Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
CYNTHIANA – Once they channeled the energy properly, the Highlands Bluebirds football team rolled to another victory.
Highlands scored more points against Harrison County than any opponent ever had in a 68-0 victory in Fort Thomas last year. This year’s Bluebird squad topped it by a point in a 69-10 victory here Friday.
Top-ranked Highlands stayed unbeaten at 6-0 overall and 2-0 in Class 4A, District 7 action and Harrison County remained winless at 0-6 and 0-1. The five-time defending state champion Bluebirds have won 26 in a row and moved to 79-2 since the start of 2007. The win also guaranteed their 57th consecutive winning season dating back to a 4-5-1 campaign in 1955.
Highlands outgained the hosts, 532-163 in total offense. The offensive line blocked well on all but five plays when the Thorobreds sacked the Bluebird quarterbacks for minus-36 yards.
The Bluebirds intended to pass the pigskin on all but five plays. Senior quarterback Donovan McCoy guided the offense in the first half completing 18-of-22 passes for 385 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Drew Houliston took over in the second half and completed 10-of-13 passes for 160 yards.
“They were really sending a lot of pressure so screens were there,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Co-Head Coach. “We wound up throwing more screens than we normally would and gained a lot of yards with them.”
McCoy and Houliston completed passes to 11 different receivers. They often found themselves with a lot of green grass in front of them. Jensen Feggins and Brandon Hergott had four catches and two touchdowns each. Feggins had 129 yards receiving and Hergott 81. Ryan Donovan and Luke Brockett had four catches a piece for 76 and 69 yards respectively.
“It frustrates (defenses) a lot, but it just shows we can run the ball and pass the ball at the same time,” Feggins said. “It benefits us well. If our passing isn’t working, our run game is there for us.”
Harrison County threw for just 69 yards. Quarterback Robbie Stroub completed 7-of-16 passes for that total with no interceptions.
“We played the deep third (defense),” said Grayson Heck, Highlands sophomore defensive back. “We just kept everything in front of us and did not give up any big plays.”
Highlands overcame two turnovers in the first quarter to lead 21-3 after that stanza thanks to three quick scores. The Bluebirds recovered a Thorobred fumble and appeared headed to the end zone for their first defensive touchdown of the year. But they spiked the ball at the Harrison County 2 out of the end zone for a touchback giving the Thorobreds the ball at their 20.
“Sometimes, things just happen,” Mueller said. “Guys just get a little carried away.”
After McCoy hit Colin Seidl for a 37-yard score after a short Thorobred punt, Highlands forced another three-and-out. The Bluebirds drove the Thorobred 22 before throwing an interception.
But the Bluebirds took over at the Thorobred 2 after a Harrison County turnover. They scored quickly when McCoy found Justin Weyer from two yards out.
Highlands answered a Harrison County field goal quickly. The Bluebirds took the opening kickoff to the Thorobred 49 and Feggins took a pass over the middle 49 yards to the house.
The Bluebirds extended the lead to 42-10 at halftime allowing the younger players to get some playing time (see side story). Feggins scored on a 56-yard touchdown and Jac Collinsworth had a 14-yard touchdown reception. After Justin Hunter returned that kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown, Nick True responded with a 39-yard touchdown reception for Highlands.
The Bluebirds forced the running clock with 5:42 remaining in the third. Hergott hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Houlston.
It did not take long for Highlands to score again when Joe Paolucci recovered a Thorobred fumble. Brockett scored on a 27-yard pass from Houliston. The Bluebirds led 55-10 after three quarters.
Highlands scored 14 more in the fourth. Hergott recorded his second touchdown reception from 19 yards out and James Grau scored on a 2-yard run off the right side.
The Bluebirds did well in kicking extra-points. Brockett hit all eight extra-point attempts and Highlands failed on the run on a high snap of the other attempt.
The Thorobreds did have some success running the ball out of their I-formation and split backfields rushing for 94 yards on 37 carries to minus-13 on nine carries for the Bluebirds. Zach Mastin led Harrison County with 70 yards on 13 carries.
“I think they’re a well-coached team,” Mueller said. “They’ve got some stuff that they do well and they stuck with it. I think Harrison County is a football team that’s going to keep getting better and better. They have some young guys that are going to be fired up, be coachable and do well.”
Highlands faces Pendleton County to continue district action Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.