It is difficult to know how good Highland can be after one performance.
The Rams' 21-10 victory Friday against visiting West to open the high school football season was far from the prettiest game ever played.
Fourteen penalties, seven in each half, with the majority for holding. The Rams cost themselves one sure touchdown and probably a few more due to the extreme shift in field position.
A blocking penalty brought back a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown by Jerry Padilla.
The mistakes were credited to a mostly new crew this year at the skill positions, including quarterback Austin Peterson.
"It took us to the second half before we started playing loose and playing fast, which is how we like to play football," Highland coach Brody Benson said. "We were playing hesitant, and that's not Highland football."
Benson believes the Rams cost themselves at least two touchdowns, but was feeling much better about his team's second-half performance. He credited fullback Dewey Clark with setting a more dominant tone in the second half.
"We'll fix it," said Peterson, who rushed for more than 50 yards and threw a 9-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Malcolm Card-Turner. "It's just the little things."
On the other side of the ball, West quarterback Alex Espinoza provided most of the Panthers' offense, running and throwing for nearly 150 yards. He also scored the lone West touchdown, late in the fourth period.
"It was a learning experience," said Espinoza, the lone returning starter on offense. "First-game jitters. We'll get going once we get comfortable with what we can do."
Storylines Highland 21, West 10
R Highland commits 14 penalties, seven in each half, costing the team several scoring opportunities.
• West QB Alex Espinoza accounts for almost 150 yards of offense, including the Panthers' only touchdown.