Highland head coach Brock Farrel knew that if his team could slow down Skyline senior quarterback Blake Roebuck, they would win the game.
That’s exactly what the Hawks did, as they went on defeat Skyline in convincing fashion, 61-0.
The Coyotes were held scoreless by Highland’s defense throughout the game. Skyline’s offense only managed to record 59 total yards and gave up 16 points to the Hawks’ defense.
The first score for Highland’s defensive unit came by way of a safety from junior safety Drew Falagrady and two blocked punts for touchdowns by senior linebackers Jehron Mcgee and Daniel Wood.
Since its loss to Hamilton two weeks ago, Highland’s defensive unit has given up just 10 points the last two games. Wood attributed the team’s success to Farrel.
“Coming after our loss versus Hamilton, coach Farrel, when we watched film the next day, challenged us to be better,” Wood said. “We have been trying to work harder at practice to make sure everyone is doing their job and everybody is always running to the ball and I think it’s paying off.”
Farrel credits how well the defense has been playing with an emphasis on technique, as well as the aggressive play-calling from the rest of the coaching staff.
“We got back to playing really good Highland defense and fixed some of the technique errors we had at Hamilton,” Farrel said. “Also, our coaching staff got back to being who we were. I felt like maybe we were not as aggressive as we should have been versus Hamilton.
“So, we got back to being who we were.”
With Highland’s defense doing its job limiting Skyline, the Hawks’ offense also found a rhythm.
Led by sophomore quarterback Gage Dayley, highland scored at will throughout the entire first half. Wood, who plays running back on offense, along with senior athlete Ja’Sean Lee and senior running back Braden Bond also played key roles in the Hawks’ rushing attack.
Dayley completed five of his eight attempts for 100 yards and a touchdown, while Wood, Lee and Bond combined for 128 rushing yards and five touchdowns of their own.
“The offensive line did amazing, the receivers were making their blocks and the running backs were hitting their holes,” Dayley said. “When we threw it the lineman blocked perfectly. I didn’t get touched a single time tonight, I don’t think.”
Wood echoed Dayley’s sentiment about the offensive line, crediting them with picking up blitzes by the Skyline defense. He also acknowledged the play-calling by the coaching staff for Highland’s success on offense.
“Our O-line did a great job blocking their schemes,” Wood said. “Sometimes they would blitz opposite of where we ran so it just worked out nicely on some of the plays.”
Overall, Farrel was impressed with the effort of his team in a blowout victory. But he admits there is still room to improve in almost every aspect.
“Our blocking still needs to improve We have basically five new guys on the offensive line and they need to come along,” Farrel said. “We need to get our quarterback play to be a little more consistent and some of our running backs weren’t hitting the holes correctly. So, there’s a lot of stuff we can fix.”
Skyline (0-4) is still searching for its first win this season under new coach George Hawthorne. The Coyotes will look to knock off Queen Creek (3-1) next week at home for homecoming before beginning region play.
Highland, meanwhile, will look to carry on the momentum from its big win over Skyline next week against Basha (4-0). With the Bears eyeing a perfect start to its non-region schedule, Dayley and the Hawks know it will take a good week of practice to remove Basha from the undefeated ranks.
“We have to execute during practice and not take practice lightly,” Dayley said. “Take it like a normal game. You can’t take one (game) off and try and win another, it doesn’t work like that.”
HHS 19 28 7 7 – 61
SHS 0 0 0 0 – 0
Highland – Drew Falagrady safety (Ray kick), 11:01
Highland – Daniel Wood 4 run (Ray kick), 9:48
Highland – Jackson Ray 38 FG, 3:51
Highland – Jehron Mcgee blocked punt (Ray kick), 1:51
Highland – Daniel Wood 49 run (Ray kick), 9:29
Highland – Ja’sean Lee 45 run (Ray kick), 5:03
Highland – Gage Dayley 43 pass Tanner Crandall (Ray kick), 2:22
Highland – Daniel Wood blocked punt (Ray kick), 0:35
Highland – Braden Bond 4 run (Ray kick), 7:45
Highland – Braden Bond 4 run (Ray kick), 7:33