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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Highlanders Face Title Game Against Tough Zephyrhills Team

Regional Champions Will Advance to State Final Four

 

Last updated 11/26/2022 at 12:57am

UPDATE: Highlanders Advance. See the story here

A Friday night Regional Championship game will be the first hosted at Lake Wales' Legion Field in memory, according to long-time area football fans, and the undefeated and top-seeded Highlanders are hoping for a big turnout of support as they take on the number three seed Zephyrhills Bulldogs.

When the two squads met earlier this season the Lake Wales Highlanders won the day with a 33-0 score, but such games have a way of finding different outcomes the second time around. An earlier win over Auburndale led to a much closer game during the playoff round. The Highlanders, however, remain undefeated at 12-0 and favored to advance to the final four in Class 3S.

Zephyrhills is 9-3 overall on the season, having hit their stride in two previous play-off games, with a 21-0 win over Lecanto last week, after racking up 56 points in a win over New Port Richey Gulf the previous week. They promise an exciting game against the Highlanders. Kickoff time is 7:30 at Legion Field, located on Lakeshore Boulevard in Lake Wales.

The home squad has been led by a stellar group of athletes, and several are being recruited by major colleges as the season reaches its climax. They include Senior Quarterback Trent Grotjan, who has a .607 completion rating on the season, earning him a 177.1 QB rating. He also ranks as the 23rd best high school punter in the nation, averaging 43.27 yards.

Grotjan has prospered along with his talented team of receivers and running backs. That group includes Corey Harris Jr., who has amassed 657 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on the season, and Carlos Mitchell, who has 16 TDs to his credit. They are joined by Xavier Marlow, who gained 448 yards rushing and another 445 receiving while racking up four TDs.

Others helping lead the Highlander attack include senior Diyante Landrum (474 yards) and sophomore Jordan Henderson (429 yards, four TDs). The team has scored 503 points this season.

The Highlanders' defense has generally stymied every opponent they have faced this season, allowing only 51 total points through 12 games. Leading the defense and averaging 11.3 tackles per game is Sean Major. joined by Johnquae Richardson, with 10.8 per game. Senior Terrell James leads the team in QB sacks with 17, for a total loss to opposing teams of 119 yards. The defensive squad has racked up 84 sacks on the season thus far, costing their opponents 412 yards. Regional opponent Ocala Vanguard found themselves in a 4th down and more-than-ten situation a half-dozen times in last week's game.

Jeremiah Anglin, Marlow and Mitchell, along with Philipp Davis, have combined for 25 of the Highlanders' 29 interceptions. The team has also recovered 12 fumbles by opponents.

If the Highlanders have a weakness, it is in the area of defensive special teams, as opponents have often advanced punts and kickoffs.

LakeWalesNews.net will post game results shortly after the completion of the game. Check back for further updates.

Season statistics are courtesy Maxprep.com.

 

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