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The road to a repeat has now gotten a bit tougher for the boys from Fort Thomas. Three takers look to upset Highlands and lay heir to the throne. The team who come out on top of this district in two weeks will certainly be a favorite to win a state title.
The talent pool in this bracket is stellar. There are future college stares and skills players who have crushed the record book at their school and the state level. Exciting football is in the cards for Friday night.
JOHNSON CENTRAL (9-2) AT HIGHLANDS (11-0) - Highlands has won 21 straight playoff games, but they haven’t been tested like this in quite a while. Quarterback Patrick Towles will be priority number one for the Johnson Central defense to stop. Towles has been brilliant this season with 38 touchdown passes. The best part of his game is who he distributes the wealth amongst his teammates. Ten different Bluebird caught passes last week. The Golden Eagles might zero in on the Highlands signal-caller, but with the stable of weapons he has it is going to be hard for JC to keep the Bluebirds from putting up points on the scoreboard.
Johnson Central running back J.J. Jude is Kentucky’s all-time rushing leader. His numbers this season are gaudy with 2,964 yards and 41 touchdowns on the ground. His success running the football is imperative to controlling the clock and keeping the explosive Highlands’ offense off the field. No matter what happens the Golden Eagles should win the time of possession battle. The Johnson Central defense is going to have to step up and make some stops. They can ill-afford to let the Bluebirds jump out and grab a couple of touchdown lead as the offense is not equipped to handle coming back from large deficits.
COVCATH (9-2) AT ASHLAND BLAZER (9-2) - CovCath got an early post-season wakeup call last Saturday against Rowan County. The Colonels sleepwalked through the first half of that contest. The good news is that this team has balance and depth, the ingredients to go far in this tournament. The offense has rushed for just under 2,500 yards. Gabe Gray has set a school record with 1,598 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. He also leads the team with 399 receiving yards and six more scores. Quarterback Blake Bir has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,203 yards and 26 touchdowns. Head coach Dave Wirth knows long sustained drives will propel CovCath to victory lane because that means his big offensive line is wearing down the foe and keeping his defense fresh.
Ashland Blazer is three points away from being undefeated. The Tomcats do it with defense. They have not allowed more than 20 points in a game and are yielding just 11.9 points per contest. Like CovCath, this is a very balanced team on offense. Quarterback Sam Hunter has been very efficient connecting on 67.0 percent of his passes for 2,017 yards and 17 touchdowns. His favorite target is Cody Withrow, who has 49 receptions for 836 yards and nine touchdowns. Hunter is also one of four member of the backfield with at least 440 yards rushing. Running back Matt McLeod leads the group with 629 yards and nine scores on the ground. Keeping the Colonels off balanced and moving the ball up and down the field is only going to aid the Tomcats’ defense. Ashland Blazer has lost their only two games decided by 10 points or less. Finding a way to pullout a close one is something the Wildcats have yet to prove they can do.
Greg is a co-founder of TSF and is now entering his ninth season as a Featured Analyst for the website. The Xavier University grad also serves as the Content Manager for the website and is widely considered one of the top high school football experts in the region. If you are interested in covering your team, please CONTACT US.