The Highlands Bluebirds have become accustomed to playing on the first weekend of December. On Saturday afternoon, Highlands will take the field against the Christian County Colonels in quest of their fourth straight state title and record 20th overall.
The two teams met in the title game two years ago with the Bluebirds walking away with a 35-15 victory at Louisville's Papa John's Stadium.
We get you ready for kickoff of the 5A state championship game:
HIGHLANDS (13-1) vs. CHRISTIAN COUNTY (12-2)
Houchens-L.T. Smith Stadium, WKU
Saturday, Dec. 4 - 4:00 p.m. Eastern
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Highlands is loaded with talent on both sides of the football and are led by quarterback Patrick Towles. The junior led the Bluebirds to a state title as a sophomore and can hurt opponents with his arm and his legs. He has rushed for 715 yards and 13 touchdowns while passing for 2,418 yards and 13 more scores. Christian County boasts a pair of Division I prospects in quarterback Anthony Hickey and wide receiver Bubba Tandy. Both players are great athletes with explosive playmaking ability. Hickey has tallied 932 yards on the ground and 1,671 yards through the air with 31 total touchdowns. Tandy has contributed with 1,329 total yards and 25 scores.
TEAM TRENDS: With a win, Highlands' head coach Dale Mueller will become the first coach in Kentucky to win nine state titles. The Bluebirds are tied with Trinity for the most ever state championships with 19 overall titles. Overall, the school has a 19-5 record in state title contests. Christian County has only played in one title game and has never won a state title.
HIGHLAND'S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Bluebirds defense needs to contain the athletic Colonels. Look for Billy Huddleston, Ty Seidl and Ethan Bishop to lead the charge. Highlands needs to wear down Christian County as many of their key contributors play both ways. Moving the ball on the ground successfully will go a long way. Jordan Streeter leads a deep group of running backs with 586 yards and six touchdowns. Expect the Bluebirds to pound the ball setting up deep balls for speedsters Daniel Gold and Austin Sheehan in the passing game.
CHRISTIAN COUNTY'S KEYS TO VICTORY: Scoring points is a must. Tandy and wide receiver Anthony Buckner need to make plays in the passing game to help open up lanes in the running game. The Colonels are going to struggle to shutdown the Bluebirds' balanced attack on offense so coming with turnovers are a must. Tandy, Hickey and Buckner are great ball hawks in the secondary, but Christian County's front seven must create pressure to make them effective.
FINAL TAKE: Highlands has the advantage in experience, depth, and coaching. Those are pretty big factors to overcome and despite their talent, Christian County just doesn't have the horses to do it. Look for the Bluebirds to roll to a fourth straight state championship…HIGHLANDS 41, CHRISTIAN COUNTY 17
Written by: Dan Clasgens, TriStateFootball.com