Van Buren overcomes Highland’s second half surge

By Giovanni Coronel
Posted 9/13/23

Time simply ran out for the Huskies.  

At home on the verge of earning their first win of the season the Huskies approached the end zone trailing by six, with zero timeouts, and only 27 …

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Van Buren overcomes Highland’s second half surge


Time simply ran out for the Huskies. 

At home on the verge of earning their first win of the season the Huskies approached the end zone trailing by six, with zero timeouts, and only 27 seconds left in the game. 

Unfortunately for Highland the opportunity to score all but evaporated after time continued to tick away after their running play was tackled in bounds well short of the goal line. 

This led to the Huskies receiving a penalty on an attempted spike attempt due to the players not being set correctly. 

After the penalty, time expired before Highland could snap the ball again. The game ended with the Van Buren County Warriors claiming victory over the Huskies, 28-22, on September 8.   

“That’s the frustrating part about this. I feel like we very much beat ourselves this game,” Highland football coach Corey Quail said about the manner in which they lost to Van Buren. “We just got to get those things cleaned up and I think once we do, when our boys do their job, we are a very good football team.”

Heading into halftime trailing by 14 the game was turning into an uphill battle for the Huskies, but they were able to make some big plays in the second half to set up a competitive finish. 

In the third quarter Highland scored its second touchdown of the night, a passing TD that was caught by junior Ayden Havel. 

This TD was set up after Van Buren fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Highland junior Logan McFarland. 

The two-point attempt following this TD was successful and it was rushed in by junior Colten Sypherd. 

After shutting out the Van Buren offense in the third quarter the Huskies capitalized by scoring another TD, rushed in by freshman Jose Ramirez, to tie the game. 

This allowed Highland to take a 22-20 lead after they connected on another successful two-point conversion, caught in the endzone by Havel. 

Since the Huskies scored the first points of the game, a TD in the first quarter caught by McFarland, this marked the second instance they held a lead over the Warriors.  

Highland put together their most potent offensive performance of the year against Van Buren, scoring their season high in points (22). 

“We knew coming into this game we had a lot of opportunities. We had a couple of things set up that we knew were going to be successful,” Quail said about how Highland played on offense.

“There was a couple of times there towards the end of the game, we were drawing some things in the dirt that we knew were going to be there. We knew we had opportunities for success, but again, we just didn’t take all of them.”

Van Buren made sure Highland did not hold a fourth quarter lead for long. 

The Warriors, on their next possession, marched down the field and scored a go-ahead passing TD with nine minutes left in the game. 

Now trailing after the Van Buren TD, the Huskies had two possessions to try to respond, but their first drive ended in a red zone interception and their second drive was cut off when time expired. 

For Highland the player who shined the brightest on offense was Havel. He put together his most impressive offensive outing of the season against Van Buren.  

“He’s put in a lot of work. Since last spring, he has lived in that weight room for a while and he’s shifty. You don’t expect it, he’s one of those kids that just accelerates and boom. We just try to find ways to get the ball in his hands. He’s an impressive player,” Quail said about Havel. 

“We’re really excited, he’s got another year after this, too, so we’re going to make sure that he has the most successful season he can at the end of this year and then push him into next year as a senior.”

Havel ended his night with 115 receiving yards, his season high, on six catches, scoring one TD. He also had 4.5 total tackles with three of them being solo tackles.

For Highland’s QB, Hartley-Norman, he had a great night rushing the football. Averaging 5.5 rushing yards per carry he ended the game with 138 rushing yards, his season high, on 25 carries.  

Leading the Huskies in the tackling department was McFarland, who accounted for seven solo tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack. Highland senior Jackson Keller also finished the night recording a sack on the Van Buren QB. 



Van Buren 8    12   0    8  -- 28

Highland 6     0    8    8  -- 22