The quest for a sixth straight state championship has one more stop on the home field for Highlands and it couldn't come at a better time against a very solid Lexington Catholic squad in the Class 4A final four.
The Bluebirds have hoisted 21 title trophies in the program's history. That is tied with Trinity for most title's all-time Kentucky football. The mountains to climb may look "gi-normous" for the Knights, but they are riding high after knocking off Boyle County a team, who ended LexCath's playoff runs in each of the previous five seasons. Both teams like to throw the ball so a night of big plays looks to be in the works.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC KNIGHTS (11-2) @ HIGHLANDS BLUEBIRDS (12-0)
Site: David Cecil Memorial Stadium - Highlands
Kickoff: Friday, November 23rd at 7:30 P.M.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Lexington Catholic has thrown for almost 2,990 yards. Quarterback Reese Ryan took over as starter in Week 8 and has thrown 1,028 yards and 13 touchdowns in six starts. The Knights use an efficient passing attack as receiver David Bouvier paces the way with 83 catches for 1,240 yards and six scores. Sam Letton has 23 receptions eight have gone for touchdowns. Thirteen other players have caught passes, but none has more than 19 receptions. Amoh Kumengisa leads a LexCath running game by committee with 540 yards and 14 touchdowns. Six players have carried the ball at least 39 times on the season. Defensively, Josh Mesmer, Nick Foster, Cody Mitchell, Alex Nash, Anthony Kersey and Derek Hayden have are out in front of a gang-tackling unit.
Believe it or not, Highlands has run for more yards than they have thrown for 3,229 to 3,081. No matter how you split it, it is still a boatload of yardage. Quarterback Donovan McCoy has accounted for 46 touchdowns (29 passing & 17 rushing). The senior leads the squad with 819 yards rushing and 2,445 passing. Out of the backfield Zach Harris and Jaylen Hayes have combined for 1,286 yards and 26 scores on the ground. Luke Turner is the only Bluebirds receiver with more than 20 receptions. Turner has 34 catches for 703 yards while finding the end zone seven times. Seven receivers have at least three touchdowns receptions Highlands. On defense, Seth Hope, Joe Paolucci and Thomas Wrobleski have combined for 13.5 sacks. Quentin Murray has five interceptions.
TEAM TRENDS: This is the sixth meeting all-time between the schools. Highlands holds a 4-1 advantage in the series. The Bluebirds have won five consecutive state titles and are a combined 85-3 during that time including 28 consecutive post-season victories. Last week CovCath held Highlands to their second-lowest scoring output of the season, 28 points. Lexington Catholic has held five of their last six opponents to 16 points or fewer.
LEXCATH'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Knights schedule has prepared them for this moment having beaten Boyle County, Knox Central while hanging with Class 5A power Bowling Green all in the past four weeks. Sharing the wealth on offense has been very effective. Getting everyone involved on Friday night could pay big dividends as the game wears on.
HIGHLANDS' KEYS TO VICTORY: Score points and score lots of them. Ten times this season the Bluebirds have scored 51 points or more. That bodes well for Highlands as LexCath has had some trouble stopping quality opponents from staying out of the end zone. The defense has come to life the past four weeks allowing just 13.25 points per game after allowing 22.2 in the team's first nine tilts.
PREDICTION: HIGHLANDS 42, LEXINGTON CATHOLIC 26