|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior linebacker Logan Sparks (22) takes down Doss junior wide receiver Terez Traynor (14) in Friday's game in Louisville.|
A final one ended the season for the Highlands Bluebirds (3-8 overall) in the opening round of the Class 5A playoffs in a 52-32 defeat on the west side of Louisville against the host Doss Dragons (6-5) of District 4. This marks the first time Highlands lost this few games since posting the same record in 1948 and is the first losing season for the Bluebirds in 61 years dating back to a 4-5-1 mark in 1955.
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"We couldn't get on track early and kept our defense on the field too long," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "We put ourselves in a hole and just couldn't get out of it."
That hole came in the form of a 17-0 deficit at halftime. Highlands did not move the ball until late in the second quarter. The Bluebirds drove to the Doss 3-yard-line before fumbling it back to the Dragons.
Highlands Defensive Coordinator Shelby Jones expressed concerns about matching up against the Doss offensive line that averages 6-feet-3-inches and 268 pounds led by junior Charles Allen. The 3-4 Bluebird defense struggled against huge offensive lines this year and it continued again Friday.
The Dragon Spread offense put up 687 yards of total offense on 89 plays for an average of about 7.7 yards per play. That included 471 yards rushing on 52 carries for an average of just more than nine yards per carry.
Doss' leading rusher in senior Hamilton Wilson showed the consistency he has all season running behind the line for 314 yards on 32 carries and three touchdowns for an average of nearly 10 yards per carry. Sophomore Quion Lee added 87 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown for an average of 7.25 yards per carry.
Junior quarterback Deon Pumphry added to the Highlands nightmares completing 17-of-28 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Terez Traynor hauled in nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown with senior wide receiver Christian McClain haudling in five passes for 86 yards and rushing for 76 yards on five carries and two touchdowns.
Doss recorded 32 first downs to 20 for Highlands and executed better on third and fourth down. The Dragons converted 8-of-14 on third down for 57 percent and 2-of-3 on fourth for 67 percent with the Bluebirds converting 4-of-12 on third for 33 percent and 2-of-4 on fourth for 50 percent.
The Bluebird Spread offense finished with 473 yards rushing on 67 carries for an average of just more than seven yards per play. Senior quarterback Brady Gosney and senior running back Grant Murray had respectable games in their final times in the Highlands uniform. Gosney completed 18-of-39 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns and Murray rushed for 147 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown for an average of just more than nine yards per carry.
Gosney completed passes to six different wide receivers. Junior Nick Veneman again led the way with four catches for 128 yards and a touchdown with junior Jared Wogan hauling in five catches for 75 yards.
Traynor hauled in a 46-yard touchdown pass for Doss in the first quarter to put the Dragons up for good. The Dragons led 17-0 at halftime when Lee scored from five yards out and Jesus Rodriguez nailed a 22-yard field goal.
Doss scored on the first play of the second half when Wilson broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run to put the Dragons up 24-0. But Highlands answered when Murray broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 24-7. Following a Wilson 3-yard touchdown run, Gosney found Veneman for a 60-yard touchdown reception to make the score 31-14 in favor of Doss.
McClain had a 30-yard touchdown run before Highlands answered when Gosney hit Murray for a 35-yard touchdown pass. But Wilson broke off a 79-yard touchdown run to put Doss up 45-20 at halftime.
Highlands did outscore Doss, 12-7 in the fourth quarter. Gosney had a 35-yard touchdown run before McClain answered with a 24-yard score. Gosney hit junior Griffin Huber for a 4-yard touchdown pass to make the final score.
Box Score Link:
Highlands sees 32 seniors play final game:
In addition to Murray and Gosney, 30 seniors play their final game for the Bluebirds on Friday. They are quarterback/punter Cam'Ron Johnston, running back Jared Pulsfort, wide receivers Trent Buchert, Evan Fickenscher, Dougie Buckler, Chuckie Buckler, Brent Angel, Cameron Hays and offensive linemen Kyle Finfrock, Michael Davidson, and Trey King on the offensive side of the ball.
On the defensive side of the ball, the seniors are defensive linemen Max Abanto, Mitch Schry, Connor Myers, Jacob Johnson, Bruce Seidel, Zach Sisson, linebackers Dalton Cornett, Trey Bowden, Luke Ross, Luke Meyer, Carter Burke, Noah Kremer-Stegman, Trent Webster, and defensive backs Kyle Rust, Sam Taylor, Bradley Greene, Ben Grothaus, Michael Siska and John Buchanan. Greene helped Highlands to its last of 23 state championships two years ago.
Highlands will pull up from successful sub-varsity squads next season. The Highlands junior varsity team finished 6-3 and the freshman team won its last four games to finish the year 7-3.