Squadron sustains second semifinals loss to Comer

Published 7:28 pm Tuesday, November 21, 2023

The Highland Home Flying Squadron faced off against B.B. Comer Friday and fell to the Tigers, 21-14, in the second playoff upset in as many years. The defeat was only the second in the Squadron’s season, but it was enough to end the team’s football play with a 10-2 record without hope of advancing to the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) championship.

Highland Home lost to Comer, 44-15, in November 2022, but Friday’s match left no room for doubt that both teams came to win.

Squadron head coach Will Pouncey said before the game that his team knew the game would be a hard-fought battle.

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“[Comer] is the No. 1 team in the state,” Pouncey said. “They eliminated us from the playoffs in the semifinals last year. They are very talented and have a lot of skilled players, some talented linemen. The team is No. 1 for a reason.”

The Squadron received the ball first and each team held their own, allowing no points through the first quarter. Kamore Harris, No. 23 got the Tigers on the board with a 50-yard rushing touchdown followed by a two-point conversion by Devin Harvey.

According to Pouncey, last season’s loss to Comer did cause the Squadron to learn from their mistakes. The coaching staff and players took their game “back to the basics” and prepared by concentrating on the fundamentals.

“We haven’t done much differently schematically this year,” Pouncey said. “We just concentrated on eliminating our mistakes and playing better football, playing a better technique, and just doing the little things that add up and become big things.”

As the Squadron challenged the top team in the state, Pouncey’s basic approach served them well. The Tigers held Highland Home away from the end zone in the second quarter, but the Squadron defense also kept Comer from scoring again, ending the first half at 0-8.

“We have tightened up loose ends and continued to stay focused on ball security – taking care of the ball, blocking, and tackling,” Pouncey said. “The fundamentals of football sometimes get caught on the backburner when you’re trying to prepare for teams.”

Comer received the ball to start the third quarter and Harris found the end zone again with a 42-yard rushing touchdown. With six minutes left in the period, a completed 26-yard touchdown pass, and a good PAT closed the gap to 7-14.

The Squadron recovered a fumble on Comer’s 45-yard line but could not get past the Tigers’ defense to the end zone. In the fourth quarter, Harris gained a 42-yard rushing touchdown and with a good PAT, advanced the score to 7-21 with one minute left in the game.

Brice McKenzie, No. 3, carried the ball 10 yards. A good PAT by No. 26, Austin Norman, with under a minute left saw the game end at 14-21.

Comer, still undefeated at 12-0, will meet Clarke County on Friday.