MASCOUTAH — The Highland Bulldogs claimed their first outright Mississippi Valley Conference championship since 1989 -- that's prior to any of their current players having been born -- and they did it in convincing fashion.
Six different players scored touchdowns as the Bulldogs beat the Mascoutah Indians 66-28 on Friday night.
"I'm so proud of these boys, my coaches, everyone that was involved in this,'' Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said. "I'm extremely proud of how these boys have represented their school, their community and the alumni.
"They accomplished something that has not been done since 1989, and as I told the boys, it just shows that if you have your sights set on a goal and you work hard for it, you can achieve it.''
The Bulldogs improved to 8-0 overall, 5-0 in the MVC.
Highland running back Gage Geiger, who ran for three touchdowns, said he's heard a lot about the Bulldogs' 1989 squad that advanced to the semifinals of the Class 4A playoffs before losing to Morris.
"It's amazing,'' Geiger said. "There's like (running back) Billy Greenwald, and people trying to be compared to him. I just hope one day they say the same things about us.''
Geiger had touchdown runs of 4, 1 and 37 yards.
"The lineman have been doing just amazing with the blocking, and so do the wide receivers,'' Geiger said. "And, sometimes even our quarterback comes out and blocks for us. Not very often, but sometimes.''
Andrew Winning scored two touchdowns on runs of 43 and 10 yards and Logan Geiger scored two touchdowns on a 28-yard run and a 67-yard pass reception from quarterback Mack Waldman.
Nathan Sullens had a 16-yard touchdown run, Blake Perfetti returned an interception for a touchdown with a 43-yard zig-zagging run and Zeke Kaufman kicked a 41-yard field goal to round out the Bulldogs' season-high scoring output.
"It's weapons,'' Warnecke said. "I think it comes down to our 1-2 punch with Gage Geiger and Andrew Winning. Those are two outstanding running backs that I think anyone would be very lucky to have. And, running behind that offensive line, from tackle to tackle, they did a tremendous job tonight.''
The Indians (2-6, 0-5) hurt themselves with three turnovers that the Bulldogs turned into 21 points.
The Indians committed turnovers on their first two possessions -- Kody Gray intercepted a pass by Mascoutah quarterback Tim Parks and Nick Czar recovered a fumble -- in falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter.
"I would never take anything away from what they are able to do, but we were able to do some things on offense early in the game,'' Mascoutah coach Scott Battas said. "We just had some things that shot us in the foot. We had the fumble and two picks, and they took advantage of all three. That dug us a hole that we couldn't get out of.''
Parks had a 4-yard touchdown run and then threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Mike Biekert to cut the Indians deficit to 35-14.
Perfetti's interception return and Kaufman's field goal on the final play of the first half put the Bulldogs ahead 45-14.
Both teams scored on their first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Waldman, who completed only four passes but still threw for 168 yards, threw his 67-yard TD pass to Logan Geiger.
The Indians answered with a 77-yard scoring run by Trevahn Williams.
Matt Lanzante also had an 8-yard touchdown run with 2:01 left in the third quarter for the Indians, who also put up a season-high point total.
"We did show throughout the first half and early in the second that we could score,'' Battas said. "That's kind of been our Achilles' heel all year, and we felt like we were able to finally finish drives.''
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.