For all intents and purposes, Highland’s season opener against Alton was over by halftime.
The Bulldogs roared to a 35-6 lead and mauled the visiting Redbirds 47-6 Friday night.
Highland got a turnover on the first play of the game when senior linebacker Seby Wolf recovered a fumble deep into Alton territory. The offense parlayed the muff into a touchdown 1:47 into the game.
The Bulldogs never slowed down, getting a continuous clock with 2:29 still left in the third quarter.
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Highland senior quarterback Garrett Marti completed 18 of 26 passes for 298 yards and four touchdowns, with 256 of the yards through the air coming in the first half. Marti also rushed six times for 67 yards and a score.
“My biggest thing is that I want to hit that completion percentage every game, that’s my goal,” Marti said. “And I love watching our defense play, it gets me hyped up and ready to go back out there and pound the rock hit the receivers passing the ball. Getting that turnover on the first play of the game got us all hyped up and that changed the momentum of the game right off the start.”
Marti’s favorite targets were juniors wideouts Sam LaPorta and Jacob Willis. LaPorta hauled in five receptions for 101 yards and a pair of TDs while Willis had two catches for 86 yards and one score.
“We stuck to our plan of getting the ball in the air a little bit more,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said. “We’ve got some weapons out there and I felt like we did a good job of calling and executing the offense that we want to bring out in the 2017 season.”
Junior running back Brady Feldmann led the Highland ground game with 69 yards and one TD. He also had a 17-yard TD reception to open the scoring in the game.
Senior receiver Cameron Altadonna had five receptions for 51yards and junior Jack Etter added three catches for 37 yards and one score.
Other than a 67-yard bomb from Alton senior quarterback Taylor Price to senior wide receiver Kevin Caldwell Jr. late in the first quarter, Highland’s defense was just as sharp as the offense.
Leading the way were senior linebacker Kyle Lane with 10 solo tackles and one quarterback sack for a loss of 15 yards, and senior defensive lineman Josh Burke with five solo tackles, four for losses, and one sack.
Highland next plays host to another Southwestern Conference opponent in Belleville East next Friday while Alton will host Quincy.