Friday, November 19, 1999

Dixie Heights (10-2) at Highlands (11-1)




        • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today

        • WHERE: Highlands High School, 2400 Memorial Pkwy., Fort Thomas

        • WHAT TO WATCH: It has been five weeks since these schools first met. And though host Highlands won 24-6 that night, that game could be the best reason to think Dixie Heights could pull an upset tonight.

        Highlands' schedule is perennially loaded with big names. The Bluebirds are used to this pressure, having won the Class AAA state title last year.

        Dixie isn't.

        “Maybe we were a little nervous the first time, maybe a little overwhelmed being in that kind of game, that kind of crowd,” Dixie coach Tom Spritzky said. “We can look back and say it was good for us. We won't be nervous this time.”

        The Colonels haven't advanced past the state quarterfinals in their history. But this group, heavy with second- and third-year starters, is playing Highlands tonight for the fourth time in 13 months.

        No question, Highlands remains the favorite. It has outscored opponents this fall by 31.1 points per game and won 15 consecutive home games. Its offense is sizzling with junior QB Gino Guidugli (2,417 yards, 33 TDs).

        Dixie excells with the run/pass balance of senior TB Jason Soden (1,731 yards, 14 TDs) and senior QB Chris Unkraut (1,788 yds and 20 TDs). Andy Schneider has 31 catches for 579 yards and nine TDs; Tom Unkraut has 30 catches for 555 yards and five TDs. Fullback Scott Stamper has scored 13 TDs and leads the team in tackles.

        Highlands won the first game by converting on two early Dixie fumbles and returning a punt for a touchdown.

        “I think both teams left the field that night a little frustrated,” Highlands coach Dale Mueller said. “Neither team played its best.”

        A side note: Highlands senior kicker Brennan Jones has set a state record for most career extra points with 147. His seven PATs last Friday against Harrison County helped him surpass the mark of 142 set by North Hardin's Crad Jaggers from 1992-95.

        Jones is in just his second season as Highlands' kicker; he set a national single-season record with 90 PATs last year.

        • PICK: Highlands

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