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Prep Sports Notebook: Lloyd started upgrading field after football team finished successful season

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

After the Lloyd football team’s season-ending loss in the Class 2A region finals two weeks ago, bulldozers and excavators got started on a $3.3 million project to upgrade Cecil Dees Field behind the high school in Erlanger.

An excavator operator removes dirt from the Lloyd High School football field.

Lloyd head coach Kyle Niederman said the grass field will be replaced by a synthetic turf surface with a new track surrounding it. New bleachers are also in the plans and the entire project is expected to be completed before the 2023-24 school year begins.

Kyle Niederman

“These guys are hard at it,” Niederman said of the construction crew. “The old field is almost gone. We’re excited about it already. It’s going to be a beautiful facility.”

The final football season on Lloyd’s old field was a special one. The Juggernauts won 10 games for the first time since 1995 and made it to the Class 2A region finals for the first time since 2003.

The fact that they did all that after going 3-7 last year made Niederman the recipient of the annual Owen Hauck Award that goes to the head coach of the Northern Kentucky football team that shows the most improvement.

Lloyd’s leading rusher and scorer was senior running back Kaiden Zulager, but most of the other starters on offense and defense will return next season to christen the newly remodeled stadium at the 94-year-old high school.

“Our kids are taking accountability now. They’re coachable and work hard and understand you have to really practice hard to get better,” coach Niederman said. “It’s been a challenge, but I’m very proud of our staff and the kids. The pressure is on us now. We had a nice year and now we’ve got to back it up next year.”

Simon Kenton quarterback makes commitment with Thomas More

Simon Kenton senior Chase Crone, who was voted the top quarterback in Northern Kentucky this season by local coaches, has made a commitment with the Thomas More University football program.

Chase Crone

A four-year starter at Simon Kenton, Crone finished his career with a combined total of 9,568 yards in passing and rushing. He completed 472 of 905 passes for 6,597 yards and 52 touchdowns. He rushed for 2,971 yards and 48 TDs.

Crone missed one game during his senior season and still managed to total 2,358 yards and score 118 points for the 8-4 Pioneers. He passed for 1,387 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for a career-high 971 yards and 19 TDs with a pair of two-point conversions.

To attract college recruiters, Simon Kenton coach Roy Lucas Jr. posted Crone’s statistics on the internet along with a testimony about his abilities.

“Coaches, anything you need in a QB – Chase is your guy,” Lucas commented. “He checks ALL the boxes. Whatever system you run, he can run.”

Thomas More completed its final football season on the NAIA level with a 5-6 record. The Saints will be moving up to NCAA Division II next year as a member of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.

Cooper girls basketball team gets rematch with state champions

The Cooper girls basketball team that made it to the semifinals in last year’s “Sweet 16” state tournament gets a rematch with the team that ended their season on Friday when defending state champion Louisville Sacred Heart visits the Jaguars. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

Whitney Lind

Sacred Heart defeated Cooper, 50-29, in the semifinals and then buried Bullitt East, 64-46, in the championship game to claim its second consecutive state title and sixth overall. The Valkyries finished with a 30-3 record.

This season, Sacred Heart is off to a 3-0 start led by sophomore ZaKiya Johnson and junior Reagan Bender, who are averaging 27 and 19 points per game. Johnson scored 21 points against Cooper in last year’s state semifinals and was named most valuable player on the state all-tournament team.

Cooper has won it first two games at home, including a 67-36 victory over Mount Notre Dame of Cincinnati, one of the top girls basketball programs in Ohio over the last four seasons.

The Jaguars had four double-figure scorers in that game. The leader was junior forward Logan Palmer with 16 points, followed by senior forward Whitney Lind (15), junior guard Liz Freihofer (11) and senior guard Kay Freihofer (10).

Cooper graduate is starting guard on Ohio State basketball team

Cooper graduate Sean McNeill is averaging 10.4 points per game for the Ohio State basketball team that has a 6-2 record going into its first Big 10 Conference game of the season against Rutgers on Thursday.

McNeill is a graduate student who played for West Virginia the last three seasons. He transferred to Ohio State after receiving a degree in sports management and has one season of eligibility.

The 6-foot-4 guard was a starter in the Buckeyes’ first eight games, shooting 45 percent (30 of 67) from the field with 14 3-point goals. He was a double-figure scorer in five games and netted a season-high 22 points against San Diego State.

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