Preview: Ryle at Dixie Heights

Ryle head coach Mike Engler (photo by Dan Bieneke/

It’s “man-up” night in Edgewood, Kentucky. Ryle travels to Dixie Heights as both teams battle to control their destiny for a Class 6A, District 6 title in our latest matchup on the Blitz 5 Comeback Tour. These squads are combat tested. No one is backing down in this affair. All signs point to a smash-mouth Friday night. Get the postgame ice packs ready.

NO. 24 RYLE RAIDERS (5-2, 1-0 district) at DIXIE HEIGHTS COLONELS (4-3, 1-0)
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m.
Rice Mountjoy Stadium, Bill Shannon Field
Follow on Twitter @TSFootball 

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Ryle seniors Gabe Savage and Jackson Belk are one of the best linebacker tandems in the state. The duo has combined for 150 total tackles (77 solo), two fumble recoveries, 9.5 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks. Classmate Nathan Yowan leads the team with four interceptions. Sophomore quarterback Logan Verax and junior Jayce Harden are having breakout years out of the Raiders’ backfield. Verax has thrown for 1,279 yards, run for 208 yards and has accounted for 14 touchdowns (12 passing, two rushing). Harden has team highs of 429 yards from scrimmage (255 rushing, 174 receiving) and five touchdowns (three receiving, two rushing).

Quarterback Logan Landers ignites the Dixie Heights’ offense. The senior has amassed 5,614 yards of total offense (4,516 passing, 1,098 rushing) and accounted for 41 touchdowns (29 passing, 12 rushing) in his career. Reigning KFCA Class 6A, District 6 Player of the Year Pierce Rohlman leads the team in rushing with 502 yards and five touchdowns. Classmate Devin Holbert is Landers top target. He has 29 receptions for 416 yards and four touchdowns. The anchor of the offensive line is the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Evan Wibberley, a Western Kentucky commit. Colin Smith is the heart-and-soul of the Colonels’ defense. Smith has three interceptions this season and six for his career. 

TEAM TRENDS: The two teams have had three common opponents – Conner (5-3), Cooper (5-2) and Highlands (4-4). Ryle is 3-0 against the trio. Dixie Heights is 2-1 with a 19-10 loss at Cooper, Ryle won at Cooper, 14-7.

Ryle has been victorious in five of its last six games. The Raiders have not given up more than 13 points in any of those tilts. They are allowing just 9.7 points per game in that span. The offense has been equally impressive, averaging 29.7 points per game with three 40-plus point outputs in the last six contests. 

Dixie Heights has allowed 20 points or more in five straight games. The Colonels are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time this season. 

Ryle: Mike Engler (52-35 at Ryle, eighth year; 52-35 overall)

Dixie Heights: Dave Brossart (52-60 at Dixie Heights, 10th year; 75-92 overall, 15th year)

RYLE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Continue to spread the wealth on offense. It will keep the Dixie Heights’ defense from zeroing in on just one or two playmakers. The Raiders have eight different players with at least two offensive touchdowns. Make the Colonels become one dimensional when they have the ball. The Ryle defense has been excellent against the run allowing just 90.2 yards per game on the ground. They need to make the Dixie Heights’ ground game non-existent.

DIXIE HEIGHTS’ KEYS TO VICTORY: Stop the Ryle offense and get off the field. The Colonels allowed Simon Kenton to convert 12 of 22 third and fourth-down conversions last week. Doing that again will make for an uphill battle on Friday night. Getting the “un”usual suspects to step up and make big plays. The Colonels need meaningful production from players other than their “dependables” – Rohlman, Landers, Smith and Hawkins, if they are to come out on top.

Prediction: Ryle 24, Dixie Heights 14




You must be logged in to post a comment Login