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Saturday, August 25, 2018

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Bluebird Defensive Averages Through Two Games: Seven Points, 227 Yards Allowed

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior defensive lineman Zach Lewin (41), senior linebacker Jackson Hagedorn (46) and junior linebacker Brycen Huddleston (1) finish off a tackle against Campbell County junior Josh Pond (14).
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands sophomore defensive back Jason Noe (22) records an interception while senior defensive back Bailey Armstrong (2) pursues. That marked one of three interceptions for the Bluebirds in the game.
The focus on containing key players in the first two games has paid off immensely for the Highlands Bluebirds football team in the second year running the 3-5 defense.

A week ago, the Bluebirds wanted to limit the scrambling abilities of Cooper sophomore quarterback Jeremiah Lee. Lee had just 32 yards on 19 carries for a mere average of just under 1.7 per touch.

This week, the Bluebirds wanted to contain Campbell County senior running back Grant Jolly and senior wide receiver Reid Jolly. Grant Jolly rushed for 86 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown in Campbell County's 34-3 win over Dixie Heights to open the season for an average of just more than seven per carry. Reid Jolly had six catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns.

Highlands held Reid Jolly to just two catches for 49 yards. He had a long catch for 39 yards. Grant Jolly rushed for just 18 yards on seven carries for an average of just under 2.6 per touch.

"They're just really fast. They're two hard-nosed people that you have to know where they are," Highlands senior linebacker Alex Starkey said of the Jolly's. "It's just a testament to how hard everyone works at practice and doing the little things right to make sure people don't score in games. Everyone was flying around. Everyone was encouraging each other on the sideline."

Neither Cooper nor Campbell County rushed for more than 100 yards. The Camels rushed for 54 yards on 18 carries for an average of three per touch. The Jaguars rushed for 91 yards on 42 carries for an average of about 2.2 per carry. The two rushed for 145 yards on 60 carries for an average of just more than 2.4 per touch.

"It was lining up right," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We saw these guys on film. We knew who we needed to stop. We knew what we needed to stop. If you're going to stop something, you might give up a little something. There were a few things they were going to find and do. We just had to be patient and they were going to get impatient we thought. We had to take advantage on defense when they got impatient."

The defensive average against the rush is 72.5 yards per game. The Bluebirds allowed an average of 278 yards rushing per game last year.

Another huge defensive effort will be needed for Highlands against a tough opponent in the 2-0 Scott County Cardinals on Friday. The Cardinals rushed for an astounding 601 yards on 78 carries for an average of 7.7 per touch in their 58-28 win over Lexington Lafayette in Georgetown. Scott County has rushed for a total of 876 on 104 carries for an average of just more than 8.4 per carry behind four-year starting senior tackle Bryan Hudson.

Series Notes:

Highlands has won five of the six meetings since the series resumed in 2013. The Bluebirds moved to 55-10 all-time against the Camels. Highlands escaped Campbell County, 23-16 in Alexandria four years ago when Beau Hoge and Alex Veneman were seniors. The Camels beat the Bluebirds, 24-21 in 2016 in Alexandria for their lone win over the Bluebirds since 1991 when Nic Mayer booted a 23-yard field goal as time expired.

Those 55 wins are the second-most for Highlands against any opponent in school history. The only opponent the Bluebirds have more wins against all-time at 65-9 is Dixie Heights.

Class 5A, District 5:

Defending state champion Covington Catholic came away with a 41-0 win over Lexington Henry Clay in the Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic on Friday to extend the state's longest winning streak to 17 in a row. Dixie Heights lost 21-14 at Scott to fall to 0-2.

The Gauntlet Run:

Highlands enters weeks two through five facing a challenge of overcoming tough stretches that left the 2015 and 2016 teams with 1-5 records after they were done and a 2-4 record last year. Starting in 2015, the Bluebirds have gone 0-12 in those weeks against Scott Country, Ryle, Louisville St. Xavier, Lexington Catholic and Simon Kenton.

Those four are a combined 6-2 so far. LexCath (2-0) defeated Ryle (0-2), 50-34 on Friday in the Bluegrass Bowl. Simon Kenton also improved to 2-0 with a 37-20 win over Lexington Bryan Station in Independence.

Cross Country:
Highlands teams run in Moeller "Primetime" Invitational:

The Highlands girls finished seventh out of 13 teams in the Division I race with 169 points and the boys finished 12th with 332 points. The meet took place at Christ Church in Mason.

Mason won the girls race with 40 points. Sophomore Maggie Schroeder finished fourth overall for Highlands in 19 minutes, 31.50 seconds. Eighth grader Alyssa Harris finished 24th in 20:54.30 and junior Maria Broering placed 26th in 20:56.5.

Cincinnati St. Xavier took the top two places on its way to a first-place finish with 35 points in the Division I boys race. Eighth grader Sam Hopper led Highlands finishing 64th in 18:24.10 out of 399 runners.

Highlands runs in the Grant County Invitational on Sept. 1. It takes place at Sherman Elementary in Dry Ridge.

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