After two road wins in the opening two weeks of the season, Highland was flying high as it was off to its best start in seven years. Last week in their first home game of the season the Hawks (3-1) struggled to get anything going and looked nothing like the team of the first two weeks in a 42-7 loss to Desert Ridge.
On Friday night, the Hawks got back in the win column and once again put on an impressive performance on both sides of the ball with a 35-7 home win over Corona del Sol.
“We played a full four quarters today, and we were able to run the ball well all night," Highland coach Pete Wahlheim said. "We were missing our starting center tonight, so I was real impressed with how everyone stepped up."
The Hawks and quarterback Blake Young threw the ball just nine times as throughout most the second half Highland was content to keep the ball on the ground and run some clock. After the Hawks jumped out to a 28-7 halftime lead there was no reason to change that philosophy as three big passes by Young in the second quarter allowed Highland to play conservative. In the first half Young finished 4-for-5 passing for 98 yards and three touchdown passes.
“We executed well tonight. Once again the O-line stepped up and blocked perfectly.," Young said. "Our receivers ran great routes tonight and it feels good to get back in the win column.”
The game started slowly for both teams. Corona had the first productive drive of the game going late in the first quarter. That all changed when Chip White intercepted Evan Kinney at the goal line and fell into the end zone for a touchback. Highland took over and 79 yards later Young connected with Skyler Horne for the 21-yard touchdown for the first score of the game. On the ensuing kickoff a penalty on the Aztecs pushed the Hawks up for a shorter kick which gave coach Wahlheim the perfect opportunity to attempt an onside kick.
“That was a no-brainer," he said. "We got an extra 15 yards and the kids executed. Special teams played great tonight.”
The Hawks took advantage of their gamble and scored their second touchdown of the game on a 34-yard pass from Young to J.R. Brletic. After the Aztecs got on the board with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Kinney, the Highland special teams once again made a big play. Billy Johnson returned the kickoff 85 yards for the touchdown and a two-score lead.
Young would connect with Colin Gardner from 25 yards out to complete a 28-7 second quarter blitz by the Hawks. In total Young finished 7-of-9 passing for 130 yards and the three touchdowns. His three touchdown passes were all thrown on consecutive passes. Brletic and Devin James led the rushing attack as they rushed for a combined 129 yards on 28 carries. James scored the final touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run.
The Aztecs (2-2) struggled all night on offense. Corona did not have a first down in the second half until about 6:20 remained in the fourth quarter.
“They were the better football team tonight, we got beat in all phases of the game,” Corona coach Tom Joseph said.
Score by quarters
CdS 0 7 0 0 -- 7
High 0 21 7 0 -- 28
Highland - Horne 21 pass from Young (Miller kick)
Highand - Brletic 34 pass from Young (Miller kick)
Corona - Kinney 1 run (kick good)
Highland - Johnson 85 Kickoff return (Miller kick)
Highland - Gardner 25 pass from Young (Miller kick)