Junior running back Logan Chandler posted five touchdowns and Highland’s offense racked up 64 points en route to a decisive 64-28 win at Civic Memorial on Friday night.
Highland led 29-8 at halftime and then posted 21 points in the third quarter and 14 more in the final period to keep the Eagles at bay. The Bulldogs improved to 3-3 overall, 2-1 in the MVC, while CM dropped to 4-2, 2-1.
All in all, Highland’s bruising rushing attack, which accounted for more than 400 yards, keyed the outcome.
“Everything really started with our running game,” said Bulldogs coach Jimmy Warnecke, whose team defeated Civic Memorial 47-0 last year. “I felt like we dominated up front on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive line. Everything grew off what we were able to do in our running game.
“We executed really well.”
Overall, Chandler stole the show, rumbling for the five scores and 195 yards on 28 carries. Warnecke praised Chandler and Highland’s stalwart offensive line.
“He ran the ball hard,” Warnecke said. “He’s a big, physical back. We opened up some pretty big holes in there for him, and he held onto the football the entire night, which is a big plus. He has to get the accolades, but the player of the game was our offensive line up front.”
Freshman quarterback Brent Wuebbles, meanwhile, continued his strong play, completing 11 passes for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 82 yards, and Jeffry Blunt bulldozed for 99 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries. Eli Jones and James Beard also had touchdowns.
“Our young, inexperienced skilled kids are really coming along,” Warnecke said. “But the big story is our freshman quarterback. He’s our difference maker. I think he’s the ace in the hole a little bit for us. He’s got so much upside. As he continues to get more comfortable to the speed of game, we’re going to see him improve by leaps and bounds every week.”
Highland’s defense also had a huge night, forcing four turnovers while providing a short field for the offense multiple times. Warnecke noted the 28 points surrendered is somewhat misleading, as 21 of those came late. Liam Gallagher anchored the defense with 10 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Jack Korte added an interception.
“Our defense was very opportunistic,” Warnecke said. “Three of our scores were directly off turnovers our defense got. That gave us a short field and our offense took advantage.”
Next up for Highland: Rival Triad
The Bulldogs are set to resume action at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at MVC rival Triad. The Knights (6-0 overall, 3-0 in league play) are coming off a 22-12 road win against Mascoutah on Friday.
“I think whether they’re 6-0 and we’re 3-3 or vice vers, a lot of that stuff gets thrown out window in rivalry games like this,” said Warnecke, whose team defeated Triad 44-14 last season. “It’s going to be a heck of a football game. It seems like I say that every year, but that’s what makes a rivalry game a rivalry game. They’ve got the accolades on their side this year being undefeated.
“They’re playing good football. They’re going to be prepared for us. We have a lot of preparation to do this week. I’m sure they’re getting after it, too. Our staff has done a great job putting us in the best position possible to succeed in this rivalry game.”
Warnecke expects another stout defensive test from the Knights, who have allowed 14 points or less in five of their six games.
“They’re defense is always solid,” he said. “It seems like year in, year out, whoever they have in there, they get it done. They pursue well to the ball. They tackle well. They’re well-coached. They’ve got a good blitz scheme.”
He also noted Triad has expanded its offense, incorporating a shotgun formation at times.
“That’s kind of a shocker,” Warnecke said. “It’s going to be a good game. I think whatever team is able to throw the ball better and run better is going to come out with the victory.”
Highland on a roll heading into Triad
The Bulldogs enter the game winners of two-straight and three out of five. Highland has averaged 46 points its past three games and continues trending in the right direction after starting 1-3, which included a rugged non-conference slate
“We had a tough non-conference schedule — two of our three losses were to teams who are still undefeated,” Warnecke said. “I feel like we’re healthier now than we’ve been the last couple weeks. Our focus is on the process and getting better every day. We’ve gotta get out there and work hard every day.
“If you can keep that mentality, regardless of the record, I think good things will happen.”