Highlanders run off another Freeway League foe
By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal
La Habra football remains the power of the Freeway league, after running through Buena Park 48-14 at home Friday night.
The Highlanders jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead and held the Coyotes explosive offense in check most of the night.
The first score came on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Eric Barriere to tight end Chris Brown. Not long after, Barriere hit a wide-open Amon Fellows on a crossing route for a 51-yard touchdown.
Much like last week, Cortlin Taylor carried the bulk of the load for the Highlanders, rushing for 191 yards and three touchdowns.
Taylor also setup the Highlanders third touchdown in the second quarter with runs of 44 and 22 yards on consecutive carries.
The Coyotes defense looked good in stretches, but they played with nine or 10 men in the box the entire game. Inevitably, the Highlanders got past the stacked line-of-scrimmage frequently for big plays.
“[The Coyotes] defense allows you to break runs and throws because they have everybody up at the line of scrimmage,” said Frank Mazzotta, Highlanders head coach. “You just have to be willing to take a chance and beat somebody, that’s all you got to do.”
Madison Wheeler had a big night on both sides of the football. Early in the first quarter, Wheeler picked off quarterback Zach Taylor. Offensively he made his presence felt spelling Taylor in the backfield, finishing with 70 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
The Coyotes entered the contest averaging nearly 42 points-per-game, but could not get into rhythm on offense against the Highlanders swarming defense.
The Coyotes playmakers showed flashes, but Taylor failed to stretch the field with any deep or intermediate passes, which allowed the Highlanders to clamp down on the run and short passing game.
The Coyotes finally got on the board with only 40 seconds remaining in the first half when junior wide receiver Elijah Gates caught a screen pass at the Coyotes 15-yard line, made two cuts and raced past the Highlanders defense for the 85-yard touchdown. The lightning fast score offered a glimpse at the Coyotes reputed high-powered offense.
The Highlanders defense did an excellent job containing the Coyotes speed at the skilled positions, holding the Coyotes backs and receivers to just four plays over 10 yards the entire game.
“I have six championships on my wall over there and all six of them played great defense, you cannot win championships without a great defense,” Mazzotta said.
The Highlanders have now dismantled their top-two league competitors by a combined score of 83-21 in consecutive weeks, putting them in the driver’s seat for another run at the Freeway League title.
The Highlanders (6-1, 2-0) will be on the road next Friday taking on the Fullerton Indians (4-3, 0-2).