Big cut-down in the numbers from last week’s 10 KHSAA football playoff games to this week’s three. And in just two classes. Two games are here in Northern Kentucky Friday night — at Beechwood and at Lloyd Memorial in Class 2A — and one more on the road in Class A with Newport Central Catholic heading to Louisville.
Let’s take a look at them:
Newport Central Catholic (10-2) at Kentucky Country Day (9-2), 7:30 p.m.: On the road in Week 3 in the playoffs is a place the Thoroughbreds always seem to find themselves. The RPI rankings have never been kind to NewCath. But at least they’re not headed to Raceland. KCD seems like a pretty decent matchup. The teams have two common opponents — one-sided romps against Dayton (NewCath won 55-0, KCD by 36-8) and Eminence (NewCath by 52-0, KCD 44-6). So that’s a 107-0 margin for NewCath and 80-14 for KCD. Does that matter? Probably. A little, anyway. But playing on the road could negate that although good teams love playing in front of other teams’ crowds. So we’ll see. Our pick is for two-way senior leader Luke Runyon to set the tone on both sides of the ball as a DB/WR who can tackle, run it, and catch it. On offense look for junior QB Kolton Smith to add to his 1,260 passing yards and 14 TD aerials and junior running back Demetrick Welch to add to his 1,255 yards rushing. KCD quarterback Ethan Harris’s 1,419 yards passing and 19 TD is the man NewCath must account for. Win this game and it’s probably on the road again for Stephen Lickert’s ‘Breds in the semifinals next week.
*** Shelby Valley (10-2) at Beechwood (11-1), 7:30 p.m.: Not an easy trip from Pikeville to Fort Mitchell when the destination is Beechwood’s McNabb Field and awaiting the visitor is the two-time defending state champion Tigers. Sure, the Wildcats are on an eight-game win streak averaging 50.5 points a game while giving up 22.1 with just two close games – 28-21 over Middlesboro and 28-27 over Hazard. We’re guessing it won’t be that close this week. Top-ranked Beechwood, meanwhile, is on a seven-game winning tear since losing to Covington Catholic, outscoring opponents 46.4 to 6.7. With its high RPI ranking, a win here will earn the Tigers a semifinal home game next week and it’s hard not to see that happen with the way Noel Rash’s guys are clicking despite the loss of do-everything Mitchell Berger to an ACL injury. The wins over Lloyd, 34-7, and NewCath, 26-9, are especially impressive. Sophomore quarterback Clay Hayden has seven games under his belt now with 1,398 yards passing for 15 TD (198.4 yards a game) as Beechwood makes up for the loss of Berger’s 1,119 yards. Liam McCormack (595 yards receiving, five TD) and Antonio Robinson (439 yards, six TD) are the primary targets while a whole host of running backs led by Chase Flaherty’s 473 and 12 TD pitch in to fill the void there. As for Shelby Valley, two backs produce 363.5 yards a game with QB Russ Osborne throwing for 232.2 yards a game — and 27 TD — while running back Jayden Newsome runs for 131.3 yards a game and he’s scored 28 TD.
*** Breathitt County (9-2) at Lloyd Memorial (9-3), 7:30 p.m.: The Bobcats from Jackson make the trek to Lloyd as they try to extend their win streak to seven after a midseason slump saw them lose to Perry County Central and Letcher County Central. Better be able to stop the run, fellas, Lloyd will be coming at you. The Juggs run for 241.2 yards a game with RB Kaiden Zulager going for 108.1 yards of that and QB Isaiah Sebastian adding another 66.2. Since their loss to Beechwood, Lloyd has outscored four opponents by a 38.5-10 margin. Most impressive was last week’s 41-0 playoff romp over Waiton-Verona. Quarterback Tyler Bryant leads Breathitt with 2,122 yards passing (192.9 per game) for 27 TD.
November Inductees honored by NKSHOF
Great to see some old faces and some new old faces this week. For Ludlow’s Kelley Baugh, of the large and well-known sports family, it was a return to Northern Kentucky for the Northern Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame November inductions.
No one could have said it better after a lifetime coaching kids, 39 of those years spent in Campbellsville, than the former Panther baseball, basketball, and tennis athlete and Ludlow Sports Hall of Famer.
“I won’t forget this one,” Kelley said, “I even had a new shirt made up as he showed off his red Ludlow Panthers shirt with black type honoring his old school. Then he added, as so many lifelong coaches and teachers can if they’re among the blessed to do so.
He talked about how his former players often call him and say things like: “Coach Baugh, can you come to my wedding? . . . I don’t need any more honors than that.”
And yet, “I’m very, very honored,” he said of being remembered here.
So was Mike Tussey, the Ashland native and Holy Family grad who broadcast both Thomas More basketball and football and the NKU women’s march to the 2008 NCAA Div. II basketball title after getting just a single vote in the final AP Poll.
It was “one of the “Magic Moments” in the sporting life of a man still broadcasting Morehead State athletics. But if that march of a true Cinderella NKU team to an NCAA championship with him as a front row observer was one of his Magic Moments, this was “another one here today.”
David Chalk was a D-lineman at Cornell in the Ivy League, after a nine varsity letter career at NewCath in football, wrestling, and track for the 1977 Class Valedictorian. He won regional titles in wrestling, shot put, and discus.
But as he drove back to Northern Kentucky with his wife Tuesday, Chalk’s thoughts turned to those who encouraged him at NewCath, coaches Chuck Faust and Bro. John Wilhelm, and who helped him on his way to a profession that allowed him to reach back into his sports days and one that has changed so very much since he was a player.
“The diagnostic tools are so much better,” he says working in a St. Louis group that provides the Cardinals with their sports medicine docs.
“Thank you for this huge honor, thank you, thank you, thank you,” Chalk said.
Two Mr. Basketballs in the house
Great to see former Kentucky Mr. Basketball Doug Schloemer from Holmes High at the NKU-UC game Wednesday as Schloemer checked out his alma mater Cincinnati Bearcats. “Can’t win a game when you score 11 points in the second half,” Schloemer said. “Northern wanted it more. They deserved it.”
One of the NKU leaders was another Kentucky Mr. Basketball, Sam Vinson, out of Highlands. Schloemer is the answer to this basketball trivia question from his college career: Whose field goal in the seventh overtime period ended the longest game in D-1 history? Hint, it was between Cincinnati and Bradley in 1981? Northern Kentucky’s own Doug Schloemer, on a closely guarded 15-foot jump shot, would be correct.