Beechwood (7-2) at Newport Central Catholic (4-4)
Both of these teams ran a perfect course within district play after each began the year on rockier roads.
NewCath evened their record on the year after going 0-4 before beginning district play. They went on to win their next four and head into the final week of the regular season with a lot of momentum on their side. The Thoroughbreds have relied on the legs of junior running back Jacob Smith who has racked up 748 yards and 13 touchdowns on the year.
Beechwood has been on an even stronger roll, winning seven straight including big wins against Covington Catholic and Bellevue. The Tigers have already secured the top spot in their district and have a date set to host Bracken County on November 7 in the first round of the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if Beechwood is focused on the task at hand against NewCath or if they are already looking ahead to postseason play.
“It's NCC week. There's no looking ahead on NCC week, none whatsoever,” said Beechwood head coach Noel Rash. “They're a good football team. They've been putting all of their pieces together and working out their kinks. We have to play really well to beat them.”
Running back Joe Studer has been out with a leg injury since Week 7, but Coach Rash feels good about the health of the rest of his team.
“We're about as healthy as we can be for Week 10,” Rash said. “Joe Studer isn't back yet, but he'll be back soon and when he gets back, we should be at full tilt.”
With the weather predictions threatening snow for Friday night, finding an advantage in the ground game becomes perhaps even more important than usual. Beechwood has displayed some impressive showings with their offensive linemen pushing the pile, particularly in their game against CovCath earlier this season. NewCath has also had quality games from their offensive front during their winning streak. Coach Rash credited that for their prolonged success as a program.
“That's why programs stay good for so long, because they understand the formula, and the formula is really simple: you win in the trenches. You win on the offensive and defensive fronts and NewCath never gets away from that philosophy, so they're always going to make sure that the line is secured first and they work out from there. That will be something we will have to neutralize if we're going to have a chance.”