Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bluebird Notebook: John Hardin, Highlands to switch classes next season

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands sophomore Grant Murray (24) tries to block a punt by John Hardin senior Sean Stevens (left). The Bluebirds won 49-7 to move to 3-0 on the season.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The two-year series between two teams that have been at or near the top of Kentucky for seven years ended Friday.

It might be a while before the John Hardin Bulldogs and Highlands Bluebirds football teams meet again. Aside from travel distance, the two programs will be in different classes unlike between 2007 and 2010 when both resided in Class 5A. Highlands is moving back to Class 5A next year and John Hardin is dropping to 4A.

The Bluebirds have won all three meetings between the two teams. They beat the Bulldogs, 33-26 in Elizabethtown last year and won the 2009 5A state championship over them, 35-7.

When now-retired Highlands Head Coach Dale Mueller made the schedule two years ago, he had to reach out to other teams across Kentucky because nearby Northern Kentucky teams would not schedule them. But that changes next year when Highlands plays seven teams from the northern three Kentucky counties as opposed to just three like in recent years.

Up next from across the state:

John Hardin had to drive up Interstate 65 to Louisville then hit Interstate 71 to come north to Fort Thomas.

That may be a longer-than-usual drive for teams. But Paducah Tilghman will be making a longer trip next week. The Blue Tornado (1-3) have to head east on Interstate 24 before spending a few hours on the Western Kentucky Parkway. They hit Interstate 65 just south of Elizabethtown. It is about 5.5 hours to Fort Thomas from Paducah.

Scouting Paducah Tilghman:

The Blue Tornado (1-3) started the season rough with three straight losses to McCracken County (49-21), Evansville (Indiana) Reitz (35-23), and Mayfield (47-21). But they took down Graves County, 36-22 on Friday in Paducah.

The Blue Tornado are implementing the Wing-T offense after running the spread last year. Former Warren Central Head Coach Mike Rogers came over last year after Randy Wyatt resigned in the offseason.

Paducah Tilghman junior quarterback Jessie Dunigan struggled against McCracken County but has picked things up. The Blue Tornado graduated wide receivers Mikey Davis and Darius Spivey-Nunn. They like to put running backs like senior D.J. Sherrill in motion and hand the ball off to them a number of ways.

Sub-Varsity reports:

The Highlands junior varsity team has played just once so far losing 14-8 to Campbell County in overtime. Their next game is Monday against Covington Catholic at 7 p.m.

The Highlands freshman team is 1-1 after losing 22-12 to Campbell County on Thursday. The Bluebirds opened with a 12-6 victory over Cooper.

The Highlands freshmen take on Simon Kenton on Wednesday. Game time is 6 p.m. at Cecil Memorial Stadium.

Class 4A Report:

Boyle County remained undefeated at 4-0 with a 48-26 win at Anderson County on Friday. Chuck Smith returned to coach the Rebels this year after a stint as an assistant coach for the University of Kentucky ended two years ago. He guided them to a then-record five straight state championships between 1999 and 2003. Highlands ended that run with a 22-6 win in the 3A state championship in 2004.

Five teams in 4A remain undefeated. The other three 3-0 teams are Johnson Central, Franklin-Simpson and Knox Central.

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