High-powered Highland checked off the seconds of it 2018 season goals on Friday with a near complete effort on Senior Night.
Senior running back Brady Feldmann scored a pair of rushing touchdown and hauled in a touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Etter, senior receiver Sam LaPorta had a pair of scoring catches, and the Bulldogs’ defense forced two turnovers in a 54-7 win over Charleston in the regular season finale.
The victory helped Highland (9-0) clinch an undefeated season, just a week after beating Mascoutah to clinch the Mississippi Valley Conference championship.
“We’ve knocked off two goals in the last two weeks in winning the conference and having an undefeated season,” Highland coach Jimmy Warnecke said. “We were able to do a little bit of everything (to do it).”
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Highland wasted little time on offense, scoring on the first four drives of the game. Feldmann capped off the first two drives of the night with touchdowns on runs of 1 yard and 5 yards.
Feldmann’s second score was set up by a Dylan Aptken interception return to the Charleston 5 yard line.
Aptken’s big play was the first of two Highland interceptions. The Bulldogs defense also forced the Trojans offense into three-and-outs on four consecutive drives at the start of the game.
“i just read the quarterback really well and they didn’t really have a threat over the top, so I jumped the pass,:” Aptken said. “Our defense will killing it tonight. They were flying around and everybody was getting to the ball.”
Anthony Finley also picked off a Charleston pass 43 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Etter then went to work in the passing game as he hit Bailey Trame wit a 12-yard touchdown pass on the next drive. Feldmann took a dump pass from Etter and zig-zagged 38 yards for his third TD.
On the Bulldogs’ last drive of the first quarter, Etter fired a bomb down the left side for LaPorta, who made an acrobatic catch before tightroping the sideline for a 69-yard touchdown, making it 27-0.
“We got a couple of touchdowns early and that pretty much set the tone for the whole game” Feldmann said. “Then we got the pass game going, so we’ve got a lot of weapons, so we can go either way.”
The Bulldogs added a pair of second-quarter touchdowns when Etter hit LaPorta for a 54-yard score to go with Finley’s pick-6. Etter was 7 of 9 passing for 279 yards and three TD’s. LaPorta had three catches for 170 yards and two scores.
Feldman ran for 54 yards and had two catches for 67 yards to go with his three touchdowns.
Winless Charleston (0-9) got its lone touchdown on a 1-yard Braden Doyle run that was set up by a late hit penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by the Bulldogs.
That did not sit well with Warnecke, who wants much cleaner play when the IHSA Class 5A playoff begin for the Bulldogs next weekend.
“We’re going to come in Monday and locked in and get ready to go,” Warnecke said. “I feel like where we are in our program right now with our kids, we have to have a state championship,” Warnecke said. “We’ve knocked two goals off he list the last two weeks winning the conference championship and getting the undefeated regular season, but we’ve got to have a state championship. That’s where our focus is.”
The Bulldogs, who fell one game short of the Class 5A title game last fall, will begin that journey again in earnest next Friday night.