A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Hicks provides plays Conner needs to outscore Highlands, 38-28, in Class 5A district playoff game

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

In his 13 years as Conner’s head football coach, Dave Trosper has developed some top-notch quarterbacks and senior Jared Hicks has pushed his name near the top of the list.

Hicks completed 24 of 33 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns in Conner’s 38-28 win over Highlands in the first round of the Class 5A district playoffs on Friday. He also rushed for 33 yards, one touchdown and a two-point conversion to account for 280 of his team’s 376 total yards.

Conner quarterback Jared Hicks extends the ball to reach the goal line before being tackled by Highlands linebacker Brycen Huddleston on a two-point conversion attempt. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

“Our guys love him and he’s a great player,” Trosper said. “He understands the game. I can’t tell you the amount of hours of (game) film we watch together. He understands what we want to do, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Hicks has now passed for 2,605 yards in 11 games this season. Conner’s best single-season passing total in the previous 12 years was 2,702 yards.

The senior will have a chance to top that record in next week’s playoff game at Covington Catholic, but that won’t be on his mind during practice next week.

“I don’t really care about that stuff,” Hicks said. “I just want to win with my team. I just love Conner football and that’s all I really care about. I don’t care about all that individual stuff, honestly.”

In Friday’s game, Hicks was intercepted on his third pass attempt, but that was the only serious mistake he made. The Cougars scored points on five of their next six possessions with the senior quarterback making big plays to open up a 30-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

But Highlands made a quick comeback. After junior Jake Fahlbusch returned a punt to the 16-yard line, Ethan Houze pulled off an over-the-shoulder catch on a pass from Collin Hollingsworth in the right corner of the end zone. That touchdown and Brian Haigis’ extra-point kick cut Conner’s lead to 30-28 with 8:58 remaining.

The Cougars ran the ball on five of their next seven plays to keep the clock running. On a third-down play at the 15-yard line, Hicks threw a 10-yard pass to Justin Daniels to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Doug Abdon scored on a 3-yard run to give his team an eight-point lead.

Highlands wide receiver Ethan Houze makes an over-the-shoulder catch for a touchdown. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Conner decided to go for a two-point conversion. Hicks dropped back to pass and couldn’t find an open receiver, so he sprinted toward the end zone and stretched the ball over the goal line before he was tackled to make it 38-28 with 4:33 left on the clock.

Highlands moved the the ball to the 25-yard line with the help of two penalties on Conner. When Hollingsworth fired a pass into the end zone, however, Hicks came over from his safety spot and intercepted it to seal the victory.

Hicks said he had not played safety all season, but an injury to one of his teammates put him in the Cougars’ defensive lineup for Friday’s playoff game.

“It was a little rough being on defense at first,” he said. “I had to get used to it a little bit, but I finally got the swing of it and made a big play when it mattered.”

Abdon picked up 93 of Conner’s 129 rushing yards. The team’s leading receiver was Daniels with nine catches for 106 yards. Colton Roy had seven receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Izac Costa caught the team’s other TD pass.

Hicks threw for 244 yards in his team’s 20-17 win over Highlands during the regular season. On Friday, the Bluebirds used a two-man defensive front and dropped more players back into the passing lanes, but Hicks still put up big numbers.

“I’m just trying to make big plays as much as I can and trying to find open receivers,” Hicks said. “My receivers really come back to the ball, which helps me a lot.”

Highlands finished with 230 total yards. Hollingsworth completed 14 of 24 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown and scored on a 1-yard run. Sawyer Depp also had a rushing touchdown for the Bluebirds.

CovCath, the top-ranked Class 5A team in the state, defeated Conner, 45-7, in a regular season game on Oct. 25. In the final two minutes of the first half, CovCath scored 21 straight points with the last two touchdowns coming after a fumble recovery and partially blocked punt.

“We made major mistakes, but the thing is they’re all correctable,” Hicks said. “We know what we did wrong, and we know this week we have to go out and fix those mistakes if we want a chance (to win).”

HIGHLANDS  0  14   7  7 – 28
CONNER       0  16 14  8 – 38
C — Keller 32 FG
H — Depp 6 run (Haigis kick)
C — Roy 7 pass from Hicks (kick failed)
C — Costa 4 pass from Hicks (Keller kick)
H — Ahlfeld 24 pass from Hollingsworth (Haigis kick)
C — Roy 30 pass from Hicks (Keller kick)
H — Hollingsworth 1 run (Haigis kick)
C — Hicks 10 run (Keller kick)
H — Houze 16 pass freom Hollingsworth (Haigis kick)
C — Abdon 3 run (Hicks run)
RECORDS: Conner 8-3, Highlands 6-5

High school football scoreboard

Newport Central Catholic 52, Dayton 14
Ludlow 43, Bellevue 20
Brossart 36, Paris 0
Walton-Verona 41, Gallatin County 6
Beechwood 63, Holy Cross 0
Newport 28, Lloyd 16
Holmes 21, Harrison County 0
Scott 29, Rowan County 7
Covington Catholic 41, Cooper 6
Conner 38, Highlands 28
Simon Kenton 24, Campbell County 14
Dixie Heights 18, Ryle 6

District championship games

District 4 — Ludlow (8-3) at Newport Central Catholic (9-2)
District 5 — Brossart (7-4) at Nicholas County (8-3)
District 5 — Owen County (4-7) at Walton-Verona (7-4)
District 6 — Newport (8-3) at Beechwood (6-5)
District 6 — Scott (7-4) at Holmes (8-3)
District 5 — Conner (8-3) at Covington Catholic (11-0)
District 6 — Dixie Heights (5-6) at Simon Kenton (7-4)


Recent Posts

Leave a Comment