Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NewCath moves on from rain-out game

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It was not supposed to happen like this.

But Mother Nature gave them no choice. Thus, the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds open the season at Cooper on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

NewCath found itself in this position after Friday’s scheduled game at Ashland was rained out. Heavy storms in eastern Kentucky left Putnam Stadium in bad shape and they schools could not work things out to play the game.

NewCath put that behind and started focusing on the Cooper Jaguars. Cooper (1-0) opened the season with a 12-3 win over county rival Ryle.

Cooper fell to 3-8 last year after finishing Class 5A state runner-up in 2012. But the Jaguars beat the Thoroughbreds, 31-22 in the second week of the season at Dixie Heights in the Crosstown Showdown. NewCath went on to finish Class 2A state runner-up.

“These first couple games, it’s just hard to tell anything,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “You don’t know how good anyone is, us included. It’s back to square one as far as scrimmages and games go for us.”

Cooper runs a Multipe-I offense that varies depending on the opponent. Junior running back Torry Cordell-Armstrong carried the load for the Jaguars against Ryle. He had the game's lone touchdown with 8:20 left in the game from seven yards out.

“We need to get more balanced offensively,” said Randy Borchers, Cooper Head Coach. “We feel that we are very talented at the wide receiver position and we will need to spread the ball around more. (On) Friday night, the field conditions were poor and we were conservative because our defense was playing great and we were winning the field position game. We feel that if we can be more balanced offensively, Torrey will have more success running the ball.”

The Jaguars showed their balance in last year’s game. Jaguar quarterback Will Ludwig completed 17-of-29 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Cole Willging and junior Tyson Jackson among others hope to give Cooper that desired balance.

“We’ll prepare for (the Jaguar) offense that way,” Wagner said of containing Cordell-Armstrong. “Last year, they brought in that quarterback. We didn’t see him on film. He was pretty good so you never know. We hope to be disciplined, pay attention to detail and do what we’re supposed to do and not necessarily what they do.”

The Thoroughbreds hope to put pressure on the Jaguars in their 4-4 defense. They shut out Covington Holmes in their scrimmage game. Players like junior Maleek Lawrence, seniors Colin Hoover and Jacob Raleigh anchor the lines.

“We have a lot of experience both ways,” Lawrence said. “We rotate in a lot of guys. We just do what we need to do.”

Cooper also returns some experience on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is led by senior Stephen Shelton. Juniors Marcus Watson and Elliot Smith lead the Jaguar defensive line.

The Jaguars run a 4-2-5 defense. They take on a NewCath offense that settled on junior Erik Anderson as starting quarterback. But Wagner did not rule out sophomore Patrick Henschen seeing time this year.

“Regardless of who they play at quarterback, they are going to be solid offensively,” Borchers said. “They have three or four good backs who run the ball hard and are very elusive. They run a complex (spread) scheme and they do a good job of keeping the defense off-balance. We just need to play fundamentally sound and run to the ball.”

Junior Jacob Smith returns at running back for NewCath. Senior Logan Neff will earn some carries in the backfield as well. Senior wide receivers Nate Enslen and Brandon Gray lead the Thoroughbreds.

“Offensively, we need to take care of who we need to take care of blocking,” Wagner said. “We’ll see what happens from there.”

NewCath takes on three 6A schools after Cooper in its usually-tough non-district schedule. The Thoroughbreds finished 0-4 against Northern Kentucky Class 5A and 6A teams last year.

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