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November 14, 2012

Preview: CovCath at Highlands

There are many great rivalries in the area, including in Northern Kentucky, where one of the best of all resides - Highlands versus CovCath. The problem is that in recent years, the rivalry has been one sided, including Highlands' 35-21 win back in September.

CovCath has enjoyed a great season and could easily have one of their best teams the school has seen in recent years. Friday night they will get a chance to prove how much ground they've made up when they head to Fort Thomas in attempt to avoid the same fate that spoiled their season a year ago, a season-ending playoff loss to the Bluebirds.

Highlands is riding a hot hand and has big goals in their sight, but they still need to take care of business on the football field.

COVCATH COLONELS (9-3) AT HIGHLANDS (11-1)
Site: David Cecil Memorial Stadium - Highlands High School
Kickoff: Friday, November 17th at 7:00 P.M.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: With nearly 5,000 yards of total offense CovCath is loaded with playmakers, many of which have rewritten the school's record books. Senior quarterback Blake Bir has had a stellar career and he doesn't want to see it end here. The three-year starter has thrown for 2,663 yards and 37 touchdowns this season. Classmate Ethan Egber is one of the area's most polished receivers with 41 catches for 773 yards and 13 scores under his belt. Junior Sam Dressman, who's been battling a shoulder injury, will be ready to go here and provide a boost. Sam Burchell, Daniel Hellman and D.J. Powell spearhead a defense that must have a big night if the Colonels are to advance.

Junior running back Zach Harris scored two of his 16 touchdowns on the season in the Week 6 win over CovCath. He leads a deep stable of running backs that has produced 258 yards per game on the ground. Highlands can kill you through the air too behind the guidance of senior Donovan McCoy. The first-year starter at quarterback has been sensational with 2300 yards and 29 touchdowns passing to along with 735 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. Quentin Murray leads the defense with four interceptions.

TEAM TRENDS: The Bluebirds have won five straight state championships and are a combined 84-3 during that time with their only loss coming this season to Elder, a Cincinnati power house. Highlands has beaten CovCath eight straight times. The Colonels last victory in the series was back in 2006. This the 60th meeting for the two programs with the Bluebirds holding a 48-17 advantage in the series. CovCath pitched an impressive five shutouts this season, but have 38 points per game to Highlands during the three-year tenure of Dave Wirth as the team's head coach.

COVCATH'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Simply put the Colonels will have to put together four quarters of football. They were unable to do it last year when their season came to an end on this very field and it didn't happen in regular-season meeting this year. The only team to be Highlands this year was Elder and they did it by negating the speed of the Bluebirds' rush from the edges by running the ball between the tackles and winning the battle upfront. The Colonels run for 178 yards per game, but some of that was padded by success against subpar teams. Taking care of the football is a must. Three turnovers doomed them the last trip to Ft. Thomas and that cannot happen.

HIGHLANDS KEYS TO VICTORY: Getting out to a quick lead will put the pressure on the Colonels and keep the homefield advantage in Highlands' corner. Putting the clamps down on the Colonels' high-powered passing attack and putting pressure on the quarterback worked last time around and should be the focus once again. Last week the Bluebirds let things stay tight heading to halftime, if that happens this time around the Colonels will be a much tougher opponent to stave off. Staying focused on the long-term goal of a fifth straight state title could help keep their heads out playing too much a factor in the rivalry.

PREDICTION: HIGHLANDS 34, COVCATH 20


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