SPARTA – As they tried to stop the Highland Fighting Scots, the Centerburg Trojans learned how Sisyphus must have felt while pushing that boulder in Dante’s Inferno.
Eventually, you’ll end up getting rolled over.
The Scots seemed to get stronger as Friday’s game wore on, pounding out yards and piling up points to roll to a 36-6 victory at home in their Knox-Morrow Athletic Conference game.
“We didn’t start off fast, but we really picked up the pace in the second half,” Highland running back Tate Tobin said after the game. “I liked how we got out of the huddle quickly.”
Highland came at Centerburg with a four-pronged attack and never let up. The Scots’ combination of Tate Tobin, Brock Veley, Jack Weaver and Brody Matthews took turns punishing the Trojans. They ran few misdirections, choosing instead to run right at the tired Trojans with much success.
By halftime, Highland had built a 24-6 lead. Amazingly, they hadn’t yet really built up steam.
The Scots (4-1, 2-0 KMAC) went on a pair of third-quarter drives that ate up nine minutes of the clock. The quartet piled up 151 yards on 21 carries, with not a single pass attempt by quarterback Ian Taylor.
“We came out in the second half to control the ball and control the tempo,” Highland coach Chad Carpenter said. “We just tried to run safe plays well and control the clock.”
Taylor’s first pass attempt came so fast, it was easy to miss. He flipped the ball ahead to Veley, who bolted 53 yards for Highland’s first touchdown.
Later, Tobin scored on a 51-yard run, then closed out the half with a one-yard plow through the Centerburg defensive line.
Centerburg (3-2, 1-1 KMAC) came out using its two strongest weapons, quarterback John Sheasby and running back Stephen Schmitt. The pair had success early with 59 yards rushing in their first two drives, along with a nine-yard pass to John Wharton.
But, once Highland had put points on the board, the Scot defense began wearing down the Trojans’ offensive line. In consecutive drives, Centerburg had minus-17 yards total.
Centerburg tried to switch to a vertical passing game, but the defense gave Sheasby no time to find any downfield receivers. Highland’s Joseph Scaffidi had three sacks, Cam Catrone had two and Tobin and Weaver each had one. Sheasby was harassed so often that he finished with minus-18 rushing yards on 23 attempts, and his nine-yard pass play was his longest of the game.
“Coming into the game, the quarterback (Sheasby) running all over the place concerned us,” Carpenter said. “We moved another guy in the box and that controlled things nicely.”
The game was interrupted with 45 seconds left in the second quarter when an official saw lightning. The teams elected to take its halftime during the ensuing mandatory 30-minute break. OHSAA rules specify that all players must leave the field for 30 minutes after the final lightning strike is seen.
“During that long break, we were stressing that we need to put this one away,” said Tobin, who led the Scots with 131 yards on 16 carries. He added a three-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. “We came out of halftime getting off the ball well. The O-line did a great job getting their blocks.”
The Scots had a tumultuous week, with illnesses and other personal issues keeping players from practicing. But, by Friday, they were ready – and none of the problems showed.
“We were missing a lot of starters due to sickness all week,” Carpenter said. “They were seriously drained from the week. I’m hoping we can get them some rest and come back ready on Monday.”
The victory is Highland’s fourth straight after suffering a 44-22 loss to Bloom-Carroll in Week 1. The Scots travel to Mount Gilead next week. The Indians lost to Fredericktown, 39-8, on Friday.
Centerburg heads home for a showdown with 5-0 East Knox next Friday.