It took a while for Highland’s offense to fire on all cylinders last week against Triad, but the Bulldogs wasted little time building a prohibitive advantage against Civic Memorial at home Friday.
The Bulldogs erupted for touchdowns on their first four drives and rolled to an easy 47-0 homecoming win before a full house.
“We felt like we knew what they thought they were going to do to us and we had some things we could attack them with. We just executed and that was great to see,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said.
Quarterback Jack Etter and wide receiver Sam LaPorta came out strong on the Bulldogs’ first drive, connecting on a 64-yard bomb down the left sideline for a touchdown.
After the Bulldogs defense held CM on a three-and-out, they were back in the end zone again on a 1-yard touchdown run from Brady Feldmann. The score was set up by a 30-yard pass from Etter to LaPorta.
LaPorta finished with four catches for 117 yards. Etter hit 13 of 16 passes for 236 yards and four touchdowns.
“I think that was our plan of attack early with them doing single coverage,” LaPorta said. “Early in the game if a team comes out man-to-man (defensively) I think we can attack them and we did that really well.”
Highland (6-0, 3-0) scored on next drive as well as Etter hit Brayton Moss for a 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 18-0.
“Our offense, our running game feeds off our passing game and vice versa,” Etter said. “If we’re throwing they have to play off us a bit and put a hat in the box and let Brady run.”
Feldmann did his thing in the run game with seven carries for 86 yards and a score. He also returned a third quarter punt for a 72-yard TD.
LaPorta chipped in on defense. His second quarter interception of Civic Memorial quarterback Noah Turbyhill set the Bulldogs up on the Eagles; 12.
“I think it’s more fun to pick one off and to try to find that end zone,” LaPorta said.
Three plays later, Etter scored on a 5-yard run and Etter’s two-point pass to LaPorta made it 26-0.
“The defense was flying around tonight, everyone did their job and the big boys hold up the rush and the linebackers make tackles, so everyone just plays together well,” LaPorta said.
Highland added a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass from Etter to Jacob Wills. Etter later hit Dylan Aptken for a 4-yard TD strike with 1:06 left in the second quarter to put the Bulldogs up at the half, 40-0.
Highland defense kept CM out of the redzone the entire game. Drew Hulvey led the way with six tackles and two sacks.
“You’ve got to be able to stop the run first and we feel confident if we do that. We’ve got guys in the secondary who can make plays,” Warneke said.
Civic Memorial dropped to 3-3 (1-2). Highland, ranked No. 4 in class 5A by the Illinois Associated Press, cinched its seventh straight IHSA playoff berth with the victory. The Bulldogs next play at Waterloo Friday before returning home for its final two regular season games.