Highland preview

Highland's football program is hopeful to secure its fourth straight win this week when it faces Desert Vista.

Sammy Miller is a sports journalism student at Arizona State University covering Highland High School athletics. 

You couldn’t chalk up a better start to the Hawks’ season with its 3-0 record, but now the pressure is on because everyone loves knocking down the undefeated. 

Highland football looks to continue its winning streak with a win on the road against Desert Vista on Friday, Oct. 1.

“This will definitely be the best team we have played yet,” Highland head coach Brock Farrel said. “Their offensive line is good, they are a good size, their quarterback is efficient, and coach Wisdom is a good coach.” 

The Hawks’ are planning on bringing the momentum into this tough match-up from its blowout win last week, where they beat Desert Ridge, 40-14. 

Highland isn’t the only team with momentum on its side. The Thunder are coming off back-to-back blowout wins, beating Mesa 45-7 and Corona Del Sol 52-7. 

Due to the degree of confidence that both teams now possess, one of the deciding factors will be whoever comes out of the gates stronger. The team that sets the tone early and is able to get into an offensive rhythm will be able to dictate the game.

The other deciding factor comes down to one player who hasn’t been able to be stopped thus far. 

“We have to stop Devon Grubbs, the kid is lightning in a bottle,” Farrel said. “If we can contain him, I don't know if you ever stop anybody like that, but if you can contain him and keep his damage to a minimum, I like our chances.”  

Grubbs isn’t the only player that will need to be contained. Desert Vista will have the tall task of trying to stop Highland’s rushing leaders, senior running back Steven Trujillo currently with 171 yards, and junior running back Chance Cauthen with 92 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. 

Both Trujilo and Cauthen will have to find the open spaces and run the ball effectively against the talented Desert Vista defensive line who has held their opponents to only two touchdowns in the last two games. 

Senior quarterback Gage Dayley will play a vital role in getting Trujilo and Cauthen involved in the run game but will need to showcase his arm as well. Dayley has thrown for 691 yards thus far, with 60 of them coming from a pass to senior wide receiver Hunter Stewart in his game against Desert Ridge last week. 

This quarterback and receiver connection has evolved throughout the first three weeks of play and will be essential to the team’s success going forward. 

“When we execute, we are one of the hardest teams in the state to stop,” Dayley said. “When we get lazy and act like we don’t want to be out there and just want to go home, that is when we are very vulnerable.”

Now looking to the other side of the ball, the Hawks’ defense has shut its opponents down so far, only allowing two touchdowns against Desert Ridge last week. One of the biggest reasons for the defensive line’s success is the recent UNLV commit, junior defensive end Fisher Camac. 

Camac is a 6’7, 230-pound wall that makes his opponent’s life extremely difficult. Camac currently has seven solo tackles and five sacks. 

“I think our success will come down to just us doing our jobs,” senior middle linebacker Carson Allen said. “We have to make sure that we play as a unit, which is something that we are still working on because the defense is young and growing.” 

Even though Highland has been able to find a lot of success in its first three games, there are still many adjustments to be made. Farrel emphasized how they have to block more consistently, and the offensive linemen need to continue to improve and move more fluidly if they want to beat their tough upcoming opponents.

This team has one goal in mind, and that is to win the championship.

“We have missed the open playoffs by like one game every year,” Farrel said. “I think our schedule is favorable for us to get in, and there have been some key losses by other teams, so the doors open a little bit if we do our part.”

Highland’s journey to get better each and every game continues on Friday, where they hope to get one step closer to claiming a spot in the championship.

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