Highland posted a dominating performance at home on Homecoming Friday night, rolling past Waterloo 41-14 in a Mississippi Valley Conference game.
HHS led 20-7 at halftime and used a 14-point third quarter to pull away, while improving to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MVC. Overall, Highland’s performance — particularly their killer instinct after halftime — pleased coach Jimmy Warnecke.
The previous two weeks — a 30-29 loss to Marion and a 36-33 setback to Mascoutah — Highland had leads at intermission but could not close out the wins.
“We put together two halves of a football ... we haven’t don’t last couple weeks,” Warnecke said. “We talked about finishing being a big priority for our team this past Friday. I felt we did that. We took care of business in the second half and scored on three consecutive drives — that really kind of propelled us to our victory.”
Highland freshman quarterback Brent Wuebbles had a huge night, completing 10-of-18 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns, while posting a rushing touchdown. Wuebbles’ performance impressed Warnecke.
“He’ll be the first to tell you it takes 11 guys. We had great protection for him all night,” he said. “He’s coming along and is going to be something special in the years ahead. His work ethic, passion for the game — he wants to be great. That’s a lot of it right there. I thought this was by far his best game of the year.”
Additionally, running back Logan Chandler finished with 93 yards rushing and a touchdown on 18 carries. Connor Sands had two touchdown receptions as well.
Highland’s defense, meanwhile, was stout, allowing only seven points after intermission, a marked improvement from the previous two games that saw HHS surrender 38 second-half points combined.
Just as important, they didn’t buckle early as the offense found its way.
“We weren’t pulling any punches … we were very disappointed in our defensive performance in the second half last week,” Warnecke said. “We have a lot of guys going both ways … we could make excuses, but that’s not in our nature. I thought our defense responded. They really stepped up early on when we hadn’t found our groove offensively. I thought they played four good quarters of football. I’m very proud of their performance.”
Highland struck first, as Wuebbles connected with Cade Altadonna on a 33-yard touchdown pass with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the first quarter. Hunter Swift added the extra point.
HHS went ahead 14-0 on Wuebbles’ 12-yard scoring strike to Cam Nelson with 9:13 left in the first half. Swift again added the point after. Waterloo drew to within 14-7, but Highland responded with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Wuebbles to Sands 5:37 before halftime.
Highland then delivered the knockout after intermission, as Wuebbles and Sands hooked up for a 52-yard touchdown and Chandler scored from 1-yard out. Swift added both extra points, extending the lead to 34-7.
Wuebbles’ 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, combined with another PAT from Swift, made it 41-7. Waterloo (1-5, 0-2) added a late touchdown to complete the scoring.
Next up for Highland: Civic Memorial
Highland resumes action at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at Civic Memorial in another MVC tilt. The Eagles defeated Mascoutah on Friday to improve to 4-1 overall, 2-0 in league play.
“They’re going to be gunning for us,” Warnecke said. “They’ve got a good thing going ... I expect a helluva football game. They’re going to play hard and be physical. I think they’re doing some good things offensively as well. We’re going to prepare this week and know our opponent and hopefully go out there Friday night and execute.”
All in all, Warnecke is pleased with his young team’s progress as they enter Week 6.
“We know it’s going to be a dogfight every week. and we’re going to come out swinging. We expect to get better every week,” he said. “I like the guys in our lockerroom. They play for something bigger than themselves.”