It's one thing for a team to do what they do well when conditions are perfect, but it's another to stay on course when conditions change. Wind and rain had a major effect on both offenses, when Highland took on Valley View on Friday, Oct. 5.
Valley View likes to throw a lot of short, quick passes, but the wind and wet ball wasn't letting that happen. Highland struggled to get a good snap while in the shotgun, and could not break a big play on the wet field.
Rebel Head Coach Spencer Hill adjusted his play calling, and the Rebels marched to three second-half touchdowns on their way to a 21-3 conference victory at Valley View, to stay undefeated (6-0, 3-0).
"I'm just very proud of everything we had to overcome tonight with the weather, with penalties, bad snaps, and falling down 3-0 at halftime," Hill said. "We went in at halftime and nobody paniced. Our kids knew what we had to do and we weren't doing it. We talked about taking control of the second half and we were able to do that."
The Rebel defense gets credit for giving the offense time to make those adjustments. Highland held the Blazer offense to just 79 yards in the first half, with 61 of those yards coming on the last drive that resulted in a Kyle Madden 33-yard field goal to give Valley View a 3-0 halftime advantage.
"Our defense didn't let them have anything," Hill said. "That goes to Coach (John) Sinclair. Hats off to him. He developed a great plan and the kids...they study really hard and you could really tell we were in the right spots. Getting in the right spots is only half the battle, but you've got to finish off by making the plays and we did."
The Rebel offense only managed 62 yards of offense in the first half, and were set back 45 yards on five penalties. They had 55 yards on six penalties in the second half, but big plays made up for it. In comparison, Valley View had three penalties for 20 yards over four quarters.
Jordan Brewer started the second half with a 31-yard run to get the Rebels out to midfield. Highland picked up a holding call and a false start on consecutive plays to set up first-and-23. Avery Johnson found 13 yards to the right, but a holding call on the next play brought the Rebels back into Highland territory. Facing a fourth-and-three, Sterling Stowers hit Johnson along the sideline for a 29-yard gain to setup a Stowers 13-yard touchdown run. Ethan Hoppe, who converted all three PATs on the night, made the score 7-3 Highland.
"Getting Avery in the backfield (was important), just finding ways to get that kid the ball," Hill said. "He's a special player, and being able to hand him the ball out of that set is hard,. That way, I get Jordan (Brewer), Avery (Johnson) and Sterling (Stowers) all in the backfield at the same time."
After the Rebel defense forced a Blazer three-and-out, the Rebel offense put together a 14-play, 71-yard drive for a second touchdown, capped off with a 10-yard Stowers to Michael Copeland strike for a 14-3 lead. Stowers needed two passes to Deon Stewart to keep the drive alive. On third-and-14, Stowers hit Stewart along the sideline, which the receiver turned into a 27-yard gain. Then on fourth-and-one, Stewart dove back for a 22-yard low pass over the middle at the six-yard line. Three plays later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Copeland caught the touchdown pass.
The Reb defense held the Blazers to negative six yards, to force another punt, but Highland was not able to score, and gave the ball back at Valley View 20.
Carr Hill sacked Blazer quarterback Noah Jones on third down at the Valley View 18. The Blazer's decided to fake the punt, but the punter was dropped at the Blazer 25.
Stowers carried the ball once, and Brewer three times, including an eight-yard touchdown run with 2:20 left in the game, to complete the scoring.
A personal foul on Highland pushed the ball into Rebel territory on Valley View's last drive, but safety Brennan Severn intercepted a Jones' pass at the Highland five yard line.
Highland was led by Stowers with 23 carries for 104 yards, to go with five of 12 for 99 yards passing. Brewer carried 14 times for 86 yards, and Johnson had seven carries for 51 yards.