High school football: Highland still searching for leadership despite 2-0 start, victory over Cedar
Salt Lake City — There are times when winning isn’t enough. The Highland Rams (2-0, 0-0 Region 6) hosted the Cedar Redmen (0-2, 0-0 Region 9) and easily handed them their second straight loss Friday night, 27-0.
Yet head coach Brody Benson wasn’t happy with his team’s effort.
“We started off slow," he said. "I didn’t see a whole lot of intensity out of us We were absorbing a lot of blocks instead of delivering a lot of blows."
The Redmen, who for the second week in a row had to travel a great distance to play, were slow to get going as their first series resulted in a punt. In return, the Rams were able to bring the ball back down the field close enough for Mike Kerr to kick a field goal to put them on the board with about three minutes left in the first quarter.
During the following kickoff, Cedar’s Austin Hopkins caught a strong hit which left him motionless on the ground. Minutes passed before he was taken away by stretcher to a local hospital for evaluation. The reports were a possible neck injury; he was moving his extremities before leaving the field. By game's end, there was no update on his condition.
As the second quarter began, Highland's Thomas Pembroke intercepted Cedar, but Highland failed to capitalize on the advantage and was forced to punt.
At the end of the second, Highland’s Malcolm Card-Turner grabbed a 77-yard pass to score the Rams' first touchdown of the game, increasing their lead to 10.
Part of the Redmen's failure to put together a successful drive might be credited to Highland’s Jerry Padilla, whose name was being called frequently over the intercom as a playmaker — on both sides of the ball.
The Rams' Adam Webber scored one more touchdown on a 38-yard run that closed out the first half.
Padilla returned a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown touchdown that widened the Rams' lead to 24 in the third quarter.
The game slowed but halfway through the fourth quarter, Kerr scored another touchdown.
Cedar coach Todd Peacock was at a loss as to why his team has yet to play an intensive, physical game:
“I felt we took a step backwards with our offense and special teams tonight. Physically enough, not just our lineman everybody, we’re not tough enough to make the blocks we need to make” Peacock said.
Benson may have came away with a W, but he still said he was frustrated there wasn't more offensive leadership like he had hoped. He complimented Padilla and Loti Nonu for trying to get the guys fired up but still felt the team was lacking some mental toughness.
Chriss Anderson is a current writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle and can be followed on Twitter: @Chriss_Am_I