In a day and age when even at the high school level, high scoring offenses seem to dominate the landscape of football, Red Mountain proved that defense is still just as effective, as the Mountain Lions beat host Highland 14-3 in the regular season finale for both teams.
The Lions (8-2) defense forced six turnovers in the game, three on interceptions by Justin Fitzgerald.
“The defense did really well," Fitzgerald said. "We sat there, did our job and just worked together as one unit. The line put good pressure on all night."
Under duress and in an attempt to bring his team back in a game that the Hawks never led, Blake Young threw four interceptions and was sacked twice. The Red Mountain defense also recovered two fumbles and only allowed five first downs. Highland finished with 105 yards of total offense and its longest play from scrimmage was just 18 yards.
“Our defense played a heck of a game," Red Mountain coach Ron Wisniewski said. "We shut them down. And not only that but we created turnovers."
On offense Red Mountain was without regular starting quarterback Mason Thorman because of a violation of team rules. In his stead, Brennan Dobson stepped up and threw two touchdown passes on 14-for-21 passing for 153 yards.
“We will have a competition for the starting job next week (for the first round of the playoffs)," Wisniewski said. "We are not naming a starter, these guys (Thorman and Dobson) will compete for the starting job all week and we will go from there.”
For Highland (6-4) it is now a waiting game. The Hawks had to win this game to feel comfortable about their playoff chances, but coach Pete Wahlheim knows his team deserves a shot at the postseason.
“Our kids have stepped up all year long," Wahlheim said. "I just hope this team gets to play some more. This is a darn good football team. I love this group. This is about as good of a football team as I have ever coached as far as young men. It will just be a shame if they don’t get a chance to play anymore. So we will see what happens.”
The Hawks opened the season 5-2, but injuries contributed to a 1-2 finish that may have Highland on the outside looking in as it hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Red Mountain will wait and see where it gets placed but will likely host a first round game.
RM 0 7 0 7 - 14
Highland 0 3 0 0 - 3
First downs: RM 8; H 5
Rushes-Yards: RM 24-46; H 20-50
Passing yards: RM 153; H 55
Comp-Att-Int: RM 14-21-1; H 10-20-4
Fumbles-Lost: RM 0-0; H 3-2
Penalties-Yards: RM 2-10; H 3-15
RM - Hernandez 6 pass from Dobson (kick good)
H - Miller 30 FG
RM - Pierre 30 pass from Dobson (kick good)