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Not all mismatches in opening high school football postseason week here but still a bunch of them

By Dan Weber
NKyTribune sports reporter

It’s the week many wish that wasn’t in Kentucky high school football. It’s the first playoff week that often shouldn’t happen when teams, after a tough season with virtually no chance of moving on, are paired against teams that can’t wait to move on to more meaningful games in the postseason.

Matching up across districts, with the top teams from one district facing the bottom teams from another may add some mystery to things but not enough, unfortunately. The principle is the same.

Not that there aren’t some surprisingly decent matchups on paper, so we’ll have to make do with those.

NewCath opens first postseason week with a win without having to play a game. (Photo by Dan Weber/NKyTribune)

But if it were up to us, allowing the teams one more regular season game of their choice would be the better way to go.

THURSDAY’S OPENING GAME, check that, there is no opening game Thursday now. Trimble County has forfeited the Class 1A game against Newport Central Catholic scheduled for Covington Catholic. “Not enough participants” the KHSAA notes on its schedule website so the Thoroughbreds, now 7-4, add to their four-game win streak after being gifted one in Week 1 of the postseason by a now 3-8 Trimble County team that lost by 20 – 38-18 – to a Dayton team that NewCath beat 49-8. So this one was not exactly in doubt. And probably should not have been played.

Friday offers a much more interesting schedule, maybe the most interesting we can recall for a Week 1.

IN A WEARING-OF-THE-GREEN battle of two similar clubs, 5-5 Bishop Brossart will host a 4-6 Dayton in Class 1A Alexandria. Go with the guys in green here.

BELLEVUE HEADS DOWNRIVER to district champ Ludlow (6-4) for the Tigers’ 35th playoff appearance since 1960 and will take a 35-32 postseason record with them that includes two state championships in six finals appearances. But not so much lately as Bellevue (4-6) hasn’t won a playoff game since 2014 and lost the last time these teams faced off in the 2019 postseason, 43-20, which was better than the 56-14 margin the Panthers won by five weeks ago. This Class 1A rematch is a poster child for why this week’s games should not exist.

WITH 28 STATE TITLES between them, this Class 2A matchup should be a marquee deal but unfortunately, it’s a winless Danville team (0-10), despite its history of 11 state championships, that comes to Fort Mitchell to face a 9-1 Beechwood program with 17 titles of its own including the last three straight years. Again, another game that probably would be better not played as Danville has been outscored by an average 43.9 points to 14.9 a game this season. Seems like a long bus ride to put those kids through, especially the trip back.

Lloyd Memorial coaches get a home re-start in the playoffs Friday. (Photo by Dan Weber/NKyTribune)

CLASS 3A MATCHUP IN ERLANGER has Fleming County’s 6-4 Panthers bringing a bit more hope with them against Lloyd Memorial’s 9-1 Juggernauts in another geographically interesting first-round game in Lloyd’s new class. It’s a chance for the homestanding Juggs to jump-start the postseason with the quarterback spot squared away and the injuries healed a bit as they try to get past the shock of their crushing district loss to Lexington Catholic.

UNBEATEN COVCATH IN ITS NEW CLASS 4A will have the No. 1-ranked Colonels (10-0) hosting a 6-4 Greenup County team that comes in with the benefit of having played a decent schedule against the likes of Boyd County, Ashland Blazer and Portsmouth (Ohio). The Musketeers didn’t win those games, but they are coming off a 59-44 win over Fleming County.

TOP-RANKED HIGHLANDS HOME IN 5A as Northern Kentucky has its second No. 1 team and in another decent matchup against a 6-4 South Oldham team that has the benefit of a schedule against the likes of Cincinnati Anderson, Scott County and Woodford County. Probably won’t be enough to help the Dragons against a Highlands’ offense on a roll in Fort Thomas after scoring more than 50 points in seven of its last eight games and 67 once while averaging 55.4 points a game in September and October.

COOPER CONTINUES 5A MATCHUPS OF INTEREST as the 8-2 Jaguars get to stay home in Union against a visiting Collins team (6-4) out of Shelbyville. Like the other 6-4 teams here, the Titans have faced some strong opponents like Scott County and Woodford County but haven’t been able to hold them in check. That’s probably the same outcome that awaits them against the quick-armed Cam O’Hara & Co. team that’s played an even tougher schedule.

Highlands Coach Bob Sphire and his Bluebirds head into playoffs as No. 1 team in Class 5A (Photo by Dan Weber/NKyTribune)

DOES DIXIE HEIGHTS HAVE a puncher’s chance as the road underdog in this final Class 5A game? We’ll be watching to see as a tough-luck Dixie Heights team (4-6), after facing top teams almost every week, has the talent to stay on the field with most anyone on the right day, maybe even a team like Woodford County, which at 6-3 might not be quite what we’re accustomed to seeing from them. Could be an interesting trip downstate for Brach Rice, Armani Gregg & Co. for the game at Versailles’ Falling Springs Park.

CLASS 6A UNDERDOG CAMPBELL COUNTY (3-7) leads off with a road trip to Mount Washington to face an 8-2 Bullitt East team that has a win over Woodford County. This will require a big-time effort from the Camels to hang in there. But this is where a strong schedule could help.

RYLE ROLLING IN THE FIRST of two Class 6A games with Northern Kentucky teams hosting Louisville schools. The Raiders will make it a double-dip out Union way with Louisville Southern (4-6) making the trek up I-71 to face a Ryle team coming in on a four-game regular-season-finishing win streak and seems to be coming into its own here.

SIMON KENTON IS THE HOME HOST as the slightly higher-ranked team with its 5-5 record against a 6-4 Fern Creek team coming off a pair of opposite games – a 42-0 romp over Southern and a 36-0 loss to Christian Academy of Louisville. Simon Kenton’s tougher schedule and home field should help here.

NEWPORT HOME IN FORT THOMAS for the weekend’s final postseason game Saturday in a 1 p.m. Class A rematch of a cross-district regular season game played just last week. In that one, a 7-3 Newport team edged a 5-5 Covington Holy Cross, 44-42, which is why the homeless Wildcats (with Newport Stadium being rebuilt this year) will play this one at Highlands High School after their wild and crazy win over the Indians last Friday. And as much as you hate to see football teams have to play one another in back-to-back weeks, after what transpired last week, maybe it’s only right that these teams pick up where they left off.

Contact Dan Weber at dweber3440@aol.com. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @dweber3440.

Featured photo: Can Beechwood Tigers four-peat? They start their run Friday against Danville)(Photo by Dan Weber/NKyTribune)

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