The fact that Bishop Chatard, the top team in Indiana's Class 3A, pushed Covington Catholic (7-0) more than anyone has in a season and a half should come as a surprise to no one. The Trojans are a very, very good football team. However, the 36 points and 421 yards of offense that the Colonels allowed in victory may have raised some eyebrows. Not since Fern Creek scored 35 on CovCath in the 2016 semifinals has anyone lit up the scoreboard against the Colonels like Chatard did. One way to counter those numbers is to put up some gaudy ones of your own; 52>36 and 573>421.
The trio of Casey McGinness, Jack Coldiron, and Michael Mayer gives Coach Eddie Eviston some of the finest skill position talent in the state, regardless of class. All three were standouts last year, and much was expected of them this season. Against such a quality opponent as Chatard, the spotlight shined on those young men and they delivered as a group like never before. McGinness was a workhorse, totalling 164 yards and 2 TDs on 27 carries. The vast acres of running room that he enjoyed through CovCath’s first six games weren't always there against Chatard. McGinness’ 6 ypc average versus the Trojans was his lowest of the season so far. While #2 chewed up hard yards on the ground, Mayer and Coldiron (huge targets at 6’5” each) dominated through the air, combining for 268 yards and 3 TDs on 8 catches. Mayer also added a 76 yard pick-six in the 4th quarter to help salt the game away.
Even an average quarterback could be successful with talent like that around him and a coach like Eviston behind him. But sophomore Caleb Jacob appears to be much more than just an average QB. The first year starter is developing into a worthy successor to AJ Mayer. It wasn't just dink and dunk passes against Chatard. Jacob made some challenging throws down the field. He had a career night with 383 yards on 19 of 31 passing and the three touchdown passes to Coldiron and Mayer. This offense is starting to look as unstoppable as last year's.
Spartans don't need 300, eleven will do just fine
Once upon a Friday dreary, while they pondered weak and weary, how it was they failed to score, quoth the Spartans, “Nevermore”
(Some editorial liberties were taken with Mr. Poe's work.)
Ravenwood’s prospects of denting the scoreboard versus South Warren were about as bleak and depressing as any Edgar Allen Poe poem ever written. The Spartans (8-0) have been suffocating on defense all season, but still dialed it up a notch against the Raptors. Even by SW’s lofty standards, this was a noteworthy defensive performance. Ravenwood’s quarterback was sacked seven times and the Raptors offense as a whole was stifled at every turn. Sixty-four yards of offense was all they could produce. A couple of weeks ago, I inquired as to whom had the better defense, South Warren or Covington Catholic. Between this defensive masterclass by the Spartans and the 36 points surrendered by CovCath's unit last Friday, a clear answer is beginning to take shape.
Elsewhere around the rankings
- Highlands (6-1) ran roughshod over Dixie Heights 49-6 in one last tune-up before they welcome the defending champs. The Birds piled up 577 yards (330 passing, 247 rushing) of total offense. Grady Cramer was responsible for all 330 passing yards and 3 TDs through the air. Nate Roberts was Cramer's go-to target on this night, hauling in six passes for a career best 192 yards and 2 TDs. Cooper Schwalbach provided the offense with some balance, churning out a season high 166 yards rushing and two scores.
- South Oldham (6-1) and Oldham County (6-1) ran their combined records to 12-2 on the season, but came about their wins in very different fashions. The Dragons pounced on Bullitt East from the word go, and literally ran their way to an easy 49-7 victory. The Chargers could do nothing to slow down a South Oldham running game that amassed 486 yards and averaged a whopping 18 yards per carry. The Colonels, on the other hand, had to stave off a 4th quarter comeback attempt by Bullitt Central to win a close one. The Cougars whittled a 17 point deficit down to five with just a couple of minutes remaining, but could get no closer. Running back Lucas Jones paced Oldham County with 169 yards rushing and a TD in the 38-33 win. Bullitt Central QB Jacob Robertson turned in one of the top passing performances of the weekend with 356 yards and 4 TDs in defeat.
- The two Pulaski schools, Southwestern (7-0) and Pulaski County (5-2), matched the Oldham schools with their own combined record of 12-2. Additionally, the Warriors and Maroons also came about their wins differently. Southwestern led South Laurel 21-0 after one quarter and coasted to a 47-6 win. Pulaski County led Lincoln County 27-7 midway through the 2nd quarter, but couldn't muster anymore offense. Wiley Cain threw a pick-six in the 3rd quarter, allowing the Patriots to draw within six points. Lincoln's attempt to take the lead late in the game was foiled by a Konner Hargis interception, securing the 27-21 win for Pulaski.
- Owensboro (5-2) had very little trouble putting away Marshall County 50-7, running their district mark to 2-0. Will Warren continued to prove his value to the Red Devils’ new, more diverse offense by completing 8 of 11 throws for 191 yards and 4 TDs. Imonte Owsley was on the receiving end of one of those TD passes, as well as returning a punt for a score.
- Charles Collins rushed for 153 yards and two scores to help propel Anderson County (7-0) to a 49-19 victory over Woodford County. The Bearcats totalled over 500 yards of offense to keep hopes of a 10-0 season alive. A big district game awaits this week in Mount Sterling against Montgomery County, a team that beat Anderson last season.
Scanning the periphery
- For the first time in nearly a year, Jayden Neace was held below 100 yards rushing. Whitley County's defense did a superb job hemming Perry Central's stud running back in. Neace finished the night with just 58 yards on 24 carries, almost 200 yards below his season average. On a positive note, PCC (6-1) won the game 21-6, keeping alive their aspirations of a district title.
- Down 14-12 with just over a minute to go, Christian County QB J’Lin Powell kept the ball himself and plunged into the endzone from three yards out to give Christian County (4-3) an 18-14 lead over a struggling Apollo squad. The Eagles couldn't answer, falling for the third straight game. Apollo (4-3) will need to beat Owensboro this week to avoid falling to the 4 seed in their district, or worse, missing the postseason all together. Christian County has put itself in position to potentially host a playoff game, if they can take care of business versus Graves County this coming Friday.
Game of the Week for Week 8
Covington Catholic at Highlands - This is really the only choice here. Bowling Green will have its hands full with a nationally prominent opponent, but within the context of 5A, this is the game that matters most. The Birds have been humming along in recent weeks, stoking the belief that they can hang with CovCath this year. And the Colonels are coming off their worst defensive outing in quite some time. Are there some holes in CovCath's defense that Highlands can exploit, or did the Colonels D simply have an off night against a talented Bishop Chatard offense?