By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
Everyone associated with the Highlands Bluebirds football program can take solace in two facts.
The game at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Friday was just a scrimmage, and the Bluebirds may not face anyone like the Louisville Trinity Shamrocks throughout the regular season.
Trinity won the battle of two teams with a Kentucky state record 21 state championships each, 63-31. Despite the loss, Highlands found a lot of positives in the contest. Several polls had Trinity as the top-ranked team in the country last year.
“The whole key in a scrimmage is to get better. So at halftime, ‘We said. Let’s go out and get better,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands head coach. “This was a great experience for us to play that caliber of a team.”
Senior Colin Seidl had some strong kickoff returns. He took one back to the Trinity 39 in the first half and had an 81-yard touchdown return with 3:08 left in the final stanza.
“We’re going to keep our heads high and not dwell on this,” Seidl said. “Trinity was definitely better than us (Friday). We’re still going to win a lot of games.”
The Highlands defense recovered three fumbles and picked off a Trinity pass. Griffin Urlage and Connor Poston recovered fumbles for the Bluebirds and teammate Thomas Wrobleski recorded an interception.
It may have been against the Trinity reserves. But Highlands found its offensive groove in the second half after putting up just 35 yards of total offense in the first half.
Senior quarterback Donovan McCoy finished completing 7-of-21 passes for 93 yards and junior quarterback Drew Houliston completed 3-of-4 for 73 yards. Junior Jaylen Hayes scored two rushing touchdowns in the third and McCoy had a 2-yard score. McCoy set up his score with a 54-yard completion to Hayes.
Trinity built a 51-0 halftime lead behind its three big-play threats of running back Dalyn Dawkins, wide receiver James Quick and quarterback Travis Wright. Wright completed 8-of-12 passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Dawkins had 10 carries for 93 yards and two scores with Quick hauling in five catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Quick also took back the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to set the tone.
The Trinity first-stringers came out about midway through the second quarter. Quick is looking to attend either Louisville, Ohio State or Oregon.
“(Dawkins and Quick) are two good backs,” Wrobleski said. “If you hit them one way, they spin off and go the other way. We have to work on containing people and finishing off tackles better.”
Defensively, Trinity held the Bluebird running game to just 29 yards on 29 carries. The Shamrocks are led by cornerback Ryan White and defensive end James Hatcher on that side of the ball. White will play college football at Vanderbilt and Hatcher will attend Southern California.
Overall, Trinity outgained Highlands, 556-195 in total offense and had 324 yards at halftime. The Shamrocks also had 27 first downs to eight for the Bluebirds. Trinity also picked off two Highlands passes and recovered a fumble.
Highlands open the season on Friday against Boyle County. Game time is 7:30 p.m.