LINK nky Top 10 on the gridiron: Ryle’s win over Cooper causes shakeup

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Some big numbers were put up offensively this week starting with the shootout in Edgewood between Dixie Heights and Beechwood. Some called it one of, if not the best high school football game they’ve ever seen, Beechwood hanging on by a half-yard on a Colonels failed two-point conversion attempt in overtime.

That wasn’t even the highest scoring game in NKY, Highlands hanging 67 in a 67-35 victory over Campbell County. Others to hang at least half a hundred were Newport Central Catholic (59), Newport (56) and Covington Catholic (50). Lloyd Memorial was close with 47 as they continue to pummel the opponent.

This week’s shout out goes to Bellevue for their first win in nearly two years. For a program that had to forfeit their final couple of games due to low numbers last season, the Tigers look to be getting back on track under new coach Chad Montgomery. They’ve been competitive in their first three games with a roster up to 28 players, half of them either freshman or sophomores, so the future is promising.

Here goes the top 10. Stay for the offensive and defensive standouts.

Covington Catholic junior Andrew Bessler (3) had one rushing and one receiving touchdown in CovCath’s 50-12 win at Simon Kenton on Friday. Photo provided | Marc Figgins
  1. Covington Catholic (3-0, Previous week: 1) — State-wide media rankings come out this week, I’ll be curious to see where the Colonels land in 4A. A methodical whipping of Simon Kenton had the Colonels forcing a running clock in the early stages of the third quarter against the Pioneers. They continue to spread it around, showing even more depth off on Friday without starting running back Owen Leen. Evan Pitzer completed 13-of-16 passes and has yet to throw an interception in 68 attempts. Dixie Heights and Beechwood the next two weeks. They get through that, 10-0 a definite possibility.
Highlands senior Carson Class (5) goes up for a catch against Campbell County on Friday. The Bluebirds won 67-35. Photo provided | Ed Harber

2. Highlands (2-1, Previous week: 2) — A total of 645 yards for the Bluebirds which included 512 passing yards in putting up 67 points against Campbell County. Brody Benke threw for 263 yards and four touchdowns, Rio Litmer with 249 yards and four touchdowns. Between the two, they averaged 19.6 yards per completion, hitting 11 different receivers. They’re averaging 40.6 points per game, but also giving up 32.3. Host Ryle this week against an improving Raiders defense.

Dixie Heights quarterback Armani Gregg’s (7) two-point conversion attempt in overtime fell less than a foot short of the end zone. Photo provided | Sally Schaefer

3. Beechwood (3-0, Previous week: 4) — Just an epic game in Edgewood on Friday night as the Tigers continued their winning streak to 13 games with a 49-48 overtime victory over Dixie Heights. Clay Hayden’s stock continues to soar with 479 passing yards and seven touchdowns in the victory. That’s against a secondary with a couple of next level players too. Hayden now has 1,028 passing yards and 13 touchdowns through his first three games. He’s established quite the connection with Luke Erdman, Erdman with 20 receptions for 402 yards and six touchdowns so far this season and coming off a 200-plus yard receiving game. If there is an area of concern for the Tigers it’s in the run game, averaging 77.3 yards through three games. After three road games to open up, Beechwood now gets five straight home games starting with Simon Kenton this week.

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4. Lloyd Memorial (3-0, Previous week: 5) — Outscoring opponents 118-29 through their first three. Stats from the 47-8 victory over Holmes look to be incorrect as it states they had just 132 yards of offense. The defense has 20 sacks through three games. The Juggs hit the road for the first time this week in a lengthy bus ride to Bethlehem. Might be their best test until Lexington Catholic in October.

Ryle’s JR Hayes finds the end zone against Cooper. Photo provided | Raider Sports Network

5. Ryle (2-1, Previous week: 7) — A solid defensive performance against an explosive Cooper offense for the Raiders in their 28-10 victory over yet another rival. Big plays on both sides of the ball determined the outcome, Logan Verax finding just enough room to operate and four turnovers forced from the Raiders defense. I’ll say it now, if the Raiders go into Highlands and get a win this week, they’ll be No. 2 in the rankings, no questions asked.

Cooper’s Cam O’Hara just didn’t have much room to operate in the 28-10 loss to Ryle. Photo provided | Bob Jackson

6. Cooper (2-1, Previous week: 2) — The Jaguars struggled up front in a 28-10 loss to rival Ryle, the Raiders having the upper hand in the last nine meetings now. Cam O’Hara was never really able to get comfortable, consistently having to scramble out of the pocket to try and make plays. When he did get some time, he hit Isaiah Johnson eight times for 117 yards and a touchdown. The Jaguars had 20 rushes for 43 yards and O’Hara was sacked twice with having to throw the ball away multiple times to avoid making that number higher. They’ll look to correct those issues when they host Campbell County on Friday, a Camels team having given up 117 points the last two games.

7. Simon Kenton (1-1, Previous week: 6) — Not much went right for the Pioneers in the 50-12 loss to Covington Catholic. Four turnovers and 499 yards given up was not a good recipe. Now they get Beechwood’s high-powered passing attack in Fort Mitchell. Can Simon Kenton control the tempo with their run game?

Dixie Heights David Anderson has 368 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. Photo provided | Sally Schaefer

8. Dixie Heights (1-2, Previous week: 8) — The Colonels are really close to being a 3-0 football team and were a half-yard away from ending Beechwood’s 12-game winning streak. But the reality is 1-2 with promising signs of a much improved team that’s still trying to figure out ways to win. David Anderson has been a monster in the run game the last two weeks with 368 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Another big test with Covington Catholic this week.

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9. Conner (2-1, Previous week: 9) — The Cougars beat up on another Lexington school, this time Lafayette, 34-7. They showed a balanced offense with 185 rushing yards and 177 passing yards in the victory. They’ll now stay in NKY for the rest of the season, starting with Newport Central Catholic in Hebron on Friday.

10. Newport Central Catholic (2-1, Previous week: 10) — The Thoroughbreds ran 42 plays and tallied 493 yards in their victory over Scott. They’ve put up 101 points over the last two weeks. Sneaky good game at Conner this week.

Big School Top 5 (4A-6A)

  1. Covington Catholic

2. Highlands

3. Ryle

4. Cooper

5. Simon Kenton

Small School Top 5 (1A-3A)

  1. Beechwood

2. Lloyd Memorial

3. Newport Central Catholic

4. Walton-Verona

5. Newport

200-Yard Passing Club

Clay Hayden, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (23-of-36, 479 yards, 7 TD)

Nathan Smith, Campbell County vs Highlands (21-of-38, 365 yards, 4 TD)

Kyle Lee, Newport vs Pendleton County (13-of-20, 338 yards, 5 TD)

Brody Benke, Highlands vs Campbell County (10-of-20, 263 yards, 4 TD)

Rio Litmer, Highlands vs Campbell County (16-of-24, 249 yards, 4 TD)

Trey Cook, Scott vs Newport Central Catholic (14-of-24, 224 yards, 2 TD)

100-Yard Rushing Club

David Anderson, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (25 rushes, 228 yards, 3 TD)

Jordan Pendleton, Bellevue vs Riverview East Academy (OH) (22 rushes, 202 yards, 3 TD)

Cameron Mandel, Bishop Brossart vs Pineville (26 rushes, 199 yards, 4 TD)

Ulysses Porter, Holy Cross vs Grant County (24 rushes, 163 yards, TD)

Armani Gregg, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (23 rushes, 145 yards, 2 TD)

Demetrick Welch, Newport Central Catholic vs Scott (7 rushes, 120 yards, 3 TD)

Kaleb Cole, Newport Central Catholic vs Scott (9 rushes, 114 yards, 2 TD)

Wyatt Hatfield, Conner vs Lafayette (15 rushes, 106 yards, TD)

Logan Verax, Ryle vs Cooper (19 rushes, 102 yards, 2 TD)

100-Yard Receiving Club

Luke Erdman, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (7 receptions, 222 yards, 3 TD)

Amonte Lowe, Newport vs Pendleton County (4 receptions, 152 yards, 2 TD)

Adam Surrey, Highlands vs Campbell County (5 receptions, 135 yards)

Xavier Fancher, Campbell County vs Highlands (6 receptions, 132 yards, 3 TD)

Tyler Fryman, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (4 receptions, 127 yards, TD)

Isaiah Johnson, Cooper vs Ryle (8 receptions, 117 yards, TD)

Jaidan Combs, Campbell County vs Highlands (5 receptions, 100 yards, TD)

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Defensive Standouts

Austin Alexander, Cooper vs Ryle (16 tackles, 3 sacks)

Jack Lonaker, Cooper vs Ryle (13 tackles, fumble recovery)

Aiden Smith-Baxley, Ludlow vs Sayre (13 tackles, 2 tackles for loss)

Daemyn Anness, Ludlow vs Sayre (12 tackles, tackle for loss)

Adam Duncan, Conner vs Lafayette (10 tackles, sack, tackle for loss)

Carson Evans, Ludlow vs Sayre (9 tackles, 2 tackles for loss)

Jacob Savage, Ryle vs Cooper (8 tackles, fumble recovery)

Kai Workman, Ryle vs Cooper (8 tackles, fumble recovery)

Grant Johnson, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, sack)

Brach Rice, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (7 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, forced fumble)

Colton Graham, Cooper vs Ryle (7 tackles, 2 sacks)

Zach Chalfin, Holy Cross vs Grant County (6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks)

Wyatt Messman, Bellevue vs Riverview East Academy (OH) (6 tackles, tackle for loss, sack)

Nicholas Cozzi, Bishop Brossart vs Pineville (5 tackles, 2 interceptions)

Willie Rodriguez, Covington Catholic vs Simon Kenton (5 tackles, tackle for loss, fumble forced, fumble recovery)

Dillon Smith, Ryle vs Cooper (5 tackles, interception, tackle for loss, sack)

Quinten Tischner, Bishop Brossart vs Pineville (5 tackles, interception)

Cash Harney, Covington Catholic vs Simon Kenton (5 tackles, forced fumble)

Tate Kruer, Covington Catholic vs Simon Kenton (5 tackles, interception)

Aba Selm, Simon Kenton vs Covington Catholic (5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss)

Joe Schroeder, Bishop Brossart vs Pineville (4 tackles, 3 sacks)

Carson Sanders, Newport vs Pendleton County (4 tackles, fumble recovery)

Sean Hurry, Newport vs Pendleton County (4 tackles, fumble forced)

Elian Ruzindana, Conner vs Lafayette (3 tackles, interception)

Andrew Bales, Holy Cross vs Grant County (3 tackles, interception)

Gavin Lyons, Ryle vs Cooper (3 tackles, interception)

Nate Brooks, Scott vs Newport Central Catholic (3 tackles, interception)

Brayden Brzygot, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (3 tackles, interception)

Ezaiah Tillman, Holmes vs Lloyd Memorial (3 tackles for loss)

Dominic Storer, Dixie Heights vs Beechwood (2 tackles, fumble recovery)

Kobe Collins, Holmes vs Lloyd Memorial (2 tackles, fumble forced)

TJ Jackson, Lloyd Memorial vs Holmes (2 sacks)

Rodzion Thompson, Newport vs Pendleton County (fumble recovery for TD)

Kaleb Cole, Newport Central Catholic vs Scott (fumble recovery for TD)

Carter Sleet, Newport Central Catholic vs Scott (fumble forced, fumble recovery)

Ben McEvoy, Covington Catholic vs Simon Kenton (tackle for loss, fumble recovery)

Xavier Campbell, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (fumble recovery)

Chase Flaherty, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (interception)

Talon Linder, Beechwood vs Dixie Heights (interception)

Brayden Sizemore, Bellevue vs Riverview East Academy (OH) (tackle, interception)

Donovan Ambrocio, Holy Cross vs Grant County (tackle, interception)

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