NKY Game of the Week: Simon Kenton (4-0) faces tough test at Cooper (3-1)

Key Pioneers dinged up
Third time charm for Cooper vs. Simon Kenton?
Third time charm for Cooper vs. Simon Kenton?
Third time charm for Cooper vs. Simon Kenton?
Posted at 8:22 AM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-15 08:22:33-04

Two of Northern Kentucky’s hottest and most explosive teams promise to light up the scoreboard this week. Undefeated Simon Kenton rides its turbo-charged wagons west to Cooper, winners of three straight.

This will be a third shot for the Jaguars to take the Pioneers from the ranks of the unbeaten in the last 15 games. Simon Kenton handled Cooper 26-7 during last regular season’s match-up. Then they ended Cooper’s year in the third round of the playoffs as the Jaguars lost a heartbreaker at home, 13-12. Needless to say, the Jags have plenty of motivation.

The Simon Kenton seniors have answered challenge after challenge, going a combined 28-3 over the past three years. The Pioneers have set the bar high. Now they are out to raise it another notch.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: Simon Kenton is a gritty team, a trait that is a reflection of their QB Cam Racke. He leads the team in rushing yards with 273 and passing yards with 497 while accounting for eight touchdowns (four rushing, four passing). Junior QB Matt Shearer has gotten plenty of playing time with Racke being dinged up. He has a team-best five touchdowns passes and 471 yards through the air. Running back Dylan Hampton has five rushing scores and 259 yards on the ground.

The Pioneers are very opportunistic on defense. They are averaging three takeaways per game. Secondary star DB Trent Kinkaid has 16 career interceptions.

Cooper is an entertaining and balanced on offense. The Jaguars have scored at least 42 points in all four of their contests. They are averaging 527 yards of total offense and six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing) per game.

One of the most pleasant surprises south of the Ohio River has been the performance of QB Jarod Lonaker. The senior has thrown for 1,190 yards with 12 touchdowns passes and only two interceptions in his first four varsity starts. He has plenty of help with WR/DB Dante Hendrix and WR Shea Burns, who have combined for 33 receptions for 656 yards and eight touchdowns. RB Jaden Jackson has rushed for 542 yards with five trips to the end zone.

TEAM TRENDS: Simon Kenton has won 33 of its last 34 regular-season games. In 16 of those, the Pioneers have scored 41 points or more. The defense has held opponents to seven points or fewer 16 times, and 17 of their victories have been by 30 points or more.

SIMON KENTON’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Every possession has to be considered precious. The offense cannot squander them. Patience and precision is a must. Capitalizing on turnovers on top of that will give the Pioneers the cushion they need to seal the deal.

COOPER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Racke is battling injuries as is the Pioneers' o-line. If ever there was a time to take down Simon Kenton, now would be it for Cooper. The Jaguars can put pressure on the Pioneers by making them play catch up. Build a lead and then let Hendrix menace in the secondary. That could cause the Simon Kenton offense headaches.

Prediction: SIMON KENTON 38, COOPER 30