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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Lightning Ends Highlands-Scott County

Execution Mistakes Cost Bluebirds in Lightning-Shortened Loss

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands senior defensive back Casey Greene (36) pursues Scott County senior wide receiver Glenn Covington (14) in the game Friday.
PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior Brycen Huddleston takes off for an 83-yard touchdown on a kickoff against Scott County on Friday.
The host Blue and White still had time to turn things around.

Three minutes remained in the first half after the Scott County Cardinals scored on their fourth straight possession to build a 28-7 lead on the Highlands Bluebirds. But Mother Nature had other ideas.

The lightning strikes came and didn't let up resulting in the end of the game after both teams agreed to call off the final minutes of the first half leading to halftime and making the game official.

Other teams in Northern Kentucky are resuming their games Saturday. But Scott County's one hour, 11 minute drive north listed by Mapquest made it not an option.

Therefore, the Bluebirds left David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Friday wondering what might have been. Highlands Head Coach Brian Weinrich issued a huge challenge after the end of the game became official.

"With this (traditional Wing-T Scott County) offense, you have to trust what you are supposed to do," Weinrich said. "We just had a long heart-to-heart saying, 'You have to make a decision. Are we going to trust what we're doing? If we are, we're going to be pretty good.' We've shown some things the past couple weeks. We showed some things (Friday). When the guys get where they need to be, we're going to be pretty good and I feel completely confident in our guys coming back (Saturday), excited, ready to go, learning from what happened and getting better."

Scott County ended up running 45 plays to 10 for Highlands. The huge difference is the Cardinals (3-0 overall) gained an average of 5.5 yards per play, converted on 5-of-6 third down tries and 17 first downs compared to just 17 yards for an average of 1.7 per play, no first downs and 0-of-3 on third down tries for the Bluebirds.

The Cardinals rushed for 225 yards on 40 carries for an average of 5.6 per carry behind a huge offensive line led by 6-foot-4-inch, 250-pound senior left tackle Bryan Hudson. The four-year starter is committed to Virginia Tech University. Highlands would record a tackle for a loss one play. But Scott County would come back with a big hitter to gain the first downs.

It started with senior fullback Austin Barnett going up the middle on dives and trap plays. Barnett had 114 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown for an average of 6.3 per touch.

Scott County would then hit with outside sweeps and toss plays to running backs such as junior Bronson Brown and senior Payton Brown. Bronson Brown had 72 carries on nine carries and a touchdown for an average of eight per carry. Payton Brown had seven carries for 34 yards and two touchdowns for an average of about 4.9 per touch.

"The problem is with what they were doing, if you make one little mistake, it's big," Weinrich said. "With a lot of offenses, you can make a mistakes and you're fine because they're going to this spot. (On) the little fullback trap, if you overrun it from the back side which we did multiple times, suddenly (Barnett) is 20 yards down the field and you have a back side safety trying to make the tackle. It's so hard to replicate what they were doing in practice. That's what's so crazy about the game of football. If you're a step off, it can be a disastrous play. If you're a step ahead, it can be a disastrous play. If you're right on, it's a no gain. What we have to do starting (Saturday) morning is make sure we fix those steps and I think we will."

On the other side, the longest play for Highlands encompassed 14 yards. Senior quarterback Grady Cramer found junior wide receiver Joey Deshler for the pass. Neither team had any turnovers.

"I'm still very optimistic about our offense," said Zach Deaton, Highlands Offensive Coordinator. "The things that we were doing (Friday) we there. We just struggled to make the play on the play. That's just practicing it more. That's just doing more catches on face. That's just catching more outs. That's just blocking more times for a pop. We can handle that."

Neither team scored on its first possession. But Scott County drove down and scored when Payton Brown broke free for a 19-yard touchdown run and senior Zack Coleman booted his first of four point-after-touchdown tries with 5:41 left in the first quarter.

But the Bluebirds responded on the ensuing kickoff. Highlands junior Brycen Huddleston broke free down the Highlands sideline for an 83-yard touchdown and senior Nick Bowman's PAT tied the game at 7 with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

But Scott County marched right back down the field. The Bluebirds had the Cardinals in 3rd-and-long twice. But the Cardinals drew a pass interference call on one play and junior quarterback Cade McKee hit senior wide receiver Glenn Covington for a 17-yard pass. Barnett finished the drive with a three-yard run to the left to put Scott County up for good at 14-7 after the first quarter.

The Cardinals scored on their two possessions of the second quarter. Bronson Brown had a six-yard touchdown run and Peyton Brown had a one-yard run.

Highlands travels to Ryle on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m. in Union.

Box Score:

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