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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Highlands-Greenwood Sidebar

Bluebirds Make Most of Road Trip

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Jared Wogan (10) looks for running room while Grant Summers (8) looks to block in the 47-35 win over Greenwood on Friday.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior Crosley New (7) and junior Trent Johnson (65) celebrate after New recovered one of his two fumbles against Greenwood on Friday.
The three-plus-hour trip to Bowling Green for a regular season game may not be ideal for any Northern Kentucky football team, let alone the Highland Bluebirds.

But it served as a better option for both teams as opposed to only playing nine regular season games. Louisville Trinity has had to do that in the past because it could not find an 10th opponent. Highlands (4-5) made the most of the trip beating the host Greenwood Gators, 47-35 in non-district action Friday.

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Highlands found itself looking for an opponent last winter when the Kentucky High School Athletic Association allowed the Grant County Braves to drop out of Class 5A, District 5 action leaving three teams in the district. Class 5A's top-ranked Covington Catholic and Dixie Heights also filled their schedules. CovCath found Indianapolis (Indiana) Chatard as its 10th opponent.

"When the KHSAA allows a team to drop out of a district when we're already a four-team district and put us, CovCath and Dixie in a bind, I don't think it's a good thing," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "Now we have to go against a district that has six teams. We're very thankful for Greenwood for scheduling. It was a good trip. We got down here late. We got out of school at the last minute. I think that had a little to do with us getting off to a slow start."

Grant County is struggling once again this season. The Braves fell to 0-9 after a 28-8 loss at Mason County on Friday.

This marked the second time in four years Highlands came to Warren County during the regular season. The 2014 Class 4A state champion Bluebirds finished the regular season with a 43-0 win at Warren Central.

When the Highlands administration found out Greenwood (3-6) needed an opponent, both sides jumped on the opportunity quickly. The Gators will come up to Fort Thomas next year as Highlands will have six home games during the regular season.

Record vs. Teams Located in Warren County:

The Bluebirds moved to 6-1 all-time against teams located in Warren County. They are 3-1 against Class 5A state power Bowling Green.

Highlands is 3-0 against teams that are part of the Warren County school system. The Bluebirds also beat Warren Central, 71-69 in a shoot-out in 2013 to conclude the regular season. They have never played Warren East or 2015 Class 4A state champion South Warren.

First-Round Home Playoff Game Clinched:

Things looked certain that Highlands would play host to a home playoff game in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs. But CovCath removed any doubt with a 49-6 win at Dixie Heights on Friday to win its second straight district championship and stay undefeated at 9-0.

Highlands shut out Dixie Heights, 47-0 on Oct. 6 in Fort Thomas to gain the inside track to that home playoff game. The Bluebirds hit the road for the playoffs last year and lost 52-32 at Louisville Doss losing in the first round for the first time since 1991.

There is uncertainty at this point with who the playoff opponent will be. South Oldham clinched another Class 5A, District 3 district championship with a 5-0 district record. The Dragons won the region title last year before losing 62-55 at Pulaski County in the state semifinals.

But three teams tied for second in the six-team district. Highland will play host to either Oldham County, Bullitt East or Bullitt Central in the first round. All three finished with 3-2 district records.

Injury update:

Highlands wide receiver Nick Veneman did not play in the game at Greenwood, but made the trip. Veneman did not play in the second half of the loss at Covington Catholic. Veneman has 34 catches for 530 yards and eight touchdowns on the season.

Highlands also saw some starters on defense not play. That included junior defensive lineman Ben Sisson and senior defensive backs Joe Steiden and Harrison Traylor.

But it gave other players opportunities to earn some varsity experience. That included junior Will Salmon.

Overall Record:

Highlands moved to 883-248-26 in 103 seasons of football with the win over Greenwood. The Bluebirds are still six wins ahead of Louisville Male for the most all-time wins in Kentucky. The Bulldogs finished the regular season 8-2 overall to move to 877-327-49.

Highlands has the second-most all-time program wins in the country behind Valdosta (Georgia). The Wildcats are 3-5 this year after beating Lee County (Georgia), 31-28 and 916-228-34 overall leading Highlands by 33 victories.

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