Preview: Highlands at Dixie Heights

The FOX19 Friday Prep Rally heads back to the Bluegrass State on Friday night as Dixie Heights welcomes the Highlands Bluebirds to Ricemount Joy Stadium for a Class 5A bout.

The Colonels have struggled to find consistency this season, but have shown flashes of brilliance. Meanwhile, the Bluebirds are clicking on all cylinders and once again looking like the cream of the crop.

Highlands Dale MuellerHighlands will be the heavy favorite, but Dixie Heights is embracing the role of the underdog.

Let's take a closer look at this week's featured matchup:

Ricemount Joy Stadium
7:00 p.m. kickoff
TV: LIVE Pregame Show FOX19 (6:30 – 7:00)
RADIO: Listen Live on

PLAYERS TO WATCH: The matchup features two of the top junior quarterbacks in the entire Tri-state area. Patrick Towles helped lead Highlands to a state title last season and is already improving upon that performance in 2010. Dixie Heights' Zeke Pike has already garnered several Division I offers. He is being recruited primarily as an athlete, but is making quite a splash in his first varsity season under center.

TEAM TRENDS: Highlands enters this week's contest riding a 34-game winning streak. The Bluebirds have pitched back-to-back shutouts and are giving up just 13.1 points per game on the season. Highlands has not lost a game to a district opponent since being swept by CovCath in 2006. Dixie Heights has not won back-to-back games since August of 2009. The Colonels have allowed 24.2 points per game this season. Dixie lost to Highlands twice a year ago by a combined score of 101-9.

DIXIE HEIGHTS' KEYS TO VICTORY: The Colonels must avoid the hype. They must limit their mistakes and come up with big plays on all sides of the field. The plan is simple, but executing it is a different matter. Getting the ball into playmaker Seth Bruns' hands will help their chances. If Pike can get time to deliver the ball to wideouts Bobby Leonard and Goose Cohorn it will pay big dividends. The defense must come up with stops to give their offense a chance. Jordan Woodward and Colin Justice must apply pressure and not allow Towles time to get comfortable in the pocket.

HIGHLAND'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Getting points on the board early will help apply pressure on the underdog Colonels and would force them out of their game plan quickly. Running backs Jordan Streeter and Corey Compton should help take advantage of a defense that is likely going to be focusing on Towles and his talented receiving corps, including Daniel Gold and Austin Sheehan. First-Team defensive back Drake Bruns will be chomping at the bit to capitalize on any miscues by the Colonels' offense.

FINAL TAKE: The odds are stacked against Dixie in this one, but the outcome will boil down to how much the Colonels are buying into that. The two teams were leap years apart in their matchups last year, but the gap has closed. How much will be determined on the football field on Friday. Highlands has too much depth in the end and wins by more than a couple of touchdowns.

Written by: Dan Clasgens,