The Highland football Bulldogs roared out to a 35-0 lead after the first quarter of play as they put a bow on a perfect regular season with a 63-6 non-conference rout of the host Charleston Trojans Friday night.
Ranked fourth in the final Class 5A state poll, Highland (9-0) outscored its nine opponents this season by the eye-popping margin of 461 to 138, which equates to an average game score of 51 to 15.
“I know it means a lot to all of us,” senior quarterback Garrett Marti said of going undefeated throughout the regular season. “It means all of our hard work has paid off but we aren’t done yet. We start our new season next week. It gives us a lot of confidence going into the playoffs with a 9-0 record and being perfect through the regular season. Now it’s time for some playoff football.”
The entire second half was played with a continuously running clock.
Marti spearheaded the Bulldogs’ victory, completing 8 of 11 passes for 220 yards and four touchdowns. For the season, he has thrown 28 touchdowns compared to just one interception.
Marti connected with junior wide receiver Sam LaPorta on touchdown passes of 20 and 35 yards. LaPorta has 15 TD receptions for the year.
Marti also hooked up with junior running back Brady Feldmann on a 60-yard TD pass and junior receiver Jacob Etter on a 14-yard score.
Feldmann, who led the receiving corps with 113 yards on three receptions, added a 9-yard touchdown run and scored on an 86-yard kickoff return. Feldmann finished with four rushes for 32 yards. For the season, he has 21 total touchdowns, with 13 of them coming on the ground.
Junior running back Bailey Trame led the ground game with 11 carries for 82 yards and had a 5-yard TD run late in the third quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Sands capped off the scoring in the game with a 19-yard scamper for the score with 1:55 to play.
Twin offensive linemen Colten Knebel and Dylan Knebel even got in on the act and have some fun with a rushing attempt. Each of them rumbled for a 25-yard gain in the second half.
Senior kicker Elliott Prott converted all nine of his point-after attempts.
Highland’s defense forced four turnovers on three fumble recoveries and one interception.
Senior defensive lineman Austin Hays led the defensive troops with eight solo tackles while senior linebackers Noah Schmitt and Kyle Lane each recorded five solo tackles. Schmitt also recovered two fumbles and added two tackle assists and Lane also had one sack and one tackle assist.
In addition, Trame registered four solo tackles while LaPorta had the interception for his fourth pick of the season and senior linebacker Seby Wolf had the other fumble recovery.
Wolf now has three fumble recoveries to go with his three interceptions.
Highland has been moved down a class to 4A and will play host to 5-4 Quincy Notre Dame in the first round of the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday.
“We are ready to play anyone no matter what (class) we were going to be in and it just happened to be 4A,” Marti said. “I can’t wait to start preparing for QND this week and now it’s win or go home.”