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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Schlarman, Henschen: Highlands, Newport Catholic Ties to Murray State, Kentucky Game

Schlarman Happy with Kentucky's Offensive Line Progress

University of Kentucky Media Relations Photo. Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman (middle) holds the ball up after receiving the game ball following the 27-16 win over Florida a week ago.
The sudden excitement surrounding the University of Kentucky football program can heavily be contributed to Highlands alum and Wildcat assistant coach John Schlarman.

Schlarman is in his sixth season in his current term as the offensive line coach for the Wildcats. Kentucky has been to two bowls during that time.

Schlarman and Kentucky sophomore defensive end Josh Paschal received game balls from Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops after the huge 27-16 win over the University of Florida a week ago. That marked the first Kentucky win over Florida since 1986 ending a 31-game losing streak to the Gators. Schlarman has been battling cancer recently.

The Wildcat offensive line opened up holes for the running backs to rack up 303 yards on the ground in the win. That included a 44-yard run by junior running back Benny Snell and a 31-yard touchdown by sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson. Kentucky averaged 7.4 yards per play and scored one touchdown rushing in the win.

"That offensive line, those tight ends blocked," Stoops told the press after the win over Florida. "We rushed the ball for 300 yards at Florida. That's a pretty good number. John is going through a lot, as we've talked about, but seeing him again, this past week go through six hours of chemo and pop up at practice like he didn't miss a beat. He's a strong man. He's going through a lot. I was grateful to be able to get him a win and of course, we got one for Josh Paschal. Great team victory."

The Wildcats moved to 3-0 after defeating Murray State, 48-10 on Saturday at Kroger Field. The Wildcats put up 528 yards of total offense on 74 plays for an average of just more than seven per play. Kentucky rushed for 245 yards on 43 plays for an average of about 5.7 per play.

"It's like I told them, we're 3-0. You can't be any better than that after three games," Schlarman said of the UK offensive line coming together. "Were we perfect? Absolutely not. There's a lot we can clean up. But I'm proud of them."

Schlarman said the Florida win was huge. But he said the team moved on quickly. Kentucky led just 17-3 at halftime but pulled away in the second half. The Wildcats led 34-3 entering the fourth quarter.

"Every man has to man up and have discipline," Schlarman said. "You only get 12 opportunities so that's something we talk about and they know that. We have some things we have to work on after (Saturday). At the end of the day, we have to win and that's always good to learn after a win so we'll do that we'll move on."

Schlarman said he feels good. His overall routine has not changed despite those battles.

"As long as no doctors tell me any different, I look forward to coming in and working hard every day at a high level and do what I need to do to help this team get better coaching the offensive line," Schlarman said. "That's what my goals were coming into the year and this is just something we're going to have to deal with along our path. We're going to take it one day at a time and just keep on trucking."

Tom Duffy was the head coach. He still has family in Fort Thomas and his parents live on the same street.

Schlarman started on the offensive line at Kentucky from 1994 to 1997. Prior to that, he helped the Bluebirds to the Class AAA state championship in 1992 with a 15-6 win over Paducah Tilghman when

"Especially from Coach Duffy, I learned about toughness. Never quit," Schlarman said. "Never give in when the going gets tough. That's something he put us in those situations and we overcame them. We won state championships and did some very good things when we were there. He didn't make it easy on us. At that time, it's hard as a young man and a young player. But as you get older, you realize he was doing the best thing for you. He was conditioning us to become men. I'm very appreciative for that and just everything my family has instilled. I have a lot of family up there in Fort Thomas so that will always be home."

Patrick Henschen, a 2017 Newport Central Catholic, dressed for this game. The 6-foot-6-inch sophomore moved from quarterback in high school to tight end.

"There's a lot of guys in that locker room that want to play, and there's a lot of talented players in there that work hard," Stoops said of Henschen. "That's what I just told them team is how much I appreciated every one of them because they all wanted theirs, and they deserve theirs. But nothing is promised. You know, everything is going to be earned, and he's no different."

Kentucky takes on 16th-ranked Mississippi State on Sept. 22. Game time is 7 p.m. back at Kroger Field.

Former Highlands wide receiver Jensen Feggins started for the Racers in the game. Feggins had a tremendous junior season at Highlands in 2013 before transferring to Warren Central as a senior in 2014 when his dad became head coach. He didn't have any catches in the game against Kentucky. He had two against Southern Illinois for eight yards. The Racers run a spread offense.

"The ball didn't come my way nearly as much as I'd like. But hey, that happens," Feggins said. "You have NFL receivers who don't get that many targets. You have to play the next play. It's big to block downfield for teammates because when I catch the ball, I'd want them to do the same for me."

The Racers are 0-3 on the season. But there has been improvement despite that. Murray State, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision school in the Ohio Valley Conference, finished 3-8 last year including 2-5 in OVC play.

"The effort was there. That wasn't even a question," Feggins said. "We knew coming in that if we wanted to even have a chance, that was the biggest thing. We have to execute better. The coaches gave us the right play calls. We just had a drop here, a flag here. We can't do that. But overall, I think we're taking care of the ball better, which is a big thing compared to the first game."

Murray State takes on Tennessee-Martin next Saturday in Murray. The Racers have four home games left this season.

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