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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW | 2009 High school football season begins Friday, and Northern Kentucky teams feature one of the strongest collections of talent in history. From Class 1A all the way to 6A, local schools are producing major-college recruits and will contend for state titles – in some cases, repeats and three-peats. Today The Enquirer breaks down the area scene, beginning here through page C18.



m The spotlight is on 10 seniors and five underclassmen to keep an eye on this season. C10 m Division I dreams could become reality for several Northern Kentucky seniors, from running backs to tight ends to linemen. C13 m A change to Class 4A could do Holmes some good in the Bulldogs’ efforts to make a playoff run. C15 m With left tackle Jordan Hansel clearing the way for running back Miles Simpson, Simon Kenton could be clearing a path back to the state final. C16 m Covington Catholic, Newport and Walton-Verona usher in new eras this season with first-year head coaches. Ryan Ernst conducts Q&As with Dave Wirth, Nick Rice and Jeff Barth. C17

m ULTIMATE FAN: Enter the Ultimate High School Football Fan Sweepstakes, in which you can post photos that show off your school spirit – and possibly win a Skyline Chili tailgate party. Visit ultimatefan to submit photos throughout the season. m MOBILE ALERTS: You can stay up to date with your favorite teams this season by getting football scores sent directly to your mobile phone. Go to cincinnati to sign up. It’s free! m REPORT RESULTS: Please call in results immediately after your game, at 513-768-8452 or 513-768-8447. When a local team visits a team outside our area, our local team is asked to report. Please be prepared to identify scorers for each team.


FROM A TO Z By Ryan Ernst / is for little guys. There are several in the area who will make a big impact. None is expected to play bigger than Bellevue running back Ricky Buckler (5 feet 7, 160 pounds) and Campbell County running back Austin Johnson (5-7, 130).

is for automatic. Eight area teams – Covington Catholic, Dixie Heights, Highlands, Holy Cross, Lloyd, Newport, Newport Central Catholic and Scott – will receive a spot in the playoffs whether they win a game or not. When Holmes moved down to 4A, it left the area with two fourteam districts. Scott, by virtue of the move, will reach the playoffs for just the third time in school history.



is for moving. For the first time in 31 years, the state football finals will not be played in Louisville. This season begins a two-year contract between the KHSAA and Western Kentucky University, which will host the event at L.T. Smith Stadium.


is for bye weeks. Say bye-bye to them, at least the mandatory bye weeks. This year, under the state’s new scheduling grid, teams have the option of playing 10 games in 10 weeks.


is for change of scene. There were a few transfers that could impact the Northern Kentucky football season, most notably out-of-towner John Drennan, who will play receiver at Highlands, and lineman Di’Nikko Waller, who transferred from Withrow to Newport.


is for decade. NewCath has won the most games of any Northern Kentucky team in the 2000s (105). Beechwood has the best winning percentage (.830) and Highlands has the most state titles (four) since the turn of the century.


is for experience. Dixie Heights, probably the most seasoned team in the area, returns 10 starters on offense and 10 on defense.


is for finals. This year’s state championship games are scheduled for Dec. 4 (1A, 3A, 5A) and Dec. 5 (2A, 4A, 6A).


is for GCL. The Greater Catholic League South – Elder, La Salle, Moeller and St. Xavier – holds a 15-game winning streak against Northern Kentucky teams. Highlands and CovCath will have a chance to end the

Community Recorder/James Weber

Ryle junior quarterback Conner Hempel threw for 1,362 yards last season. streak with games against St. X and La Salle, respectively. is for hires. Although there were many coaching staff additions in the offseason, one of the biggest came at Dixie Heights, where the Colonels added former CovCath head coach Dave Brossart as an assistant. (One of Brossart’s biggest coaching wins came at Dixie, when CovCath upset Dixie 24-7 in the 2007 playoffs.)


is for iHigh. The online company has archived complete videos from last year’s state finals. They can be viewed by using a link on the KHSAA football page.


is for juggling. Beechwood assistant Jeremy Fisher not only is on staff with the back-to-back defending Class 1A state champs, he’s also the head coach for boys’ and girls’ cross country and boys’ and girls’ track and field at Conner.


is for kickers. There are eight returning area players who made field goals last year. Highlands junior Adam Weinel is the most experienced. He went 4for-4 last season.


is for Nippert Stadium. The home of the UC Bearcats was set to host three Northern Kentucky games this season until Beechwood-Highlands was moved back to Beechwood.


is for options. The Highlands passing attack was the talk of summer seven-on-seven competitions, due mostly to its stockpile of talent at the receiver position. “We’ve got seven to 10 guys who are legit threats,” said quarterback Will Bardo.


is for playoff draws. This falls under the good news/bad news category for Northern Kentucky Class 6A fans. The area’s last-standing Class 6A playoff team would not have to face four-time defending champion Louisville Trinity until the state final. Northern Kentucky’s district, however, is matched up with state power Louisville St. Xavier’s district for the first three rounds.


is for quarterbacks. Three of the area’s top five 2008 passers, statistically speaking, return this season: Nick West (Conner), Conner Hempel (Ryle) and Ryan Wilson (Dixie Heights).



is for rivalry. Although the National Federation of State High School Associa-

Enquirer file/Ernest Coleman

Beechwood coach Noel Rash sealed the Class 1A state championship with a kiss from wife Julie in December, when the Tigers beat Hazard 14-7. Beechwood seeks a three-peat this year. tions’ record book doesn’t list the Bellevue-Dayton rivalry among its most-played series, it belongs there. After the two teams met for the 125th time last season, the rivalry would rank eighth in national history. is for The Showdown. Northern Kentucky is guaranteed its first victory in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown since 2004. That’s because there are two Showdown games featuring area teams going head to head: Dixie Heights vs. Beechwood and Simon Kenton vs. Newport Central Catholic.


is for ties. There probably won’t be any on Northern Kentucky football fields this season, and that includes the sidelines. Walton-Verona coach Woody McMillen, who resigned in the offseason, was the only area coach to wear a necktie during games.


is for uniforms. Several area teams have some new uni combinations. Boone County has added blue pants to its wardrobe, and Simon Kenton is sporting new jerseys.


is for victories. Newport Central Catholic coach Bob Schneider enters his 44th season at the helm of his alma mater with a state-best 338 victories. According to the NFHS record book, he’s 33rd all time nationally. He needs just 23 more victories to


Enquirer file/Ernest Coleman Enquirer file/Cara Owsley

The Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at UC’s Nippert Stadium is an early-season schedule highlight. This year, the Aug. 29 slate features two all-Northern Kentucky matchups.

Campbell County’s Austin Johnson is only 5 feet 7 but gained 779 yards last season against tough 6A competition.

surpass former Badin coach Terry Malone to become Greater Cincinnati’s all-time leader. is for winning percentage. No coach in the area has one better than Beechwood coach Noel Rash. In three seasons, he’s posted a 36-6 record (.857). For comparison’s sake, his predecessor Mike Yeagle’s percentage was .870. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association doesn’t keep official statistics for coaches’ career winning percentage, but Yeagle’s 181-27 mark is easily better than every coach on the state’s top-20 career wins list.


is for St. Xavier. Two schools with that name appear in the Prep top 100 national poll – Louisville St. Xavier and Cincinnati St. Xavier. Both play Northern Kentucky teams. CovCath plays the Louisville team. Highlands plays the Cincinnati team.


is for YouTube. The site is becoming an increasingly popular forum for coaches to show off their players. If you want to see a highlight film of one of the area’s top talents, it’s worth a search.


is for Week Zero. Based on the state’s new scheduling grid, teams can play a game in “Week Zero,” which just happens to be this week. That team, however, must relinquish one of its preseason scrimmages.


Enquirer file

Bellevue’s Ricky Buckler is also small in stature but puts up big numbers. He rushed for 1,483 yards last year.





DECISION EASY AS FLIPPING A SWITCH Collinsworth’s move to RB safe call for Mueller By Richard Skinner Enquirer contributor

It didn’t take long for Highlands coach Dale Mueller to figure out that moving multipurpose senior Austin Collinsworth to running back this season was the right move. “The first day of spring practice, he ran the ball 90 yards for a touchdown against our first-team defense,” said Mueller. “I already had a pretty good idea, but we knew right then he was in the right place to help us.” Collinsworth, son of former Bengals wide receiver and NBC “Sunday Night Football” analyst Cris Collinsworth, appeared as if he might be following in his father’s footsteps last season when he caught 46 passes for 840 yards and six touchdowns in helping the Bluebirds go 14-1 and repeat as Class 5A state champions. And actually, Collinsworth playing receiver marked the first time Mueller changed his mind about where the athlete might play – for Highlands and beyond. “As a sophomore, I really pictured him being a pro at safety – and he still might be. Then last year, I really felt he would be a pro at wide receiver along the lines of Wes Welker. And now I picture him as a pro running back,” said Mueller. “It’s his spot.” Collinsworth, who served as a backup running back as a sophomore in addition to starting in the secondary, was moved back to running back this season to fill a void left by the graduation of Clint Crawford, Josh Conner and Oliver Head, who all rushed for more than 300 yards, led by Crawford’s 902. That, coupled with the return of solid receivers Nick Buten, Daniel Gold and David Hogue, along with tight end Brandon Roller, made the switch an easy choice. “He really gave us a total dimension at wide receiver with things we could do with quick screens, and he’s such a factor deep that he really helped us expand the field, but we really wanted to get him more touches,” said Mueller. “It’s hard to get the ball in any receiver’s hands more than 10 times a game, but now we can get it to him 30 times a game.” Collinsworth has gained 15-20 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot frame, but he probably won’t carry 30 times a game. In addition to rushing, he will be used as a receiver coming out of the backfield and as a kick returner. Last season he had five kick returns for touchdowns. The position switch is just fine by Collinsworth. “Ideally I would like to play running back at the next level, so this is my chance to prove that,” he said. “I just love to play as much as possible, and this gives me that chance.” Many Division I colleges are projecting Collinsworth as a defensive back, and after playing corner as a sophomore, he will play strong safety this season. He has led Highlands in

School: Ryle Position: RB Height: 5-10 Weight: 205 Year: Sophomore Buzz: A Boone County youth football legend in the same vein as former Boone standout Cory Farris, a lot was expected of Elliott before last season, and he delivered, showcasing a physical running style uncommon for freshmen playing varsity … rushed 105 times for 533 yards, running for nine touchdowns and catching one touchdown pass … younger brother of former Beechwood standout Cody Elliott. Coach’s quote: “I’ve never been around a kid with a motor like his. He’s unbelievable. … We’re going to try to play him on defense. But if he’s fresh on offense, our defense isn’t going to be on the field very much.” – Bryson Warner

School: Ryle Position: QB Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Year: Junior Buzz: He showed great size and great arm strength as a sophomore … after playing a difficult schedule in 2008, expect his poise to be better this season. Coach’s quote: “He’s a big, physical kid with a great arm. The way he throws the ball allows us to do some things that we’ve never been able to do before. With him playing quarterback, we’ve got to open things up a little bit offensively.” – Bryson Warner

Chris Kelly School: Newport Central Catholic Position: RB/LB Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 Year: Junior Buzz: Is the latest in a long line of NewCath standout football players in his family … after making his biggest impact on defense last season, will get the majority of the Thoroughbreds’ carries. Coach’s quote: “I told him that we’re going to need him on the field every play. And he said that’s what he wanted. … He’s going to call all the signals defensively and he’s going to run the ball.” – Bob Schneider

Zac Larimore

The Enquirer/Malinda Hartong

Austin Collinsworth will do it all for Highlands: He’ll carry the ball, act as a receiver out of the backfield, return kicks and also play strong safety. interceptions each of the past two seasons, swiping five passes in 2007 and four last season. If Mueller needed further affirmation about the move to running back, he got it once practice started this summer. “We had been practicing well over two hours, and we’re running a drill with just the center, the quarterback and the running back so we can get the timing down on the exchange and the handoff. All we want him to do is take the handoff and go about 5 yards, but he gets it, makes about three cuts and sprints 15 yards,” said Mueller. “Then we do an interior drill with live hitting on the line, and he does the same thing and just explodes down the field. He’s so great at timing the hole. He’s just a special, special player.”

“He really gave us a total dimension at wide receiver … but we really wanted to get him more touches. It’s hard to get the ball in any receiver’s hands more than 10 times a game, but now we can get it to him 30 times a game.” Highlands coach Dale Mueller on moving Austin Collinsworth to running back

Tate Nichols

School: Ryle Position: TE/DE Ricky Buckler Tyler Grubbs Height: 6-7 School: Bellevue School: Highlands Weight: 260 Position: RB/DB Position: OL/DL Buzz: Became the Height: 5-7 Height: 6-6 first Division I commitWeight: 160 Weight: 275 ment in Northern Kentucky’s 2010 Buzz: A two-way Buzz: An accomclass when he committed to Stanford standout since his plished basketball in the offseason … could become an sophomore season … player who helped offensive tackle in college … missed small but durable back … one of three Highlands reach the regional semifinals the first half of 2008 due to a foot returning 1,000-yard rushers in the last season … will play both offense injury and caught just 11 passes … area … actually sees more playing time and defense … has committed to strong blocker who should play a bigon defense. Miami University. ger role in the passing game … also Coach’s quote: “He is just such a Coach’s quote: “He has made a will play defensive end. complete package. He has a work ethic huge improvement. As a sophomore, Coach’s quote: “He’s the biggest that’s second to none and a toughness he really wasn’t a very good football kid I’ve ever seen on a high school that’s second to none. He’s very intelli- player. At the start of his junior year, football field. And he can run well. He gent and strong and fast. He has great he was barely a varsity starter. By the wasn’t 100 percent for even one game hands and great vision. He has everyend of last season, he was dominating last season. It took him the offseason thing that you would want – everything guys. It really just clicked for him. Now to get healthy again. We’re expecting except great size.” – Dave Eckstein he’s just on a whole different level.” big things from him. We’re going to – Dale Mueller need big things from him.” – Bryson Warner School: Highlands Position: RB/DB Height: 6-0 Weight: 180 Buzz: An all-state defensive back as a sophomore and allstate wide receiver as a junior … will move to running back this year … son of former Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth … being recruited by Big East, SEC and Pac-10, mostly as an athlete. Coach’s quote: “He practices like he wants to be in the NFL. He desperately wants this team to do well. But he is in no way satisfied in just doing well. You can see that he has more coming to him.” – Dale Mueller

Travis Elliott

Conner Hempel


Austin Collinsworth


Jordan Hansel School: Simon Kenton Position: OL/DL Height: 6-4 Weight: 295 Buzz: A former basketball player who concentrated on football after a knee injury … last season led the way for 2,000-yard rusher Miles Simpson … recently set a school weightlifting record with a 550-pound squat. Coach’s quote: “College coaches really like his balance. He has body control and athleticism. He’s not just a top-heavy big kid. He plays with good leverage.” – Jeff Marksberry

Austin Pugh School: Conner Position: RB/LB Height: 6-1 Weight: 200 Buzz: One of the most versatile players in an offense full of them … solid runner, receiver and blocker … after getting spot duty at linebacker last year, will play defense full-time. Coach’s quote: “He’s going to play a huge role on both sides of the ball for us – as our one-back and middle linebacker. … He’s a contact-type person. He’s physical and he can run. He’s the type of kid that you like at both those positions.” – Dave Trosper

School: Beechwood Position: TE/DE Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Year: Junior Buzz: Was a two-way starter as a sophomore on the Tigers’ state championship team … one of the best athletes in the Beechwood program … after catching 13 passes as a sophomore, he should be a much more prominent target in the offense. Coach’s quote: “It’s really simple with Zac. He’s a throwback to the ’60s Packers – Lombardi-type stuff. He’s just a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar athlete with the athleticism of today’s players. It’s a fantastic combination.” – Noel Rash

Chad Lawrence School: Simon Kenton Position: QB Height: 5-10 Weight: 150 Year: Junior Buzz: A proven winner, he started his varsity career as a dangerous returner and defensive back … late last season, took over the quarterbacking duties and led the Pioneers to the Class 6A state final … one of the area’s most athletic quarterbacks. Coach’s quote: “He’s such a competitor. He wants the ball in his hands in every crucial situation. His athletics IQ is very high, and he has a great mentality. He’s just so full of moxie and guts and he hates to lose. That’s his strongest attribute.” – Jeff Marksberry

Charles Quainoo

Miles Simpson

School: Boone County Position: RB Height: 5-10 Weight: 185 Buzz: Led the state in rushing during the regular season last year … averaged 28 carries per game in 2008 … carried 53 times in a single game … needs just 749 yards to become the program’s 10th 3,000-yard rusher. Coach’s quote: “He’s not all that big, but he runs awfully hard. After people make contact, he runs even harder. He makes good, quick cuts. But he’s just one of these guys, when guys start trying to tackle him, he finds an extra burst of strength.” – Rick Thompson

School: Simon Kenton Position: RB/DB Height: 6-2 Weight: 205 Buzz: Is coming off one of the best junior seasons recorded by any running back in Northern Kentucky history … also a big hitter from the safety position … should play more defense this season. Coach’s quote: “He’s the total package. He’s got great size and speed. He can catch it; he can run it. He could really play any position on offense besides offensive line. He could even play defensive end. He has such versatility. But really that’s secondary to his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands.” – Jeff Marksberry

Brandon Roller School: Highlands Position: TE/LB Height: 6-1 Weight: 215 Buzz: A rare threeyear starter at Highlands … was named last year’s district player of the year … is back after rehabbing a knee injury suffered in the playoffs … will focus more on defense this season but also is the top passcatching tight end in the area. Coach’s quote: “He’s one of the best football players I’ve ever coached. When he was a sophomore, we had some great linebackers, and we couldn’t get him off the field. … This year, we’d like to see him just be a dominating defensive guy. But we’ll play him at least some, and maybe a bunch, on offense.” – Dale Mueller

Nick West School: Conner Position: QB Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Buzz: Three-year starter who plays in the right system to put up big numbers … biggest strength is his ability to make on-field adjustments … also one of the area’s top running quarterbacks. Coach’s quote: “He’s showing his leadership role. That’s the biggest thing I look at from our seniors. From a football standpoint, I expect him to play the role he knows how to play. I expect him to take what he did last year and move it to another level. Now the guys around him need to raise their game to his level.” – Dave Trosper





HIS PLAY WILL DO THE TALKING SK’s Simpson in the Mr. Football conversation By Ryan Ernst

The Enquirer/Amie Dworecki

Miles Simpson rushed for 2,309 yards last season and scored 264 points, tied for the 10th-best season total in state history.

THE STATE | 20 TO WATCH PLAYER SCHOOL POS. HT. WT. Antonio Andrews Fort Campbell QB 6-0 180 Buzz: Was huge in the Falcons’ state title run a year ago. VaShun Banks Christian County RB 5-11 180 Buzz: Sometimes gets left out of talk, but an all-state-caliber back. Jay Beard Bowling Green WR-DB 6-2 200 Buzz: Another solid player from one of the state’s elite programs. Harris Bivin Apollo OL-DL 6-4 290 Buzz: Strong and physical lineman has committed to Louisville. Steven Caudill Edmonson County OL-DL 5-11 270 Buzz: Might not get the same hype as other linemen, but he’s just as solid. Channing Fugate Breathitt County RB-DB 6-2 230 Buzz: Tennessee commitment can break the state’s all-time rushing mark. Domonique Hayden Lexington Christian RB-LB 5-8 225 Buzz: Should turn in another all-state-caliber season. Malcolm McDuffen Christian County DE 6-4 190 Buzz: Good size and very athletic; getting a lot of college looks. Ryan Moses Williamsburg QB 6-3 185 Buzz: Under-the-radar kid, but he can wing it. Chris Muse Pulaski County QB 6-0 180 Buzz: Rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards two years in a row. Tim Patterson Central LB-TE 6-5 220 Buzz: Too bad primary defensive guys don’t win Mr. Football. Stephan Robinson Central WR 5-9 165 Buzz: One of the fastest players in the state will get more touches this season. Jacob Russell Anderson County QB 6-4 220 Buzz: Three-sport standout athlete is a big-time winner. Eric Shaw Lafayette RB-WR-DB 5-11 180 Buzz: Will he ever come off the field for the Generals? Lance Turpin Taylor County QB 6-1 205 Buzz: Almost 4,000 yards passing over the past two seasons. Aaron Watts McCreary Central ATH 6-2 205 Buzz: Best athlete in the state? He’ll play a number of positions. Quan Weaver Frankfort RB-DB 5-11 200 Buzz: Another U of L commitment, Weaver will rack up a bunch of yards. Tyrell Willis Calloway County RB-LB 6-3 235 Buzz: Could play the line but has great quickness and running back mentality. Neil Wilson Monroe County WR 6-2 185 Buzz: Skilled player in a more low-profile setting. Lucas Witt Lexington Christian QB 6-1 175 Buzz: Has the combination of athleticism and smarts.

— The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

WHAT’S COMING BACK NORTHERN KENTUCKY’S LEADING INDIVIDUAL RETURNERS PASSING Player Nick West Ryan Wilson Conner Hempel Andrew Eshman Cameron Reynolds Cody Collins Matt Rigdon Markel Walker Dylan McGuire Zach Stegemoller

Team Conner Dixie Heights Ryle Campbell County Walton-Verona Newport Beechwood Holy Cross Lloyd Ludlow

Att. 260 194 201 143 92 147 137 137 104 92

Comp. 164 113 127 75 54 70 75 52 55 54

Pct. 63.1 58.3 63.2 52.4 58.7 47.6 54.7 38.0 52.9 58.7

TD 23 10 17 11 4 9 12 10 5 10

Int. 9 5 4 5 0 15 6 4 6 18

Yds. 2,168 1,482 1,362 1,131 676 1,040 1,300 728 712 690

YPG 180.7 134.7 123.8 113.1 112.7 94.5 86.7 60.7 59.3 57.5

RUSHING Player Charles Quainoo Miles Simpson Ricky Buckler Andy Roenker Austin Johnson Kiefer Eubank Corey Klei Zach Sowder Markel Walker Seth Chappie

Team Boone County Simon Kenton Bellevue Holy Cross Campbell County Ryle Dixie Heights Scott Holy Cross Lloyd

Player Austin Collinsworth Conner Lewis Nick Buten Michael Gill Brandon Roller Ryan Klute Ryan Delph Brett Berry Michael Robinson Corey Klei

Team Highlands Dayton Highlands Conner Highlands Cooper Conner Cooper CovCath Dixie Heights

Att. 282 284 239 176 142 110 133 125 137 127

Yds. 1,887 2,309 1,483 1,136 779 764 737 610 697 656

YPC 6.7 8.2 6.2 6.5 5.5 6.9 5.5 4.9 5.1 5.2

YPG 157.3 154.3 134.8 94.7 77.9 76.4 67.0 61.0 58.1 54.7

Rec. 46 23 17 30 28 18 30 15 22 20

Yds. 840 516 658 484 516 333 373 242 240 230

YPC 18.3 22.4 38.7 16.1 18.4 18.5 12.4 16.1 10.9 11.5

YPG 56.0 51.6 43.9 40.3 36.9 33.3 31.1 24.2 24.0 20.9


SCORING Player Miles Simpson Ricky Buckler Charles Quainoo Ryan Wilson Joe Colosimo Corey Klei Austin Collinsworth Seth Chappie Nick West Travis Elliott

Team Simon Kenton Bellevue Boone County Dixie Heights Beechwood Dixie Heights Highlands Lloyd Conner Ryle

TD 41 24 21 10 15 14 12 9 9 9

2-pt. 8 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0

Team Beechwood Simon Kenton Highlands NewCath Dayton NewCath

FG 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0

Pts. 264 146 126 92 90 84 74 56 54 54

Team Conner Lloyd Conner Campbell County Conner Campbell County NewCath Simon Kenton Conner Simon Kenton Ludlow

No. 81 72 61 61 57 57 56 55 54 53 52


INTERCEPTIONS Player Kody Klug Zach Carroll Austin Collinsworth Chris Kelly Conner Lewis Austin Siemer

XP 0 0 0 26 0 0 0 0 0 0

No. 6 4 4 4 4 4

Player Will Hardin Jeremy Ray Eric Champ Jake Rebholz Huston Dockery Zak Koeninger Chris Kelly Nick Brown Nate Angel Austin Baldwin Drew Rice

NORTHERN KENTUCKY’S TEAM LEADERS DEFENSE OFFFENSE Team Highlands Beechwood NewCath Conner Dixie Heights Bellevue Scott Boone County Simon Kenton Campbell County Ryle Holy Cross CovCath Lloyd Newport Dayton Walton-Verona Ludlow Holmes Cooper Bishop Brossart

YPG 394.9 398.9 342.1 366.5 322.1 311.7 323.8 340.5 317.5 315.8 300.4 316.7 310.1 342.1 246.8 235.7 232.1 228.7 191.8 140.4 156.0

PPG 43.5 39.4 35.2 32.7 32.5 28.2 27.6 27.2 26.9 26.3 24.0 23.1 23.0 22.8 19.2 17.0 15.7 15.3 12.9 11.3 5.9

Team Beechwood Highlands Boone County NewCath Newport Conner Campbell County Simon Kenton Walton-Verona Lloyd Ryle Bellevue Holy Cross Scott Dixie Heights Dayton Ludlow CovCath Holmes Cooper Bishop Brossart

YPG 154.9 231.0 161.7 293.4 210.3 276.7 272.5 289.1 241.2 307.9 284.7 245.8 280.5 239.4 324.8 327.8 339.6 386.6 344.4 379.7 415.7

PPG 8.3 12.5 14.2 17.9 19.5 19.9 20.6 20.8 21.1 23.3 22.8 23.8 23.8 27.9 29.2 30.4 34.1 36.4 36.5 46.0 48.0

Miles Simpson doesn’t like doing interviews. It’s not because the Simon Kenton star is uncomfortable speaking. He answers questions the way he runs the football – easily and purposefully. Away from the field, however, Simpson shuns the spotlight. “He just doesn’t like being the focus of things,” Simon Kenton coach Jeff Marksberry said. “He’s the last person who wants to talk about himself or have people talk about him.” That’s probably going to become a problem. Because as Simpson enters his senior season, he’s near the top of a short list of Kentucky Mr. Football contenders. No local player has won the award since Highlands quarterback Jared Lorenzen in 1998. Others have become finalists in recent years (Gino Guidugli, Brett Hamblen and Rob Smith of Highlands, Drew Ellison of Covington Catholic and Cory Farris of Boone County), but most lacked the preseason hype Simpson is receiving. Television stations, Web sites, recruiting services and newspapers all have sought out Simpson for summer interviews. He begrudgingly obliged.

“I don’t like talking too much because it puts a lot of attention and focus on me, like I’m doing everything by myself,” Simpson said. “But if I didn’t have the whole team, I couldn’t do anything.” Simpson’s offensive line should offer plenty of assistance. The Pioneers return three starters up front, including fellow Division I recruit Jordan Hansel. “It’s one thing to have size and experience coming back,” Hansel said. “But it’s another thing when you’re lining up in front of one of the best backs in Kentucky. We just try to make him look good because we know he’s going to make us look good.” That’s the way things worked out last season. Simpson led the Pioneers to a Class 6A runner-up finish. He led the area with 2,309 rushing yards, 41 total touchdowns and 264 points. The point total tied him for 10th place in the state’s single-season record book. The Mr. Football award is voted on by statewide media members. Marksberry said Simpson will have to produce similar numbers, and the Pioneers must make another playoff run, for votes to come his way. And although the award isn’t a team goal, Marksberry said the team’s success will be directly tied

to Simpson’s success. “Ultimately, all 87 of our kids are here because they want to represent our school and win. The best chance for our team to win is to get Miles the ball,” Marksberry said. “The things he’s capable of doing allow us to be successful. The more creative we are in getting him the ball and allowing him to use his God-given abilities, that’s better for our team.” Simpson also will be a factor from his safety position. After putting him in for fewer than half of the Pioneers’ defensive snaps last season, Marksberry said Simpson will see more time on defense in 2009. Simpson isn’t the only standout two-way player in the running for Mr. Football. Channing Fugate of Breathitt County, a Tennessee recruit, should be a frontrunner. Louisville Central linebacker Tim Patterson, Fort Campbell quarterback Antonio Andrews and Highlands running back Austin Collinsworth also should enter the conversation. For now, though, that’s a conversation Simpson would rather not have. “It’d be awesome to win Mr. Football, but I’m not shooting for it,” Simpson said. “I just want to win (games). If awards come along with that, then it’s just a bonus.”







Northern Kentucky high schools this season could put together a backfield that would be the envy of plenty of college programs. There’s the grind-it-out back, the bigframed big-play threat and the versatile playmaker. Imagine them all lined up together. That, of course, would be realistic only if the three players were on the same team

(they’re not) and if the T formation hadn’t gone out with the Twist (it did). Charles Quainoo, Miles Simpson and Austin Collinsworth might not be in the same backfield, but they’re all in the same group. They’re all potential Division I college players, and they all enter the 2009 season facing high expectations. Quainoo, a Boone County senior, entered last season as a first-year starter and led the state in rushing. He averaged

157 yards per game and scored 26 TDs. He averaged 28 carries a game and topped 40 carries twice. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on Quainoo’s season, including potential scholarship offers. “I’m waiting, hoping,” he said. “I really want one to come my way. … (College coaches) are waiting to see how this season compares to last season and then they’re going to make a decision. I just want to go higher and do


The Enquirer/Ernest Coleman

Simon Kenton’s Miles Simpson (left), Boone County’s Charles Quainoo and Highlands’ Austin Collinsworth are three of the area’s most productive offensive players. better than last year. I want to prove what kind of player I am.” Simpson, the most recruited player in the area, apparently has proven his worth

sufficiently. The Simon Kenton senior, who led the Pioneers to a state runner-up finish last year, has scholarship offers from multiple Big Ten and Big East programs.

Scouting services have him ranked as high as 26th nationally among running backs. “To me, that’s just a number,” Simpson said. “I’m just trying to get better.” Unlike his running back counterparts in the senior class, Collinsworth has never played a varsity game in the backfield. The Highlands standout was an all-state defensive back as a sophomore and all-state receiver as a junior. With those accolades in mind, fans are expecting big things. Collinsworth – who has offers from UC, Stanford and Vanderbilt, among others – doesn’t mind. “I like when people have high expectations for me,” he said. “I have high expectations for myself. But at the same time, I’m trying to exceed all the expectations. Still, I don’t see any added pressure.”


The Enquirer/Ernest Coleman

Covington Catholic’s Kevin Connaughton (left), Highlands’ Tyler Grubbs and Simon Kenton’s Jordan Hansel all have received Division I offers as offensive linemen.

WITH OFFERS ON THE TABLE, TIME TO PLAY sel has offers from Ball State and Murray State. Grubbs picked Miami University over Heading into his senior sea- Central Michigan, Ohio, Troy son, Tyler Grubbs already and Western Kentucky. sees his early college commitGrubbs (6-6, 275) has the ment paying dividends. biggest frame of the three. “It’s taken a lot of the pres- He’ll play right tackle for sure off,” the Highlands offen- Highlands – protecting the sive lineman said recently. “I blind side of left-handed quarjust have to go out there and terback Will Bardo – and at do what I do best: knock peo- Miami. He’ll also play some ple over, block people, protect defense as a senior. the quarterback and run “He’s 6-6, strong, fast and downfield and pick our guys athletic,” said Highlands up out of the pile.” coach Dale Mueller. “He’ll be There should be a lot of a factor on both sides.” that going on in Northern Hansel (6-4, 295), a left Kentucky in 2009. Offensive tackle, gained notoriety last line is the area’s deepest posi- season due to his large frame tion in terms of college prosand ability to open holes for pects. And the area’s three top standout running back Miles talents all enter the season Simpson. Like Grubbs, Hansel with one less thing to worry also will be a varsity defensive about. They’re all virtually as- starter for the first time this sured of a Division I career. season. “It’s a big relief to get that “In the offseason I mostly first offer,” said Covington just worked on building what Catholic lineman Kevin ConI already have. I’m an offennaughton. “Now I know I’m a sive lineman first,” he said. D-I player.” “That’s what I’ll be going to Connaughton (6 feet 4, 260 college for. But all the stuff pounds) was the latest of the I’ve worked on – speed and trio to receive a Division I offootwork and quickness – it fer (from Air Force). Simon helps for both offense and deKenton lineman Jordan Hanfense.”

By Ryan Ernst

The Enquirer/Ernest Coleman

Highlands’ Will Bardo (left) will take the Bluebirds’ varsity quarterbacking reins for the first time this season, while Conner’s Nick West enters his third season as the Cougars’ starter.

DIFFERENT PATHS, SAME D-I DESIRES son, the lefty has impressed. “He’s going to be a great quarterback. We saw him next to a lot of Highlands quarterback Will Barreally great quarterbacks in sevendo and Conner quarterback Nick on-sevens this summer and he West, the top two signal callers in looked great,” Highlands coach Dale Northern Kentucky’s class of 2010, Mueller said. “He has such a big uphave taken decidedly different side. But now it’s a race, to be as routes to end up in the same place. good as you possibly can as quickly Entering their senior year, both as you possibly can. He’s in a little are trying to play their way into a bit of a bind. He’s doing great. But Division I scholarship. he has to do so great, so quick.” West has been the Cougars’ startBardo said college coaches, beer since his sophomore year. Bardo cause they have no game film on has never taken a snap as the varsity which to base a decision, have taken starter. a wait-and-see approach to his re“It’s going to be a little different, cruiting. starting my first varsity game at “Mainly the people who want me quarterback,” Bardo said. “But I’m at quarterback are telling me to glad I got to play other positions, so send tape from the first three games I could show people my athleticism.” or from my best three games,” he Bardo (6 feet 4, 190 pounds) was said. a starting cornerback on last year’s West (6-3, 190), like Bardo, enters state championship team. He also his senior season without a Diviwas the backup to departed senior sion I offer but plenty of interest. It’s Tony Guidugli. So far, since taking a far cry from how his varsity career over the offensive reins in the offsea- began. As a sophomore, with just

By Ryan Ernst

two years of football experience, West was named the Cougars’ starting quarterback. He struggled through a 1-9 season, throwing 17 interceptions. Last year, after Conner switched to the spread offense, West became one of the area’s top offensive weapons. He threw for 2,168 and 23 touchdowns, and he ran for another nine scores. Those numbers drew the attention of most of the region’s Division I schools. Now they’re waiting to see if he can improve on last year’s performance. “I just kind of have to go with the flow with everything,” West said. “You have to take care of what you can control and they’ll make the offer when they’re ready.” One of the area’s other top quarterbacks – Holy Cross senior Markel Walker – might be a Division I prospect at another position. The 6-3, 200-pound lefty is drawing attention from UC, Louisville and Western Kentucky as a safety.


THREE STARS, WITH ROOM TO IMPROVE the offseason. Roller is drawing attention from Mid-American Conference, Big East and Atlantic Coast Don’t expect many changes this Conference schools as a linebacker, season from the Highlands offenand Welz also is hearing from Divisive scheme – the one that has sion I programs. powered the Bluebirds to back-toAll three still have work to do. back Class 5A state titles. Nichols (6 feet 7, 260 pounds) But there is at least one differhad an injury-plagued 2008, when ence: a two-tight end set. he missed the first half of the sea“Oh yeah,” Highlands coach son because of a broken foot. In the Dale Mueller said recently with a offseason, Warner worked Nichols smile. “We didn’t have that formaat both tight end and defensive end, tion last year, but we do this year.” and he said Nichols has been domiIt was a pretty easy call. When a nant on both sides of the ball. coach has two of the best tight ends “It’s just great to be healthy,” in the area on his roster – as Muell- Nichols said. “I was unable to walk er does in Brandon Roller and Kyle for a month and a half last year. Welz – he does what he can to max- Then I was in a walking boot for imize their playing time. two weeks. Two weeks after I got Ryle coach Bryson Warner is out of the boot, I was back and employing a similar strategy with playing football. But I was nowhere two-way behemoth Tate Nichols. near where I needed to be. I’d say Yeah, it’s a pretty good year for at the end of the season I was about Northern Kentucky tight ends. 75 percent.” Nichols committed to Stanford in Roller ended last season on

By Ryan Ernst

The Enquirer/Ernest Coleman

Ryle’s Tate Nichols (center) returns from an injury-plagued 2008 with high hopes. Expect to see Highlands use Brandon Roller (left) and Kyle Welz (right) in a two-tight end set.

crutches due to a knee injury. After working his way back, he’ll play full-time on defense in addition to his offensive responsibilities. Both he and Welz should be key cogs in what should be a very effective Highlands passing attack. “We can throw to a lot of different people, and everybody’s solid,” Welz said. “We can go long or short. Brandon’s more of a deep threat, and I’m more of a possession guy.” While Roller’s best chance to play college football lies on defense, Mueller said Welz (6-5, 245) has the body to be a Division I tight end. “He has to do a lot in a short period of time because he was playing behind Roller most of last year,” Mueller said. “He really didn’t get all that much time last year, but he’s a big-time player. He just has to have a really quick learning curve.”







(Teams listed in coaches’ predicted order of finish)

(Teams listed in coaches’ predicted order of finish)


Newport Central Catholic Coach: Bob Schneider (338-175-2) Last year: 13-2 (lost 2623 to Fort Campbell in 2A state final) Players to watch: Senior C Paul Eviston; senior G Garrett Brown; senior G Mike Leopold; senior T Jake Smith; junior RB Chris Kelly. Other key players: Junior S Brian Doyle; junior QB/ OLB Jake Cain. Outlook: With an experienced offensive line and a playmaker like Kelly in the backfield, the Thoroughbreds again are the favorites in 2A. Eight seniors and five juniors return, but Schneider is concerned about depth because there aren’t as many players on the roster as in past years. If the team stays healthy, another deep playoff run is possible.

Holy Cross Coach: Bruce Kozerski (26-31) Last year: 4-8 (lost 2316 to Louisville DeSales in second round) Players to watch: Senior QB/S Markel Walker; senior RB/S Andy Roenker; senior T Don Stowers; senior G Andy Merritt; senior WR/CB Jordan Norris. Other key players: Senior G Mark Manczyk; senior C Ryan Ellinghausen; senior CB Paul Rafizedah; senior RB/LB Brayson Smith; senior T Chas Spenlau. Outlook: Nine starters return on offense and six on defense, and several seniors have started since they were sophomores. Thus, the Indians have the talent to make some noise in 2A. Stowers, Merritt, Manczyk and Ellinghausen are returning starters on the offensive line, and with Walker, Roenker and Smith in the backfield, Holy Cross should have no trouble running the ball. Norris, a 6foot-3 wide receiver, is a big target in the passing game.

Lloyd Coach: Roy Lucas (6372 overall, 55-50 at Lloyd) Last year: 6-6 (lost 4215 to Newport Central Catholic in second round) Players to watch: Senior RB/DB Seth Chappie; senior OL/DL Alex Drifmeyer; senior OL/LB Jeremy Ray; senior QB/DB Dylan McGuire; senior WR/DB Trevor Gregory. Other key players: Junior TE/LB Jon Danks; junior RB/DL Charles Jouett; senior RB/LB Joe Neiheisel. Outlook: With an improved offensive line and a strong backfield, Lloyd should be able to run the ball. Six starters return on offense for the Juggernauts. On the defensive side, only four starters are back, but Lucas thinks they have a strong enough front seven to overcome a lack of experience. Lloyd does lack depth, so staying healthy will be key.

Newport Coach: Nick Rice (first season) Last year: 4-7 (lost 2412 to DeSales in first round) Players to watch: Senior RB/LB Cody Short; senior RB/LB Tim Slusher; senior OL/DL Justin Lewis; senior WR/DB Sean Gross; junior QB/LB Meechi Brown. Other key players: Junior ATH Brandon Carter; senior OL/DL Derrick Dieters; sophomore WR/DB Rob Washington; junior OL/DL Brandon Brown; junior RB/S Quin McDay. Outlook: Rice begins his first season at the helm of his alma mater. Skill positions will not be a problem for the Wildcats, and Rice expects Brown, whom he calls one of the best athletes on the team, to take the reins at quarterback. Newport will have an athletic but inexperienced offensive line. Rice hopes by Week 5 his team will be ready for district play under his new system. — Kyle Brown

The Enquirer/Gary Landers

Chris Kelly is the latest in a long line of Kellys to play football for Newport Central Catholic. He takes over as the featured running back this season.

BORN & BRED TO BE A ’BRED Chris the latest Kelly to star at NewCath By Ryan Ernst

Chris Kelly’s introduction to the spotlight was ironic. And it was fleeting. Midway through Newport Central Catholic’s 2007 state championship game against Fort Campbell, his older brother Mark – the team’s starting running back – hobbled away from a pileup. Chris, who weeks earlier had been called up from the freshman team, sprinted onto the field to replace his brother. “He was champing at the bit to get in that game,” said Mark Kelly Sr., the brothers’ father. Big brother had other plans. Instead of coming out of the game, Mark waved off Chris and sent him back to the sideline. Two years later, it’s Chris Kelly’s turn. And if anyone is qualified to step into the role of the Thoroughbreds’ featured back, it’s him. After all, it’s in his blood. He’s the latest limb in a family tree that has sustained NewCath athletics for years. “They’re all just so hard-nosed,” said NewCath coach Bob Schneider. “They’re just tough kids. And they work so hard and they’re so intense.” Schneider should know. He has coached them all. It started with Mark Sr., a standout running back at NewCath in the late 1970s who went on to play at the University of Dayton. His brothers Marty and Mike also starred for the Thoroughbreds. Mark then married Cathy Zimmerman, whose family (including the Pangallos) also had pro-

duced plenty of standout NewCath athletes. They had five sons and a daughter. “From the moment I was born,” Chris Kelly said, “NewCath football was driven into my head.” Chris, the fourth son, follows Mark (class of 2009), Ben (2005) and Shawn (2003). As in any group of brothers, sibling rivalries existed. But those in the Kelly family insist theirs ended around the time the brothers’ high school careers started. “They all looked out for each other,” Cathy Kelly said. “Shawn would say, ‘I know Ben is better than me.’ And then he would push Ben to be better. They all kind of pushed the next one down the line. They always wanted their older brother to be proud of them. That was really neat.” NewCath coaches knew about Chris from an early age. “When he was in the eighth grade,” Schneider said, “everyone was telling us he was the best of the four.” So far “everyone” has been pretty prophetic. Chris was a late-season contributor as a freshman on the Thoroughbreds’ 2007 state runner-up team. As a sophomore on last year’s runner-up team, he was the team’s second-leading tackler and team leader in interceptions. Despite playing behind older brother Mark at running back, he averaged nearly 6 yards a carry. This year, he’ll get the majority of the team’s carries and call the defense from his linebacker position. “It’s going to be a big responsibility,” he said. “But it’ll be nice to finally carry the load.”

Coach: Noel Rash (36-6) Last year: 14-1 (defeated Hazard 14-7 in Class 1A state final) Players to watch: Senior RB/OLB Joe Colosimo; senior DB Corey Schuler; junior TE/ DE Zac Larimore; senior QB Matt Rigdon; senior OL Jake Maricle. Other key players: Senior DB Kody Klug; senior MLB Michael Porco; senior TE/FS Jacob Maus; junior OL/DL Josh Genal; junior QB/FS Michael Colosimo; junior OL/DL Jackson Adams. Outlook: Returning five starters on each side of the ball, Beechwood will be the favorite again in 1A. Rigdon leads the offense after running for 464 yards and five touchdowns and passing for 869 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, and backfield partner Joe Colosimo ran for 417 yards on only 48 carries and scored two touchdowns. The defense allowed only 7.5 points per game and had five shutouts, with Klug intercepting a team-high five passes last season.

Dayton looks to rebound with one of the more experienced teams in 1A with eight offensive and nine defensive starters returning.

Walton-Verona Coach: Jeff Barth (first season) Last year: 4-6 (not eligible for playoffs) Players to watch: Senior TE/DE Adam Burt; junior RB/ LB Andrew Baumgartner; sophomore QB Nolan Daugherty; senior RB/LB Cory Taylor; senior WR/DB/K Luis Rodriguez. Other key players: Junior RB/LB Ronnie Nadicksbernd; junior WR/DB Trent Eschan; senior S Ryan Hardman; senior WR Cameron Reynolds; junior OL/DL Austin Ryan. Outlook: Walton-Verona is coming off a 4-6 record and enters its first season of district play. Seven starters return on offense, including four linemen. There also are seven starters returning on defense, including three defensive backs, which Barth notes as one of the team’s strengths.


Coach: Rick Hornsby (5-7) Last year: 5-7 (lost 54-0 to Beechwood in second round) Bellevue Players to watch: Senior Coach: Dave Eckstein (96QB Zach Stegemoller; senior 75 overall, 26-19 at Bellevue) OL/DL Justin Carlotta; senior Last year: 7-4 (lost 33-28 G/LB Drew Rice; senior DB to Gallatin County in first Jacob Ashcraft; senior DB round) Garrett Hall. Players to watch: Senior Other key players: Senior RB/DB Ricky Buckler; senior C/DE Dylan Meyer; senior FB/LB Travis Lyvers; senior OL/LB Matt Stolt; senior WR/ WR/LB Alex Hegge; senior SS Jamey Deaton. OL/DL Tad Dougherty; junior Outlook: Ludlow will have OL/DL Rick Allen. to work with players at key Other key players: Senior positions who have little or no OL/DL Marcus Reynolds; sevarsity experience. Stegemollnior QB Richard Wills; senior er gives the Panthers leaderOL/DL Opal Decker. ship offensively, and Hornsby Outlook: Bellevue’s does expect the defensive strength will be at the skill line and linebackers to be impositions, where the Tigers proved. have good speed and depth. Buckler is one of the top runBishop Brossart ning backs in Northern KenCoach: Matt Reinhart tucky. If the offensive line is (0-10) able to hold its blocks and Last year: 0-10 (missed stay healthy, and if the defensive line shows improvement, playoffs) Players to watch: Senior Bellevue should be near the FB/LB Chris Bowman; senior top of 1A in Northern KenOL/DL Alex Crawford; junior tucky again. WR/CB Conner Boesch; sophomore WR/S Spencer Dayton Brown; senior RB/LB Michael Coach: Zach Deaton Whitford. (10-12) Other key players: Junior Last year: 2-9 (lost 49-0 OL/LB Kyle Reinhart; junior to Frankfort in first round) WR/LB Colton Boesch. Players to watch: Senior Outlook: The Mustangs enWR/DB Connor Lewis; senior ter their third year of varsity RB/DB Derreck Buchanan; play still looking for their first senior QB/DB Patrick win. Brossart returns eight Schwierjohann; senior WR/ starters on offense and seven DB Cody Turner. on defense, so it has some Other key player: Senior experience. Coach Reinhart OL/DL Christian LeWallen. expects to see improvement. Outlook: After going 2-9, — Kyle Brown

TIGERS RELOAD FOR THE STRETCH Could be poised for another long playoff run

Dominant decades A look at how Beechwood has fared since 1991: Year Coach W-L Playoff finish 1991 Mike Yeagle 15-0 Won Class 1A state title 1992 Mike Yeagle 13-1 Won Class 1A state title 1993 Mike Yeagle 11-3 Won Class 1A state title 1994 Mike Yeagle 15-0 Won Class 1A state title 1995 Mike Yeagle 11-3 State runner-up 1996 Mike Yeagle 12-2 Won Class 1A state title 1997 Mike Yeagle 14-0 Won Class 1A state title 1998 Mike Yeagle 12-1 Lost in semifinals 1999 Mike Yeagle 13-2 Won Class 1A state title 2000 Mike Yeagle 11-1 Lost in second round 2001 Mike Yeagle 9-4 Lost in third round 2002 Mike Yeagle 12-3 State runner-up 2003 Bob Burnett 13-2 State runner-up 2004 Mike Yeagle 14-1 Won Class 1A state title 2005 Mike Yeagle 8-4 Lost in second round 2006 Noel Rash 9-3 Lost in second round 2007 Noel Rash 14-1 Won Class 1A state title 2008 Noel Rash 15-0 Won Class 1A state title

By Richard Skinner Enquirer contributor

Beechwood coach Noel Rash is like many of his successful counterparts who live in the moment, but he knows a successful program begins with a great feeder system built over time. And it appears the Tigers have enough in the pipeline to enjoy another run of state championships like the program experienced in the 1990s. Beechwood has won the last two Class 1A state titles. The junior varsity team was successful last season, the freshman team won a championship, and Rash sees strong numbers of players all the way down to the sixth and seventh grades. “Freshman championships and JV records are wonderful, but so many things can happen between Rash now and then,” said Rash, who is 36-6 with two state championships in his three seasons as head coach. “You can’t get ahead of yourself, but at the same time there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead and looking into the future a little. One of the things I know is our offseason conditioning program is one of the better ones around, and that’s not going to change.” Of course, Rash is quick to point out that his focus always will be on his current team. “The big thing is you can’t get so distracted looking down the road that you miss the details today,” said Rash. “We have to keep focusing on what we have on hand because my future is today. That’s how we talk about things in specific terms of today, be it weights, conditioning or practice. ” Beechwood owned the 1990s in Class 1A under coach Mike Yeagle. The Tigers won state titles from 1991-94, were runners-up in 1995 and then won titles in 1996, ’97 and ’99. The early part of this decade was a little lean by Beechwood standards, as the Tigers finished runners-up in 2002 and ’03 before winning again in ’04. The Tigers then lost

The Enquirer/Patrick Reddy

Beechwood has been a dominant force in Class 1A for the better part of two decades, thanks in part to a great feeder system. in the second round in 2005 and ’06 before winning the last two championships. “I loved the fact that the press and the community feels that two years without winning a title is a drought,” said Rash. “It is on our terms, and that says so much about Mike and all those past players.” This could be something of a rebuilding year for Beechwood after it lost three linemen (Dominic Mainello to Central Michigan, Matt Miller to Brown and Brady Slusher to the University of Cin-

cinnati) and running back Nieco Teipel (University of Louisville) to Division I colleges. But Rash said watching this year’s team in practice has him excited. “I really like their leadership, and that’s what this has always been about – the seniors keep getting the team to buy into it,” said Rash. “Mike always reminded me that we’re a single-A team and those games are the ones you need to win. With only eight seniors, this may be one of those years we struggle against the bigger schools, but we have to worry about those A games.” Rash sometimes worries that all the program’s success can make observers think that anything less than being dominant is a failure, and that thoughts of individual glory start to creep into players’ heads. He nips that in the bud quickly. “One thing we’ve always done is stay humble,” said Rash. “That’s never going to be a problem as long as I’m here. I’m 5-9, slow and white. I’m a dime a dozen. I think Mike was big on that, too. I just stole Mike’s formula of being a blue-collar, lunch-pail team for a white-collar community.”





ARE BLUEBIRDS THE BEST YET? Highlands’ history makes comparisons tough state-championship ring.” Dixie Heights coach Tom Spritzky, who played on a 15-0 state title Just when it looked as if the High- team in 1982 and has been trying to lands football program could do knock off his alma mater for more nothing more to raise its own bar of than a decade, said Mueller has excellence, along comes a team that made the community more commitraises this question: Is this the great- ted to football than ever and has est team in school history? done a tremendous job in improving The Bluebirds are the favorites to the players’ athleticism. win a third straight Class 5A state “Kids in Fort Thomas are commitchampionship with a team that could ting more to football and probably be the best in Dale Mueller’s tenure not playing baseball or basketball as as coach – which is saying somemuch, where in my era and my dad’s thing, considering he has guided era, kids played all three,” said Highlands to seven state titles and Spritzky. “What they have done, two runner-up finishes since becom- though, since Dale has been there is ing coach in 1994. they just keep developing speed. “I have always felt what was supWhatever formula they’re using, it’s posed to happen is that each group working.” was to build into the next group so Lickert said it all starts in grade they could be the best that’s ever school. been,” said Mueller. “I’ve always “They have four third- and fourthsaid each class can exceed the previ- grade teams all from Fort Thomas, ous ones because they stand on the and that’s just a feeder system that’s shoulders of those guys that came hard to beat,” said Lickert. “Kids before them. It’s supposed to be a grow up wanting to play for Highgrowing mountain.” lands.” That mountain began growing Lickert also credited Mueller for long before Mueller became coach – the intense work ethic he instilled after all, Highlands won 11 state when he became coach. championships under six different “I was a sophomore in Dale’s first coaches before him – but he has year, and I mean we worked hard – nudged the program a step further and each year after that, we worked in its dominance. even harder,” said Lickert. “I know It seems like each group that the kids there are working all the comes along under Mueller opens time and they look like it. They all the debate about which of his teams look like football players and are in was the very best. great shape.” Was it the Justin Frisk/Stephen As for where Mueller stands on Lickert teams of the mid-1990s? Or comparing teams, he admits it’s fun the Jared Lorenzen/Derek Smith to talk about but says he firmly beteam in 1998, which holds the state lieves everyone who has been a part record for points in a season (801)? of the program is rooting for the curOr Gino Guidugli’s teams that won rent team. state titles in 1999 and 2000? Or the It’s certainly in line to be comtitle team in 2004, or this current pared to all of the greats after going group, whose seniors were part of 29-1 the past two seasons, with the the last two state championships and only loss coming to Cincinnati powplan to make it three in a row? er Colerain. “It’s hard when you’re comparing “Hey, I was a sophomore on the one 15-0 state-championship team 1970 team (which won a Class 2A against another,” said Lickert, who state title when there were only two is in his third season as head coach classes) and that was a tremendous at Holmes. “You can compare teams team, so sure it’s a fun thing to try all you want, but they’re never going and compare,” said Mueller. “I don’t to line up and play each other. It’s see many Highlands players saying, really more of a fraternity of state ‘I don’t want this team to succeed or champions. You look at most famibe better than my team.’ It’s always lies in Fort Thomas, there’s at least been a combined fraternity looking one person in that family with a for it to get better.”

By Richard Skinner Enquirer contributor

The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran

Coach Stephen Lickert leads the Bulldogs into a season filled with new opportunities for playoff success.

MOVE DOWN COULD MEAN A STEP UP Holmes happy to join Class 4A By Richard Skinner Enquirer contributor

A move down in class just might be the thing the Holmes High School football program needs to take a step forward. After playing as a Class 5A team the last two seasons following Kentucky’s change to a six-class system, Holmes has moved down to Class 4A. “It will be nice to play against teams our own size (in terms of enrollment),” said third-year Bulldogs coach Stephen Lickert. “When every week we’re playing against schools that have 100, 200, 300 or even 400 more boys in their school than we do, it put us at a major disadvantage.” Holmes, which hasn’t had a winning season or won a playoff game since 2001, also had been in a district that included state champion Highlands, perennial power Covington Catholic and perennial playoff qualifier Dixie Heights. Now the Bulldogs are in a district in which none of the other four teams had a winning record last season: Harrison County and Franklin County went 6-6, Bourbon County went 3-8 and Pendleton County was 0-11. “It’s a district that should be competitive, but it’s one we feel like we have a chance to win,” said Lickert. That probably was never going to be possible in the 5A district Holmes just left, nor in the Class 4A district in which it played from 2003-06, when 4A was the biggest class in the state. The Bulldogs never made the playoffs in that span. “Let’s face it: Just seeing Highlands and Covington Catholic across the field is intimidating because our kids know how good they are every year and it does tend to psych you out a little before the game even starts, no mat-

ter how hard you try to guard against that,” said Lickert, a Highlands graduate. “Not knowing about these other teams gives you a little of that in-the-dark feeling because you’re not used to what they’re going to do. But I think it should help our kids just line up and play football and not worry about who they are.” Holmes certainly seems well-positioned for success. Nine starters return on defense. Many of those were forced into starting roles last year as sophomores and juniors because of injuries that turned a 3-1 start into an 0-7 finish, including a first-round playoff loss. “We had lots of kids playing that should have been playing JV, but they grew throughout the year, and now our depth is much better,” said Lickert. If the Bulldogs get off to a good start in their new district, Lickert said it could have lasting effects for the program. “It really does give us a good opportunity to build something,” said Lickert. “Winning does breed winning. If we can start beating the teams in our district and start to win, every kid in the school will want to start playing football.” And merely making the playoffs isn’t the only goal, said Lickert. “We’re preparing to make a run in the playoffs,” he said. “We don’t want to just make the playoffs, we want to host a playoff game, and then host another one. We want to get to that point where we walk on the field or people see us on their schedule and say, ‘Man, that Holmes game is going to be tough.’ That’s something that has to be earned, and we think we have a chance to start doing that.”

Holmes Coach: Stephen Lickert (2032 overall, 7-14 at Holmes) Last year: 3-8 (lost 54-13 to Johnson Central in first round of Class 5A playoffs) Players to watch: Senior RB/DB Jalonte Wilson; junior RB/DB Damian Oden; senior TE/SS Tyrell Englemon; junior QB/DB Jesse Jenson; senior OL/DE Regal Lowe. Other key players: Senior OL/LB Carlos Calimeno; senior WR/DB Traerell Freeman; junior WR/DB Chris Hayes; junior OL/ LB Tommy Courtney. Outlook: Six starters return on offense and nine on defense as Holmes begins play in 4A and looks to end a run of seven losing seasons. Lickert said he has been impressed by the team’s work ethic; he pointed to several players changing positions as an example of the Bulldogs’ commitment.

New home for Holmes The 2008 results for teams in Holmes’ new district: m Bourbon County: 3-8 (lost 52-0 to Lexington Catholic in first round of 4A playoffs) m Franklin County: 6-6 (lost 42-8 to Boyle County in second round) m Harrison County: 6-6 (lost 52-13 to Lexington Catholic in second round) m Pendleton County: 0-11 (lost 55-0 to Boyle County in first round) — Kyle Brown

Here’s a look at how Highlands has fared since Dale Mueller became head coach in 1994: 1994: 9-3, lost in second round of playoffs 1995: 11-4, Class 3A runner-up 1996: 15-0, Class 3A state champion 1997: 11-2, lost in quarterfinals 1998: 15-0, Class 3A state champion 1999: 14-1, Class 3A state champion 2000: 14-1, Class 3A state champion 2001: 9-3, lost in second round 2002: 10-4, lost in semifinals 2003: 12-3, Class 3A runner-up 2004: 2-13*, Class 3A state champion 2005: 9-4, lost in quarterfinals 2006: 7-5, lost in second round 2007: 15-0, Class 5A state champion 2008: 14-1, Class 5A state champion *-Team forced to forfeit victories for using an ineligible player, but was allowed to keep state championship when the player didn’t participate in the title game.

History lesson Bluebirds state championships prior to the Mueller era: 1960: 2A, Homer Rice 1961: 2A, Homer Rice 1964: 2A Owen Hauck 1968: 2A, Mike Murphy 1970: 2A, Mike Murphy 1975: 3A, Roger Walz 1977: 3A, Bill Herrmann 1981: 3A, Bill Herrmann 1982: 3A, Bill Herrmann 1989: 3A, Tom Duffy 1992: 3A, Tom Duffy

The Enquirer/Malinda Hartong

Dale Mueller has led Highlands to seven state championships and two runner-up finishes since he took over in 1994. He says he sees each of his title teams as a building block for another championship.

CLASS 5A (Teams listed in coaches’ predicted order of finish)


Under Mueller

Highlands Coach: Dale Mueller (237-63 overall, 178-32 at Highlands) Last year: 14-1 (defeated Christian County 35-15 in Class 5A state final) Players to watch: Senior OL/DL Tyler Grubbs; senior TE/LB Brandon Roller; senior RB/DB Austin Collinsworth; senior QB Will Bardo; senior OL Hunter Schlosser. Other key players: Senior WR Nick Buten; senior TE Kyle Welz; senior OL/ LB Tyler Combs; senior WR David Hogue; senior RB Tyler Fennell; senior RB/LB Travis Alford. Outlook: With a talented senior class that has won two consecutive state titles, Highlands again is the team to beat in 5A. Grubbs, a Miami University commitment, leads a skilled, athletic offensive line. Collinsworth moves from wide receiver to running back, and the Bluebirds will have a new quarterback in Bardo. On defense, Highlands has three full-time starters returning, and the team will have good depth.

Covington Catholic Coach: Dave Wirth (27-25 overall, first season at CovCath) Last year: 5-7 (lost 49-14 to Johnson Central in second round) Players to watch: Senior OT Kevin Connaughton; senior QB Brayden Erpenbeck; senior DT Ben Frisch; senior FS Chris Garnick; senior WR/TE Beau Geisen. Other key players: Junior WR Alex Connelly; junior LB Adam Shumate; junior SS Paul Ritter. Outlook: CovCath has only four starters returning on each side of the ball and has its third coach in four years, yet the Colonels will be near the top in 5A again. The offensive line has three experienced players returning who have a good combination of size and athleticism. Erpenbeck, who played linebacker last season but also saw some time at quarterback, gives the Colonels an athletic, dual-threat QB. Wirth expects the defense to be improved and has been impressed with the senior leadership.

Dixie Heights Coach: Tom Spritzky (93-65) Last year: 4-7 (lost 35-24 to Ashland Paul Blazer in first round) Players to watch: Senior RB Corey

Klei; senior QB Ryan Wilson; senior WR/ DB Josh Stegner; senior DB Ben Haggerty; senior OL/DL Joel Lubrano. Other key players: Senior OL/DT Wes Smith; junior WR Bobby Leonard; senior LB Ben Wolfe; senior LB Josh Raleigh. Outlook: Ten starters return on both sides of the ball, and the roster features 26 seniors. Wilson leads the offense after throwing for nearly 1,500 yards and 10 touchdowns and accounting for another 10 TDs rushing. Klei ran for 796 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

Scott Coach: Dave Campbell (4-6) Last year: 4-6 (missed playoffs) Players to watch: Senior NG Aaron Wilson; senior QB Zach Sowder; senior WR/DB Doug Patton; senior LB John Gaupel. Other key players: Sophomore RB/ DB Ryan Sowder; sophomore DB Justin Hoskins; junior FB/LB Scott Campbell. Outlook: Coach Campbell has seen improvement in his team, but the Eagles will play a tougher schedule, which means the wins and losses might not reflect the Eagles’ growth. Scott has a talented senior class and also will have several good sophomores. — Kyle Brown



THESE PIONEERS BLAZED A TRAIL Behind Simpson, path could lead back to state By Jeff Wallner Enquirer contributor

Simon Kenton’s heavily recruited left tackle, Jordan Hansel, has plenty of video of himself dominating opposing defensive linemen. But the Pioneers coaching staff recently considered compiling an additional tape, one of Hansel’s celebratory sprints downfield behind senior tailback Miles Simpson. “He loves blocking for Miles,” said Simon Kenton head coach Jeff Marksberry. “We toyed around with making a film of Jordan’s hand-waving, fist pumps and other antics he does following Miles into the end zone.” Simpson, the reigning Enquirer player of the year, joins Hansel among 15 returning starters for the Pioneers, who finished 10-5 last season and reached the 6A state championship game. Simon Kenton plays its season opener against Newport Central Catholic at approximately 2:45 p.m. Aug. 29 in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at Nippert Stadium. The Pioneers are playing for the first time since a crushing 48-0 loss to Louisville Trinity in the Class 6A state final. The result came as a shock to Simon Kenton, which trailed 41-0 at halftime, even knowing the Shamrocks’ perennial dominance. “We had cautioned them all week about being in awe,” said Marksberry. “So it was quite disappointing. At halftime we just told them to seize the moment, soak up the atmosphere and play hard. Our kids have talked about getting back to the state championship, and this time playing to win.” With eight starters returning on offense and seven on defense, Simon Kenton has the experience necessary to make another postseason run. It could be more difficult, however, with Northern Kentucky’s 6A district matched up with Louisville St. Xavier’s district in the first three rounds. Simon Kenton, which began last season 3-4 including a 42-7 loss at home to Boone County, would like to avoid another slow start. “I think we’re capable (of returning to state),” said Simpson. “But we can’t look ahead. We learned from last year to concentrate on one game at a time.” With Hansel as his lead blocker on most plays last season, Simpson rushed for 2,309 yards and 37 touchdowns. He had 72 yards on 16 carries in the loss to Trinity. “It’s a lot less pressure when you



CLASS 6A (Teams listed in coaches’ predicted order of finish)

Conner Coach: David Trosper (2448 overall, 8-14 at Conner) Last year: 7-5 (lost 46-41 to Simon Kenton in second round of 6A playoffs) Players to watch: Senior QB Nick West; senior RB/LB Austin Pugh; senior WR/DB Eric Champ; senior RB/LB Huston Dockery. Other key players: Senior WR/DB Ryan Delph; senior TE Anthony Boden. Outlook: With West returning at quarterback and solid skill-position players surrounding him, the Cougar offense should be on track. Only three starters return on defense from last season, so Conner will need to make up for some experience there.

Ryle Coach: Bryson Warner (41-30) Last year: 5-6 (lost 24-7 to Lexington Henry Clay in first round) Players to watch: Senior TE/DE Tate Nichols; senior WR/RB Kiefer Eubank; junior QB Conner Hempel; sophomore RB/LB Travis Elliott; senior DB Logan Carney. Other key players: Junior WR/FB Deion Mullens; senior FS Logan Hollman; junior OL Bill Schild. Outlook: Ryle started eight sophomores last season, so the Raiders have some experience under their belts this year. They also have better depth, with only two or three players playing both offense and defense. There is a lot of talent at the skill positions, including Hempel returning at quarterback and Nichols, a Stanford commit, at tight end.

Simon Kenton

The Enquirer/Amie Dworecki

Left tackle Jordan Hansel is the guy who leads the way for Miles Simpson, and Simpson is the guy who leads the way for the Pioneers in what they hope will be a second straight run to the state championship game. have someone like Miles in the backfield,” Hansel said. “It’s easier to make plays when you have a playmaker like him.” Several Football Bowl Subdivision colleges have taken notice of the Pioneers’ dynamic duo, particularly Louisville, which has offered a scholarship to Simpson. “Me and Jordan are going to try to take it one step further into college,” Simpson said. “I love running behind him, and I know he likes blocking for me. I could really say that about the whole offensive line.” The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Simpson has offers from UC, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, Purdue, Central Michigan, Troy and Western Kentucky. He attended camps at both UC and Michigan.

“Miles is such an all-around great player and competitor,” said Marksberry. “There are a lot of talented players out there. But he’s one of the hardest workers on the team. He makes everyone better.” The 6-4, 295-pound Hansel, who has been projected to play guard in college, is considering Kentucky, UC, Louisville and Western Kentucky, among others. For now, both Hansel and Simpson say they’re trying to table college decisions in preparation for their senior season and another playoff run. “We’ve tried to not let (the recruiting process) overwhelm us,” Hansel said. “We try to relax and get away from it when we can. This season is going to be a lot of fun. We can’t start in a funk like last year.”

Coach: Jeff Marksberry (45-53) Last year: 10-5 (lost 48-0 to Louisville Trinity in state final) Players to watch: Senior RB Miles Simpson; senior OL Jordan Hansel; senior LB Nik Brown; junior QB Chad Lawrence; junior LB Austin Baldwin. Other key players: Junior WR/DB Zach Carroll; senior OL/DL Derek Piccirillo; junior WR Ryan Winkler. Outlook: Eight players return on offense and seven on defense from last year’s 6A runner-up squad. Simpson, a Mr. Football candidate, and Hansel, a potential Division I recruit, lead the way for a talented offense. Brown and Baldwin each had at least 100 tackles for the Pioneers last season.

Campbell County Coach: Troy Styer (25-18) Last year: 5-5 (missed playoffs) Players to watch: Senior RB Austin Johnson; senior OL/DL Zak Koeninger; junior RB/LB Nate Geiman; senior WR Ryan Steffen; junior LB Jake Rebholz. Other key players: Senior ATH Andrew Eshman; junior DE T.J. Jett; junior LB Joe Sauerbeck; junior DB Cory Hodge. Outlook: Campbell County must replace four starters on the offensive line and will implement a spread offense. The defense will switch from a 4-4 scheme to a 3-3-5. Rebholz tallied 72 tackles as a sophomore last season, and Sauerbeck will move from nose tackle to linebacker.

Cooper Coach: Randy Borchers (9-22 overall, 2-8 at Cooper) Coach: Rick Thompson Last year: 2-8 (missed (77-54) playoffs) Last year: 9-4 (lost 14-7 to Players to watch: Senior Simon Kenton in third round) WR Brett Berry; junior WR Ryan Players to watch: Senior RB Klute; senior OL/LB Cody JohnCharles Quainoo; senior QB son; junior OL/DE Matt SchafNate Alford; junior RB Jordan er. Oppenheimer; senior DE Adam Other key players: Junior Sunderhaus; senior LB Jake WR Nick Ballinger; senior LB Deason. Matt Rudd; senior TE/LB TomOther key players: Senior my Earsing. WR Matt Behne; senior WR Outlook: After recording two John McGarr; junior WR Caden wins in its first varsity season, Doyle. Cooper returns nine starters on Outlook: Boone County’s both offense and defense. strength is in the offensive Johnson, Rudd and Earsing backfield with a healthy Alford form a strong group of lineat quarterback and Quainoo backers. On offense, the Jagand Oppenheimer as a talent- uars need to replace their ed pair of veteran running quarterback. backs. — Kyle Brown

Boone County

RYLE’S MEASUREMENT DOUBLED THIS FALL Two games with Highlands will gauge Raiders’ program By Ryan Ernst

Bryson Warner’s confidence has been misinterpreted as cockiness before. Heading into the 2009 season, it appears to be bordering on lunacy. Not only did the Ryle football coach schedule Highlands – a team that recently has had difficulty finding local opponents – but he did it in a season that could be one of the best ever for the tradition-rich program. Even the few local teams that do challenge the Bluebirds were one-upped by what Warner did. He scheduled them twice. “I don’t know what most programs are doing, but we’re trying honestly to get to a state-championship level every year,” Warner said. “The only way to do that is play programs like Highlands. They’re very tough. But we wouldn’t schedule them twice if we didn’t think we could compete with them. But more importantly, we’re trying to get to where they are as a program.” Warner knows a little bit about that level. In two of his three seasons as a player at Boone County, the Rebels reached the big-school state semifinals before losing close games to eventual champion Louisville Trinity. “When I was at Boone, we definitely had what Highlands has,” Warner said. “We didn’t feel that anybody could beat us. We knew that nobody could beat us physically. It was just a matter of going out and executing.” Warner fit right into the hard-

nosed winning culture at Boone County. By the time he was a 15year-old sophomore, he already weighed 225 pounds and benchpressed 350 pounds. That season, 1989, he started at defensive end. “You had to be really, really good as a sophomore to start at Boone County,” said Bellevue coach Dave Eckstein, a former Boone County assistant. “But he just had that natural ability. At Boone the measuring stick was Warner always what kind of hitter you were and how tough you were. He answered those two questions right away. “He was one of the most intense football players I’ve ever been around. He was fun, and he had a great personality, and he was always smiling. But when he put his helmet on, you better be ready to play because he was playing for keeps.” Warner finished his Boone County career as the school’s all-time leader in career tackles. He then moved on to Western Kentucky, where he led the team in tackles in 1995. In 1996 he was a team captain and a Hansen’s Football Gazette AllAmerica honorable mention selection. He later took a job as an assistant coach to Eckstein at Ryle and earned a reputation as an intense, hands-on coach. When he took over the program in 2003, he took things to another level – leading players through intense three-a-day offseason programs while participating in

draining conditioning drills. “He still pushes us and he still runs with us and does all that stuff,” Ryle senior defensive back Logan Carney said. “But he’s changed a little bit over the years. I think in his first years he was very hardcore. Back then, we kind of became known for four-hour practices.” All the hard work began paying off in 2005, when the Raiders posted their first winning season under Warner. The following year, Ryle reached the big-school state final, where it lost 41-7 to Trinity. After the season Ryle entered a two-year contract with Highlands. “I think Coach Warner’s mentality is that we’ll play anybody anywhere,” said Ryle senior tight end Tate Nichols. “That’s the only way to get better is to play the best.” This past offseason, Warner upped the ante again. Ryle and Highlands decided on another twoyear deal with two games each season – one in Week 1 and one in Week 10. The series marks the first time since 1944 that Highlands will play a team twice in the regular season. The agreement might have seemed shocking to most in Northern Kentucky, but not to those who know Warner best. “Bryson is a guy that has no fear,” Eckstein said. “People might say he’s cocky. But he’s not, he’s just confident. He just believes. I know his philosophy of playing Highlands twice. He feels that the more he plays them, the better chance he has to beat them. And I respect him for that.”

The Enquirer/Gary Landers

Boone County running back Charles Quainoo led the state in rushing during the regular season last year.

PLAYOFF SCHEDULES KENTUCKY m First round, Nov. 6-7 m Second round, Nov. 13-14 m Third round, Nov. 20-21 m State semifinals, Nov. 2728 m State finals, Dec. 4-5, L.T. Smith Stadium, Bowling Green Dec. 4: Classes 1A, 3A, 5A Dec. 5: Classes 2A, 4A, 6A OHIO Regional quarterfinals m Divisions II, III, V: Nov. 6 m Divisions I, IV, VI: Nov. 7 Regional semifinals m Divisions II, III, V: Nov. 13 m Divisions I, IV, VI: Nov. 14

Regional finals m Divisions II, III, V: Nov. 20 m Divisions I, IV, VI: Nov. 21 State semifinals m Divisions II, III, V: Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. m Divisions I, IV, VI: Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m. State finals Friday, Dec. 4 m Division III: 11 a.m. m Division V: 3 p.m. m Division II: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 m Division IV: 11 a.m. m Division VI: 3 p.m. m Division I: 7 p.m.



Friday is Opening Night in Northern Kentucky high school football … except where it’s not. Due to a new scheduling grid and some state rule changes, schools were given 11 weeks to play 10 games. Some schools opted to start this week and enjoy a bye week during the regular season. Most decided to start next week and play 10 consecutive regular-season games. Programs that play this week were allowed only one preseason scrimmage. Those that waited were given the standard two. Bellevue coach Dave Eckstein, whose team will open the season Friday against Holy Cross, said he hopes the new format will pay dividends for the Tigers. “Frankly, I like having a bye week,” he said. “The only-one-scrimmage thing – I’ve never experienced. But I think it could be an advantage to us in our second game. Your team generally improves a lot between Game 1 and Game 2.” Nine of Northern Kentucky’s 22 football programs will play this weekend –

Bellevue, Conner, Covington Catholic, Dixie Heights, Highlands, Holy Cross, Newport Central Catholic, Ryle and Walton-Verona. The rest will play the season the way it has been played in the past. For many Northern Kentucky teams, 2009 will be their first season without a bye week since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association implemented them in 1999. Lloyd coach Roy Lucas Jr. decided to start a week late and forego the bye week. “I really wanted to keep the two scrimmages,” said Lucas, whose team scheduled preseason scrimmages against Paris and Grant County. “And quite honestly, the bye week over the years hasn’t been really good for us. It kind of takes the kids out of a routine and out of a rhythm. It makes it tough to accomplish what you want. “I like to play 10 straight. I really haven’t had too many conversations with coaches about it. I think everyone is kind of doing what they think benefits them most. And that’s nice that we can do that now. But I don’t know that in the long run it makes that much of a difference anyway. We’ll see.”

WHAT TO WATCH A fan’s guide to the best regular-season matchups (keeping in mind that a person can be in only one place at a time):

Week 0 Friday: Covington Catholic at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Is CovCath back? This game will go a long way in gauging how good the Colonels will be. Saturday: Gallatin County at Walton-Verona, 1 p.m. Gallatin won 8-7 last year en route to a 6-6 season and a playoff victory. This should be a good rematch.

Week 1 Friday: Highlands at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Even when it’s judged against the title-laden backdrop of past Bluebirds teams, this Highlands squad has a chance to be special. Saturday: Dixie Heights vs. Beechwood, noon The game kicks off a great day of football at the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at Nippert Stadium. m Simon Kenton vs. Newport Central Catholic, 2:45 p.m. Two defending state runnersup in Game 2 at Nippert. m Bellevue at Newport, 7 p.m. First-year Newport coach Nick Rice makes his debut in a rivalry game.

Week 2 Friday: Highlands at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m. The two biggest names in Northern Kentucky high school football haven’t met since 2002. The Bluebirds are 4-0 against Beechwood. Saturday: Bracken County at Bishop Brossart, noon Brossart enters the season 0-20 in varsity competition. Bracken enters the season on an 18-game losing streak. One team is going to be walking away from this game very happy.

Week 3 Friday: Dixie Heights at Conner, 7 p.m. This could be an absolute scorefest. Saturday: Ryle at Newport Central Catholic, 7 p.m. This has been a good game consistently for the past few years.

Week 4 Friday: Boone County at Highlands, 7 p.m. From a fan’s perspective, it’s very good to see this series back after a four-year hiatus. Saturday: Beechwood at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. This is always one of the best rivalry games in the area. It’s always important to the players, students and fans. And it’s usually close.



Community Recorder/James Weber

Nick Rice, in his first season as Newport head coach, will face rival Bellevue in his debut. a big cross-river victory. You might want to get your tickets early for this one. Saturday: Newport Central Catholic at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon football is great this time of year, especially when it features a matchup between two of the area’s strongest programs.

Week 6 Thursday: Boone County at Conner, 7 p.m. This series of televised Thursday night games has produced some good matchups. It’s an important game, and it should be close. Friday: Newport Central Catholic at Newport, 7 p.m. Newport hasn’t beaten its biggest rival since 1999, but every few years this matchup turns into a very good game. This could be one of those years.

Week 7 Thursday: Ryle at Simon Kenton, 7 p.m. Northern Kentucky’s Class 6A district is pretty tough to handicap this year. Every game is big. Friday: Campbell County at Conner, 7 p.m. See above.

Week 8 Friday: Simon Kenton at Boone County, 7:30 p.m. The two teams’ 2008 regularseason matchup – a 42-7 Boone County win – was one of the biggest snoozers of the season. The playoff rematch – Simon Kenton’s 14-7 upset victory – was one of the year’s best games. Roll the dice; it’s worth it. Saturday: Highlands at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. This rivalry is due for a good game.

Week 9 Friday: Boone County at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. There’s a good chance this game could determine the district championship.

Week 5

Week 10

Friday: Cincinnati St. Xavier at Highlands, 7:30 p.m. The Bluebirds try once again to beat one of the Cincinnati big-school powers. This should be one of their best chances for

Friday: Beechwood vs. Newport Central Catholic, 7:30 p.m. No area matchup consistently has produced better games during the last decade. — Ryan Ernst


The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran

Head coach Dave Wirth takes over at CovCath after spending five seasons in the same position at Hamilton Badin. The Colonels are coming off back-to-back losing campaigns. Three men enter the season as first-year head coaches at their respective programs, but none steps into the pressure cooker that Covington Catholic coach Dave Wirth does. Wirth, a former CovCath assistant who was the head coach at Hamilton Badin, takes over one of the area’s premier programs, which happens to be coming off two straight losing seasons. Wirth, along with first-year Newport coach Nick Rice and first-year Walton-Verona coach Jeff Barth, recently answered some questions from Enquirer reporter Ryan Ernst about their transitions.

Dave Wirth School: Covington Catholic Age: 34 Alma mater: Moeller Background: Posted a 27-25 record in five seasons at Hamilton Badin; previously assistant at Moeller and CovCath Replaces: Dave Brossart, who went 10-14 in two seasons Question: Why did you take the job? Answer: Obviously the tradition is a big thing. It’s really similar to the environment I grew up in at Moeller – legendary coaches and lore about the players and titles. Secondly, and most importantly, my experience there was great. It’s an incredibly neat place. And the support for football is very strong. If you want to be a head coach, you want to go where the support is strong. And lastly, the thrill of the job. There are high expectations and tough schedules. That’s cool to me. Q: What’s the status of the program? A: There’s definitely some underdeveloped athleticism and some fragile psyche. Q: What can your players expect? A: That the expectations are going to be high on and off the field. I think they understand that we’re going to work in a certain way and there’s a very strong emphasis on the mental aspect of the game and knowing how to play the game. Physically, I’m really confident we’re going to put a better physical, more athletic product on the field. Q: What can your fans expect? A: Defensively, I think they’re going to see us play with a lot of energy and passion and enthusiasm. Schematically, they’re going to see us take away things from offenses that other defenses don’t. We feel like we have some smart kids to work with, so we can push the envelope a little more with adjustments. We’re not going to just make a call on the sideline and hope it works. There are guys on the field who are going to see things and make their own adjustments. Q: What was the first thing you changed? A: Based upon what had transpired, the first change had to be a change in attitude. I think CovCath kids have always worked hard, like most of the programs in the area. We had to teach them how to work in a better and smarter way. Q: What’s your basic coaching philosophy? A: Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. That’s my coaching axiom. Q: A lot of people debate how Northern Kentucky high school football stacks up against Cincinnati. You have experience on both sides of the river. What’s your opinion? A: I think 10 years ago you could have questioned it. I don’t think you can now. I would take CovCath, Highlands and some of the other bigger schools and go at it with anybody over there. Small school vs. small school, Beechwood and NewCath would have tremendous success over there. The bigger Boone County schools against the GMC schools – those would be very interesting matchups. I think those schools against the FAVC would be great games as well. As for the GCL South, I think any team in the country would find it tough to compete in that league. Q: So what are your thoughts on scheduling GCL South teams? A: I’d want to play one a year as long as I could. I’d love to play Moeller. That’d be special for me and Coach (John) Rodenberg (a former CovCath coach). We’re in a two-year deal with La Salle. I’m sure at some point we’ll play them all. I think it’s stupid to play two a year if you can avoid it. I want to play one big Louisville team and one big GCL school a year. Q: What kind of impact did Lynn Ray have on you when you were his assistant at CovCath? A: He’s as good as everybody makes him out to be. He’s one of the most determined coaches I’ve ever been around. And he does everything the right way. He’s so detail-oriented. He’s traditional but still up-to-date with the game. He’s

a classic throwback that can still thrive in today’s game. He took me from an offensive guy and taught me defense. Q: What was the highlight of your previous stint at CovCath? A: The 2001 Highlands (playoff) game, the 18-15 win. They had drubbed us in the regular season. I know everyone in the program and the community likes to make a huge deal out of the Highlands and Beechwood games. I’m not going to do that. The enthusiasm for those games is going to come out on itself. If anything, I’ll kind of downplay them a little bit.

Jeff Barth

School: WaltonVerona Age: 32 Alma mater: Highlands Background: Assis- Barth tant at South Oldham, middle school head coach Replaces: Woody McMillen, who led the team to a 4-6 record in its first varsity season Q: Why did you take the job? A: Part of it was the facilities are fantastic. And the academic success of the school and the other athletic programs Nick Rice also stands out quite a bit. School: Newport Q: What’s the status of the proAge: 29 gram? Alma mater: A: We’ve got about 42 kids out right Newport now. The kids work hard and they have Background: Served good attitudes. The work ethic is strong. as an assistant at both We need to increase our numbers. But Dayton High School and Rice the guys we have coming back, at least Thomas More College they have that one year of varsity experiReplaces: Jim Hyder, who went 5-17 ence. And the younger guys are the guys in two seasons that have played the whole time. Some Q: So you’re more than just the new or our seniors have only played three coach; you’re the new athletic direcyears. There’s growth potential there. tor. What’s that like? We’ll be competitive in single-A. A: To be honest, most of my job is Q: What can your players expect? behind the scenes and off the field. As a A: I’m trying to teach them how much teacher, you might have to do some they have to put in. When Woody was work after school. Now, most of my work doing exit interviews after the season, is done after school. It’s very time-conthe players kept saying they wanted to suming. But to be honest, it’s a lot of beat Beechwood. Now they’re starting to fun. Instead of helping the 30 or so kids realize what they have to put in to get to in my class, I’m helping hundreds. that point. I want them to think big; Q: Why did you take the job? that’s great. Everyone wants to win, but A: There are two things. I’m a Newport grad. Any time you get a chance to what are you willing to put in to get to that? give back to the place that made you Q: What can your fans expect? who you are, that’s special. And NewA: Scheme-wise we’ll be a little difport has always had talent. However, a ferent. At single-A, you have to tailor lot of coaches haven’t been able to get your offense to what you have. You’re those athletes out or work with them. I going to see a lot of different formations think the right guy can motivate them from us. Defensively, we’re going to run and then the sky’s the limit. a 5-3 or 4-3. We’ll be aggressive and Q: What’s the status of the prodisciplined. That’s what we’re trying to gram? A: Right now, we’re definitely building. stress. Q: What was the first thing you They were 1-10 and then 4-7. Our whole objective as a staff right now is to teach changed? A: Right off the bat, I was very fortuthem what it takes to be great football nate. What Coach Woody had in place players. was very solid. We’re trying to build on Q: What can your players expect? that. We wanted to make sure that the A: They’ve learned that I’m the same person every day. I’m high-energy every weights and the conditioning in summer was really stressed. That was normal for day. And we need to do things right evme from playing at Highlands and Hanery day. If we don’t do things right the over. But I think it kind of surprised first time, we’re going to keep doing some people in the community. But you them until we do them right. can’t just go out there on a Friday night Q: What can your fans expect? A: We were going to run a Multi-I (of- or a Saturday without putting the offseason work in. I got a late start on that fense). But as every coach knows, you run the system that best fits the players. because I didn’t get the job until the We think The Pistol (a modified shotgun first week of June. Q: I’ve seen some programs in the formation) best fits our personnel. We’re past that had a little success right off the first Northern Kentucky team to run the bat and then fizzled out when the it. It’s going to be exciting. Defensively, we want to do a lot of zone blitz, which a newness factor wore off. How do you make sure that doesn’t happen? lot of high school teams don’t do. We A: You have to make sure that you want to give teams something different develop the entire program – all the that they have to prepare for. Q: Did you try to stock the coaching way down to the youth players. You staff with Newport guys? have to get the varsity guys involved at A: I brought back some Newport that level. We’re trying to make sure guys. But everyone needed three things: this is a whole unit and capitalize on They needed to be able to deal with inthe excitement that football brings. In ner-city kids because this isn’t Ryle or football, you get just 10 regular-season Highlands. The kids are from a different games. When you get those, you have environment. They needed to know foot- to bring that football culture to the ball, and they needed to be loyal to the community. And that’s actually been program. We’ve got Jon Jefferson, who kind of easy because it’s a very supplayed receiver at Weber State. We’ve portive community. got Jess Meloche, who played at UK. Q: Considering you’re entering a Our whole staff is loaded with guys district with the most dominant smallaround 30 who are all energetic. school program in state history Q: It’s been a while since Newport (Beechwood), what’s a realistic goal produced a Division I college player. for this season? Are there any hidden gems over there? A: This season, obviously we’re A: We have a ton of athletes, but a playing at Bellevue and Dayton for the lot of them are typically too small to play first time. Realistically, seeing what we at the D-I level. There are kids like that, have now, that we can be a playoff but they all play basketball. And the team. And we’re not in a four-team disbasketball team is kind of on an uptrict, we’ve got six teams. So it’s a little swing right now. And it’s hard to get tougher, but we feel we have a shot. those kids out. It’s like Holmes. It’s hard Long-term, we want to be a year-in and to get those kids, but that’s the plan. year-out competitor at the statewide Now we just had a kid named Di’Nik- level. It might take awhile to get there, ko Waller who just transferred in from but since the youth programs are alWithrow. He’s a lineman and he started ready in place, we feel like it’s a realisthere as a sophomore. And to be hontic goal. est, he’ll be a ballplayer. But that’s up to the KHSAA if he’s eligible.


SCHEDULES (all times 7 p.m. unless noted)

Beechwood Aug. 29 vs. Dixie Heights at Nippert Stadium, noon Sept. 4 vs. Highlands, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 vs. Holy Cross, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. Sept. 25 vs. Dayton, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at Walton-Verona, 1 p.m. Oct. 9 vs. Ludlow, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Bishop Brossart at Newport Oct. 23 at Bellevue Oct. 30 vs. Newport Central Catholic, 7:30 p.m.

Bellevue Aug. 21 at Holy Cross, 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at Newport, 7 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Holmes Sept. 11 vs. Scott Sept. 25 vs. Walton-Verona Oct. 2 vs. Bishop Brossart Oct. 9 at Dayton Oct. 16 at Ludlow Oct. 23 vs. Beechwood Oct. 30 vs. Lloyd

Bishop Brossart Aug. 21 at Betsy Layne, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 5 vs. Bracken County, noon Sept. 12 vs. Jenkins Sept. 18 at Elizabethtown, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Ludlow Oct. 2 at Bellevue Oct. 10 at Walton-Verona, 1 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Beechwood Oct. 24 vs. Dayton Oct. 30 vs. Bethel-Tate

Boone County Aug. 29 vs. Lafayette at Tates Creek, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Scott County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Anderson Sept. 18 at Highlands Sept. 25 vs. Campbell County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at Conner Oct. 9 vs. Cooper, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Simon Kenton, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Dixie Heights

Campbell County Aug. 28 vs. Norwood, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Roger Bacon, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 vs. Covington Catholic, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at Newport Central Catholic Sept. 25 at Boone County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 at Conner Oct. 16 at Cooper, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 vs. Simon Kenton, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at George Rogers Clark, 7:30 p.m.

Conner Aug. 21 vs. Oldham County at South Oldham, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Scott Sept. 4 vs. Lloyd Sept. 11 vs. Dixie Heights Sept. 18 at Holy Cross Sept. 25 at Simon Kenton Oct. 1 vs. Boone County Oct. 9 vs. Campbell County Oct. 16 at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Cooper

Cooper Aug. 28 vs. Shawnee Sept. 4 at Scott Sept. 11 at Holmes Sept. 18 at Lloyd Sept. 25 at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Simon Kenton Oct. 9 at Boone County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Campbell County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 vs. Conner Oct. 30 vs. Newport

Covington Catholic Aug. 21 at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Lexington Catholic, 8 p.m. Sept. 5 vs. La Salle, 1 p.m. Sept. 11 at Campbell County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19 vs. Beechwood, 1 p.m. Sept. 26 vs. Newport Central Catholic, 1 p.m. Oct. 10 vs. Scott, 1 p.m. Oct. 17 vs. Highlands, 1 p.m. Oct. 23 at Dixie Heights Oct. 30 at Louisville St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.

Dayton Aug. 29 vs. Pendleton County at Grant County, 5 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Taylor Sept. 11 at Lloyd Sept. 18 vs. Newport Sept. 25 at Beechwood, 7:30 .p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Ludlow Oct. 9 vs. Bellevue Oct. 16 vs. Walton-Verona, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at Bishop Brossart Oct. 30 at Carroll County, 7:30 p.m.

Dixie Heights Aug. 21 vs. Newport Central Catholic Aug. 29 vs. Beechwood at Nippert Stadium, noon Sept. 4 at Simon Kenton Sept. 11 at Conner Sept. 18 vs. Ryle Sept. 25 at Scott Oct. 2 at Highlands Oct. 9 at Holmes Oct. 23 vs. Covington Catholic Oct. 30 vs. Boone County

Highlands Aug. 21 at DuPont Manual, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 at Ryle, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Withrow, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 vs. Boone County Sept. 25 vs. St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Dixie Heights Oct. 17 at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. Oct. 23 vs. Scott Oct. 30 vs. Ryle, 7:30 p.m.

Holmes Aug. 29 vs. Lloyd at Newport, 5 p.m. Sept. 4 at Bellevue Sept. 11 vs. Cooper Sept. 18 at Bourbon County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Pendleton County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Franklin County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9 vs. Dixie Heights Oct. 16 at Scott, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Withrow, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 vs. Harrison County, 7:30 p.m.

Holy Cross Aug. 21 vs. Bellevue Aug. 29 at Pikeville, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 vs. Conner Sept. 25 at Columbus Bishop Ready, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3 vs. Louisville Holy Cross

Oct. 9 at Newport Central Catholic Oct. 16 vs. Lloyd Oct. 23 at Newport Oct. 31 at Shadyside (Ohio), 3:30 p.m.

Lloyd Aug. 29 vs. Holmes at Newport, 5 p.m. Sept. 4 at Conner Sept. 11 vs. Dayton Sept. 18 vs. Cooper Sept. 25 at Montgomery County, 7:30 p.m. Oct 2 vs. Scott Oct. 9 vs. Newport Oct. 16 at Holy Cross Oct. 23 vs. Newport Central Catholic Oct. 30 at Bellevue

Ludlow Aug. 28 vs. Taylor, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at Carroll County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at Bracken County, 7:30 p.m.



Sept. 18 vs. Shawnee Sept. 25 vs. Bishop Brossart Oct. 2 at Dayton Oct. 9 at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Bellevue Oct. 23 vs. Walton-Verona Oct. 30 at Pendleton County

Newport Aug. 29 vs. Bellevue Sept. 4 vs. Pendleton County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 vs. Harrison County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at Dayton Sept. 25 vs. Estill County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 vs. Newport Central Catholic Oct. 9 at Lloyd Oct. 16 at Fleming County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 vs. Holy Cross Oct. 30 at Cooper

Newport Central Catholic Aug. 21 at Dixie Heights Aug. 29 vs. Simon Kenton at Nippert Stadium, 2:45 p.m. Sept. 4 at Madison Central Sept. 12 vs. Ryle Sept. 18 vs. Campbell County Sept. 26 at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. Oct. 2 at Newport Oct. 9 vs. Holy Cross Oct. 23 at Lloyd Oct. 30 at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m.

Ryle Aug. 21 vs. Covington Catholic, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28 vs. Highlands, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Newport Central Catholic Sept. 18 at Dixie Heights Sept. 25 vs. Cooper, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 at Campbell County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 at Simon Kenton Oct. 16 vs. Conner, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 vs. Boone County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Highlands, 7:30 p.m.

Scott Aug. 28 vs. Conner Sept. 4 vs. Cooper Sept. 11 at Bellevue Sept. 18 at Harrison County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 vs. Dixie Heights Oct. 2 at Lloyd Oct. 10 at Covington Catholic, 1 p.m. Oct. 16 vs. Holmes, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Highlands Oct. 30 vs. Simon Kenton

Simon Kenton Aug. 29 vs. Newport Central Catholic at Nippert Stadium, 2:45 p.m. Sept. 4 vs. Dixie Heights

Sept. 11 vs. Shroder Paideia, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18 vs. Henry Clay, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 vs. Conner Oct. 2 at Cooper Oct. 8 vs. Ryle Oct. 16 at Boone County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Campbell County, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 30 at Scott

Walton-Verona Aug. 22 vs. Gallatin County, 1 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Berea at Grant County, 2 p.m. Sept. 5 vs. Grant County, 1 p.m. Sept. 18 at Carroll County, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25 at Bellevue Oct. 3 vs. Beechwood, 1 p.m. Oct. 10 vs. Bishop Brossart, 1 p.m. Oct. 16 at Dayton, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 at Ludlow Oct. 31 Trimble County, 1 p.m.

Northern Kentucky High School Football Preview Fall 2009  

A preview of high school football season’s Northern Kentucky teams, featuring one of the strongest collections of talent in history. From Cl...