By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
CRESTVIEW HILLS – They may be battling adversity right now.
But the heart of the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team is one thing that can’t be questioned. NewCath made the host Dixie Heights Colonels earn a 36-7 non-district victory Friday in rainy conditions.
The Thoroughbreds (1-4) just could not control things in the trenches with their injury-riddled offensive and defensive lines like previous weeks in their four-game losing streak. Dixie Heights (3-1) outgained NewCath, 467-97 in total offense on its way to equaling last year’s win total.
“I can’t fault their effort defensively,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “We battled tooth and nail.”
NewCath played without a dozen players. That included seniors Stephen Brooks, Matt Lenz, juniors Brandon Gray, Jacob Wieland, Logan Neff and sophomores Luke Kues, Nick Tolle and Ethan Craig. But no NewCath players are out for the year.
“We had four kids that could have played if it was a playoff game,” Wagner said. “We can’t afford to run that risk. The doctors recommended we didn’t play them. They should be back next week. We had seven starters on the sidelines. Four are two-way starters.”
The Colonels gained 23 first downs to three for NewCath. Darion Washington led the way with 123 yards on 21 carries and junior quarterback Drew Moore completed 7-of-15 passes for 242 yards. Seth Caple led the way with for the Colonels catching three passes for 106 yards.
“We watched the film and (NewCath) gave Simon Kenton fits,” said Dave Brossart, Dixie Heights Head Coach. “They gave us fits. But that’s how tough they are. They’re well-coached. They’ll be fine come playoffs.”
Both teams turned the ball over the same amount of times. NewCath lost two fumbles and threw an interception and Dixie Heights lost three fumbles.
The Thoroughbreds jumped out of the gate quick. On the second play from scrimmage, NewCath quarterback Mac Franzen completed a 68-yard pass to Tommy Donnelly down to the Dixie Heights 4-yard line. Smith then took a handoff left for a 4-yard touchdown and John Caudill made the extra-point kick to give NewCath its lone 7-0 lead.
But the NewCath offense did not do much after that. Franzen completed 3-of-8 passes and an interception for 101 yards. The Thoroughbreds finished with a minus-12 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
“It was a very good defense,” said Dave Schneider, NewCath Offensive Coordinator. “They overwhelmed us playing with a lot of inexperienced guys in there. But they (inexperienced players) tried their best.”
The Colonels came back and tied the game. Senior wide receiver Cameron Farmer wrestled the ball away from NewCath defensive back Jacob Smith and ran to the NewCath 23 on 3rd-and-31 from the Dixie Heights 9 before Caple scored on a 1-yard run.
The Thoroughbreds proceeded to turn it over twice and the Colonels capitalized on the second one. Washington scored from a yard out to put Dixie Heights up for good at 14-7 at halftime.
Dixie Heights then put the game away in the third quarter. Moore scored from a yard out and Ethan Harrison intercepted a NewCath pass and took it back 43 yards for the touchdown to put the Colonels up 28-7 entering the fourth quarter.
The Colonels scored once more in the fourth. Washington scored on a 17-yard scamper.
The Thoroughbreds started last year 2-4 before managing to reel off nine straight wins on their way to the Class 2A state championship. That team also finished 1-4 against schools in bigger classes.
“We’re pretty much in the same position as last year with a lot of guys out,” said Jack Sutkamp, NewCath senior linebacker/running back. “I think we can pull it together. We’re just going to have to work harder.”
Dixie Heights extended the series lead to 14-7. NewCath had won the previous three meetings including a 37-22 win in Crestview Hills last year.
The Thoroughbreds open District 6 action Friday back in Newport against the Lloyd Memorial Juggernauts (3-2). Game time is 7 p.m.
Highlands 2, Boone County 0:
The Bluebirds (6-10) opened up the Cake Classic with a 25-15, 25-19 win over the Lady Rebels. They did not win any games in the Cake Classic last year.
That marked the 100th win in the head coaching career of Whitney Mulroney. Mulroney served as head coach at Bishop Brossart before coming to Highlands.
The Bluebirds conclude the Cake Classic on Saturday.