TALLMADGE - The Highland football team entered a Suburban League American Conference game Friday at Tallmadge with everything it wants on the horizon.
From the opening whistle of a 49-12 victory, the Hornets looked ready for their biggest game of the season next week at undefeated Barberton.
"Tallmadge is a tough team. That (Sam) Seeker is a good quarterback, a four-year starter, so we had our hands full," Highland coach Mike Gibbons said. "We didn't look forward at all tonight. We know we've got a big task ahead."
Highland (8-1, 5-0) will play the Magics (9-0, 5-0) for the SL American championship next week, and the Hornets may need a win to secure a spot in the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. They got help Friday when Revere (6-3) defeated 7-1 Bay.
"We'll celebrate tonight, watch film and then we've got to have the best week of practice we've ever had to beat (Barberton)," All-Ohio running back Jake Rogers said. "They are really good. They've got a good running back (Kyree Young) and a huge D-line."
The Magics boast the third-longest regular-season winning streak in Ohio at 24 games.
The Hornets stuffed Tallmadge on its opening drive for a loss of 1 yard, then junior Brady Linder blocked the punt to set up Highland on the Blue Devils 18-yard line. Rogers wasted no time, taking the ball through the left side for a touchdown on the first play. The TD was Rogers' 25th of the season, breaking Jerry Scholle's 2011 school season record.
"That was good (scoring on the first play)," Rogers said. "One of the things we live by is jumping on a team early in the first quarter, and we've been doing that every game since the Medina game."
After another three-and-out by the defense, which held Tallmadge to 199 yards, Hornets quarterback Jack McGinty kept on an option and ran for a 62-yard touchdown on the first play of that drive for a 14-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, McGinty turned to the air, as his second pass of the drive found junior Bryce Profitt on a 55-yard post for a touchdown. Profitt scored on the same play from 44 yards out in the second quarter.
"Me and Jack played in youth, and you saw our connection today," Profitt said.
Rogers added a 48-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter that gave him Highland records for career points and points in a season, both previously belonging to Jim Kendel.
"He's amazing. I'm glad he plays for Highland," Gibbons said. "He's not the biggest kid in the world, but he's fantastic every time he touches the ball."
With one minute left in the first half, McGinty and Profitt connected for their third touchdown, this time on a 23-yard corner route, to put the Hornets ahead 42-6.
Rogers (133 all-purpose yards) scored his third touchdown of the night in the fourth quarter, giving him 164 points this season and 316 in his career.
The Highland defense did an excellent job of containing Seeker, who had 13 carries for 101 yards but had gains of 27 and 67 on two carries. He also threw for 70 yards, including a 40-yard completion to junior Evan Teeling. Seeker scored on a 1-yard sneak and a 5-yard pass to Teeling.
"We knew that (Seeker) was the guy we needed to stop," said Highland defensive end Jack Kohmann, who had 1ï¾½ sacks. "We knew that he was their best player. All week we talked about anchoring and not letting him scramble."