Heritage Hills advances to semistateNovember 16, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
LAWRENCEBURG — The 2019 story of Heritage Hills football will continue.
The No. 2 Patriots (13-0) walked out of Lawrenceburg on Saturday after getting a 22-0 shutout win against the No. 6 Tigers in the Class 3A regional round. The victory for the Pats set up their first trip to semistate since 2014. They will next play 8 p.m. Friday at Danville for the right to go to state.
This is the second time coach Todd Wilkerson is taking Heritage Hills to semistate. The Pats lost, 14-6, to Tri-West that year. Wilkerson was in his third season then. Now, he's in his eighth year, and he feels he has gotten better as a coach in the last five years.
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"It's just experience," Wilkerson said. "You understand so many things about the game. You're able to maybe control your emotions a little bit better and see things more clearly, and we're just going to stick with our recipe: Run the ball, play great defense and try...to have special teams help us get momentum."
Heritage Hills relied largely on its defense to make big play after big play on Saturday. The Pats forced the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs multiple times in the first half. One of those forfeits led to senior Phoenix Rodgers diving into the end zone for a one-yard score with 5:16 left to play in the first half. It was Rodgers' 20th rushing touchdown of the season. Sophomore Ethan Hill's kick after was good for a 7-0 Heritage Hills lead. That turned out to be enough to win the game, but the Pats kept on rolling.
Their defense also recovered two fumbles in the first half of play, and held the Tigers steady whenever Lawrenceburg pushed. Heritage Hills went for it on fourth down and 13 yards to go while still holding a 7-0 lead, but Wilkerson trusted his defense in that spot even failing to convert.
He credited defensive coaches Chris Sigler and Kevin Tempel for their work in helping Heritage Hills' defense show up the way that it did.
"They do a great job getting us ready every week," he said. "The kids know what they're looking for. They're good players to begin with, but they're prepared so well by those coaches that that's how you play good defense right there."
Heritage Hills got insurance in the third quarter. Senior quarterback Cole Sigler kept it for a 14-yard run to set the ball up at the nine-yard line for the Pats. They got more pay dirt when senior Noah Mundy took it on the toss for a six-yard touchdown run, and it was 14-0 with 3:19 to go in the third quarter after Hill's kick.
The Pats further expanded in the final quarter when Sigler ran it in for a 12-yard score. Sigler went 2-of-5 passing for 13 yards, and 13 caries for 100 rushing yards in addition to his touchdown. He passed to fellow senior Kaden Feldpausch accounted for the two-point conversion, bringing the game to its final score with 7:50 left. Feldpausch also starred on defense when he nabbed an interception with 4:07 left as Lawrenceburg was driving towards the end zone.
The ground game accounted for 278 rushing yards on 41 carries.
"Players make plays," said senior Jacob Wetzel, who ran the ball 20 times for 134 yards. "Everybody made plays tonight, and everybody did their job."
A win against Danville would put Heritage Hills in the state championship game for the first time since 2004.
"We got one day to celebrate and then we go back to work on Monday," Feldpausch said.
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