|Bluebirds Drop Fifth Straight to Colonels|
|PHOTO: Ed Harber. Highlands senior wide receiver Hunter Ahlfeld (14) looks to make a move up-field against Covington Catholic on Friday.|
The defense keeps the Bluebirds within striking defense. But the offense can do little resulting in another shutout. The Covington Catholic Colonels came to David Cecil Memorial Stadium and left with a 13-0 victory.
"I'm really proud of the guys," said Brian Weinrich, Highlands Head Coach. "Every guy on the team fought the whole night. They're (ranked number one in Class 5A in the latest Associated Press poll) because they're a good football team. We put ourselves in position to win the football game. We just have to figure out a way to a couple more plays. They made more plays than we did. That's the bottom line."
Covington Catholic ran 65 plays to 54 for the Bluebirds. The Colonels put up 293 yards of offense and 16 first down for an average of 4.5 yards per play and held Highlands to 135 yards and eight first downs for an average of 2.5 yards per play.
"These guys wanted to win that game as much as we all did, but there were key points in the game where we had an opportunity to throw a touchdown and we didn't want it as much her side,as the other side wanted it right now," said Sam Umberg, Highlands Head Coach. "That on top of execute, execute, execute. They played their hearts. The big thing is continue to learn from this. The season is not over."
Senior linebacker Brycen Huddleston again led the Bluebirds with 10 tackles including one for a loss. Senior defensive lineman Zach Lewin had four with two for a loss with senior linebacker Mason Schwalbach and junior linebacker Mason South recording three tackles each.
South had a tackle for a loss and set up a big chance for a score with an interception. South returned the ball inside the CovCath 20. But a mysterious penalty brought the ball back about 20 yards. On a shot to the end zone, Colonel senior defensive back Andrew Molique picked off a pass to end the threat.
CovCath did find some offense with junior quarterback Caleb Jacob finding junior wide receiver Ethan Reardon nine times for 174 yards and a touchdown for an average of about 20 yards per catch. Jacob completed just 12-of-26 passes for 215 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
"It's CovCath-Highlands. It's going to be a battle and we didn't expect anything different," said Eddie Eviston, CovCath Head Coach. "Our guys fought. They fought. It was a really physical football game. We were fortunate enough to put some points on the board and our defense did a good job holding them out."
The third offensive play of the game provided all the points the Colonels needed for the win. Reardon lined up to the far left and ran over the middle. Jacob hit him in stride about 30 yards downfield for the 69-yard touchdown run and junior kicker David Gronotte hit the extra point.
"That was a play we'd seen a million times on film," Weinrich said. "That was a play we repped a million times this week. That's a good play and our guy took one wrong step. We were going one way and (Reardon) was going another way. He got a step behind him and he got us. We knew against a team like this the goal was to stop the big play and make them drive the ball."
The only other points came on two field goals. Gronotte hit a 39-yarder in the first quarter and a 21-yard attempt in the third quarter.
Neither team ran the ball exceptionally. CovCath senior Daniel Felix had the most yards on either side rushing with 60 yards on 16 carries for an average of between three to four yards per game.
"With the defense, I give all the glory to Coach Weinrich," said Griffin Welsch, Highlands senior defensive lineman. "He prepares every single week from coming up with different schemes in practice each week."
Highlands tried a lot of different things. It did not help that senior wide receivers Joey Deschler and Jack Delagrange could not play.
The Bluebirds only had a handful of plays go for more than 10 yards. Highlands senior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth ran for 10 yards and completed a 24-yard pass to senior wide receiver Hunter Ahlfeld.
Highlands finishes the season at Cooper (5-4) on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.