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Battle of the unbeaten set for Friday night as No. 3 NewCath visits No. 7 Dayton in Class 1A showdown

By Don Owen
NKyTribune sports editor

The quest for a perfect season will end for one team Friday night when unbeaten Newport Central Catholic (4-0) visits undefeated Dayton (5-0) at 7 p.m. for a Class 1A district showdown.

NewCath’s Joey Runyon leaps above a Newport defender to pick up yardage last month. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

NewCath is ranked No. 3 in Class 1A in the latest Kentucky Associated Press state poll, while Dayton is No. 7. Paintsville (5-0) is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A, followed by defending state champion Pikeville (4-1) and NewCath.

The Thoroughbreds upped their record to 4-0 last week with a 59-21 win at Ludlow. NewCath finished with 535 yards of total offense, including 290 on the ground. Joey Runyon rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns in that victory, while teammate Demetrick Welch added 88 yards and a pair of scores on two carries.

NewCath quarterback Malaki Herndon completed 17 passes in 25 attempts for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Matthew Landrum hauled in four receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown against Ludlow. Quentin Meyer caught six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Dayton, meanwhile, won the annual Battle for the Paddle by knocking off Bellevue, 22-13, last Friday night. The Greendevils — now 5-0 for the first time in recorded history — shook off three first-quarter fumbles and picked off a pair of Bellevue passes in the final four minutes of the game to seal the victory.

Dayton quarterback Nolan Brooks rushed for a game-high 96 yards (7.4 per carry) to ignite the win at Bellevue. Dayton fullback Trey Matthews rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown.

A year ago, NewCath defeated Dayton twice. The Thoroughbreds posted a 49-0 win in the regular-season meeting and then cruised to a 52-14 triumph over the Greendevils in the Class 1A playoffs.

NewCath churned out 319 yards of total offense during the playoff victory against Dayton last year. Jahmir Ackerson rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on just five carries to lead the Thoroughbreds to that win.

Dayton’s Trey Matthews rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown against Bellevue. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

The NewCath defense held Dayton to 29 yards passing and 119 yards on the ground to key the playoff win.

COVCATH MEETS HIGHLANDS: Covington Catholic, which is ranked No. 1 in the Class 5A state poll, meets No. 8 Highlands on Friday night in a district showdown at Park Hills. The Colonels are 4-0 and own a 19-game winning streak that dates back to a 20-16 loss against South Warren in the Class 5A state championship contest on Dec. 2, 2018.

Highlands is 3-2 and has won its last two games by a combined score of 79-0. The Bluebirds shut down Conner 36-0 two weeks ago and followed that with a 43-0 victory against Boone County.

A year ago, CovCath posted a 13-0 win at Highlands. The Colonels defeated the Bluebirds twice in 2018 and own five consecutive victories in the series. Highlands’ last victory against CovCath was a 44-22 triumph on Nov. 20, 2015, in the Class 5A playoffs at Fort Thomas.

Caleb Jacob is CovCath’s offensive leader, having passed for 697 yards and seven touchdowns. Jacob has also gained 136 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns. Owen Nally is the top rusher for the Colonels with 211 yards on 52 carries.

Highlands is led by sophomore quarterback Charlie Noon, who has rushed for 479 yards and five scores while passing for 453 yards and six touchdowns. Mason South has added 174 yards on the ground for the Bluebirds.

DIXIE HEIGHTS KEEPS WINNING: Dixie Heights (3-2) has won three consecutive games and is now ranked No. 8 in the Class 6A state poll. The Colonels posted a 28-14 win over Simon Kenton last week in a Class 6A district battle.

After starting the season with close losses to CovCath (21-14) and Corbin (26-22), Dixie has now knocked off Madison Central (26-14), Beechwood (28-20) and Simon Kenton.

Pierce Rohlman has rushed for 474 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the Dixie Heights ground attack. Logan Landers has completed 69 passes in 118 attempts for 811 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target is Devin Holbert, who has hauled in 31 reception for 474 yards and two touchdowns.

Dixie Heights plays at Ryle in a Class 6A district showdown Friday at 7 p.m.

NEWPORT CLASHES WITH HOLY CROSS: Newport plays host to Holy Cross in a Class 2A district contest Friday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are 3-2 after rallying for a 19-13 win at Lloyd last week. Holy Cross is 1-4 after suffering a 48-6 loss at Beechwood.

Ethan Jefferson passed for 188 yards against Lloyd, with Simon Keating hauling in six receptions for 129 yards and the decisive touchdown. Keating’s 48-yard touchdown catch with less than a minute remaining in the game lifted Newport to the victory. Newport’s MyKel King added two touchdowns, one of those a 60-yard punt return.

Dayton quarterback Nolan Brooks rushed for a game-high 96 yards (7.4 per carry) to ignite the Greendevils’ 22-13 victory at Bellevue last week. (Photo by Jeff McCurry)

Don Owen is sports editor of the Northern Kentucky Tribune. Contact him at don@nkytrib.com and follow him on Twitter at @dontribunesport.

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