by Kirk Dooley
There’s no such thing as a single game season, but the Highland Park Scots circled Nov. 18 on their calendars back when time began, it seems. All of spring training, summer workouts and the first 11 games of this season have been merely a backdrop for this playoff drama against top-rated Denton Guyer, a team dripping with talent.
I love the way Coach Randy Allen doesn’t blink. “This is why we play football,” he deadpans.
Denton Guyer has been to the state finals two of the past three years. Last year the head coach was Rodney Webb, who retired from coaching after the season and joined Highland Park as its new Athletic Director.
This will be a strange game for him.
The 11-0 Wildcats are ranked first in the area and sixth in the state. The 11-0 Scots are ranked 6th in the area and 16th in the state. What’s great about the playoffs is that rankings and undefeated records mean nothing. Any team can beat any team.
HP fans have asked me how the Scots can beat such a talented team. My response is, “Denton Ryan. Denton Ryan. Denton Ryan.”
For those who remember the Scots’ three state championships in 2016, 2017 and 2018 will recall that each of those years Ryan was favored to win state, ranked No. 1 all year and predicted to beat the Scots in each of those three playoff games. Ryan was 45-3 during those three years and all three losses were to Highland Park. Ryan had impressive talent, many guys who went on to play on Saturdays. But the Scots were prepared, coached up well, and believed they could find a way to win.
Which is what Scots do.
Guyer has future Oklahoma Sooners QB Jackson Arnold, the second coming of Spencer Sanders, and he is quite a talent. The Wildcats’ secondary is loaded with four-star talent, including the Bowen brothers, Peyton and Eli. I’m sure they have a nephew named Arch. Peyton may be the best safety in the state. Little brother Eli was injured last week and will miss the Scots game.
HP quarterback Brennan Storer has been playing his best football. He’s got so may weapons at receiver that Guyer won’t have enough four-star DBs to cover everyone.
Both Guyer and HP are averaging more than 400 yards and 44 points per game. Both defenses are holding teams to under 14 points per game. Something, ladies and gentlemen, has got to give.
The Scots have a secret weapon in Adam Rourke, a star DB who doubles as the kick assassin. He has blocked nine kicks in his career and got one last week, a play that changed the course of the game.
Rourke’s blocked PAT, which would have tied the score at 30-30, wound up in the hands of alert HP linebacker Charlie Barton who ran the length of the field – inexplicably outrunning several faster opponents – to score two points, giving the Scots a 30-27 lead and the momentum for the rest of the game.
What gave Barton the superpower to outrun the entire Arlington Bowie team?
He wanted to cross the goal line for Amazing Grace.