Dan Weber’s Just Sayin’: Week 1 in NKY football playoffs, the week you wish wasn’t happening

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Here we go, high school football fans, it’s the season in which every week could be the last, and for half of the teams, it will be.

Except for the favorites, mostly. They have absolutely minimal risk of losing. They’ll be around next week, almost for certain, for those on the top side of the 1-4 matchups across neighboring districts through the five classes that Northern Kentucky teams inhabit.

For those at the other end of this season’s spectrum, they get to end their seasons, and for many of these players, with what is often a crushing defeat.

There have even been a pair of forfeits around the state already, as we go with the new/old KHSAA playoff plan of matching up No. 1 seeds with No. 4 teams in the other district. Those games are unfailingly walkovers when they happen in the same district. They may be even worse in this format. The No. 2 vs. No. 3 games will be better, at least, on occasion.

But how much better?

As I said last week about the cross-district change: “All it does is make these games cross-district mismatches. And a longer bus ride home for the losers.”

I’m still in favor of only two teams per district moving on to the playoffs allowing an extra week for a regular season game of the schools’ own choosing for a better matchup.

And that would place a greater premium on the regular season. Now, you can lose every game and still make it with only the seeding and a home or road playoff game on the line.

That being said, here’s a quick look ahead at this week’s first-round games which will set the stage for state championship contenders in three of the four classes at least.

There’s Newport Central Catholic in Class A, Beechwood again in Class 2A, Highlands and Covington Catholic looking for a rematch in Class 5A and maybe Simon Kenton in Class 6A just for the sake of having a rooting interest in the largest school category.

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Eminence (0-10) at Newport Central Catholic (8-2) (played at Dixie Heights) (7 p.m.):

Right away, we have a mismatch as a winless Eminence team heads to NewCath, where the district-winning Thoroughbreds await a chance for redemption after a recent loss to Beechwood.

Newport Central Catholic takes the field in Ludlow. Photo by Dan Weber | LINK nky

Ludlow (4-6) at Frankfort (5-4), 7:30 p.m.:

A trip awaits the Panthers as Kentucky school kids for years have made the journey to the capital. This will be a game to follow, as No. 3 seed Ludlow stands a chance to upset a No. 2 seed across the districts.

Ludlow’s Jaxson Rice makes a move in the Panthers’ loss to visiting Carroll Co. Photo by Brandon Wheeler | LINK nky

Berea (4-6) at Dayton (5-5), 7:30 p.m.:

It has been an up-and-down season for the Greendevils but beating Ludlow on Oct. 21 (and then Eminence last week for a two-game win streak) earned Dayton a home game to start the playoffs. One more game this season for historic Davis Field, Kentucky’s oldest high school football stadium.

Dayton’s Russell McIntyre arrives on the field with Old Glory | Photo by Brandon Wheeler | LINK nky

Fairview (1-9) at Bishop Brossart (8-2), 7:30 p.m.:

Good job by the Mustangs who have had to scrap hard for their downstate district title. They’ve got a great place to play and a chance to host suburban Ashland Fairview from the bottom of the upriver district next door.

Bishop Brossart takes the field against Bracken Co. earlier this season. Photo by Brandon Wheeler | LINK nky


Trimble County (1-9) at Beechwood (9-1), 7:30 p.m.:

Trimble County drew the short straw from the rural/urban adjacent 2A district where it finished fourth and must make the trip to Ft. Mitchell. Beechwood gets another week to work on fine-tuning itself in the post-Mitchell Berger era after the Tigers’ impressive win over NewCath last week.

Mitchell Berger (#30) for Beechwood runs for a touchdown. He was injured later in the season and is unable to play. | LINK nky file

Holy Cross (2-8) at Carroll County (6-4), 7:30 p.m.:

Can a three seed beat a two seed with a much better record? This might be one place to find the answer, and it would be a great way for the Indians to fight on with a flourish.

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Holy Cross player goes up for the ball in a game against Holmes in September | LINK nky file

Newport (3-7) at Walton-Verona (8-2), 7:30 p.m.:

Welcome back to Northern Kentucky, Bearcats. As the cross-district plan has Walton-Verona playing another Northern Kentucky team, a Newport team that lost 57-0 to Beechwood on Oct. 20, but also has an early season win over Bishop Brossart to its credit. One thing to note: Both teams have had two weeks to get ready for this game.

Newport’s Kyle Lee looks for an option | LINK nky file
Walton-Verona quarterback Jackson Smith (right) sets up to take the snap in the game at Carroll County. Photo by G. Michael Graham | LINK NKY contributor.

Owen County (5-5) at Lloyd Memorial (7-3), 7 p.m.:

It’s a nice reward after the season the Juggernauts have had to get a home game in Erlanger to start the postseason. They hope it’s the first step toward a rematch against Beechwood somewhere down the line.

Lloyd Juggernauts take the field in a game against Newport on Oct. 7. Photo by Dan Weber | LINK nky


Scott (4-6) at Lexington Catholic (8-2), 7:30 p.m.:

More bad news for the team that finished fourth in the district RPI, which turned out to be Scott after its 44-6 loss to Holmes. As No. 4, the Eagles will have to head to Lexington to face a one-loss Lexington Catholic team that has beaten Ryle and lost by a point to Covington Catholic.

The Eagles take the field earlier this season | LINK nky file

Bourbon County (2-8) at Holmes (6-4), 7 p.m.:

Holmes made the best finishing move here, beating Scott and ending up No. 2 in the district RPI, and getting both a home game and a 2-7 Bourbon County team as the Bulldogs’ opponent. Holmes looks to be in good shape despite a loss last week to Lloyd.

Holmes goes for the end zone earlier this season | LINK nky file


Montgomery County (3-7) at Highlands (8-2):

Fire up the cannon at David Cecil as the high-flying Highlands Bluebirds make their move to the top in Bob Sphire’s second year in Ft. Thomas. Tough trip for the guys from Mt. Sterling.

Highlands coach Bob Sphire tells his team they have banished adversity. Photo by Dan Weber | LINK nky

Cooper (5-5) at Scott County (9-1):

Watch out, Scott County. Here’s another 2-3 matchup that could go the way of the Northern Kentucky team even against a good opponent. Cooper is tough and has been tested against the likes of CovCath and Highlands.

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Cooper faced off against Ryle in a crosstown rivalry game in Union this season | LINK nky file

Great Crossing (8-2) at CovCath (8-2), 7:30 p.m.:

Not sure the Georgetown team that lost its two games by a combined 97-0 to Scott County and Frederick Douglass will be a good matchup for CovCath, even though both boast 8-2 records.

CovCath junior wide receiver Braylon Miller (middle) catches a 20-yard slant for a touchdown in front of Highlands senior linebacker Aiden Nevels (24). Miller had nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns for CovCath in the loss earlier this season. Photo provided | Ed Harber


Marshall County (3-7) at Simon Kenton (7-3), 7:30 p.m.:

Man, what a long trip for the folks from basketball-minded Marshall County – 600 miles back and forth to and from Kentucky Lake country for a first-round date in Ft. Thomas. Enjoy the sightseeing, guys. And take some cheese coneys home with you. Marshall County is only here because there wasn’t a fourth-place team in the paired district, so the KHSAA moved them in from the First District.

Simon Kenton’s Kaleb Bleier runs the ball | LINK nky file

Campbell County (4-5) at Louisville Trinity (6-4):

OK, the Shamrocks aren’t what they used to be these days but still, this is Louisville Trinity we’re talking about. And they’re playing at home. After a tough year in more ways than one, the Camels could use this game – and trip — to rid themselves of some of the difficult times they’ve had to play through.

Simon Kenton senior wide receiver Chase Williams (17) tries to grab the ball with Campbell County senior defensive back Jakob Fahlbush (8) in coverage. Williams had three catches for 66 yards in the 50-13 Pioneer win. Photo provided | Marc Figgins.

Dixie Heights (3-7) at Louisville Ballard (8-2), 7:30 p.m.:

Another tough trip to Louisville for a Northern Kentucky team having to play through a difficult season. Reality says that Week 2 in Class 6A will have an all-Northern Kentucky vs. an all-Louisville pair. The winner of the Simon Kenton game plays the winner of Trinity-Campbell County, while the winner of Ryle’s game plays the winner of Ballard-Dixie.

Dixie ran away from Scott this season | LINK nky file

Louisville Eastern (4-6) at Ryle (5-5):

After playing Simon Kenton and CovCath in the final two weeks of the season (losing both), Ryle gets a home game and maybe a bit of a break in Louisville Eastern from a Jefferson County district with two really good teams and not all that much else.

Ryle senior Kaden Gardner in a photo from last season | Photo by Pete Coleman

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