High School Football

Record offensive onslaught sends Highland to state semifinals

Highland football trounces Herscher to advance to state semifinals

Highland running back Brady Feldman talks about his team's big playoff win over Herscher.
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Highland running back Brady Feldman talks about his team's big playoff win over Herscher.

The Highland Bulldogs’ quarterfinal victory over Herscher on Saturday was one for the record books.

With touchdowns on 11 of their 13 offensive possessions, the Bulldogs set a Class 4A record for points in their 77-47 quarterfinal win over the Tigers.

With the win, Highland advances to the semifinals next weekend at Rochester.

The winner of six of the past seven Class 4A championships, Rochester moved on with a 56-14 win over Herrin. Game day and time will be announced later this week by the Illinois High School Association.

Highland seized control early jumping to a 35-0 lead before the second quarter was half over.

Quarterback Garrett Marti had a hand in three of those scores with touchdown throws of 9 and 65 yards to Sam LaPorta. He also scored on an 8-yard run of his own.

Running back Brady Feldman found the end zone twice on runs of 36 of 29 yards.

“What else should we believe?” said Feldman when asked if the Bulldogs think they’ll score on every possession. “We just had things rolling tonight. There is no other way to put it.”

Feldmann finished the game with 166 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns.

From there, it was basically the teams exchanging touchdowns. Although Herscher would put up 47 points over the final two and half quarters the deficit it faced was never less than 28.

“There are some things we have got to be a lot better at,” said Highland coach Jim Warencke Jr., “and our players and defensive staff are aware of that. But you have got to give a lot of credit to Herscher. Their quarterback was all-state last season for a reason, and they never quit.”

For the second consecutive week, Marti tossed six touchdown passes. He was 19 of 25 for 366 yards overall.

Dylan Shaw and Jacob Willis joined LaPorta in hauling in two touchdown passes apiece.

Willis finished with 107 yards receiving, two more than LaPorta.

Of Highland’s 10 scoring drives, six lasted a minute or less.

The Bulldogs also got a touchdown on a 53-yard return of an onside kick by Jack Etter.

“Pretty much everything was working,” said Warnecke of his offense, which piled up 659 total yards. “The efficiency of our perimeter game, the quick hitters, was really big for us tonight.

“Usually, we are a big play, over-the-top team, but you have to take what the defensive gives you.”

Frustrated early by the Highland defense, Herscher quarterback Tyler Jarnigan ended up with some impressive numbers, completing 29 of 44 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns.