Colin Seidl is one of Highlands' smallest football players, but the 5-foot-7, 155-pound junior was a huge factor in the Bluebirds' 42-21 victory over host Lexington Catholic in the Class 4A semifinals Friday night.
Seidl returned the game's opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown to get Highlands off to a quick start.
He used his blazing speed to burn Lexington Catholic again early in the second half after the Knights closed to within 21-14.
Seidl returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a TD and sent the Bluebirds off and winging toward their 19th victory in a row and 24th consecutive playoff win.
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Highlands also set a state scoring record, pushing its season total to 807, eclipsing the mark of 801 set by Jared Lorenzen's Bluebirds in 1998.
"That was fun," Seidl said. "We hadn't had (a kickoff return for a TD) all year. We took it the distance, and we're ready for state."
Highlands, four-time defending 5A champion, will play Franklin-Simpson in the 4A finals next weekend in Bowling Green.
Lexington Catholic Coach Bill Letton thought Seidl's kick returns were the difference in the game.
"You take those two plays out, and we're either a possession short or a defensive stop short," he said. "But give them credit. They made the blocks and made the plays."
Highlands quarterback Patrick Towles thought Seidl's second TD came at a critical time, just after the host Knights had closed to within a TD early in the second half.
"Lexington Catholic's crowd was getting back into it, but Colin quieted them real fast," Towles said.
Towles, who has committed to Kentucky, had an efficient night. The 6-6, 230-pound senior passed for 108 yards and a TD (all in the first half), and ran 17 times for 120 yards and two TDs.
"He's a hoss. He's a big ol' boy," Letton said. "He's got great length on his arms, too, and was able to fend off smaller defensive backs. He's tough to get a hold of."
Lexington Catholic junior quarterback Kyle Bolin, who has committed to Louisville, had an impressive night. He threw for 223 yards and three TDs, and ran for 58 yards. He had 11 completions to Adam Bush for 98 yards and a TD.
"I thought Kyle did some great things," Letton said. "He pulled it down and ran when he had to. He made some great timing passes on out routes, and threw some great strikes on deep posts.
"It was a good performance by him."
Highlands Coach Dale Mueller praised Lexington Catholic's offense.
"They can do a lot of things; they're pretty impressive," he said. "They executed great and deserve a lot of credit. But our guys scrapped all night and made Lexington Catholic work for everything they got."
Letton thought his Knights "proved we're a good football team. We did some of the things we needed to do to get the victory, but those two returns really hurt."
The Knights finished with 301 total yards to Highlands' 339. Bluebirds senior Drake Bruns led everybody with 12 solo tackles.
Highlands 7 14 14 7—42
Lexington Catholic 0 7 7 7—21
H—Colin Seidl 95 kickoff return (Carter New kick). LC—Adam Bush 21 pass from Kyle Bolin (Jake Pumphrey kick). H—Luke Turner 16 pass from Patrick Towles (New kick). H—Jake True 15 run (New kick). LC—Noah Mitchell 5 pass from Bolin (Pumphrey kick). H—Seidl 90 kickoff return (New kick). H—Towles 8 run (New kick). LC—David Bouvier 34 pass from Bolin (Pumphrey kick).
Records—Highlands 14-0; Lexington Catholic 11-3