Sunday, December 05, 1999

14th title delights Highlands faithful

Stands filled with family, alums alumni

Enquirer Contributor

Shari Thompson cheers for the team and her son Chad.
(Ernest Coleman photo)
| ZOOM |
        LOUISVILLE — When Highlands and its fans head from Fort Thomas to old Cardinal Stadium for the state Class AAA football championship the first weekend in December, the result is usually a very large family reunion.

        And for the 14th time in school history and second in a row, Bluebird faithful celebrated a title. Highlands added to its trophy case Saturday with a 48-10 victory over Owensboro.

        A total of 16 families have two or more generations of current and former Bluebirds — including some from as far back as 1943.

        The Fennells may have brought the largest contingent.

        The lineup: Clem “Boonie” Fennell Jr., a member of the 1943 team; Clem Fennell III, who played on the 1968 Class AA title team; Kent Fennell, Clem III's brother who played in '68 and the '70 AA champions; Danny Fennell, Kent's son and a member of the '95 AAA state runners-up; and Jennie Fennell Schlosser, Clem Jr.'s daughter who is married to Jeff Schlosser, a member of the 1975 AAA championship squad.

        All cheered Clem Fennell IV, a junior running back.

        “I would rather play than watch,” Kent Fennell said. “It's nerve-wracking to watch.”

        Mrs. Schlosser was not sure whether the men or women worried more during the game, but she joked that she sometimes feared for her own safety.

        “I sit next to Dad, I worry about myself getting hurt,” she said. “He gets fired up if they miss a play.”

        As Highlands junior quarterback Gino Guidugli's 2-yard touchdown run with 5:52 left in the third quarter gave the Bluebirds a 34-10 lead, Kent Fennell said his teams could score lots of points, too, but that the game had changed since then.

        “Football is so different today,” he said. “I don't understand it. The concept's the same; their styles are so different.”

        In addition to the Fennells and other relatives, former Bluebirds Jared Lorenzen, Derek Smith and Justin Frisk were in the stands. Messrs. Lorenzen and Smith, now freshmen at the University of Kentucky, guided Highlands to the '98 crown, while Mr. Frisk was on the '95 runners-up and '96 champions.

        All three gave the '99 Bluebirds rave reviews. Mr. Lorenzen said the '99 version was fun to watch, Mr. Smith wanted to see '99 vs. '98 for the all-Highlands championship, and Mr. Frisk was jealous of the '99 Bluebirds' offense.

        “It's unbelievable to watch this team,” Mr. Frisk said. “I wish it was so easy when I was here.”

        Saturday's team send-off at school started the same way each of Highlands' 13 wins before Saturday ended — with a blast from the blue-and-white cannon in the end

        zone at David Cecil Memorial Stadium. There were also the usual “Go Birds” signs painted on storefronts along Fort Thomas Avenue and stapled to telephone poles.

        The largest sign was an 80-square-foot creation in front of Highlands Middle School. It featured “Go Birds” in lights.

        Clem Fennell III put up the sign Nov. 10, but he built it four years ago with his wife Vickey and neighbors Dan and Lynn Schneider.

        “One night in their garage we just threw it together,” Mr. Fennell said. “Dan's a carpenter; he knew what to do.”

        Senior soccer player Joe Salvato said Saturday's win was sweeter than last year's because it's a pleasant memory for every senior.

        But David Bibb, whose son David Jr. played on the 1989 AAA winners and is an assistant coach now, wasn't certain of the victory until he turned his blue Highlands baseball cap backwardwith 4:50 left in the third quarter and the Bluebirds up 41-10.

        “It's a great time,” the elder Mr. Bibb said. “And I can't think of anyplace I'd rather be than a high school football game.”


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