Saturday, September 27, 2014

Is the Highlands-CovCath series still a rivalry?

Allen Ramsey Photo. The Highlands student OZone section cheers on the Bluebirds in their 42-7 win over Covington Catholic on Friday. The Pink-Out signified the community's commitment to Breast Cancer and finding ways to beat it.
Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands running back Grant Murray (24) looks for room in Saturday's junior varsity contest against Covington Catholic. The Highlands JV won 34-20.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

When asked whether it is still a rivalry or not, Highlands senior cornerback Andrew Abner did not hold back his thoughts.

“It’s not,” Abner said. “The goal is to beat CovCath every single year and go as hard as we can. We did it this game. They have signs in their weight room and school saying, ‘Beat Highlands.’ That fires us up a bunch. We’re definitely going to get better and we’re going to come out and execute.”

Others like former Highlands quarterback Patrick Towles have said the same thing because of the recent Bluebird domination. The Bluebirds (5-0) beat the Colonels (3-2) for the 12th straight time Friday, 42-7 in the Class 4A, District 7 opener. They lead the all-time series, 46-17 including 27-4 since 1994. The series has been a far cry from the late 1980s and 1990s when the teams constantly battled each other for state championships.

Highlands has not lost to CovCath since a 25-15 loss in the second round of the playoffs in 2006 in addition to the 29-27 loss to Covington Catholic on a last-second Kurt Bovard touchdown reception in Fort Thomas during the regular season. The current seniors on both teams were fourth graders when that happened.

But the Bluebirds did quickly acknowledge they may see the Colonels in the regional finals again this year like they have the previous three years. Highlands beat CovCath, 42-6 in Park Hills last year before beating the Colonels again, 28-13 in the Region 4 finals.

“In this game, all that matters is where the third-round game is going to be played,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “That’s what we’ve been talking about all week. We’ll come in (Saturday). We have a lot of mistakes to correct. We know we’ll play them in a couple weeks. We know they’re only going to get better. We have to keep working.”

Weinrich has been on staff since 1995. Even though it has been a while, the first-year head coach remembers when the Bluebirds won the regular season meetings against the Colonels in 1997 and 2001 before CovCath came back and won the playoff rematches.

That is why the Bluebirds seek improvement each and every day. That has shown constantly throughout the year.

“They’re a really mature group,” Weinrich said. “Since Day one in January, it’s been amazing. I’ve said this all year. When we ask them to do something, they do it as hard as they can. I don’t care what day of the week they’re playing. I know it was CovCath week, but I didn’t see a difference from this week to last week from that.”

Other teams in Class 4A, Region 4 can say whether the rematch could happen or not. But only undefeated Johnson Central (5-0) appears to be a serious threat for that. The Golden Eagles have restocked their vaunted wishbone attack in the backfield despite losing all three running backs. But they have not been tested.

The other two District 7 opponents in Covington Holmes and Harrison County are a combined 1-10 and every other District 8 opponent has a losing record.

Highlands Junior Varsity beats CovCath:

The Bluebirds took care of the Colonels, 34-20 on Saturday in Park Hills. The Highlands junior varsity (1-2) had lost to CovCath, 21-6 12 days ago in Fort Thomas. Their next game is Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. against Cincinnati St. Xavier.

The Highlands freshman team is 2-1 on the season. The Bluebirds take on Covington Catholic in Park Hills on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Class 4A Notes:

Aside from Highlands and Johnson Central, Boyle County stayed one of three undefeated teams with a 38-6 District 5 win over Taylor County on Friday in Danville.

Valdosta update:

The Valdosta Wildcats of South Georgia had their bye week this week and are a perfect 5-0 so Highlands has not gained any ground in terms of overall wins in program history. The Wildcats are 887-214-34 all-time and the Bluebirds are 860-227-26.

Valdosta is about to be tested though. The Wildcats play in the rugged 1-AAAAAA in the largest of Georgia’s six classes in south Georgia.

Up Next:

Highlands travels to Harrison County on Friday continuing District 7 action. The Thorobreds are 0-6 coming off a 48-18 home loss to defending 1A state runner-up Williamsburg. They’ve not scored more than 18 points all season.

Highlands has beaten the Thorobreds, 77-0, 69-10 and 68-0 in district play the last three years. The Bluebirds are 24-0 in district regular-season play since 2006.

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