Saturday, August 16, 2014

Highlands, NC find areas for improvement in scrimmages

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands senior defensive back Grayson Heck (32) records an interception in Friday's scrimmage against Louisville Trinity. Trinity won the three-quarter scrimmages, 31-6.
Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands junior Taylor Perez (35) goes up for a catch in Friday's scrimmage against Louisville Trinity. 
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The two teams tend to expose opposing weaknesses like crazy.

That’s why the Highlands Bluebirds and Louisville Trinity Shamrocks own Kentucky-record 22 state championships each and are aiming to bring gold trophies back to their respective campuses this year. Trinity lost to Louisville Male in the Class 6A regional finals last year and Highlands fell to Collins in the 4A title game.

The Shamrocks have done that to the Bluebirds for five straight years in scrimmages. They won the three-quarter scrimmage, 31-6 Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium.

“We could have scrimmaged somebody else, scored more points than they did and left here feeling pretty good about ourselves,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “When you play a team like that, you’re so good isn’t good enough. We found weaknesses (Friday) that we thought we were better at. We’re trying to get to where we can have a lot of success against those guys.”

Highlands is breaking in many new faces on the offensive line this year after graduating 12 offensive linemen. That showed at times with some fumbles and pressure on quarterback Beau Hoge.

Trinity played a 4-3 defense for many years. But the Shamrocks switched to a 50 defense under new Defensive Coordinator Jay Cobb. Cobb previously served as head coach at Somerset and Campbellsville.

“It might not look like it as a fan. But (the offensive linemen) played well,” Weinrich said. “From our standpoint, they got better at what we need to get done. We had no idea what to expect from them. We had no game plan. We’ll work like crazy to get better.”

Hoge did make some plays with his feet. Hoge hit Alex Veneman for a 38-yard touchdown with 2:42 left in the third quarter for the lone Highlands touchdown.

“(Beau) was harnessed to keep him healthy,” Weinrich said. “We told him to stay in the pocket as long as he could. We worked on a lot of things that we were struggling with in practice.”

Highlands ran some read-option plays on the opening offensive series. Senior Griffin Urlage and junior Nick Kendall had some carries on that series.

Hoge threw most of the deep passes to Veneman. But other receivers like junior Chandler New and senior Jack Telek also made plays as well.

“Our routes are different this year,” New said. “We’re running a lot of shorter routes instead of trying to hit the home run every play. Going against Trinity will help because that’s the best corners we’ll see all year. They’re fast and athletic.”

Trinity scored quickly to open the scrimmage. The Shamrocks led 17-0 after one quarter and 31-0 entering the third quarter. Highlands missed some scoring opportunities in both quarters.

“We have an awful lot of work to do. For two quarters (Friday), I thought we played downhill really well,” said Bob Beatty, Trinity Head Coach. “In the third quarter, we lost our momentum a little bit. I like where we are. They’re kids are well-coached. They’re going to do well in their class. I hope we can continue to scrimmage.”

The Highlands defense also made some plays. Senior defensive lineman D.J. Mills had a couple quarterback sacks and senior defensive back Grayson Heck had an interception.

“The purpose of this is a practice for us,” said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. “A lot of guys got an opportunity to play. When you’re playing a really good team, they’re going to make some plays. It’s going to take a little time for us to get going. We’ll take a look at what we did well and build on it.”

Trinity started a sophomore quarterback in Larry Harper III. Highlands made Trinity earn its points not allowing big plays for the most part.

“This is good for us because it gives us an opportunity to go against someone other than ourselves,” said Patrick Schoepf, Highlands senior linebacker. “A lot of it was nerves because it was the first game. Other than that, I think we’ll be fine.”

Highlands has another scrimmage Friday at Cincinnati St. Xavier. It is the Week Zero for Kentucky teams, but Ohio teams do not start regular season play until the week of Aug. 29.

Newport Central Catholic 12, Covington Holmes 0:

The Thoroughbreds defeated the Bulldogs in their annual scrimmage Friday.

Neither team scored until late in the scrimmage. Sophomore Kole Carmack scored for NewCath.

“You always want a shutout,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “It’s not always possible. They’re like us – still figuring things out. We have things to work on like everyone else.”

NewCath did hit a field goal earlier in the contest by junior Ryan Hans. The Thoroughbreds missed some other scoring opportunities throughout the scrimmage.

Wagner said the starting quarterback competition is down to two players after senior Grant Schilling went down with an injury Friday. Junior Erik Anderson and sophomore Patrick Henschen are vying for the spot.

NewCath opens the season Friday in eastern Kentucky. The Thoroughbreds travel to Ashland Blazer for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

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