HIGHLANDS BLUEBIRDS Head Coach: Dale Mueller (238-33 @ Highlands, 18 years, 297-64 overall, 27 years) 2011 Record: 15-0, 4-0 Class 4A State Champions
Overview: The Bluebirds have won five straight state championships and are a combined 73-2 over that time period. Highlands must replace 23 players that were starters from a year ago. The best part about this program is that they don’t rebuild it, they reload. The non-seniors saw a ton of playing time in the second half of games in 2011. They should have no problem keeping their eyes on the prize with the experience they have gotten.
The offense has plenty of firepower at the skill positions. Colin Seidl (19), Zach Harris (13), Donovan McCoy (10), David Christian (8) and Jac Collinsworth (5) have combined for 55 touchdowns at the varsity level. McCoy will move to quarterback after a very successful junior year at receiver. Drew Houliston is one of the more polished backups in the state sitting their behind him. They will have plenty of veteran targets as Collinsworth, Christian and Luke Turner combined to catch 90 balls for 1,496 yards last season. All signs point to Collinsworth having a monster campaign. Harris had a fantastic state championship game and should ride that confidence to another productive showing. Seidl is so versatile and his speed hurts opponents in the run, receiving and return portions of the game. Getting a new offensive line to gel will be the offense’s biggest hurdle. Highlands will look to center Mitch Dee, Rich Whitford and guard Tyler Schweitzer to lead by example up front.
When playing the Bluebirds teams frequently forced to throw the football early and often as they try to play catch up. That plays right into the hands of this squad’s strength on defense, their secondary. The trio of Blake Schutte, Quentin Murray and Ben Streeter combined for nine interceptions, 236 return yards and three pick sixes. Streeter had two of those scores and Schutte had a team-leading six total takeaways (4 INT, 2 FR) as a junior. The front seven will see many new faces. Linebackers Connor Poston, Thomas Wrobleski and lineman Gabe Schultz will be called upon for guidance.
Nice job, but with all respect, the "biggest hurdle" (the re-building of the offensive line) comment is off the mark. Dee, Thome, Schweitzer and Whitford all either started all year or part of the year during the 2011 season. There is a very nice mix of size, quickness and speed in that group. So there are 4 of the 5 interior O line positions that will be filled with players that started at least part of the time last year. Filling the one open position will not be much of a hurdle. Lot's of talented kids competing for that position. I look for this O line to be the best one since the 09 unit that had 2 first team all staters on it.
Posted on 4/24 5:38 AM | IP: Logged
Thanks for the insight @notsure. We will definitely be keeping on our eyes on the Bluebirds big men. We mostly go off what coaches tell us and Mueller indicated that will be an area that will need to prove itself. Either way, big things are ahead for Highlands again in 2012.
Posted on 4/25 8:43 AM | IP: Logged
No problem Dan. Dale just being Dale. I know this may sound silly, but I expect the O this year to be as good as last year's. I know, I know. Towles is gone and that is one heck of a loss. But as proven last year when McCoy went into the Elder game to replace the concussed Towles, McCoy can play the QB position at a very high level (and that was when he was taking most of the practice reps at the receiver position). With all of his practice reps this year as the QB, I expect even bigger things out of him. O line will be better this year; receiver and running back positions are stacked with talent. It should be another outstanding year offensively.
6/19 5:51 AM | IP: Logged
Winning by 40, 50, and 60 points each week has allowed so many kids the opportunity to make plays at the varsity level (even if it is in the second half of games) over the past five years. It still instills confidence moving forward which enables them to step right in when their number is called.
6/20 8:24 AM | IP: Logged
Originally posted by DClasgens: Thanks for the insight @notsure. We will definitely be keeping on our eyes on the Bluebirds big men. We mostly go off what coaches tell us and Mueller indicated that will be an area that will need to prove itself. Either way, big things are ahead for Highlands again in 2012.
Dan, the game against CovCath confirmed my thoughts on Highlands O line. It dominated the LOS against a defense that had not allowed one TD by a N. Ky school and game up a lone TD to LaSalle's offense (on the opening drive I might add and then shut them down for the rest of the game). Highlands attempted only 7 passes. For the most part it was: here we come; we are going to run the ball down your throat; and you can't stop us. The Highlands O line was outstanding. They have really nice size this year for a change. Irony of the size is that Highlands smallest O linemen (the center at 210-215) had the best game out of all of them. He handled CovCath's biggest and supposedly best D lineman pretty much the entire game. But all of the O linemen had great games. Highlands lined up in the two back set for a change and just pounded the ball all night long. McCoy, Harris, Seidl and Hayes all ran hard.
Dale may have been sandbagging you with his preseason comments about the line. LOL!
This post was edited on 9/26 6:30 AM by notsure
9/26 6:29 AM | IP: Logged
No doubt about it! The Birds look solid in all aspects right now. Looking for to matchup with Elder.