By John Lachmann
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – No team in the history of Kentucky high school football has defined the word dynasty like Highlands.
The Bluebirds beat Collins, 47-0 in the Class 4A state championship game at Feix Field at Western Kentucky University on Friday.
That gave Highlands a state-record six consecutive titles, breaking the mark of five set by Boyle County in 1999-2003.
Not only did the Bluebirds set the record in dominant fashion, they had to pull it off without head coach Dale Mueller. Mueller’s mother-in-law died this week, and he was not at the game.
Assistant coach Brian Weinrich coached the team to victory on Friday.
“(Coach Mueller) is here – what happened here tonight happened because of him,” Weinrich said. “The foundation is so solid we just had to make sure we didn’t screw it up tonight was the biggest thing.”
Said Highlands junior running back Zach Harris: “Basically we came out here and we wanted to act like everything was normal. It’s just another game for us – we didn’t want to freak out, come out nervous and do anything wrong. We just came out and did our job and that’s why we scored 47 points.”
The Bluebirds – at least for one day – also took over the record for all-time state championships with 22. Louisville Trinity, which was tied with Highlands at 21 entering Friday, plays in the 6A final Saturday night.
Highlands received to start the game, and it appeared its opening drive had stalled at the Collins 33. Facing fourth and 9, senior quarter Donovan McCoy completed a 13-yard pass to senior wide receiver Luke Turner.
McCoy ran for six yards on the next play, taking it down to the 14, and McCoy found junior wide receiver Ryan Greene for a 14-yard touchdown pass just 2:20 into the game.
Collins went four and out on its first drive and Highlands took over at its own 41.
After the teams traded possessions, Highlands drove 55 yards for its second score, capped off by a 21-yard TD reception by senior Luke Turner that made it 13-0.
The Bluebirds extended their lead to 20 on their next drive when McCoy fired nine- and 39-yards strikes that led to a 10-yard touchdown run by Harris on the first play of the second quarter.
Senior running back Colin Seidl broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run with 6:24 left before halftime to extend the lead to 26. After Seidl broke a 41-yard run on Highlands’ next drive, Harris found the end zone on a four-yard run with two minutes left in the half to blow the game open.
The Bluebirds outgained Collins, 353-101 in the first half, rushing for 230 yards. Seidl ran the ball six times for 115 first-half yards.
Harris entered the game with 905 rushing yards for the season, and he was able to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark late in the game, setting up the final score of the game by McCoy.
“(The) stats told me that I needed 12 yards on our last drive, and I thought that would be cool to get 1,000 yards,” Harris said. “It means something but obviously the state title is more important.”
Junior defensive lineman Seth Hope finished with five sacks, shutting down several Collins drives.
“We didn’t want to get after the quarterback early, keep him in the pocket, make him move around a little bit,” Weinrich said. “Once we had him a little off we said (to Hope) go ahead and go. We feel like 1-on-1 not a lot of guys can stop Seth. He’s got a motor.”
Highlands allowed just 172 yards in the game, and outrushed the Titans, 323-67.
“Our goal for the whole year was to put up shutouts,” Hope said. “We didn’t get one until this game. I think we made Coach Weinrich really proud with that.”
All season the team was vehement that the record was not something it thought about, but after winning its sixth straight championship players shared their thoughts.
“It’s a great feeling – we made Kentucky history,” Seidl said. “Nobody’s ever won it six (straight) times. It’s just a great feel to get No. 6 – we couldn’t come out with a loss, we had to come out with a win. We had to do this.”
Said McCoy: “It feels awesome to break that record. All year we’ve been saying it’s about this year, it’s about this year. And that was the case, but you look back on it now, it’s awesome to break a record of having the most state titles in a row.”
And the junior class is already thinking about another state championship.
“Seeing as I’m a junior I think I’m going to try to extend the record to seven,” Hope said.
H-Greene 14 pass from McCoy (kick failed)
H-Turner 21 pass from McCoy (Brockett kick)
H-Harris 8 run (Brockett kick)
H-Seidl 30 run (kick failed)
H-Harris 4 run (Brockett kick)
H-McCoy 7 run (Brockett kick)
H-McCoy 12 run (True kick)
RECORDS: Highlands 14-1, Collins 11-4.
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