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CovCath comes out on top in defensive slugfest against Highlands to remain undefeated

By Jakob Jones
NKyTribune contributor

The biggest high football rivalry in Northern Kentucky drew a large crowd Friday night. They were hungry for a good game and they were not disappointed as Covington Catholic got past Highlands, 13-0, in a defensive slugfest.

CovCath has now won the last five games between the Class 5A district rivals and the last two have been shutouts. The Colonels blanked the Bluebirds, 36-0, in the third round of last year’s playoffs.

Highlands quarterback Collin Hollingsworth, No. 10, tries to throw on the run with CovCath linebacker Sam France in pursuit. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

The only touchdown in Friday’s game came in the opening seconds. CovCath continued to have success moving the ball, running 55 plays for 394 yards, but the Colonels’ stout defense was the difference in the game. Highlands was limited to 157 yards and eight first downs on 50 plays.

CovCath coach Eddie Eviston was  proud of his team’s win over a tough opponent.

“I give a lot of credit to Highlands,” he said. “They did some things, and they’re a good football team.”

The Colonels (9-0) entered the game as the state’s top-ranked team in Class 5A and have now won 38 of their last 39 games over three seasons. Highlands (5-4) needed a win to avoid a road trip in the first round of the playoffs, but the Bluebirds weren’t able to put the ball in the end zone.

The game didn’t start out as a defensive slugfest. A 69-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Caleb Jacob to junior wide receiver Ethan Reardon put CovCath on the board with 11:02 left in the first quarter. On their next possession, the Colonels picked up 55 yards before junior Trey Gronotte kicked a 39-yard field goal to give his team a 10-0 lead.

Penalties were a huge factor in the game. Highlands was flagged eight times for 98 yards. None was bigger than a holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff return to the 50-yard line. The Bluebirds started at their own 15 instead and an illegal motion penalty forced them to punt after a 3-and-out.

CovCath wide receiver Ethan Reardon, No. 15, tries to hang on to the ball after catching a pass between Highlands defensive backs Jacob Brass, No. 29, and Sawyer Depp, No. 3. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

An interception returned to the CovCath 25 by junior linebacker Mason South late in the second quarter gave Highlands’ fans hope that their team might score before halftime. But those hopes were dashed when CovCath senior defensive back Andrew Molique intercepted a pass in the end zone.

The third quarter was dominated by defense as the two teams combined had less than 100 yards. The fourth quarter began with a third-and-goal stop by the Bluebirds defense that led to a 20-yard field goal by Gronotte.

A good kickoff by Gronotte pinned the Bluebirds back at their 11-yard line to start their first and only drive of the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth passed for 17 yards and ran for 18 on his team’s final drive that was stopped on a crucial fourth-and-four play at the CovCath 48-yard line.

The Colonels, sensing victory was close, continually ran the ball and dared the Highlands’ defense to make a stop. They drove down to the 1-yard line, where they were stopped on fourth-and-goal as the clock expired.

Jacob led the way for the Colonels, completing 12 of 26 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown. Reardon caught nine passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Felix was the game’s leading rusher, picking up 142 yards on 15 carries.

Hollingsworth was held in check, going 4-of-12 for 46 yards, while senior running back Tyler Brune had 42 yards on six carries for the Bluebirds.

CovCath upset Cincinnati La Salle, 27-7, last Friday. Coach Eviston talked about the importance of winning two big games in back-to-back weeks, “Obviously we knew it would be a grind in our schedule,” he said. “These last five games are the tough ones.”

In their final district games next week, CovCath visits district co-leader Conner and Highlands goes to Cooper. All four of those teams have qualified for the Class 5A post-season playoffs that begin Nov. 8.

COVCATH     10  0  0  3 — 13
HIGHLANDS   0  0  0  0 –  0

CC — Reardon 69 pass from Jacob (Gronotte kick)
CC — Gronotte 39 FG
CC — Gronotte 20 FG
RECORDS: CovCath 9-0, 3-0 district; Highlands 5-4, 1-2.

High school football scores

Friday’s games
Beechwood 37, Lloyd 0
Ludlow 61, Bellevue 21
Brossart 41, Paris 8
Cooper 54, Boone County 0
Simon Kenton 34, Campbell County 7
Covington Catholic 13, Highlands 0
Newport Central Catholic 49, Dayton 0
Ryle 13, Dixie Heights 8
Holmes 8, Harrison County 7
Newport 44, Holy Cross 7
Scott 54, Boyd County 26
Walton-Verona 42, Louisville Shawnee 0

District standings involving local teams

Class 1A, District 4
Newport Central Catholic 2-0, Ludlow 1-1, Bellevue 1-1, Dayton 0-2.
Class 1A, District 5
Nicholas County 2-0, Brossart 1-1, Paris 1-1, Bracken County 0-2.
Class 2A, District 6
Beechwood 2-0, Lloyd 1-1, Newport 1-1, Holy Cross 0-2.
Class 4A, District 6
Scott 3-0, Holmes 3-0, Rowan County 1-2, Harrison County 1-3, Boyd County 0-3.
Class 5A, District 5
Covington Catholic 3-0, Conner 3-0, Highlands 1-2, Cooper 1-2, Boone County 0-4.
Class 6A, District 6
Simon Kenton 2-0, Ryle 2-0, Dixie Heights 0-2, Campbell County 0-2.

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