Several key players did not see the field against either Greenwood or Boone County to end the regular season. Offensively, senior Nick Veneman did not play in the last two games after he sat out the second half of the Covington Catholic game with his leg iced down. Veneman has 34 catches for 530 yards and eight touchdowns.
Also for the second straight week, the entire Highlands starting secondary in seniors Harrison Traylor, Joe Steiden and junior Bailey Armstrong also sat out. But junior defensive back Casey Greene and two sophomores in Hunter Ahlfeld and Jacob Brass held things down against two teams that threw a combined 18 passes completing seven for 67 yards. Greene returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown against Greenwood and Ahlfeld recovered a fumble against Boone County.
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"It was a lot of fun getting out there and playing hard with some of my teammates," Brass said. "It is cold. But you have to mentally push through that and know the guys across from you and the guys with you are doing the exact, same thing. You just have to work harder than the other team."
The Highlands linebacker group had a lot of injuries earlier in the year. But most of them are back. On the defensive line, junior Ben Sisson is out for the season and senior Nick Biltz also did not play there for the second straight week. But that gave defensive linemen such junior Will Salmon opportunities there.
Some of the reserves are also out with injuries. One is sophomore defensive lineman Conner Zell. But that has not dampened his spirits.
"You just have to practice hard, go with everybody else and really play your heart out no matter what you're doing," Zell said."Everybody's got to work together to overcome our difficulties and just have fun. It's a great sport."
Still Enjoying the Game:
Earlier in the week after the volleyball season ended, Highlands senior Skyler Phillips said she would not have made the friends she did if Phillips had not played volleyball. Senior wide receiver Jack Shultz may not see the field as much as others, but he expressed the same feelings Phillips did.
"I completely agree. I have made lifelong friendships through this program," Shultz said. "I do not regret a day of this. It's been one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life. If you're starting or not starting, everyone is practicing and working their tails off to play on Fridays. It's awesome."
Class 5A Playoff Picture:
District 5 arch-rival and top-ranked Covington Catholic completed its first undefeated 10-0 regular season with a 49-13 win at Campbell County on Friday. The Camels became just the third team to score double digits against the Colonels this year.
CovCath was not the only team to finish undefeated in Class 5A during the regular season. The District 1 champion Christian County Colonels also did it completing the regular season with a 20-10 win at Paducah Tilghman on Friday.
Highlands opens the playoffs against the Oldham County Colonels (6-4) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. A win would most likely put the Bluebirds up against the District 3 champion South Oldham Dragons (9-1) in the second round of the playoffs.
Series vs. Boone County:
The Friday meeting marked the 40th time in school history the Bluebirds faced the Rebels. They improved to 37-3 in the series. Highlands has won 14 in a row in the series. The last Boone County win came 14-8 in 1979. The teams faced each other 30 straight years from 1955 to 1984 but did not play again until 2001.