Class 4A Russell Athletic State Football State Championship Game
Owensboro (12-2) vs. Highlands (12-2)
December 5, 2014 @ 2:30 PM
Owensboro will appear in its first state championship game since 2000 when the Red Devils played in consecutive state finales, facing off against the very opponent it faces in 2014: Highlands. The Bluebirds won both of those meetings, by 48-10 in 1999 and 48-27 in 2000. Neither game will have any bearing on the current meeting as the freshmen on both rosters were not even born when these games occurred. As for the present, the Red Devils have been in its fair share of close games in 2014. Most notably, Coach Joe Prince’s club eked out wins over Madisonville-North Hopkins (29-28) in the region championship and North Oldham (27-24) in the state semifinals to make its sixth appearance in the state championship game (2-3).
The Bluebirds of Ft. Thomas Highlands come into the 4A finale looking for its 23rd state crown. The program won its first in 1960 and its last in 2012. Before losing 37-34 to Collins in 2013, the Bluebirds had won six-consecutive state titles. Coach Brian Weinrich hopes 2014 begins a new streak as the school prepares to move to Class 5A in the fall of 2015.
Players to Watch
Highlands quarterback Beau Hoge won the Russell Athletic/KFCA District Player of the Year for Class 4A’s seventh district. The senior threw for 3,254 yards and 33 touchdowns while rushing for 791 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Owensboro quarterback Nick Locher won the Class 4A, District 1 player of the year award after an exceptional season under center. The senior threw for 1,349 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 732 yards and 18 touchdowns in leading the Red Devils to the state championship game.
Statistics to Consider
22-6 – Highlands’ record in state championship games dating back to 1959 when the team lost to Henderson, 12-7. Between 2007 and 2012, the Bluebirds won six state titles by an average of 32.3 points in the championship game.
543 – Owensboro’s total number of points, tying the Red Devils for second with Johnson Central in all of Class 4A. Coach Prince’s club has scored at least 48 points in six games this season, all wins.
What to Expect
After Collins exposed Highlands a season ago in the state finals and stripped the title from the Bluebirds, the Commonwealth started to realize that maybe the juggernaut from Fort Thomas could be beat. Will they this season though? Highlands went undefeated against in-state competition but did not always do it convincingly, most recently ousting Covington Catholic 37-34 in the region finale. Owensboro has not looked dominant either, although the Red Devils have been tough. A near upset of Bowling Green in September showed the state that Owensboro was back. However, in the end, it’s hard to bet against Highlands in this kind of a game. Expect Hoge to put up big numbers.