Thursday, October 30, 2014

Highland Football Playoff Predictions

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands senior defensive lineman DJ Mills (42) tries to tackle Holmes' Andrew Arnold (10) in a recent game. The Bluebirds could be at home four times in the playoffs.

By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds football team could have four home playoff games this postseason like two years ago.

Class 4A’s top-ranked Highlands (7-2) will play host to either the Boyd County Lions (2-7) or the Rowan County Vikings (1-8) in the first round. The Bluebirds have faced the Lions in the first round the previous three years and could do so again unless Boyd loses at Tolsia (West Virginia) and Rowan beats Montgomery County.

Look for Highlands to again face Ashland Blazer (5-4) in the second round unless Covington Holmes pulls the upset. The Bulldogs are sure to struggle with University of Kentucky commit and standout running back Quinton Baker. Baker has 1,264 yards rushing on 136 carries and 14 touchdowns.

But Baker has yet to face Highlands. Baker was injured two years ago and was sick last year. The Tomcats have some help as Jake Long has 54 carries for 658 yards and eight touchdowns.

The third round is where the Bluebirds could be tested. They could again face Covington Catholic (5-4) in Fort Thomas. But it’s hard to see undefeated Johnson Central (9-0) let the Colonels come to Paintsville for a third straight year and leave with a win. Thus, Highlands could be making a trip to the mountains for the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The Golden Eagles have reloaded their vaunted wishbone rushing attack despite losing all three starters in the backfield. Bryce Skaggs leads Johnson Central with 62 carries for 812 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Highlands could then see either Boyle County or Lexington Catholic in the state semifinals in Fort Thomas. The Bluebirds have beaten the Knights in the state semifinals the previous three years. Reece Ryan again returns to lead the LexCath attack. He’s completed 152-of-221 passes for 1,992 yards, 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.

The state championship game is a toss-up. But Owensboro is the favorite to come there because of its 8-1 record. The Red Devils also came a couple aways from beating three-time defending 5A champion Bowling Green.

On the other side, Newport Central Catholic could be home for the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Thoroughbreds could again face Newport for the region championship. But Walton-Verona will not be an easy out for the Wildcats in the second round.

NewCath could see a number of different opponents in the state semifinals. The Thoroughbred have beaten Somerset in that round the past two years but the Briar Jumpers are winless on the season.

The Thoroughbreds could again see a number of teams in the 2A title game. That includes undefeated Christian Academy of Louisville, DeSales or Caldwell County.

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