Weekend Watch: NKY 5A

The playoffs continue across Kentucky on Friday night and there are three local teams still alive in Class 5A.

Highlands seeks their fourth straight and 20th overall state championship. Despite falling in the final week of the regular season to Ryle, Highlands remains the odds-on-favorite to win the Class 5A title again this postseason.

Covington Catholic and Dixie Heights are trying to prove they can hang. Both teams have struggled with consistency during the 2010 campaign, but have the talent to makes some noise. They will have little margin for error this coming weekend.

Let's take a deeper look at this weekend's playoff match-ups.

Highlands beat Dixie Heights handedly on the road earlier this season, 42-14. However, that contest was much closer than the score indicated. The Bluebirds capitalized on the Colonels' mistakes and made big plays on special teams to take control of that contest. Dixie quarterback Zeke Pike and wideouts Bobby Leonard and Goose Cohorn are capable of making big plays on offense, but it will be the defense that will determine whether or not the Colonels can keep it close. Highlands' offense is led by Patrick Towles, who guided the Bluebirds to the state title as a sophomore. There are plenty of weapons at his disposal. Dixie had no answer for senior Daniel Gold in the first meeting and must contain him this time around. The Bluebirds have not loss to Dixie since 2002 and have been outscored by them 198 to 51 in four meetings over the last three years.

The Colonels return to the site where the 2009 season came to an end. They will look to avenge last year's 51-32 playoff loss to the Golden Knights. Johnson Central will have more than home-field advantage on their side as they've won 10 playoff games over the last four years. CovCath's defense will have to slow down Central's three-headed rushing monster of running back J.J. Jude, quarterback J.K. Hall and fullback Tanner Bratton. Colonels' quarterback Blake Bir enters the game red hot. The sophomore threw for five TD passes a week ago against Ashland Blazer and will need another big effort if CovCath is going to advance. Johnson Central has won two of the last three games in the series while advancing to the third round of the playoffs every year since 2006.