Coming off of a win against against district foe Miami Beach, the Columbus football team felt confident that they could overcome any challenge thrown their way, coming into the game with a 5 and 1 record.
This challenge was unlike any other–the Explorers would be facing an opponent that had been undefeated since 2006. They would travel over 1100 miles to Fort Thomas, Kentucky, the home of the Highlands Blue Birds.
For many spectators the blue birds had all the odds in their favor. With over 100 years of football Highlands high school is one of the most successful football programs in the country. From the moment the explorers entered the stadium it was apparent that this would be a difficult challenge for the entire team due to the environment the crowd presented.
Although the Explorers play in a tough area in Miami-Dade county, Northwest football is a completely different ballgame. The night before the game the Columbus football coaches took the team to another game between De la Salle and St. Xavier High School in order to get a sense of the environment they would be walking into. Once at the game the team was exposed to the type of environment they would be facing against highlands. It was an electric atmosphere that is completely different from Miami-Dade County and would present an unknown challenge in the explorer’s next game.
Columbus jumped out to a 28-7 lead to open the festivities. Highlands would come back though, thanks to a strong performance from their quarterback Bo Hodge who is the son of former NFL player, Merril Hoge. Despite being hampered for the better part of the game, Hodge led his team back from the deficit late with the help of an onside kick. Through the challenges though, the Explorers were still able to get the victory with a final score of 38-34.
Although the odds were against them, the Explorers were able to travel over 1100 miles and come away with a huge victory that they can look back on come playoff time as a valuable experience.