Highland IL Bulldogs football team continues 2022 season

A 28-point explosion in the second quarter and a great night from running back Travis Porter propelled the Highland Bulldogs to an impressive 55-14 victory in their home opener on their new grass pitch on Friday, September 9. at Highland High School.

“It was quite an exciting time. Brad and Steve were there from Apex and all of our other sponsors (were there) and it was a really good pre-game deal. One of my biggest points to the boys was, in a big game against a Marion who has had our number for the past two years, I really felt like they held their water well,” Highlands coach Jimmy Warnecke said.

Porter, the Bulldogs main running back, scored the first of four touchdowns on the night from 1 yard to give his club a 7-0 lead in their first practice.

“We came out on the first drive – an 11-game touchdown with everything going on, that was pretty good,” Warnecke said.

Then came the wild second quarter as HHS scored on its first two drives thanks to a 13-yard touchdown pass from Brent Wuebbels to Brendan Gelly and another 1-yard TD executed by Porter.

Marion (2-1) responded on Brody Larson’s 5-yard run. Tommy Wiseman ran in the 2-point conversion, cutting the lead to 20-8 with 2:39 to go before halftime.

But the Bulldogs responded decisively as Wuebbels fired an 18-yard TD pass to Gelly, then closed the half with a 21-yard strike to Brodie Lewis, giving HHS a 35-8 cushion at the break.

“Our defense got some takeaways and a combination of plays and big defensive plays on first and second downs and third down stops short of the sticks and taking advantage of a few short pitches did it pretty well (for us) in the second (quarter),” Warnecke said.

Wuebbels had another effective night in the air, passing 16 of 21 for 233 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Porter opened the third quarter with his third score of the night on a 12-yard run, then started the mercy rule clock with his last touchdown of the night on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Porter powered the Bulldogs’ running game with 126 yards on 19 carries.

“I think he ran the ball really well,” Warnecke said of Porter. “At the start, there wasn’t a lot of room and he still misses a guy or two. I thought he hit the holeshot hard and the offensive line did its job up front.

Tyson Rakers’ 10-yard touchdown with 3:03 left completed the scoring.

The Bulldogs’ defense was also strong in the second half as they only allowed a 4-yard touchdown by Larson in the third quarter. The HHS stop team forced three interceptions and recovered two fumbles.

Blake Gelly and Ethan Greenwald paced the Bulldogs defense with eight tackles apiece while Chase Pacatte added six saves.

Senior receiver Cade Altadonna led the Bulldogs in reception with seven catches for 126 yards.

HHS coach praises team

Overall, Highland’s rebounding performance from a 31-28 loss to Edwardsville delighted Warnecke as his team moved up to 2-1.

“I think any time you take a program like Marion and the coaching staff like they’ve done together for so many years and you keep them at 14 points and you can put 55 on a night that is a pretty solid night,” Warnecke said. “People don’t do that too much to Coach (Kerry) Martin.”

The Bulldogs return to action at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16 in Jerseyville.

Highland quarterback Brent Wuebbels returns to pass against Belleville East in a game in his first season. threw three touchdown passes on Friday, Sept. 9 to help the Bulldogs to a decisive 55-14 home win over Marion. Jody Becker Photography