FORT THOMAS — Highlands quarterback Patrick Towles fired a 50-yard rainbow to Austin Sheehan on the first play of the game against Dixie Heights on Thursday night.
It was a sign of things to come for the Bluebirds, who romped 61-13 for their ninth consecutive victory over their rivals from Fort Mitchell.
This was billed as a showcase for two of the top quarterbacks in the nation: Towles, who has committed to Kentucky, and Dixie Heights' Zeke Pike, who has committed to Auburn.
Towles and his teammates had the much more enjoyable night in front of a Fox Sports Ohio TV audience and a less-than-capacity crowd at Highlands.
The 6-foot-6, 235-pound Towles completed 19 of 29 passes for 397 yards and two touchdowns. He was picked off once. Towles also had a pair of 1-yard TD runs.
After his second scoring run on Highlands' first series of the second half made it 42-7, Towles went to the bench for the rest of the blowout.
How did he rate his performance on a scale of 1 to 10?
"I'd say an eight," he said, "A 10 if I don't throw that interception."
Pike had a rough night. He was 13-for-25 for 107 yards and was picked off twice by Highlands' Carter New. He ran (or scrambled for his life) 12 times for 18 yards.
With the game out of hand, Pike played only two series in the second half.
"(Highlands) is one of the best ball clubs in the state, and playing against a defense like that, you're not going to get much time," Pike said.
"I tried, but just didn't get the job done."
The 6-5, 225-pound Pike was harassed by Highlands' swarming defense and had no time to get off anything other than quick throws. When he did try to go deeper, he usually had a Bluebirds' defender tugging at his shoulder pads.
Towles, on the other hand, had all the time he needed.
"My offensive line was awesome. That's why I was able to throw for so many yards," he said.
Bluebirds Coach Dale Mueller was effusive in his praise for Towles.
"He just put on a show in the first half," Mueller said. "He threw for (353) yards and completed passes to eight different receivers."
Towles also rifled a couple of 55-yard incompletions that showed off his arm strength.
"I'd have a tough time saying there are many high school quarterbacks better than Pat," Mueller said. "He's just a heck of a football player.
"It's hard not to put the ball in his hands and let him fire. He's just so fun to watch."
Towles admitted that although his team always comes first, he keeps up with what his rival QB from Dixie Heights is doing.
"I try not to, but anybody who tells you they don't ... I'm always looking in the paper to see how he did.
"We're two Division I guys going to SEC schools. He's a helluva quarterback."
Dixie Heights 7 0 0 6—13
Highlands 14 14 26 7—61
H—Patrick Towles 1 run (Carter New kick). H—Austin Sheehan 36 pass from Towles. (New kick). DH—Zeke Pike 4 run (Alex Lopez kick). H—David Christian 19 pass from Towles (New kick). H—Zach Harris 19 run (New kick). H—Drake Bruns 62 punt return (New kick). H—Towles 1 run. (New kick). H—Colin Seidl 17 run (conversion failed). H—Seidl 10 run (kick blocked). H—Ryan Donovan 14 run (Luke Brockett kick). DH—Evan Hicks 3 run (pass failed).
Records—Dixie Heights 0-3; Highlands 3-0.