Thursday, October 23, 2014

What first is Highlands shooting for Friday?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands wide receiver Cashel Coughlan (89) tries to make a catch in Friday's win at Covington Holmes. Highlands takes on Cincinnati Elder in Fort Thomas at 7:30 p.m.
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

While the Covington Catholic Colonels may be the main arch-rival of the Highlands Bluebirds football team, the Cincinnati Elder Panthers might as well be the main nemesis.

Highlands (7-1) hopes to accomplish a first against the Panthers (5-3) on Friday at David Cecil Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. That’s beat the Panthers in Fort Thomas for the first time ever and second time in school history. The Bluebirds are 1-6 all-time against the Greater Catholic League South member.

“The goal is to be better this week than we were last week,” said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. “We have a pretty good opponent in front of us this week. We’re going to be challenged offensively at everything we’re doing. We have to make sure we’re executing at a high level, not just for this game but to build on for the playoffs.”

Elder has struggled some lately. The Panthers dropped close games to GCL rivals St. Xavier (32-24) and Moeller (26-17) and barely escaped Winton Woods, 28-21 last week.

Highlands came close to taking Elder out last year losing just 30-27 at The Pit. The Bluebirds won there three years ago, 34-29. But the Panthers were a lone blemish on the 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2012 state championship seasons.

The Bluebirds know their main priority in its 3-4 defense is containing junior quarterback Peyton Ramsey. Ramsey has completed 128-of-196 passes for exactly 1,500 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also leads the team with 131 carries for 596 yards and six touchdowns.

“He’s very deceptive,” Jones said of Ramsey. “He doesn’t look like he’s extremely fast but he really is. He can get outside of you. He likes to run the ball right at you. He’s a very physical runner. He does a great job running their offense.”

Senior Louis Fallace leads Elder with 45 receptions for 507 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Nick Hall is second with 22 catches for 366 yards and two touchdowns. Ramsey got away from tackles and completed some passes in the Elder win last year.

“You just have to stay outside, trust your key and just not let him get outside of you,” said Jacob Noe, Highlands senior linebacker. “He shouldn’t be able to get out of the pocket if we do that. You hope there is someone holding the gap so he can’t cut underneath you. You then try to get him to the ground.”

The Highlands defense has played well for the most part this season. The Bluebirds recorded their first shutout of the season against Covington Holmes.

The Bluebirds have 33 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks, six interceptions and six fumble recoveries on the season. Tyler Robinson leads Highlands with six tackles for a loss and two sacks. Noe, Daniel Kremer and D. J. Mills also have two sacks. Senior defensive back James Hinkel leads Highlands with two interceptions and senior linebacker Patrick Schoepf has three interceptions.

The Bluebirds are outscoring opponents 40.8-17.4 on the season. They are outgaining opponents 429.8-309.2 in yardage. The offensive line has come around lately.

“We’ve improved a lot since the first game,” said Bo Hebel, Highlands junior offensive lineman. “I think we’re becoming a good unit. We always have to try to move our linemen down the field then chip off on the linebackers so we can get as much done as possible.”

Winton Woods rushed for 244 yards against the Panthers. That could bode well for the balanced Highlands offense that has rushed for 1,369 yards and passed for 2,069. Highlands senior quarterback Beau Hoge has completed 130-of-203 passes for 2,006 yards, 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Hoge has also rushed for 347 yards on 47 carries and 12 touchdowns. Senior Griffin Urlage leads Highlands with 69 carries for 385 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior Alex Veneman continues to lead Highlands with 48 catches for 906 yards and 14 touchdowns. Junior Mitch Cain is next with 18 catches for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Cashel Coughlin has 15 for 151 yards.

“The (Miami Christopher) Columbus game was similar in that there are no weaknesses,” Weinrich said. “Every guy has to win every play. In the Columbus game, if you were off a step, missed your block or missed your route, it wasn’t working. They have guys who are going to run around and play every single play as hard as they can play.”

Senior linebacker Kyle Orloff leads the Panther defense. He has 77 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

Highlands concludes the season at Warren Central next week. The first-round playoff opponent should be determined Friday.

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