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2019 Prep Football Previews: Holy Cross coach sees better days ahead with more experience in lineup

The NKyTribune is featuring each of the 21 high school football teams in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties leading up to the first games of the 2019 season on Aug. 23. We will then provide focused coverage of our local teams throughout the regular season and into the playoffs.

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The freshmen and sophomores Holy Cross had in the starting lineup the last two football seasons were “physically outmatched” by their opponents, according to head coach Bruce Kozerski.

The Indians lost 22 consecutive games and were outscored by an average margin of 44 points with those young players. But they’re all bigger, stronger and smarter now, so the coach sees better days ahead.

Holy Cross junior Jeremiah Hicks was the team’s leading tackler and rusher last season.

“We’re having a lot more high effort consistently in practice,” Kozerski said. “There’s a lot more stability in the ranks, so we’ll be able to make substitutions in key positions to give guys a breather. But we still have to go out and win, and that’s the biggest challenge you see in sports.”

One of the two-year starters on the Indians’ roster is junior Jeremiah Hicks. He played linebacker, tailback and wide receiver in 20 of the team’s 22 losses as a freshman and sophomore.

“It was tough, but we had to fight through it,” Hicks said of the last two seasons. “We’re all developing now and becoming a better team, and I have to become a team leader.”

With only three seniors on the roster, experienced underclassmen like Hicks need to take on leadership roles during practice and games. He’s one of nine returning starters on defense and eight returning starters on offense for the Indians.

Last year, Hicks made a team-high 59 tackles at linebacker and accounted for 469 yards in rushing and pass receiving combined as a tailback and wide receiver.

“He’s got good breakaway speed, but he’s a tough kid, too,” Kozerski said. “He can take a hit, and he’s a guy who’ll miss the cut and get back up and do it right the next time. He doesn’t get intimidated.”

Hicks picked up 297 yards on 93 carries last year. He expects to get more handoffs in the backfield this season and added 40 pounds to his frame during weight training to become a stronger runner.

Bruce Kozerski

“I like the physicality of hitting and I like running the ball a lot,” said the 6-foot, 190-pound two-way starter. “Our (offensive) line is doing good (in practice) and that should help me get more rushing yards.”

The Holy Cross players have a positive attitude going into the new season, according to their coach. Some of that stems from an impromptu weight training session with members of the 2016 team that made it to the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs.

“They lifted with them a little and motivated more than anything,” Kozerski said of the former players. “The thing they talked about was what they each needed to do to make a difference. I’ve seen a tremendous improvement in their approach since then.”

Hicks knows what it will take for the Indians to get back on the winning track after two winless seasons.

“We’ve got to have that mindset of winning every single day, just coming to the field and giving 100 percent,” he said. “We’re got to work together (in games) and leave it all out on the field.”

Holy Cross will play all five of its home games at Thomas More University this season. One of those games will be against perennial power Beechwood, which moved up to Class 2A this year. That adds another challenge to the Indians’ quest for a better record this season.

“Our physical maturity is so much different,” Kozerski said. “In that regard, we should not get out-physicaled or out-matched. If we get out-talented, that’s one thing, but physical mismatches and intimidation is what plagued us for the last two years.”

2018 SEASON: 0-11 record, lost in first round of Class 2A playoffs.
DISTRICT: Class 2A, District 6 with Beechwood, Lloyd, Newport.
HEAD COACH: Bruce Kozerski (67-99 in 14 seasons at Holy Cross).

Aug. 23 – vs. Bellevue at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 – vs. Walton-Verona at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 – vs. Scott at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 – at Cincinnati Country Day, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 – at Newport Central Catholic, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 – at Brossart, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11– vs. Beechwood at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 – vs. Newport at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 – at Lloyd, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 – at Ludlow, 7 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:


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One Comment

  1. Steve o says:

    Go Indians this is turn around time

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