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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Highlanders Strike Early To Top Hardee, Move to 5-1

They Face District Rival Auburndale Friday Night at Legion Field in Final Home Game

 

Last updated 10/13/2021 at 11:14am

Returning to the form that marked the early games of the season, the Lake Wales Highlanders struck early and often against the Hardee Wildcats, running up a score of 21-0 barely halfway through the first quarter in a Friday night contest in Wauchula that was never in doubt. Hardee, a non-conference 5-A foe, came into the game with a 3-2 record.

The Highlanders' first two touchdowns came on the strength of their explosive ground game led by running back Marquish Seabon, who ended up with four TDs in the game. Their third came on a 30-yard pass play from Quarterback Trent Grotjan to Devin Hardy. The Highlanders tacked on a third rushing touchdown late in the half to hold a 27-7 lead at the break.

The Highlanders kicked off after halftime, but quickly stifled Hardee with a huge sack by outside linebacker Mitchell Cain. After that the second half was almost a carbon copy of the first as the Highlanders reeled off two straight rushing touchdowns in the opening minutes. Lake Wales substituted Tyron Sumerall at QB to start the second half, and he responded to the opportunity by racking up a big gain on a keeper before tossing a 45 yard pass to Carlos Mitchell. An inspired Sumerall then dashed 21 yards on the next possession to tack on six more points to move the needle to 41-7 with almost five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter saw Hardee briefly recover ground with six on a pass play, but missing the PAT to leave their score at 13. The Highlanders, however, were not about to allow the Wildcats to play catch-up, and quickly reeled of two more TDs, one through the air and one on the ground, both with PATs. They frosted the cake with a pick-six interception by Jaremiah Anglin return to bring the final score to 55-13.

Corey Harris shone on defense, making big tackles to stop Hardee drives in their infancy.

The Highlanders had been struggling lately with points after touchdown, opting for running plays with mixed success. The return of a kicking game may bode well in close encounters in the future, as they put six of seven PATs through the uprights.

With the win Lake Wales moves to 5-1 overall. The Highlanders are 1-0 in the all-important 6-A district play, and face a very tough Auburndale Bloodhounds team next Friday night at Legion Field in Lake Wales. The Bloodhounds are 2-0 in district play, That game will be the Highlanders' final home contest of the regular season, as they finish up with away games against district foes Kissimmee Gateway and Palm Bay Heritage before closing out against Bartow in a non-district game.

An interesting factoid, the Highlanders have now scored 260 points six games into the season. In their five winning games they have outscored their opponents 246-63. Their only loss came against the 7-A Lakeland Dreadnaughts.

 

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