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CovCath makes big plays to offset Beechwood’s fast start in showdown between state champions

Luke Summe, center, scores CovCath’s first touchdown on an 85-yard kickoff return. (Photo by Bob Jackson)

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Covington Catholic football fans were stunned Friday when Beechwood opened the game with a 65-yard touchdown drive. But the Colonels made some big plays to ease their worried minds and rolled to a 49-14 victory on their home field.

CovCath scored on an 85-yard kickoff return, 45-yard run and 40-yard pass play to open up a 21-7 lead in the second quarter and continued to pull away to claim its 20th consecutive win over the last two seasons and raise this year’s record to 5-0.

“I’m not necessarily surprised,” CovCath junior Michael Mayer said of the Colonels’ run of success. “I knew this year’s team was hard working and the coaching staff was going to put in the work. It’s all a matter of coming out here and doing it (in games), and that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s not a surprise or anything new. Over the summer, I knew this team was going to be something special.”

CovCath tight end Michael Mayer retains control of the ball against Beechwood defensive back Tyler Donoho on a touchdown catch. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

More than 4,000 fans attended Friday’s game between the two defending state champions. Last year, CovCath won the Class 5A title and Beechwood repeated as Class 1A champion. With more players on the roster, the bigger school won the showdown for the fourth straight year.

“I’m proud of our kids,” said Beechwood coach Noel Rash. “We kept fighting and scratching and clawing, but the numbers caught up with us on a hot and humid night, and we had a major injury early in the game. But what really caught up to us is they have a really good football team and they’re extremely well coached.”

Beechwood junior Josh Derry, a two-way starter at running back and linebacker, injured his knee making a tackle with 3:03 left in the first quarter and did not return.

Derry scored the game’s first touchdown on a 19-yard run, but CovCath senior Luke Summe returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown that tied the score.

“It was good that we answered right back with the kickoff return,” said CovCath coach Eddie Eviston. “Then our defense settled in a little bit and we kind of took care of business after that. It took a while for our offense to get going too, but once we did things started happening.”

After punting on its first possession of the game, CovCath’s offensive unit ran off 21 straight points in the second quarter. The first two scoring plays were a 45-yard run by senior Casey McGinness and a 40-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Caleb Jacob to senior wide receiver Jack Coldiron.

The next time CovCath got the ball senior John Schuh broke loose on a 64-yard run and was tackled just shy of the goal line. McGinness took it into the end zone on the next play for his second TD of the game.

CovCath wide receiver Jack Coldiron, No. 13, makes a leaping catch after getting past Beechwood defensive back Mason Williams. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

At halftime, CovCath had 265 yards compared to 101 for Beechwood. After the game-opening touchdown drive, the Tigers had a net total of 36 yards on their next six possessions.

“After their first drive, we realized we’re really going to have play hard,” said Mayer, a tight end and linebacker for CovCath. “We made some adjustments (on defense) and it worked out well.”

Mayer caught a 17-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to extend CovCath’s lead to 35-7. Beechwood responded with a 73-yard scoring drive that included two personal fouls against CovCath.

After a roughing the kicker penalty on a field goal attempt, the Tigers got a touchdown on a 5-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Cameron Hergott to senior wide receiver Hank Birindelli.

In the final minutes of the third quarter, however, McGinness scored on a 64-yard run and 50-yard pass play to give CovCath a 49-14 lead.

McGinness finished with a combined total of 174 yards in rushing and receiving and four touchdowns. Jacob completed 17 of 22 passes for 273  yards and three TDs.

The Colonels started using reserve players in the fourth quarter and the offense moved the ball to the 1-yard line. But a bad snap went over the head of the quarterback and Beechwood recovered it. That kept the final margin at 35 points and prevented a running clock.

Final statistics had CovCath with 465 total yards compared to Beechwood’s 168. Hergott completed 12 of 25 passes for 135 yards for the Tigers. Senior wide receiver John Odom had six catches for 95 yards.

“John made some really good plays for us, but we’ve got to get our running game going,” coach Rash said. “We’ve got to look at what we’re dong wrong because we can’t continue to force the ball to John.”

Rash would not comment on the extent of Derry’s knee injury. The player left the stadium on crutches after the game.

COVCATH          7  21  21  0  — 49
BEECHWOOD   7    0    7   0  — 14

B — Derry 19 run (Graman kick)
CC — Summe 85 kickoff return (Gronotte kick)
CC — McGinness 45 run (Gronotte kick)
CC — Coldiron 40 pass from Jacob (Gronotte kick)
CC — McGinness 1 run (Gronotte kick)
CC — Mayer 17 pass from Jacob (Gronotte kick)
B — Birindeli 5 pass from Hergott (Graman kick)
CC — McGinness 64 run (Gronotte kick)
CC — McGinness 50 pass from Jacob (Gronotte kick)
RECORDS: CovCath 5-0, Beechwood 2-2.

High school football scores

Covington Catholic 49, Beechwood 14
Simon Kenton 46, Cooper 3
Conner 21, Dixie Heights 13
Bellevue 46, Gallatin County 0
Campbell County 14, Ryle 0
Lloyd 50, Holmes 8
Newport 43, Ludlow 19
Lexington Christian 38, Walton-Verona 21
Highlands 44, Lexington Catholic 27
Christian Academy of Louisville 31, Newport Central Catholic 0
South Oldham 56, Boone County 21
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy 56, Holy Cross 6


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