Saturday, August 29, 2015
Highlands Beats Campbell County 38-15
The former running back for the Highlands Bluebirds football team and veteran head coach of the Campbell County Camels knew as well as anyone that the Bluebirds would play a lot better than their season-opening 37-13 loss at Cooper a week ago. The Blue and White proved the believers right and the doubters wrong in a 38-15 victory at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Friday.
The Bluebirds defeated the Camels for the third straight year since the teams renewed the series in 2013 and moved to 1-1 on the season while Campbell County dropped to 0-2. Highlands also improved to 53-9 in the all-time series. The Camels last beat the Bluebirds in 1991.
Highlands took the fight to Campbell County like it has most of its opponents since 2006 unlike last week. The Bluebirds moved to 114-8 since the start of 2007.
The Bluebirds particularly picked things up in the trenches outgaining the Camels, 424-225 in total offense. Highlands rushed for 313 yards as a team on 42 carries and held Campbell County to 55 net yards on 32 attempts.
"We were just trying to do what we do," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We spent all week trying to get better each day. We had a great week of practice. When you have a great week of practice, it carries over to the games. The guys came in ready to go."
The Bluebirds forced the Camels into a lot of third-and-long passing situations. They put a lot of pressure on senior quarterback Carson Plessinger sacking him six times. Highlands senior linebacker Ben Ziegler led the way with 2.5 sacks with Luke Lindeman recording 1.5 and Tyler Robinson and Hank Johnson recording one each.
"They've always done a good job running the ball," said Shelby Jones, Highlands Defensive Coordinator. "Last year, (Plessinger) was able to get in open space a bit and inch his way through. He is real patient when he runs the ball. It makes him a tough target even though he's a big guy. We just tried to keep him in check as much as we can. They like to stretch you out vertically so they can open up things inside."
Nick Kendall broke free for two long touchdown runs going for 118 yards on 14 carries. The senior running back also added two catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.
Highlands senior quarterback Austin Hergott also had a big game running the ball 18 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. Junior Grant Murray added six carries for 83 yards and a long touchdown run.
"All coaches say this. Each week is an evaluation of who we got playing and what's working," Weinrich said. "In a game, you get in a rhythm. You don't want to get cute and overthink things. If something is working, you go with it."
Hergott completed 8-of-14 passes for 111 yards to give the Bluebirds balance. TJ Sipple led Highlands with three catches for 61 yards.
"(The passing game) was a whole lot better," Sipple said. "We do a lot of it throughout the week. We had a great week of practice."
Plessinger wound up throwing the ball 35 times completing 22 for 170 yards. Andrew Crowder led the Camels with five catches for 44 yards. But Plessinger did not complete any long passes downfield unlike last year.
"We just flew around and kept (Plessinger) in the pocket when he scrambled for the most part," said Dalton Cornett, Highlands junior linebacker. "We made sure we covered the receivers and didn't let them behind us."
The Camels run a lot of quarterback runs. But Plessinger had just 28 net yards on 18 carries. The Camels had to methodically march down the field on both touchdowns.
"It's really fun to go out there and hit people," said Austin Mayhew, Highlands senior defensive back. "When they come outside, I love to wrap them up and get them down."
Campbell County turned the ball over four times to none for Highlands. Drew Bravard, Tyler Sexton and Joe Dressman had fumble recoveries for the Bluebirds and Austin Beal picked off a Camel pass for the Bluebirds.
The Camels took the first lead after taking over at the Highlands 29 on a short Bluebird punt. Tyler Bryson punched the ball in from three yards out.
But Highlands tied it up after Dressman recovered a fumble with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Hergott ran it in from two yards out with 10:41 left in the first half to tie the game at 7-7.
The Bluebirds proceeded to score 24 straight points to grab a 24-7 halftime lead. Kendall broke outside for 50 and 43-yard runs to put Highlands up 21-7 before Jared Dougherty made a 46-yard field goal with 1:49 left in the half.
Highlands extended the lead to 31-7 with 5:12 left in the third. Hergott hit Kendall for a 10-yard score.
The Camels tried to throw the ball downfield on its next possession. But Beal played it right and intercepted the ball at the Highlands 28. Murray then broke free down the right sideline for a 72-yard touchdown to put Highlands up 38-7 with 4:48 left in the quarter.
"We just did what we were taught to do all week finding our holes and everything," Murray said. "It ended up working. (The East Central backs) were just doing what their coaches were telling them to do. They were running in the holes and blocking their guys. It paid off in the end (in a 24-21 win a week ago)."
Campbell County scored its last touchdown with 16 seconds left in the quarter. Bryson ran it in from a yard out and Plessinger scored the two-point run to make the final score of 38-15.
The Camels did drive to the Highlands 1 late in the fourth quarter. But Bravard recovered a fumble there to end the threat with 4:37 left in the game.
"Anytime you can stop someone on the goal line, it's awesome," Jones said. "It's something to build on. It's an exciting time because a lot of times defensively, you let your guard down and say, 'Ah, boo. They're going to score because they got to the one.' But we stopped them and got the ball back. We were fired up about it."
The Bluebirds hit the road for a tough game at Scott County (2-0) on Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Georgetown College.