2009 Playoff Week Five: Highlands 35 John Hardin 7
Kentucky Class 5A Playoffs - State Championship
Date/Time: Friday, December 4 at 7:00PM
Location: Houchens-LT Smith Stadium, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green
Fort Thomas Highlands, ranked 6th nationally in the USA Today Super 25, defeated John Hardin 35-7 to win the Class 5A state title for the third consecutive year. Running back Austin Collinsworth spearheaded Highlands' offensive attack, rushing 25 times for 176 yards and 3 touchdowns, all in the first half. The Bluebirds led the Bulldogs 21-0 at the break. Running back Will Bardo returned the second-half kickoff 98 yards to extend the lead to 28-0, and quarterback Patrick Towles rushed for an 11-yard score to give the 'Birds a commanding 5-touchdown lead at 35-0. John Hardin registered a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring at 35-7. Highlands attempted only 2 passes the entire game, with 1 completion from Towles to wide receiver Nick Buten. Collinsworth was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Both teams entered the title game with matching 14-0 records. The championship game marked the first-ever football game between these 2 programs. The win gives Highlands a record-tying 19 official state football championships (tied with Louisville Trinity), to go along with 3 "mythical" state titles prior to the institution of state title games in 1959. With this win, Highlands coach Dale Mueller has 8 football championships, tied with former Beechwood coach Mike Yeagle for the most in Kentucky prep football history.
- Highlands' 2009 varsity record: 15-0
- Highlands' 2009 JV record: 7-2
- Highlands' 2009 freshman record: 7-2