Highlands seeks 'redemption' against Ads

September 23, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Even though his team was able to keep Boyle County from scoring, Highlands coach Dale Mueller doesn't expect a repeat performance against Danville.

"They just have some great players," said Mueller. "They may have the best player in the state in Kelvin Turner. The quarterback (Ronnie Hawkins) ran a punt back to beat us last year. We have great respect for Danville and know they have one of the top programs in the state."

Highlands will play at Admiral Stadium Friday in hopes of completing a Title Town sweep.

The Bluebirds blanked visiting Boyle 21-0 last week to avenge two 2003 losses and now will try to avenge a one-point loss to the Admirals from last year.

"Maybe they won't be quite as intense for us," Danville coach Sam Harp said. "They had been thinking about Boyle since last December's state title game. Now they can turn their attention toward us since we did beat them, too.


"We were fortunate to beat them. I am sure they want redemption for that. To beat Highlands at Highlands is not easy because it is the most intimidating and loudest place I have taken a team. That was really a huge win for us."

Highlands limited Boyle to just eight yards rushing and 216 yards passing while amassing 323 yards, including 298 on the ground. Highlands got most of its yardage on a 73-yard scoring run by Mike Mitchell and 91-yard touchdown jaunt by Robbie Peterman. Mitchell also had a 66-yard run to set up a 25-yard touchdown pass from Chad Hudepohl to Ben Guidugli.

"They are a lot better than last year"

"They are a lot better than last year," Harp said. "They have more team speed, and they had good team speed last year. Mitchell is really a good player. He can fly. He plays safety and does a nice job there, too. They have four or five guys at tailback that all run well.

Jordan Nevels starts at outside linebacker, but he has a lot of speed when they give him the ball.

"Boyle's biggest problem was that it did not tackle very well," Harp said. "That will be a key for us. You have to make the tackle or they have the speed to go all the way. Our big emphasis is to make the hit and follow through with the tackle."

Highlands is averaging 32 points and 302 yards per game, including 290 yards rushing.

"They are primarily a running team this year," Harp said.

"They have not thrown the ball a lot in any game this year. They are not overly big. They are like a bunch of clones. They are all about the same size and speed. They don't have those 280-pound guys."

Turner is rushing for 212 yards per game and averaging 10.5 yards per run. He has 11 touchdowns. Darren Ross is adding 67 yards rushing per game.

Hawkins has completed just 12 of 36 passes, but he has four touchdown throws and is averaging 29 yards per completion.

"Turner has the total package in that he runs fast, runs hard, sees the hole and he doesn't fall down," Mueller said. "I don't think for a second that we are going to hold Danville to eight yards rushing. Danville is more geared to a running attack than Boyle. But they also have a guy who can throw, guys who can catch and guys who can pass block. They are a passing threat because when they do throw, they are really effective."

Bluebirds allowing 99 yards per game rushing

Highlands (4-1) is allowing only 9.1 points and 202 yards per game. Teams have rushed for an average of 99 yards per game against the Bluebirds this year.

"If you go east and west, they are too quick," Harp said.

"You can't do that. I have not seen many people line up and run straight at them. You want to make them defend the whole field, but you also have to go right at them. They really fly to the football."

Harp thinks having last week off helped his team. Turner has had time to recover from a virus and receiver-defensive back Darius Baughman is over his knee injury.

Lineman Jacob Moore will wear a cast on his hand because of a ligament injury in his thumb that may eventually require surgery, but he can play.

"Now we just have to make sure we stay healthy," Harp said.

Mueller is not worried about his team having a letdown against Danville.

"We have great respect for Danville and Boyle County. Those are two teams that love football just like we do," Mueller said. "They believe in it and work at it all year long. That's how we are. Us, Boyle and Danville are sort of a fraternity. We believe in the same things.

"I don't see any letdown for us. The season is a series of steps to get ready for district play and then the playoffs. This game in reality does not mean anything as to whether Highlands or Danville wins a state championship, which is the goal for both teams. But this is a game that will make us both better no matter who wins."

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