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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Highlands Hoping to Right Ship in Final Regular Season Game

Bluebirds Face County Rivals on Friday

PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands junior defensive back Will Hartman (30) and senior linebacker Jack Cavanagh (3) bring down Moeller senior Thomas Rotello (5) on Friday.

This make-up rivalry game gives both football teams one more chance to taste the thrill of victory entering the playoffs.

The Highlands Bluebirds (3-5 overall) venture down US 27 to take on the Campbell County Camels (2-5) for a battle of teams on three-game losing streaks Friday at 7 p.m. The teams agreed to make up the game originally scheduled for Sept. 4 that saw the first three weeks cancelled as a result of Coronavirus 2019 on this open date. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association also voted to push back the playoffs by one week.

The losses for the Camels have been Class 6A, District 6 defeats during the losing streak with one loss coming 41-34 to Simon Kenton. Campbell County knows it will be traveling to district champion Ryle for the first round of the playoffs.

Highlands is still playing for playoff positioning. The Ratings Percentage Index has the Bluebirds going to Conner (3-2) to open the playoffs with a .4798 rating. Conner, Highlands and Cooper finished 2-2 in Class 5A, District 5 play going 1-1 against each other. 

"We had a great day (Monday). We really focused on the things we had to get better at," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "Anytime you get a chance to play a game, you have to be excited. We hope to put it all together this week."

All three beat Boone County (1-7) and lost to undefeated Covington Catholic (7-0). Conner has a .51388 rating and Cooper has a .44995 rating. 

The ratings index is explained well here:

Highlands has been outscored, 227-158 for averages of between 28 and 29 points to between 19 and 20 points per game. The Highlands Spread offense has 1,306 yards rushing and 847 passing for averages of between 163 and 164 rushing and between 105 and 106 passing.

The combination in the backfield of sophomore quarterback Charlie Noon and senior running back Mason South continues to lead the way. Noon has completed 58-of-112 passes for 741 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions and has rushed for 689 yards on 137 attempts for an average of just more than five yards per carry and six touchdowns. South has 334 yards rushing on 58 carries for an average of between five and six yards per touch and a touchdown to go with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Junior wide receiver Jake Welch has nine catches for 229 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Brennan Kelsay has a team-high 14 receptions for 142 yards for the Bluebirds. The Highlands offensive line knows the skill position players can do damage when protected.

"We worked out for two and a half hours (Monday). We always make sure one another is working harder and we're making sure we're doing our assignments right on the line," said Conner Barton, Highlands junior offensive lineman. "We block as best as we can. We try to stay as positive as possible. We try to help pick up energy. That's really nice to have as a team."

The Highlands 3-5 defense has allowed 1,430 yards rushing and 693 passing for averages of just more than 204 yards and 99 passing against Kentucky opponents. Moeller put up nearly 500 yards of offense in the 50-14 victory.

The Bluebirds have 11 interceptions on the season and three fumble recoveries. Highlands sophomore linebacker Sam Robinson has two of each including a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Crusaders. Senior defensive back Jason Noe leads the Bluebirds with three interceptions.

Barre3 Fort Thomas. 90 Alexandria Pike. 

"We're really getting after it in the weight room,"
said Jack Cavanaugh, Highlands senior linebacker. "We have to run downhill fast and stay low (against Campbell County). It's a matter of getting under the blocks and finding the ball."

Campbell County has been outscored, 159-110 on the season for averages of between 22 and 23 to between 15 and 16 points per game. The Camels did not play their scheduled game against Boone County on Friday as a result of rising Coronavirus 2019 cases in the area per state health recommendations. One of the Campbell County wins came 14-8 over defending Class A champion Pikeville on Oct. 2.

The Camels have rushed for 896 yards on the season and passed for 805 for averages of 128 and 115 respectively out of the shotgun spread look. Senior running back Crosley Gray leads the way with 392 yards rushing on 84 carries and three touchdowns for an averages of between four and five yards per touch.

"They're doing a good job executing," Weinrich said. "They have some guys making plays for them. They're able to play guys, which helps them stay a little bit more fresh. They have different guys with different skill sets. They're doing a good job taking advantage of them."

Campbell County has used two players at quarterback in senior Justin Little and junior Preston Agee. Little has completed 50-of-104 passes for 665 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions and Agee has completed 13-of-30 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions.

Eight different players have receptions for the Camels. Sophomore wide receiver Eric Davie leads the way with 17 catches for 240 yards and two touchdowns with senior Wes Barth recording 15 catches for 165 yards.

The Campbell County 3-4 defense has allowed 1,078 yards rushing and 873 passing for averages of 154 yards rushing and between 124 and 125 yards passing. Seniors Kaden Morency and Sam Sprinkle lead the Camels with 29 tackles each. Morency has four tackles for a loss including two sacks.

Campbell County has picked off five passes and recovered three fumbles. Agee leads the way with three interceptions for 53 return yards.

Highlands is 56-10 all-time against Campbell County. The Bluebirds have won three straight in the series.

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