Rebels dominate the weary Warriors
It's important when playing a weaker opponent that a team not look ahead to, say, the Valley View game two weeks from now, nor should they take pity upon a struggling team. The Highland Rebels did neither scoring 30 points in the first quarter on their way to a 44-10 conference victory at Westside on Sept. 21.
Head Coach Chad Mitchell is the next great hope to turn around the long struggling Westside Warrior program. He came to Jonesboro from Van Buren and, before that, he was on the staff at Salem. To say that the Warriors need to improve their tackling skills is an understatement. The offense was held to 195 yards, with only 72 of that in the first half. The defense gave up 306 yards, with 268 of that in the first half. Special teams gave up 187 yards on five returns.
Rebel sophomore Avery Johnson started the game, giving Highland good field position, by returning the opening kick to the Warrior 46. Quarterback Sterling Stowers weaved his way untouched for a 25-yard gain on first down. Highland struggled on the next three plays that included two incomplete passes, a penalty and a rush for no gain, but Stowers found sophomore Austin Himschoot over the middle for a touchdown. Ethan Hoppe, who made all six of his point-after attempts, gave the Rebs a 7-0 lead.
Westside quarterback Chase Mann found 14 yards and a first down on the Warriors first offensive play, but the team couldn't gain any ground on fourth-and-one four plays later.
Jordan Brewer picked up nine yards on two rushes, and Stowers threw a rainbow pass to Johnson in the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 6:31 left in the first period.
Warrior Lane Campbell got off a 32 yard punt that senior Michael Copeland returned to the Westside seven. Wasting no time, Stowers rushed up the middle for the seven-yard score to make it 21-0 at the 4:48 mark in the first.
The snap flew over Campbell's head on the next punt attempt from the Westside 24. Campbell kicked it through the end zone for a Rebel safety.
Highland suffered from flags in this game, accumulating 48 yards on nine penalties. On this drive, the Rebs drew a delay-of-game and a holding flag. However, a 25-yard scamper for Brewer and a 21-yard touchdown run for Stowers ,with less than a minute left in the opening quarter, overcame those penalties.
Westside responded by mounting their best drive. A drive that got them to the Rebel 14 yard line, but Mann threw a pass into double coverage and Deon Stewart picked it off in the end zone.
Highland had three block-in-the-back penalties on their next drive. Penalties that negated 70 and 17-yard runs by Stowers, and a 15-yard run by Stewart. On second-and-20, Stowers found Hoppe for a 35-yard first down pass. Brewer spun his way to a 25-yard touchdown and a 37-0 advantage with 4:38 left in the half.
Copeland took the Warriors opening second half punt 67-yards, but was pulled down at the Westside three-yard line. Fullback Jace Powell took it the rest of the way to give Highland its final score of the night.
Westside was able to get a touchdown on their second drive of the half because of two Highland mistakes. The Rebs special teams mishandled a punt that was recovered by the Warriors to keep the drive alive, and they roughed the kicker on a Campbell field goal attempt that led to a Kaleb Dodd four-yard touchdown run. Campbell added the PAT and a 32-yard field goal late in the game to complete the scoring.
Brewer led the Highland (4-0, 1-0) rushers with 111 yards on nine carries. Stowers added 53 yards on four carries along with three of five for 96 yards passing. Kevin French came in late to give the Rebels five carries for 53 yards.
Highland will play the second of three straight road games when they travel to Brookland on Sept. 28.