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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Highlands-Ryle Sidebar

Bluebirds Hit Jackpot in Road Victory

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior quarterback Grady Cramer holds the ball out for senior running back Cooper Schwalbach in the first quarter.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth (10) tries to escape from Ryle senior defensive back Konrad Omeltschenko (32) while senior wide receiver Eddie Etter (81) comes in during the fourth quarter of the Highlands win.
With the 40-3 win at Ryle on Friday, the Highlands Bluebirds football team hit the jackpot in terms of overall program wins at 888.

The Bluebirds (3-1 overall) bounced back from a 28-7 lightning-shortened loss to Scott County the previous week. That unfortunately marked the 250th loss in program history to go with 26 ties.

The only program with more wins in the country in school history in the Valdosta Wildcats from south Georgia fell to 2-2 with a 48-13 loss at Colquitt County on Friday. The Wildcats are 919-232-34 all-time.

Varsity Experience:

Some members of the undefeated Highlands junior varsity team saw playing time late Friday. They got a feel for a rainy day on the turf field at Clifford R. Borland, Sr. Stadium.

"Anytime you get in a game, it's so hard in a situation like that," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "There are so many guys that we wanted to get in that didn't get in. You feel bad for them. We have a great team in terms of guys. They just care for each other. We'll come out (Saturday) and have a great JV game with those guys."

Highlands lists 80 players on the roster sophomore through senior. Sophomore linebacker Mason South saw action against Ryle. He helped the freshman team to an 8-1 record last year for the best record by a Highlands freshman team since 2010 when the Bluebirds finished 10-0.

"I just try to play my role and do as much as I can when I get it," South said. "I take my opportunities and make the most of them. We just try to play fast and do what we do. All we do in practice all day is read our keys and come downhill. After that first hit, you're ready."

The Highlands JV has three shutouts on the year. The Bluebirds play Ryle at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Honoring Cincinnati Fallen Ones:

The Bluebirds put a 5/3 logo on the back of their helmets to honor the five victims of the 5/3 Bank downtown headquarters shooting in downtown Cincinnati's Fountain Square.

Entering District Play on Positive Note:

The Bluebirds had not entered district play with a winning record the past three years. The 2015 and 2016 teams did so with 1-5 records and last year's team entered 2-4.

That stretch between from week two through week five had not been kind to Highlands the previous three years. The Bluebirds finished 0-12 during those weeks having lost three times to Ryle, Simon Kenton and Scott County respectively. Highlands also lost to Louisville St. Xavier twice and Lexington Catholic at home last year. The Bluebirds lost to Simon Kenton and LexCath late in the fourth quarter last year.

Highlands snapped a 13-game losing streak in those weeks with the win over Ryle. Scott County beat Highlands, 28-7 last Friday to beat the Bluebirds for the fourth straight season.

Keeping Opponents Out of End Zone:

Highlands had not kept a team from scoring a touchdown in eight straight games Friday. The Bluebirds did that and recorded their last shut-out on Oct. 6 of last year with a 47-0 win over Dixie Heights.

Big Win for Highlands Alum:

Highlands alum Chris Wolfe has the Louisville Male Bulldogs off to a 4-0 start with a 17-3 win at Louisville Trinity on Friday. The Bulldogs have not allowed a touchdown in four games outscoring opponents, 155-6.

The loss left Trinity at 0-4. But the Shamrocks had lost the previous three by a total of 11 points. That included a lightning-shortened 21-14 defeat at Cincinnati Moeller a week ago.

Male beat Trinity twice during its Class 6A state championship run in 2015 including a narrow 20-19 victory in the region title game. But Trinity proceeded to go 30-0 the next two seasons on their way to the Class 6A state championships including two wins over Male during the regular season. The Shamrocks own a state-record 25 football state titles.

Colonels Extend State's Longest Winning Streak:

Covington Catholic handled the Kings (Ohio) Knights, 42-9 to extend the school-record winning streak to 19 straight. The state record for most wins in a row is 50 by Louisville Trinity between 1988 and 1991 with Dennis Lampley as head coach.

Other Highlands Opponents:

The Bluebirds opened with wins over Cooper (36-7) and Campbell County (34-7). Those two met in Alexandria on Friday with Campbell County (3-1) knocking off Cooper (1-3), 22-21 when Grant Jolly scored from a yard out on the last play of the game.

Scott County, Simon Kenton and Lexington Catholic all stayed undefeated at 4-0 on the season with wins Friday. Scott County traveled to Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller and won 10-7 and Lexington Catholic handled Lexington Christian, 54-13 with Simon Kenton beating Dixie Heights, 55-20. Dixie Heights dropped to 0-4 with the loss.

Greenwood fell to 1-3 on the season with a 50-7 loss to neighboring Franklin-Simpson. But Boone County posted its first win of the year with a 49-0 defeat of Holmes (0-3) in Florence.

The Rebels also beat the Bulldogs, 27-6 in Covington last year. This marks just the fifth win for Boone County since going 9-5 in 2011 and losing 16-14 to Scott County in the Class 6A state semifinals.

Bluebirds win both games at September Slam:

Highlands (9-2 overall) started off the September Slam with two 2-0 victories in Pool A action. The Bluebirds lead the five-team Pool A as every other team lost at least once Friday. Oldham County leads Pool B with the same record.

The Bluebirds started the day with their second win over the host and defending tournament champion Lady Eagles, 2-0 (25-11, 25-16). Highlands recorded 23 assists, 23 kills, three aces and 22 digs in the win. Junior setter Audrey Graves made her return to the line-up after missing the win Thursday over Walton-Verona and recorded 23 assists, two kills and two digs.

Graves again distributed the ball well. Junior Ava Hockney led Highlands with seven kills to go with an ace. Senior Margot Seidel gave the Bluebirds solid all-around play with six kills and five digs. Freshman CC Shick added five kills.

Senior libero Olivia Gessner led another solid game defensively for Highlands with six digs. Junior Brooke Biltz had five digs and freshman Madison Clore had four.

Highlands then defeated Simon Kenton, 2-0 (25-22, 26-24). Highlands had 24 kills, 24 assists, 18 digs and two blocks. Biltz and Gessner dug up five balls to allow the Bluebirds to set up the offense.
Clore and Seidel had three each. Seidel also had eight kills to lead the Highlands offense.

Hockney and Shick added six kills each. Graves had 24 assists.

Highlands plays Beechwood at 9 a.m. then Pulaski Southwestern at 11 a.m. The final games take place at 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Highlands has played in the September Slam every year since 2007 except 2010. The Bluebirds won the tournament in 2007 and 2008 going undefeated in it both times.

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