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Talk about a tough as-signment. Highland takes on the stateâ€™s No. 1-ranked team in Six-Man Division I tonight at 7:30 p.m.
But Ira (8-0) isnâ€™t the only team in Highlandâ€™s district with a long winning streak. The Hornets (5-3) have won five straight since an inaus-picious 0-3 start. In that time, Highland has defeated Sands, Trent, Lueders-Avoca, Blackwell and Rotan and risen to No. 16 in D-I. The Hornets need only one win in their last two games to make the Six-Man playoffs, which would end a postseason drought dating to 2009 when Highland advanced to the state finals in Division II.
After this week, Highland will entertain Hermleigh in its final district game. But coach Jeff Shelton said his team is focused on Ira.
â€śGetting the 1-0 start in district (by beating Rotan) is nice,â€ť Shelton said. â€śWe havenâ€™t been in that position since Iâ€™ve been here, and weâ€™re healthy.
â€śWe know (Ira) is a big game and weâ€™ll stay focused on doing what it takes to get the W â€” one play at a time. Weâ€™re aware of the fact that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. Weâ€™re excited for the oppor-tunity. They do what they do and they do it well. Ira is well coached and theyâ€™re fundamentally sound.
â€śWeâ€™re going to have to minimize our mistakes, win the turnover battle, move the chains consistently and score touchdowns in the red zone on offense. Defensively, weâ€™re going to have to play each position with great technique, be physical and fly to the football.â€ť
Last weekâ€™s 59-12 win over Rotan was Highlandâ€™s third by the 45-point mercy rule this season. â€śI feel we played well last week,â€ť said Shelton. â€śWe contained a very explosive offensive threat (last) Friday night. It was our best game of the year on the defensive side of the ball. We were able to get rest for our starters when they needed a break and our production did not drop off.â€ť