High School Football

Highlands beats Franklin-Simpson for fifth straight title

Highlands' Patrick Towles fended off Franklin-Simpson's Caleb Lockhart as he scrambled out of the pocket Saturday at Houchens Smith Stadium.
Highlands' Patrick Towles fended off Franklin-Simpson's Caleb Lockhart as he scrambled out of the pocket Saturday at Houchens Smith Stadium. ASSOCIATED PRESS

BOWLING GREEN — Highlands is so rich in football tradition that it's like a billionaire looking for new ways to fatten his portfolio.

The Bluebirds added to the wealth of their program's accomplishments in winning a fifth consecutive state championship Saturday.

Highlands whipped Franklin-Simpson 42-14 in the Russell Athletic Class 4A finals in front of 7,023 fans in WKU's L.T. Smith Stadium. In doing so, the Bluebirds:

■ Won their 21st championship, tying Trinity for the state record.

■ Established single-season state records for points (849), touchdowns (121) and total yards (7,516).

■ Gave Dale Mueller his 10th state title, more than any coach in state history.

■ Finished off a state-record 13th undefeated season.

"We're real excited about being part of 21 (titles)," Mueller said. "But the most important, it's about these guys winning this one."

As for the Bluebirds' record-setting offensive numbers, Mueller said, "We're not so much about statistics as we are winning games."

Patrick Towles was Highlands' title team quarterback for the third year in a row. The 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior, who has committed to Kentucky, completed 12 of 18 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown. He ran 19 times for 122 yards and one score.

"It's awesome," Towles said of closing out his career with another title. "Words can't describe how hard we worked to get this."

Mueller said he has watched Towles progress from backup freshman quarterback to Mr. Football front-runner.

"Words can't describe Patrick," Mueller said. "He's just done so well, and everybody in the state is so fired up for him coming to Kentucky. I'm so proud of him.

"The guy is a man in every sense of the word. He's also a fun little guy who just loves being on a team and competing."

Highlands had to work for its 73rd victory in its last 75 games since 2007.

Franklin-Simpson, led by the hard running of cousins Jerrell and Darrius Wickware, tied the score 7-7 before Highlands drove 95 yards in nine plays to take the lead on Zach Harris' 9-yard TD run.

The Wildcats came right back and were ready to tie it again, but Wickware fumbled at the Bluebirds' 1.

Highlands took over and marched 99 yards in 10 plays, scoring on Towles' 19-yard pass to Donovan McCoy.

"The fumble was huge," Franklin-Simpson Coach Tim Schlosser said. "If we don't fumble there, it's probably a different ball game.

"But that's part of it."

Jerrell Wickware led the Wildcats with 127 rushing yards and 21 receiving. Darrius Wickware ran for 97 yards and a TD.

The Wildcats, in the finals for the first time in 16 years, couldn't keep up with Highlands' high-octane offense in the second half.

Highlands wound up with 507 yards, 324 coming on the ground.

The Bluebirds' defense did its job, with Chad Bowen, Sam Chambers and Drake Bruns leading the charge.

"They're a tremendous football team," Schlosser said of Highlands. "But we've got a bunch of kids who are fighters who never quit and played till the end."

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