Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Bluebirds dominate GRC to finish regular season

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands sophomore Kyle Turner waits to make his move on a kick-off on Saturday's junior varsity contest against Dixie Heights. Highlands won 58-0.
The Highlands Bluebirds soccer team wanted to put two halves together better in its final tune-up before the postseason.

Highlands only put together one nice half in the 1-0 win over Ryle on Thursday at Tower Park. Things worked much better in all 80 minutes Saturday at Tower Park as the Bluebirds (16-2-2 overall) put up a three-spot on the scoreboard in both halves blanking the visiting George Rogers Clark Cardinals (8-8-4) from the 10th Region, 6-0. Highlands has won 13 of its last 14 games and finished 10-0-1 in 9th Region action.

The Bluebirds built some cushion with two goals in the last two minutes of the first half to go up 3-0. Senior Colin Ginter scored his fourth goal of the year off a Highlands free kick in front of the 18-foot-box with 1:37 left in the half and senior Tommy Browe put in a rebound with 1:06 left in the half for his third goal of the season.

"Every game that you go into regardless of record, you have to test the team as you get in to play," said Matthew Winkler, Highlands Head Coach. "That was our attitude was coming into (Saturday) was to test them, see where we're at, see where they're at and move forward. Once we got those goals toward the end of the half, that broke the edge a little bit. We focus a lot on our defense."

GRC had been playing good soccer entering the game. The Cardinals had gone 3-0-2 in their last five games after starting the season 0-5-1. GRC tied Calvary Christian, 1-1 on Thursday.

"Honestly, we didn't come out prepared at all," said Walter Ridener, GRC Head Coach. "In the last couple games, we've not been playing where we should be. I don't know if we're focused too much on our district tournament and trying to get this season over. They're a quality team. But those last two goals (in the first half) came off a lack of effort from us. It is what it is."

Highlands senior goalkeepers Paul Tully and Simon Frink did not have to touch the ball too much other than playing the ball forward at times in the game as the Bluebirds recorded their 15th shutout of the season. The Bluebirds outshot the Cardinals, 30-2 including 14-1 on goal. Tully made the lone save for the Bluebirds in the first half.

"We still had work to do in the second half," Winkler said. "GRC is a good team. We have to treat them as such. Beyond (Tuesday), it's one-and-done so they have to treat each game as such and play hard."

On the other side, George Rogers Clark goalkeepers Hunter Caudill and Chase Gabbard saw plenty of Highlands shots as the Bluebirds kept the ball on the attacking side of midfield most of the game. The two combined for eight saves.

Highlands had seven corner kicks to none for GRC. The Bluebirds also committed three fouls to seven for the Cardinals. Neither team drew a yellow or red card.

Highlands had plenty of chances all game. But the Bluebirds did not score the lone goal they needed to win until 13:37 remained in the first half. Highlands senior Ethan Mills scored his ninth goal of the year.

Highlands senior Colton Dolezal assisted the first two goals of the second half bringing his total number of assists on the year to 10. Working on the half-field possession game, Dolezal found senior Solomon Farris for his team-high 15th goal this year.

"It's always good to get some work on possession," said Blake Shuley, Highlands junior. "Our coaches are always telling us to move the ball quickly. When we do that, we get the ball in the back of the net more often."

The coaching staff put the reserves in with 19:50 to go in the game. Sophomore Luke Schweitzer scored his first varsity goal with 3:10 left in the game. Schweitzer had a one-on-one opportunity with Gabbard. He put the initial shot past Gabbard, but it hit the right post. However, no one followed the rebound allowing Schweitzer to easily tap it over the white line.

"I always think when I'm one-on-one with the keeper (that) I like to dribble at them and decide which way he's (moving) toward and which way I'm feeling comfortable shooting," Schweitzer said. "I like to hit it the closest to that corner. Luckily, it hit the post and I was able to follow it."

The Highlands junior varsity squad won 4-0 to finish the season 17-3-2. That included winning the 9th Region junior varsity tournament.

Highlands plays host to Newport Central Catholic (14-6) on Tuesday in the 36th District championship game to open the postseason. The Bluebirds edged the Thoroughbreds, 1-0 on Sept. 22.

Football, Junior Varsity:
Highlands 58, Dixie Heights 0:

The Bluebirds moved to 6-1 on the season with their most lopsided win of the season and third shut-out. Sophomore Cooper Schwalbach had four touchdowns for Highlands including a punt return for a touchdown and sophomore Austin King hauled in two touchdown passes. Junior running backs Logan Aubrey and Larry Wilson also had touchdowns for the Bluebirds.

"As a whole, we did really well," said Ryan Leopold, Highlands JV Head Coach. "The offense was very efficient. The defense was very aggressive forcing many three-and-outs and (several) turnovers."

Highlands takes on Covington Catholic on Saturday. Game time is 10 a.m.

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