GRIFFITH | Since 1999, Highland has not tasted victory over Griffith.
Many of the Trojans current players were too young to understand what football was when the team last bested the Panthers.
That all changed Friday as the Trojans rode the bruising running style of La’Kice Brooks to the tune of 31 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns to give the Trojans a 20-18 win over the Panthers in a Class 4A Sectional 9 opener.
"I am so excited for our kids," Highland coach Trent Grider said.
"They have worked so hard. We told them when we drew these guys, we were going to come in here and win. Things fell our way."
Though they were missing star quarterback Austin Brown down with a concussion, Griffith received a very solid game from running back Justin Green, who carried the ball 31 times for 160 yards and two rushing touchdowns. However, Green was injured with 5:07 left in the game and taken off the field on a stretcher.
Grider was pleased with Brooks’ hard-nosed running style, as he was able to continue to wear down Griffith’s defense and post solid gains all night.
Tied 12-12 at halftime, Highland’s Sean McQuilian sprinted 39 yards for a touchdown on a trick play, and La’Kice Brooks took the two-point conversion run to make it 20-12 late in the third quarter.
Griffith took the ensuing onside kick attempt down to Highland’s five-yard line, where Green capitalized with a two-yard touchdown -- his third score of the night -- to cut the lead to 20-18 after Green was stuffed on a two-point conversion run.
Highland struck first with 9:28 left in the second quarter, as running back La’Kice Brooks plowed his way in from five yards out to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead after a Griffith fumble gave the Trojans excellent field position.
Green sprinted 55 yards for a score to tie the game at 6-6 less than two minutes later. Then Brooks hit pay dirt on a 42-yard rush to give Highland a 12-6 lead with 5:44 left before halftime.
Green then exploded for a 75-yard punt return, tying the game up 12-12 with 1:20 left before the break.
"We’re one of 158 teams left playing, and we don’t get to say that a lot at Highland High School," Grider said.