Highlands shuts out Ryle

FORT THOMAS, Kentucky – History was made at David Cecil Memorial Stadium as the Highland Bluebirds won its 899th game in program history with a 27-0 shutout victory over the Ryle Raiders.

The impressive win total is tops in the state of Kentucky and second in the nation behind only Valdosta High School in Georgia.

The crowd also saw a pregame ceremony announcing the induction of the 2019 class into the Highlands High School Athletics Hall of Fame. Inductees included three icons of the  storied football program. Longtime football coach Dale Mueller along with former All-American tight end Derek Smith and 1999 Kentucky Mr. Football the late Jared Lorenzen, who passed away this past July, were recognized in front of the crowd.

After the pomp and circumstance of the pregame celebration, defense was the order of the day for both teams. Highlands forced five turnovers while both team racked up six quarterback sacks a piece.

Each team failed to earn a first down in its first three offensive possessions of the game. When Highlands punted on its third possession, the kick was muffed by Ryle and recovered by the Bluebirds Patrick Clukey on the Raiders 35-yard line. 

This setup the game’s first score when Highlands quarterback Collin Hollingsworth hit Joey Deschler with an 18-yard pass play for a touchdown.

That would not be the last time special teams played a role in Highlands’ success. The Bluebirds’ rush pressured Ryle into shanking a punt that traveled just 21 yards. Two plays later Hunter Ahlfeld caught a fade pass from Hollingsworth in the back corner of the end zone for a 14-0 halftime lead.

Despite a two-touchdown advantage for Highlands, the game was statistically close at the intermission. Highlands gained just 58 yards while Ryle only mustered 52 yards of offense but it was the Bluebirds leading on the scoreboard.

The game swung completely in Highlands favor early in the third quarter thanks to another big special team play. Conner Zell blocked a Ryle punt in the end zone and teammate Sawyer Depp fell on it for a touchdown.

A second touchdown pass-and-catch from Hollingsworth to Ahlfeld put the finishing touches on the Highlands shutout.

Ryle running back Kyle England, who had three consecutive 100-yard rushing games going into the contest, was held to just 55 yards on 19 carries.

Zach Lewin lead the Highlands defensive charge with three sacks and Bryce Huddleston had a team-high eight tackles and two sacks of his own.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Raiders while Highlands won its third in a row after a week one loss to Knoxville Catholic.


Ryle 0-0-0-0 – 0

Highlands 7-7-13-0 – 27


H – Joey Deshler 18-yard TD catch from Collin Hollingsworth (Brennan Haigis kick)

H – Hunter Ahlfeld 21-yard TD catch from Collin Hollingsworth (Brennan Haigis kick)

H – Sawyer Depp recovers blocked punt in the end zone for touchdown (Brennan Haigis kick)

H – Hunter Ahlfeld 4-yard TD catch from Collin Hollingsworth (kick failed)

RECORDS: Ryle (3-2); Highlands (4-1)

UP NEXT: Ryle @ Elder; Highlands @ Boyle County

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