Kentucky football playoffs: Highlands at Lexington Catholic preview

CLASS 4A STATE SEMIFINALS

Highlands (12-1) at Lexington Catholic (10-3)
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 28 @, 7:30 p.m.
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Only two victories away from an unprecedented seventh consecutive state title, Highlands sees the challenges for becming increasingly difficult. Lexington Catholic would like nothing more than to dethrone the Bluebirds. The Knights would like nothing more that to avenge losses the past two years to the boys from Fort Thomas in the playoffs. LexCath has not been a threat in those affairs -- they will be focused on different results this Friday night.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: A battle of dueling signal-callers takes center stage in this semifinal throwdown. Lexington Catholic quarterback Ryan Reese has thrown for 2,984 yards and 33 touchdowns. His top targets are Sam Letton and David Bouvier. The duo has combined for 1,838 yards and 21 touchdown catches. Bouvier has 70 receptions and Letton has found the end zone 13 times.

Highlands quarterback Drew Houliston has aired it out for 3,292 and 44 touchdowns passing. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the senior has only thrown two interceptions in 286 passes. Running back Zach Harris has a nose for the end zone with 18 rushing touchdowns and nine receiving scores in 10 games.

TEAM TRENDS: Highlands was held to 28 points last week, its second-lowest total of the year. The Bluebirds are still averaging 52 points per contest. Nine different players have at least three receiving touchdowns.

After allowing 36.5 points over their first four tilts, the Lexington Catholic defense has rebounded to yield 12.9 points over the last eight outings. The Knights can ill-afford to return to their “matador” defense of early season.

LEXCATH’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Motivation should not be a problem for the Knights, having fallen to the Bluebirds badly the past two seasons. LexCath has to control the clock on offense. Falling behind will hinder that approach,  so it is imperative for them to stay within striking distance at all times. With a prolific passing attack of their own, Lexington Catholic is equipped to handle quick strikes by Highlands with game-breaking plays of their own.

HIGHLANDS’ KEYS TO VICTORY: As great as the passing attack has been for the Bluebirds, it always seems to be the running game shines for them in the postseason. The pass sets up the run and the run takes over the game from there. Highlands' success is predicated on building a lead and forcing the issues from there.

PREDICTION: HIGHLANDS 38, LEXCATH 20

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