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Saturday, October 18, 2014

What first did the Bluebirds accomplish at Holmes on Friday?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands senior Alex Veneman (6) hauls in a pass in Friday's game at Covington Holmes. The Bluebirds improved to 107-6 since the start of 2007 with the 36-0 win.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

COVINGTON – It had been a little more than a year since the Blue and White kept an opponent off the scoreboard.

The Highlands Bluebirds football team did that Friday. Highlands (7-1 overall, 3-0 District 7-4A) ventured into the River City and handled the Covington Holmes Bulldogs, 36-0 to earn that shutout.

Highlands earned its 18th district championship in 19 years and avoided anything close to its first two-game losing streak since 2006. The Bluebirds moved to 107-6 including 28-0 against district opponents since the start of 2007.

“We executed well enough,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “We played a little sloppy in the beginning. But we ended up fixing it. We had to get a little more crisp with what we were doing.”

Highlands scored all 36 of its points in the first half. The Bluebirds outgained the Bulldogs, 250-126 in total offense taking advantage of shot field position. The Bulldogs had four punts for 75 yards averaging a mere 18.8 yards per kick.

The Bluebirds once again torched the suspect Bulldog secondary mostly with the senior tandem of quarterback Beau Hoge to wide receiver Alex Veneman. Hoge completed 9-of-19 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and Veneman had six catches for 119 yards and two scores.

Hoge surpassed the 2,000-yard mark on the season. He has completed 130-of-203 passes for 2,006 yards with 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Highlands rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries in the game. Junior Nick Kendall led the way with 62 yards on five carries. Senior James Grau had three carries for 12 yards but had two touchdown runs.

The Bulldogs tried to pound the ball between the tackles in the spread offense. But the Bluebirds did not give up more than 16 yards on one rushing play.

“We did a good job of flying around,” said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. “We’re trying to build on what we’ve been doing each week – being confident and communicating pretty well and having fun. We’re going to continue to get better each week and each practice and take it day by day.”

Junior Andrew Arnold had 56 yards rushing on 17 carries for 56 yards to lead Holmes. Fellow junior Sean Sullivan was second with 27 yards on eight carries.

“We were being real aggressive, maybe too aggressive at times trying to strip the ball out that they were able to slip away from us a couple times,” Jones said. “We’re trying to play fast and create turnovers. Sometimes they’re going to squeak out and get a yard here or there.”

Holmes quarterback Desean Brumfield completed just 7-of-16 passes for 47 yards. He throw an interception that Highlands defensive back Austin Beal returned 39 yards in the first quarter. The Bluebirds had one tackle for a loss of three yards by sophomore Carter Burke.

“It was pretty hard (to wrap up),” said Phillip Arce, Highlands senior defensive end. “But the starting defensive line did a pretty good job. It was nice getting some time in there. It was a good week of practice and we all came together.”

Highlands had 11 first downs to nine for Holmes. The Bluebirds were also penalized twice for 20 yards and the Bulldogs had three for 34.

One Holmes penalty came for 15 yards in the third quarter on an unsportsmanlike penalty on second-year Head coach Ben Nevels. He continued to yell at the officials over a no-call even though the head judge warned him and his assistants tried to pull him back.

The Bulldogs did pick off two Austin Hergott passes in the second half. Sophomore strong safeties Jashaun York and Salih Abdullah had them.

Highlands scored 15 points in the first quarter. Grau had a 1-yard run with 8:27 left in the quarter. The Bluebirds converted a 4th-and-10 on the drive when Hoge completed a 16-yard pass to Veneman. Hoge then completed the two-point conversion to Eric Miller to put the Bluebirds up 8-0.

Beal’s interception set up Highlands at the Holmes 46. Hoge then took a sweep right and scored from five yards out with 2:08 remaining.

Highlands used some trickery to go up 22-0 after jared Dougherty hit his second of four extra-point attempts. Hoge handed off to Kendall going right and Kendall handed off to Justin Weyer on a reverse. But Weyer pitched it back to Hoge and Hoge fired a pass to the right post to Veneman for a 28-yard touchdown.

The Blubirds made it 29-0 with 7:12 left in the game. Hoge found Veneman for a 32-yard score.

After holding Holmes on fourth down, Highlands scored its final touchdown. After a 33-yard run by Kendall, Grau took an off-tackle run right for an 8-yard score with 1:12 left in the half.

Highlands play host to Cincinnati Elder on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Cecil Memorial Stadium.

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