Colonels Post Most Lopsided Win Against Bluebirds in School History
But instead, the worst thing that could happen did as they dropped a 52-0 loss Friday.
Very little went right for the Highlands Bluebirds football team (3-5 overall, 1-1 Class 5A, District 5) against the top-ranked Covington Catholic Colonels (8-0, 1-0). That loss marked the worst defeat in school history against the Colonels in 68 meetings surpassing last year's 37-point loss (63-28). Highlands had won 15 straight in the series prior to last year.
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Highlands had also not been shut out in 164 straight games. The last time came in the 2005 Class 3A region championship game against Lexington Catholic (17-0).
The Bluebirds had beaten the Colonels in previous games by winning the turnover battle. But in this game, CovCath picked off three Highlands passes, recovered one Bluebird fumble and did not turn the ball over.
"We ourselves had too many turnovers and too many penalties," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "Those are negative plays like we talked about at the beginning of the year. When you play a good team like Covington Catholic, you can not do that."
The Colonels gained 571 yards on 56 plays for an average of just more than 10 yards per play. On the other side, the Bluebirds gained just 161 yards on 51 plays for an average of just 3.2 yards per play. Highlands likes to average 3.5 yards per play offensively.
"We just had to go with what we had," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We just had to try to hold on. We had a feeling what they were going to try to do. We were trying to stop the big plays and keep the game in front of us. They have some playmakers. We just could not get that one key stop. We just couldn't get a turnover. If you keep their offense on the field as long as they were on the field, they're going to make plays."
Highlands did make a third-down stop on its first defensive possession. But CovCath did not punt after that first offensive series.
"We kind of got off to a slow start offensively," said Eddie Eviston, third-year CovCath Head Coach. "But when (Colonel senior linebacker Kam Butler intercepted a pass), we were able to punch it in. It kind of got us going. Kuddos to him."
CovCath senior quarterback AJ Mayer was as good as advertised. Mayer completed 14-of-16 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 59 on six carries and a touchdown. Junior running back Casey McGinness had 111 yards rushing on 13 carries and two touchdowns for an average of just more than 8.5 yards per touch.
The Colonel balance shows all over the stat line. Eleven different players had at least one carry and seven different players had at least one catch.
"When you prepare for an offense like that, you have to be sound in everything you do," Weinrich said. "You have to be sound in your alignment, your techniques and we weren't. When you're not sound against an offense like that, they're going to find the mistake and they're going to make you pay for it. It might not be an 80-yard touchdown. It might be a five-yard gain. But that five-yard gain keeps the drive going. You've got to get some negative plays against them and you have to get a turnover against them. When you can't do either of those two, it's a long night."
Highlands was 0-for-7 on third down and 1-for-2 on fourth-down conversions for 50 percent. On the other side, CovCath converted 3-of-6 on third down for 50 percent and 1-for-1 on fourth down.
"It's always good for our defense to get involved that way," Eviston said. "We preach it all week. We talk about turnovers. We work on it. It was good to see a couple of them that gave the offense some short fields. We were able to get some quick scores that way."
Highlands trailed just 9-0 after the first quarter. On the field goal drive, Highlands sophomore linebacker Jack Delagrange recorded a tackle for a loss on a sweep left to put the Bluebirds in good position defensively.
"We just have to get better," Weinrich said. "There's no other question. We have a lot of football ahead of us still. We just have to get better in a hurry. We saw some things out there (Friday) and we've seen some things in the past couple weeks."
But the Colonels pulled away with three touchdowns in the second quarter to go up 31-0 at halftime. They led 45-0 after three quarters.
Both teams had three penalties each. The yardage went 30 against the Colonels and 25 against the Bluebirds.
Highlands travels to Greenwood (3-5), a Warren County High School located outside Bowling Green (Kentucky), for a non-region game Friday. Game time is 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
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