Saturday, September 9, 2017

Highlands-Ryle Football Game Story

Chisholm, Ryle Running Game Overpowers Banged-Up Bluebirds

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands junior Nick Bowman boots an extra-point attempt while Austin King (6) holds.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. Highlands senior wide receiver Nick Veneman hauls in a touchdown pass against Ryle.

They knew it would be a long night if they did not penetrate the line of scrimmage and take away the cut-back lanes.

The Highlands Bluebirds football team (2-2 overall) had guys in position to tackle Ryle Raiders senior running back Jake Chisholm and quarterback Easton Pilyer. But the dynamic duo consistently found ways to make it past the Bluebird defenders for nice runs on their way to a 49-27 victory. Ryle outgained Highlands, 592-411 in total yards on 69 plays for an average of 8.6 yards per play.

Ryle piled up a total of 474 yards rushing on 47 carries for an average of just more than 10 per touch. Chisholm had 281 yards rushing on 26 carries and five touchdowns for an average of nearly 11 yards per carry and Pilyer had 142 yards rushing on 10 carries and a touchdown for an average of just more than 14 yards per touch.

"(Chisholm) was exactly what we saw on film - a great running back with great vision," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "As soon as you get out of your gap or you don't tackle him, he's just going to make plays."

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The Raiders mixed in some passes. Pilyer completed 12-of-16 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Chisholm had three receptions for 47 yards and senior tight end Stefan Clarkson had three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Ryle's offensive line did a good job creating surges all night. Senior offensive lineman Parker Bisek has committed to the University of Toledo. Highlands tried to counter that by bringing senior Michael Dunn and junior Trent Johnson into the defensive line rotation.

It did not help that Highlands did not have some of its primary run stoppers available to play. That included six linebackers in seniors Logan Sparks, Crosley New, juniors Gavin Downard, Alex Starkey and sophomores Mason Schwalbach and Brycen Huddleston.

"Those guys were playing as hard as they could," Weinrich said. "You have to work with who is out there. They did all they could do. I thought we were playing pretty solid. We just couldn't make that one play we needed as a team in order to get that momentum back."

The Bluebirds ran 80 plays on offense averaging five per play. Highlands quarterback Carl Schoellman completed 34-of-49 passes for 362 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. Seniors Nick Veneman and Jared Wogan again led the Bluebirds. Veneman had 14 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns and Wogan had nine catches for 126 yards and two touchdowns.

"We need to make plays when we need to make plays," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "If a guy is open down the field, he has to make the catch. We have to connect. We have to take small stuff and turn it into bigger stuff. We have to take a two-yard gain and make it five or seven. We have to keep drives alive. We can't go three-and-out."

But Highlands again had problems establishing the run going for just 49 yards on 23 carries for an average of just more than two per touch. Senior running back Larry Wilson made his return from injury and had 13 carries. Junior Cooper Schwalbach was not able to play. Schoellman had the longest Bluebird run on a 17-yard draw play.

"(The Raiders) do a lot of stuff up front with their linemen up front where they move them around, twist them and angle them," Deaton said. "They were doing a good bit of that (Friday)."

Neither team converted their two fourth-down opportunities but there turned out to be a huge difference on third down. Ryle converted 6-of-8 for 75 percent and Highlands converted 6-of-13 for 46 percent.

Chisholm started off the game with a 25-yard touchdown run and Mason Molique made the extra point to put Ryle up 7-0. But Highlands responded when Schoellman hit Wogan for a 13-yard score.

But the Raiders reeled off 21 straight points to go up for good at 28-7. Chisholm scored from two yards out and Pilyer hit Clarkson for a 13-yard touchdown. Chisholm finished the run with a two-yard touchdown.

The Raiders got the ball back and hoped to go up four touchdowns. But Highlands junior linebacker Jack Delagrange stepped in front of a Pilyer pass and set up the Bluebirds deep in Ryle territory. Schoellman hit Veneman for an 8-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left in the half to cut the margin to 28-14.

Highlands blocked a Ryle field goal attempt just before halftime and received the ball to start the second half. Schoellman rolled to his left and found Wogan on the left side of the end zone to pull the Bluebirds to within 28-20.

But after a missed extra-point try, the Raiders responded when Chisholm scored from 15 yards out to go up 35-20. Following a stop on defense, Ryle tried to go up by three scores, but Bailey Armstrong recorded his second interception of the year and returned it deep into Raider territory.

However, Highlands did not capitalize. Junior defensive back Caden Mogge intercepted a pass in the end zone to stop the drive.

Chisholm then broke off a long run and Kyle England finished it with a 3-yard score to put Ryle up 42-20. After a Veneman 9-yard touchdown, Chisholm finished the scoring with a 7-yard touchdown.

Despite things not going their way for the last few weeks, the last thing Weinrich and staff want to see is the guys do is hide beneath the sand. Things could get worse if that happens with more tough competition on the schedule.

"That's all we can do," Weinrich said. "We have to come back (Saturday). We have to figure out who's healthy and who can play next week. We have to get a plan together for Lexington Catholic. LexCath doesn't care. (Covington Catholic) doesn't care. Dixie (Heights) doesn't care what's going on. We have to get guys ready to play."

The Lexington Catholic Knights (2-2) come to town next week for a 7:30 p.m. contest. The Knights will also be entering the game off a loss at Lexington Christian, 56-36.

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