No. 1 Highlanders roll
HUNTINGTON — Huntington High started the game with a score on the first play. The Highlanders started the second half in similar fashion, scoring on the first snap.
In between, the Highlanders found several other ways to reach the end zone — interception return, punt return, fumble return — and rolled to a 56-18 football victory over St. Albans on a cold Friday night at Bob Sang Stadium.
Despite the outcome, Huntington High coach Billy Seals found plenty of things to take issue with. The Red Dragons (1-7) had a kickoff return for a TD and recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone for another score. The Highlanders (8-0) are ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, and Seals knows that kind of effort won’t work next week when South Charleston comes to Sang Stadium.
“I’m not happy. The kids aren’t happy,” Seals said. “That’s a good thing. They know if we play like that next week, we’ll be 8-1.”
Huntington High’s Nick Tubbs raced 65 yards for a TD on the game’s first snap. Brandon Morrison sprinted 31 yards for a TD on the first snap of the second half as the Highlanders expanded the lead to 49-6.
On defense, Stefan Gibbs returned an interception 89 yards for a score. Tubbs responded with a 60-yard punt return for a score. Defensive end Kilan Nicks had his moment when he scooped up a fumble and rumbled 37 yards for a TD. Senior Paden Christian wrapped up Huntington’s scoring with a 3-yard run in the third period.
On Christian’s first carry of the night, he picked up 8 yards to bring his career total to 2,519 and become the No. 1 rusher in Huntington High history.
“I had a little idea of what was going on,” Christian said. “I thought, “Why stop the game?’ It’s feels great to have the record. We have a lot of playmakers who can make big plays.”
This is Huntington High’s first 8-0 start at the new school.
“It’s great to be part of that,” Christian said.
On the opening score, Tubbs said he took the pitch from Clark Wilson, headed right and found daylight down the sideline.
“It’s the same mindset every time I get the ball. I want to score,” Tubbs said. “You can’t do it without the blockers. You can’t believe the hole I had.”
On the flip side, Tubbs and his teammates know there are things they must fix by next Friday.
“We looked terrible,” he said. “Happy with the win, but I’m not happy about the way we played.”
In addition to his score, Nicks several times got his hands on St. Albans runners and literally thew them to the turf.
“I love to hit the runners,” Nicks said.
As for the TD, Nicks said it’s “scoop and score.”
“I thought the ball might roll out of bounds,” he said. “I didn’t hear a whistle and took off. We should’ve played tougher. It’s all South Charleston now.”
Seals said the Highlanders stepped out of character at times, allowing the Red Dragons to bring a kickoff back for a TD and fall on a fumbled punt in the end zone.
“We had a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes,” he said. “We didn’t play our brand of football tonight. We’ve got to play our brand of football. We’ll get things fixed starting Monday.”
Seals runs the defense. The 18 points — regardless of how they were scored — are the most allowed by Huntington High this season.
“The defense was awful. I take the blame,” Seals said. “We didn’t play like the team that had given up 52 points in seven games.”
ST. ALBANS 6 0 6 6 — 18
HUNTINGTON HIGH 14 28 14 0 — 56
H — Tubbs 65 run (Stevens kick)
H — Fraley 20 pass from Wilson (Stevens kick)
SA — Rigsby 88 kickoff return (run failed)
H — Gibbs 89 interception return (Stevens kick)
H — Tubbs 60 punt return (Stevens kick)
H — Kilan Nicks 37 fumble return (Stevens kick)
H — Gibbs 8 run (Stevens kick)
H — Morrison 31 TD (Stevens kick)
SA — Lantz recovers fumbled punt in end zone (pass failed)
H — Christian 3 run (Stevens kick)
SA — Seams 5 run (run failed)
First downs 14 19
Total Net Yards 229 419
Rushes-yards 49-223 36-399
Passing 6 20
Comp-Att-Int 1-6-0 1-5-1
Fumbles-Lost 3-3 4-2
Penalties-Yards 4-20 6-31
RUSHING — SA: Watkins 11-34, Clark 3-8, Jones 1-1, Broderick 8-66, Fox 7-45, Seams 3-17, Grigsby 15-37, Lovejoy 1-15. HH: Tubbs 3-117, Christian 8-51, Crawford 7-90, Gibbs 3-25, Morrison 2-34, Wilson 1-3, Clark 7-41, Jackson 2-9, Eastman 1-28, Tate 1-1.
PASSING — SA: Broderick 1-5-1, 6 yards; Grigsby 0-1-0, 0 yards. HH: Wilson 1-5-1, 20 yards.
RECEIVING — SA: Seams 1-6. HH: Fraley 1-20.
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