By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Highlands Tearing Through the Cheerleaders' Banner to Start the Game
The Boyle County Rebels played smashmouth football in the first half with their wishbone attack.
The Rebels piled up 226 yards on 33 carries for an average of about 6.9 per carry. Junior Seph Burke led the way with 101 yards on 17 carries with three touchdowns.
But that changed at halftime. The Highlands’ 3-4 defense held the Rebel rushing attack to just 56 yards on 19 carries in the second half for an average of just under three yards per touch in its 52-31 victory.
Boyle quarterback Casey Whittle often faked the handoff to the fullback up the middle before handing off to either Burke or Lloyd Hall on sweeps. Burke finished with 165 yards on 32 carries averaging just over 5.1 per touch.
“The (defensive) line forced them (outside) and the outside linebackers forced them (inside),” said Joe Paolucci, Highlands senior linebacker. “We just came out ready to play (after halftime) and adjusted a few things. They could not get by it. We shut them down.”
The Bluebirds cut off the sweeps better in the second half. Burke fumbled at the Rebel 20 on Boyle’s first possession of the second half. Junior Michael Ayers recovered at the Rebel 19.
Following a Highlands score, the Rebels fumbled again. Highlands senior defensive lineman Gabe Schultz picked up a Whittle fumble and returned the ball to the Rebel 45.
“Turnovers are the key to winning football games,” Mueller said. “Ball security is the number one key. Good teams win games by not having turnovers.”
The Rebels recorded their third turnover in the middle of the fourth quarter. Jackson Bardo dove to pick off a Whittle pass that set up another Bluebird score. Highlands scored 19 points off the Rebel turnovers and the Rebels did not score off the lone Highlands turnover, which was an interception as time ran out in the first half.
Boyle County scored on its first four possessions to go up 24-15 at halftime. Burke had a 1-yard run with 6:27 left in the first quarter and Hall scored on a 42-yard sweep with 58 seconds left in the quarter to give the Rebels a 14-8 advantage.
Boyle County added two more scores in the second stanza. Burke had a 15-yard touchdown run and Will Harris had a 21-yard field goal with 2:38 left in the half.
The Bluebirds will face some more tough running games. But they see a lot of spread formations.
“It’s different from what we usually face,” Highlands junior defensive lineman Seth Hope said of defending the wishbone offense. “We had to make some changes in our defense. But we figured it out after a while.”
The Rebels did not score again until late in the fourth quarter. Josiah Robbins hauled in a 26-yard touchdown from Whittle with 1:05 left in the game.
Highlands continues action with another home game. The 2011 Class 6A state runner-up Scott County Cardinals come to town for a 7:30 p.m. contest.