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2016 Prep Football Previews: Highlands happy to have senior veterans in both safety positions

The NKyTribune will be providing focused coverage of NKY high school football throughout the season, thanks to support from St. Elizabeth Healthcare Sports Medicine. See all of our pre-season features on each of NKY’s 21 high school football teams and follow our coverage, including roundups each week at Northern Kentucky High School Football.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

When the Highlands football team got off to a 1-5 start last season, the coaching staff decided to make some changes in the defensive lineup that helped the Bluebirds win seven straight games and make it to the semifinals of the Class 5A state playoffs.

Highlans Brad Greene and Sam Taylor copy

Bradley Greene, left, and Sam Taylor are together again in the Highlands defensive secondary. (Photo by Terry Boehmker)

Putting juniors Sam Taylor and Bradley Greene in the starting safety positions was a major part of the realignment, according to head coach Brian Weinrich.

“As soon as those two went to safety, it allowed a couple other guys who were seniors last year to move to their more natural positions,” Weinrich said. “To me, that was the turning point on the defensive side of the ball last season.”

Taylor and Greene are looking forward to playing together in the defensive secondary once again this season. They’ll have different assignments, but they want to achieve the same goal.

“Eliminating the big plays (by opponents) is going to be huge,” Greene said. “We’ve got to make teams take long drives because that’s when we can get them to make mistakes. I think that’ll be crucial.”

Greene was a wide receiver for the Bluebirds last season before the coaching staff moved him to free safety. Taylor started out on the junior varsity team and was moved up to play strong safety on varsity.

“We didn’t have spring (practice) last year and got cut short in the summer because of construction (around school),” Weinrich said. “So it took us awhile to get a true evaluation of our guys. Those two really pulled through and we’re glad they’re back this year.”

With his speed and agility, Greene does a good job covering pass receivers. Last year, he ended up with a team-high four interceptions in eight games.

Taylor’s main responsibility is helping stop the run. The team doesn’t keep track of tackles, but Weinrich said he was among the leaders in several games last season, especially during the playoffs.

St-E-Football-plug-768x249“I think we work well together,” Greene said. “We just have a good chemistry back there. We play well off of each other and we’re both pretty sure tacklers. We’re still trying to improve every day.”

As seniors, Greene and Taylor are taking on leadership roles this year. They go all-out during practice sessions to set a good example for their teammates.

“They’re quiet leaders, but they’re definitely leaders because they only know one speed and that’s full speed in everything we do,” Weinrich said. “In practice, we always say, ‘Just watch Sam and Brad,’ when we’re doing a drill. They’re going to do it right and go until they can’t go anymore.”

The Bluebirds are working hard this summer to improve on last year’s 8-6 record and get a shot at another championship trophy. Highlands made it to the state finals eight consecutive years and won seven titles before getting eliminated in the semifinals last year.

“We’re definitely confident that we can go into the season this year and get a lot more wins and start out a lot better,” Taylor said. “Our defense has got to create turnovers and stop teams every opportunity we can to get good field position for the offense so they can score points.”


2015 SEASON: 8-6 record, lost in semifinals of Class 5A playoffs.
DISTRICT: Class 5A, District 5 with Covington Catholic, Dixie Heights and Grant County.
HEAD COACH: Brian Weinrich (21-8 in two seasons at Highlands).

Aug. 19 – COOPER, 7 p.m..
Aug. 26 – at Campbell County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 – SCOTT COUNTY, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 – at Ryle, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Louisville St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 23 – SIMON KENTON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 – at Dixie Heights, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 – COVINGTON CATHOLIC, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 – at Grant County, 7 p.m.
Oct. 28 – BOONE COUNTY, 7 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:
Dixie Heights

Covington Catholic

Newport Central Catholic
Boone County

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