Prep Sports Report: Six football teams ready to begin preseason practice with new head coaches

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Northern Kentucky high school football teams can begin non-contact practice in helmets on Wednesday and six of them will have new head coaches getting them ready for the upcoming season that starts on Aug. 23.

Paul Wiggins Jr. is a former Newport football player who’s returning as head coach of the Wildcats this season. (Photo from

The only ones with previous previous head coaching experience are Paul Wiggins Jr. at Newport and Justin Franklin at Scott. The other four making their head coaching debuts are Adam Kozerski at Brossart, Dan Court at Boone County, Curt Spencer at Holy Cross and Gary Pence at Walton-Verona.

Wiggins is a former Newport player who’s returning as head coach of the Wildcats. For the last 10 years, he was in charge of the Brossart football program and his teams compiled a 67-43 record with three Class 1A district championships.

Wiggins’ homecoming is taking place at a good time. Newport will have home games after playing every opponent on the road the last two seasons while its new stadium was being constructed.

The new coach said the Wildcats will have four home games on their 2024 schedule, but portable restroom facilities will be necessary at the stadium until that phase of the construction project is completed sometime next year. 

Scott’s new head football coach Justin Franklin (Photo from X)

Franklin comes to Scott with seven years of head coaching experience at two high schools and a 24-48 career record.

At Trimble County, his teams compiled a 4-37 record from 2012 to 2015. He became head coach at Carroll County in 2019 and posted a 20-11 record over three seasons, not counting three forfeits in 2021 due to covid regulations.

Last season, Franklin was the defensive coordinator at North Oldham, a Class 4A team that finished with a 7-5 record and held five opponents to 14 points or less. He’s taking charge of a Scott team that’s coming off a 2-8 season when nine of its opponents scored 34 points or more.

Holy Cross hired Spencer as head coach because he has been involved with the football program for 20 years. None of the other three newbies have previous experience with their new teams.

Pence was an assistant on the Cooper football coaching staff for 10 years. The Jaguars made it to the Class 5A state championship game last season and finished with a 12-3 record.

“I had the honor of being a part of the state championship run at Cooper last year, and that is what I want to build here at Walton,” Pence said in a post on Facebook after he got the job. 

Boone County hires new girls basketball coach

Marcus Harris is the next head coach who will try to restore the winning tradition of the Boone County girls basketball program. 

Over the last nine seasons, the Rebels have had four head coaches and their only winning record was 14-10 in 2020-21. None of those teams won a 33rd District playoff game and five of them ended up with 20 or more losses.

Boone County girls basketball coach Marcus Harris (Photo provided)

That’s what has happened to the Boone County program since the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Nell Fookes, whose teams compiled a 686-285 record and won nine 9th Region championships over 30 seasons.

Harris was an assistant coach for several years before taking charge of the Newport girls basketball team last season. The Wildcats posted a 7-24 record, but they won three of their last five games including a victory over Dayton in the 36th District playoffs.

“Those who know Coach Harris praise him for his contagious positivity, his knowledge of the game, and his genuine passion for helping young people chase their goals,” Boone County officials said in an online post.

Boone County girls teams finished 7-20, 7-22 and 2-26 the last three seasons under former head coach Todd Humphrey. He stepped down to become head coach of the Boone County boys basketball team. The top three scorers and rebounders for the Rebels last season were underclassmen Lyric Hooper, Joslyn LaBordeaux Humphrey and Mya Bennett.

Volleyball team places fifth in national tournament

Five members of the Northern Kentucky Volleyball Club team that placed fifth in a national tournament last week will be seniors on the Notre Dame Academy roster for the upcoming high school season.

At the USA Volleyball 17-under national tournament in Las Vegas, NKYVC Tsunami competed in the top division and won six of its first eight matches to earn a berth in the eight-team elimination bracket. A team from Cleveland defeated Tsunami, 25-12, 25-20, and advanced to the final four. 

The Notre Dame players on the Tsunami roster are Ava Tilden, Lacey Hostetler, Julia Grace, Ella Goetz and Riley McCloskey. Their teammates include Corrine Blackburn of St. Henry, Maya Kondik of Villa Madonna, Azaria Sweet of Boone County, Sophia Loomis of Loveland and Emsley Venard of St. Ursula.

Notre Dame lost in the championship final at last year’s state high school tournament. Volleyball teams can begin practice for the upcoming season on July 15 with the first week of matches set for Aug. 19-24.  

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