|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Nick Veneman (9) makes a key catch in the second half of the game against Cooper. That play went for 44 yards in the 52-42 Bluebird victory.|
Back in 2012 on its state-record sixth straight Class 4A state championship run, the Highlands football team dedicated the season to Janet Hewling. Hewling is the late grandmother of Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich.
Highlands senior running back Jared Pulsfort is dedicating this season to his late stepfather Russell Madden. Madden served in the United States Army and lost his life in Afghanistan in 2010.
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"I really haven't told anyone," Pulsfort said. "I kind of kept it to myself with simple things writing his date on my wrist and simple prayers before the game. Every time I score, I look up and say it's for him."
Pulsfort had 18 carries for 131 yards and three touchdowns averaging 7.3 yards a carry in Highlands' season-opening 52-42 victory over Cooper. Highlands wore down Cooper mostly pounding Pulsfort and fellow senior running back Grant Murray at them at different angles.
"I would love to have him in the stands to see that game," Pulsfort said. "I know he was watching from upstairs."
Former Highlands Head Coach Dale Mueller talked about dealing with adversity. Pulsfort has advice for his teammates for dealing with situations like this.
"Don't take anything for granted," Pulsfort said."You never know the last time you'll see them or be with you. You have to make those memories and take them to heart."
Fans noticed the new brand of Highlands uniforms. These uniforms use a lower font. Arch-rival Covington Catholic used a similar style starting last year.
Highlands still uses the traditional helmets with the white background and blue H. The only time that changed in recent years came in 2014 when the team had a slogan commemorating the 100th season of Highlands football.
Valdosta hits 900:
The Valdosta Wildcats located in southern Georgia became the first high school football team in the country to win 900 games in program history with a convincing 38-13 win over crosstown rival Lowndes County in the Winnersville Classic. Valdosta moved to 900-220-34 all-time with the win.
Ten teams across the country entered the season with 806 or more wins in program history including Highlands, who still stands second at 877-235-26 in 102 seasons of football. Kentucky has three programs in those ranks. The other two are 2015 Class 6A state champion Louisville Male in third led by Highlands alum Chris Wolfe at 860-322-49 and Mayfield at fifth all-time at 849-252-32. Male took out host Floyd Central (Indiana) on Friday, 34-10 and Mayfield handled Fort Campbell, 56-0.
Avoiding another first since:
For the 12th time in 13 seasons, Highlands opened with a win avoiding a repeat of last year. The Bluebirds also avoided back-to-back season-opening losses since Lexington Henry Clay beat Highlands, 33-12 and 18-13 to open the 2001 and 2002 seasons respectively.
Regular season opponents:
Like last year, Highlands plays seven Class 6A teams in non-district play before playing the three Class 5A, District 5 opponents. The Bluebirds went 2-5 against Class 6A opponents last year and the two teams Highlands beat opened with losses Friday while the four of the teams the Bluebirds lost to opened with victories.
Two Highlands regular season opponents opened up against each other as Ryle took down Covington Catholic, 31-13 in Union. Simon Kenton posted a 41-14 win at Christian Academy of Louisville with Scott County beating Lexington Tates Creek, 47-20. Louisville St. Xavier does not open its season until next week.
Boone County has struggled for the past four years and lost again at Lexington Catholic, 41-18 Friday. Campbell County lost 21-7 at East Central. In terms of the district, Grant County beat Carroll County, 28-12 in Carrollton, but Dixie Heights did not play.