Lexington Catholic senior wide receiver Adam Bush is well aware of Highlands' football tradition and mystique.
He knows the Bluebirds have won a bunch of state championships (20) and always seem to be highly ranked and stocked with talent.
"There's an intimidation factor for some teams that play them and think, 'This is Highlands, and we're probably gonna get killed,' so they just roll over," Bush said.
But that fear factor won't be in play for Lexington Catholic when it hosts the unbeaten Bluebirds in the Class 4A semifinals Friday night.
"Coach (Bill Letton) is always telling us we're as good as anybody if we play up to our potential," Bush said. "So that's our mind-set. If we play up to our potential against Highlands, we can get a 'W.' "
Besides, this isn't the Knights' first rodeo. They've been in the ring with raging bulls before. "These kids are used to playing tough opponents," Letton said.
Since 2009, Lexington Catholic has played St. Xavier and Trinity twice each, and Boyle County six times.
This season the Knights also faced Bowling Green and John Hardin, both of which are unbeaten 5A semifinalists. Bush said he and his teammates learned a lot in their losses to those powerhouses.
Bowling Green blitzed Lexington Catholic early and often, so now the Knights are better equipped to handle that defensive rush.
John Hardin's "athleticism and power showed us how we've got to step up to compete at that level," Bush said.
Highlands will present the same kind of challenges.
"What jumps out at you is how fast they get to the ball on defense," Bush said. "And, obviously, they have a great quarterback (Patrick Towles, who has committed to UK)."
Lexington Catholic has its own strengths.
The Knights' fast, aggressive defense showed its teeth in a 10-7 win over Boyle County last week, and they have an accomplished quarterback of their own in junior Kyle Bolin, who has committed to Louisville.
Lexington Catholic's offense will probably need to be in high gear to keep up with Highlands, which is averaging almost 60 points a game.
The Bolin-Bush pass-catch combination is a big part of the Knights' attack.
Bolin has thrown for 5,259 yards and 46 touchdowns in his career. including 2,865 yards and 26 TDs this year.
Bush has been on the receiving end of a lot of Bolin's passes. He has 118 catches for 2,018 yards and 24 TDs in his career, including 1,061 and 12 TDs this season.
Letton said Bush, who is 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and has 4.6 speed, has "a great work ethic, runs great routes and understands what we're trying to do.
"He and Kyle seem to have a great mental connection. They can just look at each other and know what the other one's thinking without saying a word."
Bush said that special connection came from winter workouts with Bolin: "We got to know each other better, and that shows in the regular season."
Bush, who is drawing interest from Murray State and Morehead State, is fourth on the school's all-time receiving list in catches and yards. He trails only Wes Caldwell, Clay Wolford and Cornell Burbage.
"I've been able to do what I have because of my teammates and coaches," Bush said. "I just want to be on the field and make plays."
Bush knows he'll need to make plays against Highlands if Lexington Catholic is to pull the upset. He also knows the Knights will have to be at the top of their game.
"The big thing will be our focus," he said. "We need to execute on all cylinders. There's no room for errors when you play Highlands."