Highland Home advances with 29-21 win over Isabella

Published 1:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2022

Despite being held scoreless for almost an entire half, Highland Home’s football team pulled off a 29-21 victory over Isabella in the opening round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs at Clay Jordan Stadium on Friday.

A 6-yard touchdown run by wide receiver KD Shepherd with 4:21 to play put the Flying Squadron ahead for good.

“Everybody was pressing too much,” said Highland Home head coach Will Pouncey. “There’s a bunch of seniors out on this field on both sides, and nobody wants it to be their last game, so there’s kind of a lot of pressure with that … We fixed that. We all settled in …

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“This is playoff football. That’s a Top 10 Class 2A team. The last four times we’ve played them, they beat us. They’re a really good football team – not your typical first-round matchup.”

AJ Johnson, junior left tackle for the Flying Squadron, lined up at running back on the 2-point conversion and rumbled in behind the left guard to convert.

“It kind of came to us because he loves to run at running back for our scout team,” Pouncey said. “Our starting defense was like, ‘We hate having to hit him,’ so we were like, ‘Well, the other team would probably hate to have to hit him, too.’ The kid squats 600 pounds. He’s a bowling ball … 

“We can get him in there, and he’s very athletic, so he can wear on some folks and wear them down. Eventually, you’re going to get tired of hitting 275 pounds with that much force.” 

Both teams finished the opening quarter locked in a 0-all stalemate, but Isabella reached the end zone first with a 38-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Elijah Kendrick to wide receiver Dre’von Lee.

Highland Home answered with a touchdown drive of its own, capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brice McKenzie to Shepherd.

The teams ended the first half tied 7-all.

The Mustangs regained control of the contest with a 25-yard touchdown run by running back Zachary Chapman to move ahead 14-7 early in the third quarter.

Midway through the quarter, McKenzie tied the game at 14-all with a 1-yard touchdown run.

A three-and-out drive by the Mustangs resulted in Highland Home gaining possession at its own 24-yard line. Shepherd broke loose on a run to the right side covering 76 yards for a Flying Squadron touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, Kendrick reconnected with Lee on a 20-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 21-all.

Highland Home will travel to Ariton to face the Purple Cats on Friday. The Flying Squadron beat Ariton 34-33 in the regular season.