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2019 Prep Football Previews: NewCath senior was “force to be reckoned with” at linebacker last year

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

Daniel Craig doesn’t know where he’ll be on the Newport Central Catholic offensive line when the season begins in two weeks. He was the Thoroughbreds’ starting center last season, but the coaches could be moving him to guard or tackle.

On defense, the 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior knows for sure he’ll be playing middle linebacker. He was a “force to be reckoned with” at that position last year, according to head coach Stephen Lickert.

Senior linebacker Daniel Craig is the top returning tackler for NewCath and one of three varsity veterans on the offensive line. (Photo by Allen Ramsey / DWCphoto.com)

“He’s big, tough, physical, and a kid who can run,” Lickert said. “But he’s a really selfless player. He understands how things need to work and that sometimes he’ll have to make sacrifices so somebody else can make plays.”

Craig is one of 17 seniors on the NewCath team that’s moving back to Class 1A this season. The Thoroughbreds competed in the Class 2A playoffs the last 12 years. They made it to the state finals seven times, winning two championship and five state runner-up trophies.

A drop in enrollment put NewCath back in the small-school class when a statewide realignment was approved during the off-season. But seven of the 10 games on the team’s 2019 regular schedule will be against schools with larger enrollments.

“We feel like we can still compete with bigger teams,” Craig said. “Our schedule is really strong this year, like it’s always been. The reason we do that is to get ready for the playoffs.”

Last year, the Thoroughbreds lost in the second round of the playoffs. With Craig and senior quarterback Paul Kremer among the returning starters, coach Lickert has a proven team leader on both sides of the ball.

Kremer passed for 1,519 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. The team didn’t post its defensive statistics, but Lickert said Craig was most likely the leading tackler while also playing offensive center.

Daniel Craig

“He’s just a guy willing to do whatever you need him to,” Lickert said. “He’s probably athletic enough and fast enough to be a tight end, but we needed him on the O-line last year. He was our center and this year he’ll hopefully play guard or tackle for us. He has that athleticism to pull and kick (off the line) and knock people down.”

The coach said seniors Nathan DeBurger and Montgomery Stephenson are NewCath’s other returning offensive linemen. In addition to providing pass blocking for their veteran quarterback, they’ll need to open up lanes for a new group of running backs.

The Thoroughbreds averaged 145 yards passing and 129 yards rushing per game last season. The top three rushers and leading pass receiver all graduated, but the coaching staff plans to develop another balanced offense attack. 

“Up front, I think that’s going to be a strong suit for us,” Lickert said. “They definitely have to protect Paul, but I’ve been really pleased so far with our stable of running backs. We’ve got five guys who are all going to play, with time. They all can run it and they all have different skill sets.”

Craig doesn’t know when the offensive line positions will be determined. If the coaches decide to move him to guard or tackle, he definitely won’t complain.

“You get to pull more and be the lead on touchdown runs,” he said. “You get to make more big blocks instead of just blocking the same guys over and over again. But if I have to move back to center I more than likely will. We’re still trying to figure out two spots right now, but it’ll be a solid offensive line once we get it all put together.”


2018 SEASON:  5-7 record, lost in second round of Class 2A playoffs.
DISTRICT:  Class 2A, District 6 with Holy Cross, Lloyd and Newport.
HEAD COACH:  Steve Lickert (5-7 in one year at NewCath, 79-90 overall in 15 seasons).

Aug. 23 – at Campbell County, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 – COOPER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 – at Roger Bacon (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 – at Walton-Verona, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 – HOLY CROSS, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 – vs. Newport at Thomas More, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 – LUDLOW, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 – DAYTON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 – at Bellevue, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 – at Beechwood, 7:30 p.m.

Other NKyTribune prep football previews:


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