DELHI TWP., Ohio – Oak Hills football coach Kyle Prosser spoke openly and honestly to his team late Thursday night.
After a 2015 season in which they only won one game, the Highlanders were on the verge of a season-opening victory that humid evening. The players hung on the coach's every word in the postgame meeting.
The clock had expired a few minutes earlier as Covington Catholic defeated host Oak Hills 56-48 in the 19th annual Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown in a game played in front of a packed house of 2,000 at Mount St. Joseph University.
Prosser was exhausted. So were his players. Their faces said it all.
The three-hour game was thrilling at times, but frustration was sprinkled in there too for the first-year head coach. Four turnovers will do that to a team in its season opener.
“It’s just the little things right now,” said Prosser, a 2004 Oak Hills graduate and 2008 Mount St. Joseph grad. “I was very excited about their effort. They didn’t quit.”
Oak Hills had 548 yards of total offense, including an MVP performance from junior quarterback Jacob Woycke, who was 22 of 34 for 408 yards passing and five touchdowns.
“Everything was clicking,” Woycke said. “Everybody was running the right routes.”
Still, Oak Hills trailed 14-7 at halftime. Woycke just wanted his team to be more of a first-half squad.
Oak Hills muffed a punt attempt and gave CovCath great field position at the 8:36 mark of the second. Three plays later the Colonels capitalized on a touchdown.
Then, three plays after the score an Oak Hills player was ejected. A 15-yard penalty was assessed on the punt too.
But, the Highlanders (0-1) almost proved to be a second-half team Thursday night, when they scored 35 points in the fourth quarter.
Prosser just wanted more effort and a correction of mistakes earlier in the game. The film breakdown will show those mistakes this week, and the Highlanders must correct them fast before next week's opponent, Elder, plays on Ebenezer Road.
CovCath (1-1) led 42-13 entering the fourth quarter Thursday night, and Oak Hills could easily have folded, but it didn’t.
Robby Record caught a 50-yard touchdown pass, Max Scherra caught a 16-yard touchdown pass, and the Highlanders were in business at the 9:13 mark of the fourth.
However, CovCath sophomore Casey McGinness scored on a 90-yard kickoff return at the 8:58 mark of the fourth quarter to keep the Colonels’ momentum ahead.
McGinness was named the game MVP for CovCath as he compiled 15 carries for 79 yards and a touchdown and also three receptions for 94 yards and a score. CovCath had 478 yards of total offense.
CovCath junior quarterback AJ Mayer was 19 of 28 passing for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior Anthony Best at the 6:39 mark of the fourth.
But Oak Hills concluded the game by scoring three consecutive times. Senior Kyle Montag had an 85-yard touchdown pass connection from Woycke. The Oak Hills quarterback scored on a 7-yard run with 3:59 left. He also threw a a late touchdown pass to senior Jason Smith to make things really interesting with 1:41 left. That was Smith’s second touchdown reception of the game.
The Highlanders just wanted a few more minutes to add to the comeback. It was not to be Thursday night, but the atmosphere couldn't have been better for a program trying to regain its footing.
“It was nice to see the student section and the parents stay,” Woycke said. “Highlander Nation is ready to go.”
Oak Hills plays host to Elder Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.
The Colonels (1-1) next play host to Sycamore Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.