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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Highlands Parts Ways with Weinrich as Head Football Coach

Weinrich Guided the Bluebirds to the Class 4A State Championship in 2014

FTM File Photo. A new head coach will take the sidelines for the Highlands Bluebirds football team next fall.

Coach Brian Weinrich told the Highlands Bluebirds football team on Tuesday afternoon that he will not return to the sidelines in 2021.

Weinrich has served on the Highlands coaching staff since 1995, when former Head Coach Dale Mueller brought him on as an assistant. Weinrich served as Defensive Coordinator between 2002 and 2013 and helped the Bluebirds win 11 state championships during Mueller's 20 seasons as head coach.

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For the 2012 state title game, Weinrich filled in as head coach after Mueller traveled to New York to attend a family funeral. Weinrich played wide receiver and defensive back as a senior on the 1989 Class AAA state championship Highlands team that beat Paducah Tilghman, 7-3 in the title game before going on to play collegiately at Campbellsville University.

After Mueller retired following the 2013 season, the Highlands administration promoted Weinrich to head coach, and he led the Bluebirds to the Class 4A state championship that fall over Owensboro.  Led by the likes of Beau Hoge, Alex Veneman, Brady Murray and Lou Bunning, Highlands trailed Owensboro, 42-21 at halftime.  But the Bluebirds made the necessary adjustments at intermission and came back to win 49-42 in the game dubbed "Triple-21 Comeback."

Mueller pointed out a number of ways Weinrich helped the program over the years. He recalled halftime of the 1996 Class 3A state championship game when Weinrich told Mueller the team had to change the game plan and explained why. The staff did that and it helped the Bluebirds beat Hopkinsville, 21-14.

"I have to say I have as much respect, really love for Brian Weinrich as I do any other guy that I know," Mueller said. "I can remember (offensive line coach) Scott Turner saying to me one time, 'Brian is just a football genius.' He was right. Brian has just been so loyal to Highlands football. He just studied and studied and studied. He knew the guys on our team and the guys on the other team maybe even better than their parents knew them. But I think the best thing is the way he treated the players. He treated each guy so professionally whether it was the best player or the worst player. I never heard him use any language that was inappropriate. He wouldn't belittle guys. He was so positive."

But since winning the 23rd state championship in school history, which ranks second in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Bluebirds have gone 38-34 with only one double-digit win season. Quarterback Grady Cramer led the 2018 team that went 10-3 and lost 36-0 to Covington Catholic in the region championship game.

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Highlands had its first two losing seasons since 1955 at 3-8 in 2016 and 5-6 this past year, a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.  But Weinrich agreed the Bluebirds might have had a winning season this past year under normal circumstances.

Since the start of 2014, Highlands has gone 4-7 against arch-rival Covington Catholic. The Colonels have won a school-record seven straight against the Bluebirds, including consecutive playoff wins for the first time in school history in 2018 and the 38-21 win at Wooten Field in Park Hills in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs Friday.

The new head coach will have a lot of experience to work with next season:  a number of sophomores including quarterback Charlie Noon, wide receiver Brennan Kelsay and linebacker Sam Robinson earned a sizable number of snaps in 2020. 

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