A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

CovCath football team will take perfect record into next week’s Class 5A state championship game

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The Covington Catholic football team is one win away from becoming the first undefeated state champion in the 50-year history of the program.

The Colonels defeated South Warren, 43-7, in a Class 5A state semifinal game on Friday in Bowling Green to run their record to 14-0. They’ll take that perfect record into the state title game against Madison Southern (11-3) at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Kroger Field in Lexington.

CovCath quarterback A,J. Mayer completed 18 of 27 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s state semifinal win over South Warren. (File photo by Steve Dyer)

CovCath has won six previous state championships in football, but none of those teams dominated opponents like this year’s Colonels, who hold the No. 1 spot in the statewide power rankings. Ten of their victories have been by margins of 36 points or more and the offense has scored 630 points to shatter the program’s previous single-season record.

“We felt we had a special group and they are a special group,” said CovCath coach Eddie Eviston. “We talked during the summer about how we need to continue to work hard during the season and build off what we did last year. These guys have lived up to that and earned everything they’ve gotten. Now we’re one game away from reaching the goal we set for ourselves.”

In Friday’s game, CovCath quarterback A.J. Mayer accounted for 391 of the team’s 480 total yards. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 52 yards and one TD.

Mayer threw three touchdown passes in the first half to give CovCath a 21-0 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, he passed for another touchdown and two-point conversion to give the Colonels the 36-point lead that they needed to win their 11th game with a running clock.

“There’s just so many different things we can do with him and he just makes plays,” Eviston said of Mayer. “He can do a lot with his arm and if things break down he can use his athletic ability to make something happen with his feet. He did that multiple times (Friday).”

CovCath’s defense gave up a first-half touchdown for the first time in several weeks, but that was the only time South Warren reached the end zone. The Colonels picked off a pass, recovered a fumble, made a stop on a fourth-down play and forced the home team to punt five times.

South Warren’s touchdown came in the final seconds of the second quarter and cut CovCath’s lead to 21-7 at halftime. That was a cause for concern among CovCath fans who made the long trip to the game.

But the Colonels forced South Warren to punt on its first possession of the third quarter and then put together a 52-yard scoring drive that put their fans at ease. Casey McGinness took the ball into the end zone on a 10-yard run and Trey Gronotte kicked the extra point to give their team a 28-7 lead.

“We challenged our defense (at halftime) to take it up a notch and lock it in a little bit,” Eviston said. “They got that quick stop and our offense as able to score right away. That kind of got us back in control there in that third quarter.”

In the other Class 5A state semifinal game on Friday, Madison Southern scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter and defeated Harlan County, 27-20. Senior fullback Carter Smith scored the Eagles’ winning touchdown on a 27-yard run in the final seconds. He ended up with 151 of his team’s 263 rushing yards.

COVCATH                 14   7    7  15 — 43
SOUTH WARREN       0   7    0    0 — 7
CC — Coldiron 54 pass from Mayer (Gronotte kick)
CC — Coldiron 45 pass from Mayer (Gronotte kick)
CC – McGinness 16 pass from Mayer (Gronotte kick)
SW – Elmore 8 pass from Spurrier (Eblen kick)
CC — McGinness 10 run (Gronotte kick)
CC — Mayer 1 run (Gronotte kick)
CC – Lenihan 20 pass from Mayer (McGinness pass from Mayer)
RECORDS: CovCath 14-0, South Warren 11-3

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