Highland football team ends successful season
GRANGER — Highland High School football head coach Tom Lombardo said the season ended “really well” for the team.
“We won our last four, including a thrilling win over Nordonia, 22-20, on a last-play field goal by Joe Simonis,” he said. “We ended at 7-3, and we think we’re a playoff team that just didn’t make the playoffs. We just missed out at ninth in our region.”
Lombardo said the team was playing its best ball at the end of the season.
“We started off real well, and then in games five and six we lost to Copley and Tallmadge back to back. We went for a two-point conversion against Copley and didn’t get it and lost 24-23. And we turned the ball over against Tallmadge, which led to that defeat,” he stated. “But we really picked it up again and we were playing really good ball by the end of the year.”
In league play this season, Highland finished with a 5-2 record.
“We were an extra point away from winning our league,” the coach said. “Overall, we played what we thought was a good schedule.”
The senior captains this year were Austin Adams, Mark Vitko, Ricky Esker and David Barnum.
“They were a real good group. They were all good leaders,” Lombardo said. “They had the ability to keep us focused, as did a number of the other seniors. It was a real good senior group that really enjoyed playing football and playing with each other.”
This year’s team featured a total of 18 seniors.
“We’ll lose a lot of good senior linemen, but I think we’ll be alright at the skill positions,” he said. “The key next year will be developing the line.”
On offense, Highland was led by junior Bruce Kinsey, who was in his first year as the team’s starting quarterback.
“He set a school record for passing yards with almost 1,700, and he had 17 touchdowns,” Lombardo said. “He was also our leading rusher with a little over 600 yards rushing from the quarterback position. He’s a real bright kid with a good command of the offense. He throws a real catchable ball and understands defenses real well. He just kept improving week after week, and we had a pretty potent passing attack by the end of the year.”
According to the coach, Kinsey was surrounded by “some good skill players.”
“His leading receiver was junior Cory Moncol, who set a school record with receptions. We also had two talented sophomores in Tanner Houska and Coltin Kinsey,” Lombardo said. “They’re all very athletic. They can catch the ball and run after the catch. We have some good talent returning there next year.”
Lombardo said he will remember this year’s team for its “never say die attitude.”
“We really played a lot of close games against good competition, and the kids played every snap until the end,” he said. “We won seven out of 10 games, and it just turned out that it wasn’t quite enough to qualify us for the playoffs. But we had the best offense in school history with 36.5 points per game and 390 yards a game.”
Lombardo just completed his sixth season as the head football coach at Highland High School.
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