In the first meeting between the two schools since 1998, Simon Kenton scored 42 unanswered points on the way to a 42-3 rout of Highlands Friday night in Independence at Chlorine Menefee Stadium.
Simon Kenton built up a 28-3 halftime lead as the Pioneers intercepted three of Highlands’ quarterback Austin Hergott’s first half passes, and six total for the game. Junior cornerback Trent Kincaid, who led Northern Kentucky last year with eight interceptions, had three, and junior Casey Mitchell added two.
“We knew they were going to come out and throw the ball because we have a very good running defense,” Kincaid said. “We just had to stop them through the air. I’m glad I had three picks, but it’s all for the team.”
With the win, the Pioneers moved their all-time record against the Bluebirds to just 2-25. Their only other win came in 1974.
Related: Simon Kenton schedule, stats
Members from that 1974 team were on the field for the coin toss, and celebrated in the locker room with the Pioneers immediately following the win.
“It was really neat,” Marksberry said. “After the game I wanted the two groups to meet – 40 years later, two groups of seniors who had beaten those guys. I’ve always tried to build some of those connections with the past and learn about the history of the school, and I just thought that was a perfect opportunity to do it.”
“We’re really proud of this team,” Dave Meenach, a running back and outside linebacker on the ’74 team, said. “Forty-one years ago, we beat Highlands 10-7 and it hasn’t been done since by Simon Kenton, so we were proud to see another team do it. This team has a lot of potential.”
Senior running back Dillon Powell added four rushing touchdowns and reached 1,000 total yards for the season by tallying 189 yards on 22 carries. The Pioneers outrushed the Bluebirds 250-129.
“Obviously they have 100 years of tradition and they’re an amazing program and it’s always great to beat them,” Powell said. “But we honestly just played it as a regular game. We worked on ourselves this week in practice, did everything we could to make ourselves a better team, and obviously that translated on the scoreboard tonight.”
Highlands scored first on a 43-yard field goal by senior Jared Dougherty in the final minute of the first quarter, but Simon Kenton struck right back with a three-play, 70-yard drive that culminated with a 52-yard touchdown run by Powell to make it 7-3.
Related: Highlands schedule, stats
Mitchell picked off Hergott on the ensuing possession and returned it to the Pioneers’ 44. Powell then had a 21-yard run to move into Highlands’ territory, and eventually scored from four yards out.
“I felt like there was a little pressure on us tonight, whether it was self-created or just in general,” Marksberry said. “Our kids played a little tight in the beginning. (Highlands) was playing well and had some momentum, but the interceptions just makes them hang their heads.”
Kincaid’s first interception of the game ended a promising nine-play Highlands drive inside the redzone early in the first quarter. His second interception helped put the Bluebirds away. Just moments after Powell’s touchdown run, he picked off Hergott at the Bluebirds’ 23. Three plays later Simon Kenton quickly pushed their lead to 20-3 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from junior Cameron Racke to classmate Luke Vance.
“Trent (Kincaid) is unbelievable,” Marksberry said. “I don’t know how he does it. He’s going to break our career interception record. He’s at 12 right now and the record is 14. He finds that ball, and I think he kinds of hides only being 5-foot-7. He does a tremendous job of making plays when the ball comes to him.”
Senior Dylan Hampton gave the Pioneers’ a 28-3 lead at halftime with a 22-yard touchdown run just before the end of the half.
The Pioneers dominated after intermission.
Mitchell’s second interception led to a 6-yard touchdown run by Powell, and Kincaid’s third pick setup Powell’s fourth TD, a five yard run that set the running clock rule into effect with 3:24 to play in the third quarter.
Racke finished the game 12-of-17 passing for 141 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Hergott was 16-of-33 for 106 yards with five interceptions.
Simon Kenton senior Taylor Galbraith added a sixth interception when he picked off Highlands backup quarterback Brady Gosney on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Highlands 3 0 0 0 – 3
Simon Kenton 7 21 14 0 – 42
H – Dougherty 43 field goal
S – Powell 52 run (McNamara kick)
S – Powell 4 run (McNamara kick)
S – Vance 10 pass from Hergott (Run failed)
S – Hampton 22 run (Racke run)
S – Powell 6 run (McNamara kick)
S – Powell 5 run (McNamara kick)
Records: S 6-0, H 1-5