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Thursday, October 23, 2014

How can NewCath even its record Thursday?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic running back Jacob Smith looks for room in the recent win against Newport.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
They took care of things quickly a week ago against one overmatched opponent.

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds football team (3-4 overall, 3-0 District 6-2A) would not mind doing it again Thursday at Covington Holmes against another struggling district opponent. The Thoroughbreds face the Covington Holy Cross Indians (1-7, 1-2) at 7 p.m.

NewCath scored all 36 points in the most recent win in the first quarter against Bishop Brossart. That allowed the starters to rest. The Thoroughbreds would improve to 28-0 in district action since 2006 and put the exclamation point on a 10th straight district championship with the win.

“That was our goal – get the game over with and get our (starters) out because there is always a chance something can go wrong,” said Dan Wagner, NewCath Head Coach. “I loved our kids’ focus. They came out and did exactly what they wanted to do. We had the running clock in the first quarter, which is hard to do. It’s good to get these kids who worked their tails off some playing time.”

The route started with solid defense. The Thoroughbreds have allowed just 17 points in district action with two shutouts. They beat Newport, 22-17 on a rainy day a few weeks ago. They’ve scored 86 points against district opponents.

NewCath employs an aggressive 4-4 defensive scheme. Linebacker Kobe Tallon leads NewCath with 71 tackles and junior defensive back Erik Anderson has three interceptions. The Thoroughbreds have allowed 1,183 yards rushing and 937 passing.

The Indians have been outscored 345-110 on the season. They’ve rushed for 1,189 yards and passed for 505 out of their spread offense. Xavier Abernathy has rushed for 491 yards on 110 carries and seven touchdowns for Holy Cross and quarterback Hamilton Scott is second with 90 carries for 460 yards and three touchdowns.

The passing game has struggled for Holy Cross. Scott has completed 55-of-113 passes for 493 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Damien Serrano leads the Indians with 16 catches for 182 yards. But the NewCath defenders are still on their guard.

“At first, I make sure it’s not a run,” said Thomas Owens, NewCath senior defensive back. “I mainly look at the wide receiver to see if he’s going deep or going to run a hitch or curl. It’s tough to defend. You have to make a good break to the ball and make the tackle if you can’t beat the ball first.”

The Thoroughbreds have rushed for 615 yards and passed for 794. Senior Jacob Smith has rushed for a team-high 512 yards on 107 carries for eight touchdowns.

“We’re starting to execute better,” said Dave Schneider, Thoroughbred Offensive Coordinator. “That was our main focus going into last week. We really didn’t anticipate having that many plays last week. We did execute the plays we ran. We’re pleased with that.”

The NewCath wide receivers often block downfield well. Smith and the other running backs then follows the receivers for big gains.

“You can’t get the ball as often as you want,” said Josh Boyle, Thoroughbred senior wide receiver. “It’s more about blocking. You have to be confident. The run game gets things done. You have to take the inside away from (blitzers) and protect the running back.”

The Indians have allowed 2,092 yards rushing and 822 passing this year. Braxton Foote leads Holy Cross with 47 tackles.

“They have a couple nice players,” Schneider said. “They’re struggling, but they always give us fits. We just have to strap up and go play.”

Wagner has liked the way NewCath has picked up its game in recent weeks. The postseason is just two weeks away.

“The seniors understand there is not much guaranteed to you. Your season is going by quickly,” Wagner said. “That in itself helps them get focused.”

NewCath is seeking its 20th win against Holy Cross in school history in 22 meetings. The Thoroughbreds beat the Indians twice two years ago.

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