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Preview: NKY 2A

The District adds newcomer Bishop Brossart in 2011. That means that teams will have to earn their way into the playoffs. No more freebies where everyone gets to play in Week 11. There will be a monumental battle for the precious four post-season spots this season.

Newport Central Catholic is the reigning state champion, but the Thoroughbreds lost 14 starters. An encore performance will take a big time effort, but the ‘Breds are more than capable.

If ever there was a time for the contenders to knock the king off their throne this would be a year to feel confident in stealing the title with all of the experienced talent returning in the league.

Here is a complete overview of the Class 2A, District:

NewCath QB Brady HightchewNEWPORT CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Class 2A, District 6
Head Coach: Eddie Eviston (13-2, one year at NewCath, 13-2 overall)
2010 Record: 13-2, 3-0 Class 2A, District 6 – Class 2A State Champions

Overview: Some would term this as a rebuilding year for the Thoroughbreds after winning the state championship in 2010. However, at NewCath this is just a reloading year after their success of the past decade. Four times in the last six years they have won 13 games. They have won less than 10 games in a campaign only once this century. Their young guys need to learn and adapt as quickly as possible to varsity level football if there team is to be successful.

Quarterback Brady Hightchew is one of the most polished players and best leaders in Northern Kentucky. Hightchew set the single-season school record for completion percentage at 72.2 percent (130 completions in 180 attempts) and threw for 1,654 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was also second on the team in rushing with 1,166 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Dylan Hayes is electric when he gets his hands on the ball. He racked up 884 all-purpose yards nine total touchdowns on just 67 touches as a sophomore. It all starts up front and that is where the ‘Breds are oozing with talent. Returning on the line are Evan Morse, Logan Martin, Ross Birkenbauer and Brady Thacker. These guys will also anchor the defense up front.

The secondary is led by Nick Woltermann and Matt Burns. Woltermann picked off five passes as a junior. Burns scored 92 points as a kicker last year. If underclassmen Mac Franzen, Elliot Rust, Pete Collopy and Mason Myers bring their "A" game NewCath could be much better than expected defensively. Losing 14 total starters still means that inexperience is a drawback until proven otherwise. Head coach Eddie Eviston hopes this "weakness" will become a source of hunger for the guys who have been waiting to start.


HOLY CROSS INDIANS
Class 2A, District 6
Head Coach: Bruce Kozerski (40-42 @ Holy Cross, seven years, 40-42 overall)
2010 Record: 7-5, 2-1

Overview: It looks as if Holy Cross is on its way to being a perennial winner after posting their fourth winning season in the last five years. The Indians lose 11 seniors, but only five starters. This is a team that looks well on its way to creating their own legacy at the school.

Defensively the team returns linebackers Paul Lampone, James Trunnell and Kyle Fuller which is clearly the Indians' strength on this side of the ball. Lampone and Trunnell were each in on over 100 total tackles a year ago. Up front Adam Kozerski, Kyle Fischer and Nick Sanders will be asked to stop and pressure the opponent. Head coach Bruce Kozerski makes no bones about what it will take to get to the next level, stopping the run.

Filling the quarterback position will be a top priority for Kozerski, but Holy Cross is loaded with skill players. Eric Walker and Fuller combined to catch 76 balls for 1,170 yards and 12 touchdowns as juniors. Throw in newcomer Jalen Beal and this squad is very dangerous if they can find someone who can get the ball into their hands on a consistent basis. Sanders, Kozerski, and Andrew Munsen are a solid foundation for blocking up front.

Beal, Walker, Fuller and Justin Kohake will all be benefits to the special teams. Kohake amassed 458 total return yards and had kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns last season. Fuller connected 51 extra points on his way to a 101-point year in 2010.


Bishop Brossart Jesse OrthBISHOP BROSSART MUSTANGS
Class 2A, District 6
Head Coach: Matt Reinhart (11-20 @ Brossart, three years, 11-20 overall)
2010 Record: 6-5, 2-3 NKAC Class 1A, District 3

Overview: The Mustangs move up in Class, but it should not be a huge adjustment for the players in the program. Bishop Brossart will need a strong finish to be a playoff threat. The team finished 1-5 down the stretch in 2010 after a 5-0 start to the season.

Brossart has one of the premier touchdown hook-ups in the area with Jesse Orth to Spencer Brown. Orth had a big junior season with 1,702 yards passing and 18 touchdown passes. Brown hauled in 10 scores out his 25 receptions. Depth will be a concern on the offensive line and in the backfield. Jacob Elbert will be the number one option at running back after running for 542 as a sophomore.

On defense, Elbert, sophomore Austin Shannon, Mitchell See, Brian Wechbach are the strength up front. The Mustangs would like to see Jacob Baumann and Sean Tieman take their game up another notch. The unit will need to find endurance and depth after being outscored 152-14 in their last three losses of 2010.


NEWPORT WILDCATS
Class 2A, District 6
Head Coach: Nick Rice (7-12 @ Newport, two years, 7-12 overall)
2009 Record: 5-6, 1-2

Overview: It will be an interesting season for third year head coach Nick Rice. Newport lost 13 players, but half of his total starters are back plus some players who return after a year away from the game. Success this season will ride on the backs of the team's juniors and seniors, players who have stood in the shadows of the 2010 graduating class. They are the ones who have waited for their time to come the question is how fast can the pieces be put together?

Line play on both sides of the ball will be the key for the Wildcats. Brad Messer leads the way up front. Rice thinks he is one of the best offensive and defensive linemen in Northern Kentucky. Messer will be joined by Sam McIntosh, Brandon Raliegh, sophomore Justice Lewis and freshman Breandon Johnson. TJ Guilkey will get his shot at quarterback and he will have some solid weapons joining him at the skills positions. Tailback Dyalin Garland and his lead blocker Matt Shephard return. The starting receivers complement each other well with go-to guy Andrew Merrill and spread-the-field star Rob Washington lining up side by side. The duo combined to catch 24 balls for 509 yards and seven touchdowns as juniors.

Linebacker Marc Marshall will be the leader on defense. He averaged 16 tackles over the Wildcats' last three games of 2010. Lining up alongside him will be Ron Rice and sophomore Daryl Youngman. Garland, Guilkey, Washington Rob Engram will make for a formidable secondary that will get their chances in a pass happy division.

On special teams David Franco will handle the kicking duties, Washington the punting and Engram the returns. Keep an eye on athlete Brett Nickerson, who will be a threat in all aspects of the game.


LLOYD MEMORIAL JUGGERNAUTS
Class 2A, District 6
Head Coach: Josh Stratton (0-0 @ Lloyd, first year)
2010 Record: 2-9, 0-3

Overview: It is time to turn the page for Lloyd Memorial after their first nine loss season in more than a decade. The growing pains from a year ago could see a big turnaround in 2011 with a strong senior class and a skilled backfield. Staying focused for a full campaign will be the key for the team's new head coach, Josh Stratton. Roy Lucas Jr. stepped down from the position last month. The Juggernauts allowed 50 or more points in three of their final four tilts last fall.

Every yard and touchdown rushing returns for the Lloyd offense. They are led by senior Brady Asher, who ran for 642 yards and six touchdowns. Classmate Dakota Kidd pitched in with 374 yards. Quarterback Dexter Smith will return for a second year under center after throwing for 542 yards and ran for 328 more as a sophomore. Jackson Wood and Quentin Nunn highlight the receiving corps.

Smith is also the teams leading returning tackler on defense with Wood and Asher capable of owning that title after this campaign. Daishaun Bruton, Anthony Tolle and Chris Harris are expected to make an impact on both sides of the ball as well. The Juggernauts still have concerns and unknowns on their defensive line. It will come down to them stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback so that the playmakers behind them get ample opportunities. If Lloyd can match strength and endurance on the both lines then good things will happen for this crew in

by Greg Shoemaker, TriStateFootball.com

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