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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Highlands 60 - Scott Co. 37

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

A. They're better than us.
B. They outcoached us.
C. They're better than us on offense.
D. They're better than us on defense.
E. They're better than us in the kicking game.

The above comments from Scott County Cardinals head coach Jim McKee stated the obvious of what many opponents might say or think this season after the Highlands Bluebirds football team overwhelmed his team, 60-37 on Friday.

The Bluebirds did it once again with another big quarter. This time, Highlands used a 33-7 run in the second quarter to build a 47-14 halftime advantage. The Bluebirds used a 27-0 run in the third quarter to pull away in the season-opening 52-31 win over Boyle County on Aug. 17.

The win extended Highlands' home winning streak to 41 in a row and 22nd overall. The Bluebirds improved to 75-2 since the start of the 2007 campaign.

"That (Scott County) is a dangerous football team," said Dale Mueller, Highlands head coach. "They have a lot of great, athletic players. It was important to get off to a good start and I felt like we did that. We turned the ball over once in the first half. Besides that, we were scoring. They came out in a different defensive set than we expected. Our guys adjusted well."

The Bluebirds (2-0 overall) outgained the Cardinals (1-1), 617-414 in total offense running 77 offensive plays to 49 for the visitors. That included 442 yards on the ground on 58 carries for an average of just more than 7.6 yards per carry. Highlands held the ball for 26:29 of the game's 48 minutes.

Highlands saw three guys rush for more than 100 yards out of its spread attack. Junior Zach Harris led the way with 122 yards on 18 carries for an average of 6.9 per carr with three touchdowns and fellow running mate Jaylen Hayes had 113 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns for an average of 9.4 per carry. Quarterback Donovan McCoy added 104 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns for an average of 10.4 a rush.

The Bluebird offensive line once again paved the way. The linemen often blocked the Cardinal defenders back 5-10 yards. Highlands has 91 players on its roster and many of them saw action in the contest.

"We had a great offensive line last year," said Bryan Saunders, Bluebird junior offensive lineman. "This year, we have a bunch of juniors and seniors that are all 200-plus (pounds) stepping up. Most are 240-plus. We have such a giant offensive line that we can move anyone against their will. That makes it so easy to run the ball."

On the other side, Scott County ran for 256 yards on 37 carries for an average of about 6.9 per carry. Most of the yards out of that traditional Wing-T attack came in the second half (see side story).

The Bluebirds put up 30 first downs to 15 for the Cardinals and executed much better on third-down situations. They converted 9-of-11 third-downs and Scott County converted on just 4-of-9.

Highlands did not have to pass much. But the Bluebirds did pass more than the Boyle County game throwing the pigskin 19 times after throwing it just 10 times against the Rebels. McCoy completed 5-of-10 passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Drew Houliston took over at quarterback in the second half completing 4-of-9 passes for 72 yards. Colin Seidl led the Bluebirds with three catches for 28 yards. Teammates Luke Turner and Luke Brockett had two catches each for 44 and 24 yards respectively. The longest completion went to Jack Grimm from McCoy for 43 yards.

"We're always confident in the passing game," Houliston said. "But the running game is working so well. It's somewhat hard to get away from it. We have so many great running backs and linemen that we controlled the game."

Highlands took the lead for good with 7:47 left in the first quarter. Harris scored from 14 yards out before McCoy added a 1-yarder to give the Bluebirds a 14-0 advantage with 4:13 left in the quarter. The Bluebirds led 14-7 after one.

Highlands scored 27 in a row to go up 41-7 with 1:52 left in the half. Hayes started the run with a 21-yard score and McCoy had another 1-yard plunge. Turner hauled in a 33-yard touchdown pass from McCoy about six minutes later for Highlands' first receiving touchdown of the year and Harris added a 7-yard score a little over a minute later following a Scott County turnover.

The Bluebirds scored two touchdowns in the second half to move their season total to 16 for the year. Hayes had a 35-yard scamper and Seidl scored from 43 yards out. Highlands saw many second and third-string players see action in that half.

"Getting so many guys into the game is so helpful for everybody," Mueller said. "The one's get some rest and the two's get playing time. It's such a positive thing for all of us."
Highlands does not play again until Sept. 7. The Bluebirds travel to Louisville Western for a 7:30 p.m. contest.

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