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September 19, 2012Northern Kentucky's top two ranked teams, the Highlands Bluebirds and the CovCath Colonels, clash as the 9 On Your Sidelines tour makes its way to Fort Thomas.
Highlands has dominated the series, including picking up a pair of wins a year ago. CovCath is improved though and will present the Bluebirds their biggest challenge to date in the 2012 campaign.
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Tune-In: Pregame show on WCPO-TV
Follow on Twitter @TSFootball, #9gamenight
PLAYERS TO WATCH: The quarterbacks grab the marquee in this tilt. Donovan McCoy at Highlands has accounted for 19 touchdowns (10 passing, nine running) and 1,250 yards of total offense in four games. Zach Harris, Ryan Donovan and Jaylen Hayes have already each had big day running the ball in 2012. The stable of receivers is deep with Luke Turner, Jake True, Colin Seidl, Jac Collinsworth, Luke Brockett and Ryan Greene. On the other side of the ball, Blake Schutte and Ben Streeter are two of the top defensive backs in Northern Kentucky.
CovCath signal caller Blake Bir holds the school records for passing yards and touchdowns in a career. He has plenty of help on offense with brother, Luke Bir, Bobby Beatrice and Sam Dressman running the ball. At receiver Ethan Egbers, Evan Braun and Sam Hatter are all threats to find the end zone. The Colonels' defense is not to be overshadowed as they have posted three shutouts and allowed just six points total to the four Kentucky teams that they have played. Linebackers Sam Burchell and DJ Powell along with linemen Spencer Hemmer, Daniel Hellman and Sam Williamson are the nucleus of a strong front seven. Matthew Way, Adam Fischer and Austin Oberhausen make up a stellar secondary.
TEAM TRENDS: The Bluebirds have won five straight state championships and are a combined 77-2 during that time, which includes their current 24-game winning streak. Highlands has beaten CovCath seven straight times. The Colonels last victory in the series was back in 2006. This the 59th meeting for the two programs with the Bluebirds holding a 47-17 advantage in the series.
COVCATH'S KEYS TO VICTORY: They need to reverse the past trends. Instead of playing catch up versus Highlands the Colonels need to come out and establish a lead early and maintain it. This is a CovCath defense that is capable of corralling the Bluebirds' aerial attack if they are afforded the opportunity to throw some things at Highlands because they are out in front. It will allow head coach Dave Wirth to take some chances in a good way.
HIGHLANDS' KEYS TO VICTORY: It's all about options for head coach Dale Mueller. Highlands can create so many mismatches it makes for long nights for opposing defenses. Being able to exploit those matchup problems will come down to execution by the offense. Defensively, the Bluebirds must play better than the unit that allowed over 30 points per game in the first three outings this season or else CovCath will have a field day spreading the ball around.
PREDICTION: HIGHLANDS 37, COVCATH 28