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2016 Prep Football Previews: Ryle senior linebackers are dynamic duo on defense

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

Ryle senior linebacker Collin Demetrakis missed the last five games of the 2015 football season with a broken femur bone in his right leg. Over the summer, he broke the fibula bone in his left leg and sat out the first few weeks of preseason practice.

ryle linebackers

Ryle senior linebackers Collin Demetrakis, left, and Jackson High are the team’s top returning tacklers from last season. (Photo by Terry Boehmker)

When his doctor gives him the OK to return to the field, Demetrakis is going to
go at it like a caged tiger being returned to the jungle.

“I just have to fight my way back into it and make sure I’m ready to go when I’m
able to,” he said. “It’s only made me more and more hungry to go out and have a great season and contribute to the Ryle Raider defense.”

No one will be happier to see Demetrakis return than his long-time friend and teammate Jackson High, another senior linebacker for the Raiders. They came up together in the Ryle program and want to end their high school careers with a successful senior season.

“I was bummed out when he got hurt (last season),” High said. “I would just pray for him everyday, hoping he would get better. He was a big part of our team, too. I knew I needed him right by my side.”

High made a team-high 92 tackles last season for the Raiders, who lost in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs and finished with a 9-3 record. Demetrakis wasn’t too far behind him with 63 tackles, even though he missed three regular season and two playoff games.

Ryle defensive coordinator Mike Woolf is excited to have both of the veteran linebackers returning this season because of their experience on the varsity level.

“They’re great young men and going to be good leaders for us,” Woolf said. “They’re going to be the quarterbacks of our defense, and it’s good to have two instead of one. They’re on the same page making calls and everything, which should make us better on Friday nights with their leadership and knowledge.”

Ryle did not have a stifling defense last year, allowing 303 yards and 21.5 points per game. But the Raiders were tough to beat because the offense averaged 428 yards and 37 points per game.

With senior quarterback Tanner Morgan returning, the Ryle offense expects to put up big numbers once again this season. If the defense does better than last year, there’s a good chance that only a few fans will notice.

“I think that’s a good problem to have, people talking so much about our offense,” Demetrakis said. “I think our defense is just as good as our offense, but we’re not looking for praise or applause. We just go out there and do our best to hold teams to as few points as possible. Whether we receive a lot of recognition for that or not, we’re still going to do what we’ve been taught to do.”

St E Football plugRyle’s defensive formation will look a little different at times this season. Instead of having two middle linebackers, Demetrakis will slide to the outside and High will stay inside on several plays.

That change may cut down on the number of tackles Demetrakis makes this season, but he’s willing to do whatever is best for the team.

“It’s just our strengths that kind of put us there,” he said. “Jackson is really good at stopping the run in the middle of the field and I can run with wide receivers and tight ends. So it makes sense for him to be on the inside and me on the outside.”

Earlier this year, High improved his linebacker skills by attending a two-week series of practice sessions with USA Football. He worked with players and coaches from across the country to prepare for games against Canadian teams that were played Jan. 31-Feb. 5 in Dallas.

“Every day, we’d go four hours a day doing different drills and stuff,” he said. “I learned a lot with those guys teaching and coaching me every day.”

In a couple of weeks, High will get a chance to put what he learned to good use when he and Demetrakis take the field for the first game of the 2016 high school football season.

“We call ourselves the best linebacker core in Northern Kentucky because we know each other so well and we’ve been playing (varsity) together for the last couple of years now,” Demetrakis said. “We attack things together, knowing we have each other’s back and that helps us be a strong linebacker core.”


2015 SEASON: 9-3 record, lost in second round of Class 6A playoffs.
DISTRICT: Class 6A, District 5 with Conner and Cooper.
HEAD COACH: Mike Engler (14-10 in two seasons at Ryle).

Aug. 19 – COVINGTON CATHOLIC, 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 26 – vs. Henry Clay at Lexington Catholic, 6 p.m.
Sept. 2 – at Boone County, 7 p.m.
Sept. 9 – HIGHLANDS, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 – at Campbell County, 7 p.m..
Sept. 30 – at Clark County, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 – COOPER, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 14 – at Conner, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 – SIMON KENTON, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 28 – DIXIE HEIGHTS, 7:30 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:
Dixie Heights

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