Fort Thomas, KY -It's a week later, but the report is much the same from David Cecil Memorial Stadium. The Highlands Bluebirds took down a Conner Cougar team that, until tonight's final snap, had a 21-game regular season win streak against Northern Kentucky schools.
The Bluebirds got their second win of the season in the same fashion as last week. The Bluebirds defense smothered the Cougars offense. Conner could only muster a total of 135 yards and 6 first downs in the game, some of which were produced by Bluebirds’ penalties.
On offense, the Bluebirds more than tripled the Cougars offensive totals with 461 total yards and 21 first downs. The Bluebirds offense is what makes this week’s game different from the last.
Last week's star Michael Schrode, was sidelined with a strained back muscle he suffered during practice this week. But, the Bluebirds didn't miss a step. Junior running back Ben Koester churned up 120 yards on 18 carries. He also added a touchdown. Junior Jordan Kramer added three rushing touchdowns of his own on 10 carries.
The surprise came from the Bluebirds air attack. Senior quarterback Chad Hudepohl started the night’s game in place of injured starter Chase Cecil.
Hudepohl completed 10 of his 19 passes for 170 yards and one interception. Although Hudepohl didn't produce any touchdowns with his arm, the passing-game was a perfect compliment to the Bluebirds rushing attack, said Highlands defensive coordinator, Brian Weinrich.
“His passing really opened up the running game for us tonight,” Weinrich said. “We were really pleased with Chad’s effort tonight.” It was Hudepohl’s first start of the season on offense.
“Chad is a guy you just want to have on the field as much as you can,” Weinrich said. “He was playing some defense for us, but we really needed him to step up on offense tonight and he did.”
The balanced offensive attack helped the Bluebirds tally 291 yards on the ground.
One category the Cougars did have an advantage over the 'Birds in was penalty yardage. At halftime, Conner had 3 penalties for 12 yards and Highlands had 8 for 76 yards.
The bright spot for the Conner offense was the play of senior quarterback Matt Hunley. Hunley has big shoes to fill, taking over for graduated quarterback Trevor Stellman. Hunley was the leading rusher for the Cougars as he gained 16 yards on six carries and completed six passes for 67 yards.
Overall, the Bluebirds offense was too overpowering for a very young, but promising, Cougars defense. It was another bright spot for the 'Birds defense as they chalked up their eighth shutout since the beginning of last season.
Next week the Bluebirds will finally get the opportunity to play this season with head coach Dale Mueller. The Bluebirds take a trip across the river in a test against the nationally ranked Colerain Cardinals at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Cougars have next week off to prepare for their game on September 9th against Louisville Fern Creek in Hebron.