HP at N Forney Friday, 9/23 – 7:30pm kickoff

By Kirk Dooley

Moving into the second game of district play, it is probably a good time to note the fact that the 3-1 Highland Park Scots have played one team with a winning record.

HP had been one of the state’s Top 10 teams before the Waxahachie loss, but the Scots shouldn’t worry about the polls at this point. They should focus on being one of the Top Four teams in 15-5A.
Rockwall (1-3), Waxahachie (4-0) and Lovejoy (1-3) all challenged the Scots while Mansfield Timberview did not.

Waxahachie turned out to be one of the better 5A teams in North Texas and deserves to be in the state’s Top 10. It’s star receiver, Jalen Reagor, leads the Area in receiving with 513 yards and seven touchdowns, and is second in scoring (62 points) behind a gentleman we will see on November 4, Eno Benjamin (74 points).
Benjamin is the star athlete for Wylie East and he may turn out to be the difference between Highland Park winning the district championship or not. He currently leads the Dallas area in rushing with 808 yards on 94 carries. He has scored 12 touchdowns in four games and leads the area in that category also. The last time I looked, the Wylie East coaches put him at quarterback so fasten your seat belts for the final district game, when the Scots face Benjamin and the Raiders in Wylie.
Go ahead and mark Nov. 4 on your calendar. Just write “Eno” across the page.

imageBut that is then and this is now. The Scots travel to North Forney for a game between two 3-1 teams. The Falcons have beaten Mount Pleasant (50-21), Creekview (33-14) and Spruce (49-13) and then last week lost to Wylie East (56-28). So far this season the Falcons have score more points than HP or Wylie East. Quarterback Colby Suits has completed 59 of 110 passes for 1,001 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s ranked fourth in 5A passing, one spot above HP’s John Stephen Jones (69 of 110 for 980 yards and seven TDs). Falcons receiver Barclay Ford (sounds like an HP name) is fifth in receiving with 21 catches for 398 yards and three scores.  The Falcon defense is ranked 10th in the Area, holding teams to only 273 yards of total offense per game.

North Forney is a good team with solid skill players, a tough defense and a well-earned 3-1 record. The Falcons will face an HP team led by Dallas Morning News 5A Defensive Player of the Week Matt Gahm, better known as the second coming of Mitchell Kaufman. Gahm’s pick six propelled the Scots to victory last week. Cornerback O’Neil Sitzer had two key interceptions and was a runner-up for the DMN Defensive Player of the Week against Lovejoy. Two Scots. Three picks.

Traditionally the Scots transform from boys to men during the bye week as they get serious about moving into district play. But this season the bye week won’t take place until next week and by then HP will have two district games under its kilt. The Scots survived a serious Lovejoy scare last Friday and on paper North Forney looks better than Lovejoy.

The Falcons must be taken seriously. The Scots need to get serious and mature quickly or they could go into the bye week with a big ‘ol black eye.

HP vs Lovejoy – 7:30pm HP Homecoming 9/16/16

by Kirk Dooley
   You gotta love a team that has a middle linebacker named Bumper Pool.
   Lovejoy slips down below LBJ Freeway Friday night to open district play against the Scots at Highlander Stadium. Bumper Pool is 6’3”, 220 lbs. and is the best player on the team. Last year he made 148 tackles and forced five fumbles.lovejoy-leopards
   Can Mr. Pool and his teammates challenge the Scots? The answer is yes but the Leopards are coming off a 62-31 loss to Frisco Lone Star, which may prove to be the best 5A team in the state. How the Leopards compete against the Scots could predict the playoff future for Highland Park. Lovejoy lost to 4A powerhouse Argyle, 33-21, in the season opener but Argyle is picked to make it to the state finals for the third year in a row. Holding the Eagles to 33 and scoring 21 on them is not a bad effort in the grand scheme of things.
   Lovejoy did get a W in the second game of the season, a 21-14 win over Frisco Wakeland. It was our man Bumper who stopped a Wakeland running back in his tracks on a 4th and one from the 18 yard-line. Excellent timing for a loss on the play. Not only did that keep seven points off the board, but it gave the Leopards the ball back. In the third quarter Pool came in at quarterback and ran the ball in from the one to ice the game.
   When Lovejoy opened a few year ago, it was said to be the next Highland Park. Over the years that’s what they said about Lake Highlands, Plano West, J.J. Pearce and Rockwall Heath. Lovejoy did have a principal it hired from Highland Park and that led to a handful of teachers and coaches leaving HP for Collin County. Similar pay, similar students, affordable nearby housing and no commute made sense to several teachers, coaches and administrators who lived up near there.
   This is the first time for the Scots and the Leopards to be in the same district but they could become strong rivals. I miss the intensity of the Pearce battles in all sports and I think Lovejoy could replace that rivalry.
   The game this Friday should be a tough one for the Scots because they face a team that won eight games last season and were Area finalists. Lovejoy has a winning tradition. They are picked to make the playoffs this season and they return 10 starters. There is reason to be worry about the Leopards if the team that led Frisco Lone Star, 24-20, shows up. But the Scots might exploit the Leopard team that then allowed Lone Star to score 35 straight points after that.
   We liked John Stephen Jones’ numbers in the Timberview game last Friday. He completed 19 of 29 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown (to Scully Jenevein) and scored two touchdowns on runs of 20 and 24 yards. His ability to run gives the Scots an added lethal arrow in their offensive quiver.
   Last Friday one of HP’s best weapons was all-district left tackle Thomas Shelmire, who squared off against Timberview’s star defensive end, David Anenih. There was one play where Shelmire stood up Anenih and pushed him backwards all the way to the sideline. It looked like that great scene in “The Blind Side” where a Michael Oher pushed his opponent all the way down the field and over a fence.
   Shelmire enjoys wearing out defensive ends. Let’s see how much he enjoys playing bumper poolthis Friday.

HP vs Mansfield Timberview – 7:30pm kickoff at Highlander Stadium 9/9/16

by Kirk Dooley
Mansfield Timberview logo
   Last week the Scots caught a glimpse of a couple of skill players who were as good as Randy Allen has ever seen. HP fans in Waxahachie who saw Jalen Reagor catch six passes for 191 yards in the second half would agree. (By the way, has anyone seen a wide receiver in high school, college or the NFL gain 191 yards in one half? Neither have I.)
   This week the Scots get to see a couple of defensive ends who will also command attention. David Anenih and De’Andre Holloway anchor the Mansfield Timberview defense. Anenih (#7) goes 6’3”, 215 lbs. Holloway  (#47) is 6’1”, 230 lbs. They will be one of the best sets of defensive ends the Scots see this season.
   The Wolves are in district 10-5A, along with Waxahachie, Lancaster and three other Mansfield schools. That means that the Scots could face Timberview or Waxahachie in the third round of the playoffs.mansfield timberview logo 2
   Holding the Scots to 37 points normally doesn’t assure a victory, but it did last week. Timberview probably won’t score 40 points but its defense should be better than Waxahachie’s. The best way to neutralize the Wolves twin pass rushers is to throw short and quick, which is one of the top weapons in the HP wheelhouse.
   In Week One, Timberview beat a very good Everman team, 21-7, and that “7” is what jumps out. The Wolves defense forced six turnovers and that is the script that the Highland Park offense needs to study before Friday’s kickoff. Last week the Wolves lost to Frisco Lone Star, 20-14, in game that could have gone either way. The Wolves held a five-point halftime lead and the Rangers won the game by recovering a fumble in the end zone and kicking a 21-yard field goal. Lone Star, by the way is ranked second in 5A in North Texas, a position the Scots held a week ago.
   The HP players have been replaying the third quarter scenario in Waxahachie where they scored a touchdown to take a 17-point lead but a penalty nullified the play. The Indians got the ball back and Reagor immediately caught a 73-yard TD strike. Boom. It’s a three-point game. That sequence of events was not the end of the game but it helped determine the outcome of the game.
   Although the Scots go into Friday’s game without a few starters (Jack Kozmetsky, J.T. Dooley, Turner Coxe), their replacements (Jacob Urbanczyk/Paxton Alexander, Ryan Waters and Tres Page) have been impressive getting the job done when called upon.
   Very few teams have a couple of quarterbacks on the bench who could start at many schools. A good example of that is the gadget play Coach Allen called last Friday where QB John Stephen Jones lateraled the ball to Michael Clarke (who was in for one play) and he stopped and threw a 74-yard touchdown strike to Kozmetsky.
   It’s like the legendary phrase “One Riot, One Ranger” except in this case it’s “One Play, One Touchdown”.

HP at Waxahachie – 7:30pm Kickoff Friday, 9/2/16

By Kirk Dooley

I believe that Jon Kitna is building a powerhouse high school football team in Waxahachie, similar to what Sam Harrell created at Ennis a few years ago.

One of the biggest similarities is that Harrell’s sons were superstar quarterbacks in their dad’s system and Kitna’s superstar QB son was also until he went down with an injury last year. One of the biggest differences is that Waxahachie has a couple of exemplary players and Ennis had a half-dozen.

Sam Harrell told me at one point that he recruited some of his all-state receivers from the Ennis gym and talked them into playing football. Kitna is grooming the same kind of talent in WR Jalen Reagor (an Oklahoma pledge) and jack-of-all-trade talent Kenedy Snell (a TCU pledge), who will line up as a slot receiver, running back or special teams magician.

In last week’s 46-34 win over against Lakeview Centennial, the Indians used two explosive third quarter plays to alert the world what they can do. The Highland Park coaches took note and the Scots fans should also.

In the span of three minutes Reagor collected a 93-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jalen Salik and then Antywan Redic returned an interception 88 yards for another Waxahachie score. Also that night Snell scored three rushing touchdowns and the Indians came away with a 12-point win.

Meanwhile the Scots unveiled their new quarterback, junior John Stephen Jones, who was impressive in his first varsity action, completing 18 of 22 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns as HP beat a good Rockwall team, 43-21.

My favorite play of the game was in the third quarter when center JD Beverly alertly recovered a loose ball in the end zone and found himself one of the team’s leading scorers. That’s high cotton for an O-lineman.

When teams play Highland Park, there is an edge the Scots bring to the table that is hard to quantify. The players turn themselves into formidable athletes using an off-season program called Performance Course. All of them improve while some of them improve substantially. This year’s Performance Course Awards:

100 Percent Award – Zac Folts, Thomas Shelmire, Ryan Webb, Blake Bowman, Ian Raphael, Davenn Robinson, Nolan Roberts and Babe Walker

Belief Award – Babe Walker, John Stephen Jones and Luke Blanton

Leadership Award – Bennett Brock and John House

Attitude Award – Ryan Kheton and George Stewart

Consistency Award – Jack Fain and Davenn Robinson

Effort Award – Ryan Waters and Matt Gahm

Desire Award – Walker French and Cole Jackson

Star of the Year Award – John House

All of these players deserve a pat on the back for their efforts in making themselves better athletes and helping make their team better.

I’ve been around the block enough to know that this list of award winners is also a list of guys we’ll all be working for in 10 years.

HP vs Rockwall: Friday, 8/26 7:30pm Kickoff at Highlander Stadium

   It’s like the Scots never left 6A.
   With the Yellowjackets swarming in from the northeast Friday night, Highland Park opens the 2016 season with another tough 6A opponent. Seem like that’s all HP has played the past couple of years. Rockwall is picked to finished first in a district that includes perennially dangerous teams such as Longview, North Mesquite, Tyler John Tyler and Mesquite Horn. As a matter of fact, District 11-6A seems like the district the Scots just left – with HP being replaced by a couple of East Texas powerhouses.
   The Scots’ 6A run wasn’t the end of the world like some fans had predicted. After a couple of years in District 10-6A, the Scots rolled up a 20-4 record, including winning the district championship last season with an undefeated district record. Although HP didn’t make it past the second round of the playoffs the past two years, winning 20 games in two years is impressive. Anytime. Anywhere.
   Going into the 2016 season, the Scots have the most wins in the history of Texas high school football (787) … the most 10-win seasons (36) … the most district championships (48) … and the most playoff appearances (57). It’s a tradition that began more than 90 years ago and has blossomed under the leadership of Head Coach Randy Allen who, by the way, is now the fourth winningest coach in Texas high school football history.
   So with the Scots now back in 5A, the biggest difference in football will be in the playoffs. But other sports at HP will compete better with schools that are closer to the same size. (Although Allen is triple the size of Highland Park, the Scots beat them in basketball.) The 5A competition should be just about as strong as 6A but the playoff runs should be a little longer.
   The Highland Park coaches will tell you that it doesn’t matter to them who the Scots play. They’ll line up against anyone in 5A or 6A or the Big 12. While HP is not known for the quantity of Division I college players, the quality is there, starting with 1948 Heisman Trophy winner Doak Walker, who legendary sportswriter Blackie Sherrod said was the best running back he had ever seen play football.
   Recent NFL players from HP include Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions), Daniel Sepulveda (Pittsburgh Steelers), Kyle Williams (Seattle Seahawks), Dave Richards (San Diego Chargers) and Anthony Schlegel (New York Jets). But the most amazing story is how quarterback Bobby Layne and running back Doak Walker led the Scots to the state semifinals in the ‘40s, then reunited in the same backfield a decade later to lead the Detroit Lions to the NFL championship.
   Doak’s son, Russ, started on the Scots’ 1977 state quarterfinalist team, and now Russ has a son who is playing on the Highland Park freshman team. So the grandson of the greatest football player in Highland Park history is carrying on a family tradition.
   Oldtimers will get misty-eyed at hearing the freshman’s name.
   Because Doak Walker is back at Highland Park.

Pair of HP cheerleaders to compete in all-star competition

HP varsity cheerleaders, junior Beth Copeland and sophomore Haley Abio, will experience a dream come true when they travel to Orlando to compete in the US All Star Federation’s Cheerleading Worlds Competition April 24. They will compete as part of EC Athletics’ Level 6 team Surge against U.S. university teams, and teams from across the globe.
ESPN and ESPN2 will air coverage of the competition at a later date.

Boys and girls gymnastics teams qualify for state competition

The Lady Scots gymnastics team finished strong on the second day of the Regional Championships on April 6 to earn a second-place finish. The team qualified to compete at theState Championships hosted by Chisholm Trail High School April 29-30.
Freshman Tatum Meeks was the Regional All-Around Champion, and placed first on Vault and Bars. Freshman Lily Overton placed third All-Around, second on Floor and third on Bars. Click here for more results.

Over the two-day regional meet, the Scots gymnasts turned in season-high scores and placed third in the region to qualify the team for the state meet.

Freshman Adam Elahmdi placed on every event, including third All-Around, third on Horizontal Bar and second on Parallel Bars.

Senior captain Keegan Black placed on five events including third on Vault. This will be his third trip to state. Click here for more results.

HP Field Hockey club schedules spring tryouts

The HP girls field hockey club team will hold tryouts from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Mondays from April 18-May 9 on the HPMS field. No experience or equipment is needed for tryouts. To register, contactHPFieldHockey@gmail.com.

The fall season begins with a summer morning camp, held two weeks before school starts, with games through mid-November against DFW-area private school teams. Players have an option to earn fall ninth-period off-campus PE credit.