The former Bluebird running back and inside linebacker also coached against Highlands twice as head coach at Covington Holmes.

The Bluebirds dominated both of those meetings. Highlands won the 2007 and 2008 meetings, 52-14 and 70-8 respectively.

The 1997 Highlands graduate helped the Bluebirds to their first state championship under Mueller in 1996. The downed Hopkinsville, 21-14 in the 3A title game that year back when there were four classes.

Depth Factor:
The Bluebirds continue to develop players with nearly 100 on the roster.

Junior James Grau saw some action last night after the game was out of reach for example. This lets the coaching staff see them on film and evaluate them.

“It’s really important because if they get hurt, then you have to go in,” Grau said. “I have to keep the team alive and it’s always good to have good depth.”

Turnover Battle:
The Bluebirds had no turnovers against Campbell County, but did manage to take away two.

Both came in the second half. Highlands junior defensive back Griffin Urlage picked off an Avery Wood pass and Parker recovered a fumble on the second-half kickoff.

Series Results:
Highlands improved to 51-9 against Campbell County in the all-time series.

The Bluebirds have also played Dayton and Covington Catholic 60 times each in school history. They are 43-17 against the Colonels and 47-10-3 against the Greendevils.

The only other schools the Bluebirds have faced more than Dayton, Campbell County and Covington Catholic are Covington Holmes with 71 meetings and Dixie Heights with 70 meetings. The Bluebirds are 49-20-2 against the Bulldogs and 62-8 all-time against Dixie Heights.

Series vs. County opponents:
Highlands moved to 196-55-10 against opponents in Campbell County all-time with the win. The Bluebirds had not played any team within the county since 2004 prior to that game.

The Bluebirds have not played Dayton, Bellevue and Newport in a while and have not battled Newport Central Catholic since 1998. Highlands is 30-12-4 all-time against Bellevue, 46-17-3 against Newport and 22-7 against NewCath.

Continuing the series:
Many teams do not reschedule the Bluebirds after taking beatings like this. But Campbell County plans to do the opposite for now.

“That tradition has been here forever,” Lickert said. “It’s going to stay here. Our objective is to keep playing Highlands so we can get familiar with them and end up beating them at some point.”

Class 4A, District 7 Notes:
Highlands rival Covington Catholic did manage to hold off Dixie Heights, 21-13 to move to 2-0. The Colonels played without quarterback Adam Wagner (knee) and running back Luke Bir (shoulder).

The Colonels will be tested in a week when defending Ohio Division I champion Cincinnati Moeller comes to town. Game time will be 1 p.m. in Park Hills.

Covington Holmes (1-1) took one on the chin Friday as Scott pounded the Bulldogs, 40-14. Holmes travels to Lloyd Memorial on Friday.

Harrison County travels to Grant County today to play in the Commonwealth Counseling Bowl at 5 p.m. The Thorobreds (1-0) are trying to double last year’s win total.


  1. Actually, Covington Holmes has played Highlands more than any other opponent, including Dixie Heights. Holmes and Highlands have played a total of 71 varsity football games, which is one more than Dixie Heights.

  2. Thanks for pointing that out Joseph. I do not know why, but I overlooked that. I've made the changes.