A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

High school football season begins with anxious fans seeking answers from local teams, players

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

There are lots of questions percolating in the minds of Northern Kentucky high school football fans going into the 2022 regular season that begins this weekend.

Here are five questions that bubbled to the top as the 21 teams in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties take the field for the first time.

What can we expect from the defending state champions?

Beechwood quarterback Cameron Hergott

Beechwood won its first Class 2A state championship last year with just four seniors listed as starters on the offensive and defensive depth chart going into the title game.

One of the seniors on last year’s roster was quarterback Cameron Hergott, who is returning this season thanks to a state bill that permits students to repeat a school year due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Hergott was named Mr. Kentucky Football by the state coaches association after the dual-threat quarterback passed for 2,467 yards and rushed for 1,087 yards last season.

The Tigers have a high level of talent and varsity experience that will be tested early. Their first six games will be against teams that compiled a 42-19 record last year, including Louisville Fairdale (7-1) in Saturday’s opener and defending Class 1A state champion Paintsville (10-2) in week No. 2. 

Will last year’s statistic leaders pick up where they left off?

Based on statistics reported to the khsaa.org website, the leading rusher, passer, receiver and scorer among Northern Kentucky high school football teams last season are all returning.

Ludlow running back Braxton Newborn led the area in rushing yards per game (183) and points per game (16.6). The state’s leading passer was Gus Howlett of Scott with 291 yards per game and his teammate, Cameron Patterson, averaged 99 reception yards per game.

On defense, the returning local leaders are Ryle linebacker Gabe Savage in tackles (128), Dixie Heights defensive back Kel Hawkins in interceptions (8) and Dayton defensive tackle Eric Jimenez in fumble recoveries (7).

Will two teams with new head coaches show improvement?

Highlands coach Bob Sphire

Two local teams hired new head coaches over the summer. Bob Sphire took charge of the Highlands program. He replaced Brian Weinrich, who will continue his head coaching career at Newport.

Highlands posted a 5-6 record last season. The Bluebirds have one of the area’s top returning quarterbacks in junior Charlie Noon, who had 1,089 yards rushing and 929 yards passing.

Newport quarterback Ethan Jefferson was a 1,000-yard passer last season and the Wildcats have their top two scorers back in wide receivers MyKel King and Kaleb Thompson.

How long will it take Walton-Verona to get its 100th win?

The Walton-Verona football program enters the 2021 season with an overall record of 99-56. The Bearcats have not lost a Class 2A district game in more than five years, so their chances of reaching the 100 mark look pretty good.

But Walton-Verona’s first five games are against non-district opponents and three of them are in higher classes (Scott, Grant County, Boone County). The Bearcats will also face Holy Cross and Newport Central Catholic, a team that made it to the quarterfinals of the Class 1A playoffs last year.

“We hope to test ourselves against good competition to try and help further our season when we get to the playoffs,” said coach Jeff Barth, who has a 95-50 record in his 12 years with the program.

Can new turf field bring new life to Boone County program?

Boone County will conduct a re-dedication ceremony for its new synthetic turf field at Irv Goode Stadium before the football team’s season opener Friday against Russell.

Head coach Bryson Warner hopes the new field will bring new life to the Rebels’ program that hasn’t won more than two games in each of the last nine seasons. Last year, Boone County posted a 2-7 record, but it did finish the season with a 12-8 win over Walton-Verona.

The Rebels have quarterback Richard West returning along with Jeremiah Williams and Braden McCarty, who were the leading rushers and scorers on last year’s team.

This week’s high school football schedule

Conner at Lexington Lafayette, 6 p.m.
Covington Catholic at Cincinnati Elder, 7 p.m.
Dayton at Brossart, 7 p.m.
Russell at Boone County, 8 p.m.
Newport Central Catholic at Campbell County, 7 p.m.
Cooper at George Rogers Clark, 7:30 p.m.
Holmes at Grant County, 7:30 p.m.
Bellevue vs. Holy Cross at Thomas More University, 7 p.m.
Dixie Heights at Lloyd, 7 p.m.
Bracken County at Ludlow, 7 p.m.
Mason County at Newport, 7:30 p.m.
Lexington Catholic at Ryle, 7 p.m.
Walton-Verona at Scott, 7 p.m.
Oldham County at Simon Kenton, 7:30 p.m.
Beechwood at Louisville Fairdale, 7:30 p.m.
Highlands vs. Bowling Green at Western Kentucky University, 5 p.m.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment