Scots to Play Frisco Wakeland at HP in Round 1 of the Playoffs

by Kirk Dooley

Wanna see some magic? Watch wizard Randy Allen draw up a play to score on the first play of the game.
Using a solid offensive line, just have your Elite 11 quarterback to hand the ball to this 5’6”, 145-lb. motorized humming bird and watch as he scampers 75 yards for a touchdown before the National Anthem is over.
And that was only the beginning for Hunter Heath last Friday. He gained 240 yards running the ball and 96 more in the air as his four touchdowns helped seal another district championship for the Scots. It wasn’t just another good day at the shop. This was statistically the best performance by a Highland Park running back in decades.
I believe Stephen Dieb holds the HP record for most yard gained in a game but he didn’t have 96 yards receiving. I still have the calculator I needed to keep up with Paxton Alexander’s total yards. He reminded me of Mark Marynick who reminded old timers of Doak Walker’s grandfather. Some sportswriters said the original Doak was the best running back ever to play football, but even he couldn’t pound out tough yards like his namesake grandson, who enjoys running behind the same O-line as Heath.
Now we are the point of no return. Lose this Friday and your season is over. The Scots have been excellent in rising to the occasion when the playoff season begins. It is a good thing that HP was able to finish the district race against two good teams – Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. Both are good enough to see the Scots again later in the playoffs. Legacy, on the other hand, finished the season by blasting the four DISD teams and may have a distorted view of reality when they face Frisco Lone Star in the first round.
What can we expect from Wakeland? A passion to beat the Scots. The HP volleyball team just eliminated Wakeland in a nail-biter last week. The Highlander Band finished second in the state championship, just ahead of – who else? – Wakeland.
The Wolverines are 5-5 and have a 1,000-yard quarterback, Dylan Laible, who starts at quarterback and another 1,000-yard quarterback, Peyton Lewis, who starts at wide receiver. Watch out for the double pass!
Wakeland boasts two good running backs, Charlie Burkhart and Jared White, with 1,500 yards between them, and two good receivers, Kevin Rychel and Dugan Sexton, who have 1,500 yards between them. A third threat at receiver is Lewis (the other QB) who has thrown or caught 20 TDs this season.
When Randy Allen was at Abilene Cooper, Marty Secord was on his staff, When Allen left for Highland Park 21 years ago, Secord became the head coach at Cooper. Now he’s the head coach at Wakeland and the two old friends meet again.
Secord knows Allen is a great coach but does he know he’s also a wizard?

HP vs Mansfield Timberview for Outright Title

by Kirk Dooley

The season really started last Friday for Highland Park.
The Scots traveled to Lancaster last week to get a reality check. How good were the Scots? It was hard to say until they battled the Tigers and came away with a 42-35 overtime win. The good news and the bad news was that the Scots won despite masquerading as turnover buckets. They stubbed their toes then “found a way” to win.
Note to selves: Work on eliminating fumbles and interceptions.
The Tigers looked as fast and talented as the HP coaches predicted. Even after the loss to the Scots, the Tigers are still ranked in the state’s 5A top 10.
The first play from scrimmage was a flea flicker gadget play that resulted in sophomore Jack Curtis catching a 75-yard touchdown strike from Chandler Morris. Talk about making an opening statement.
The teams traded touchdowns and HP found itself on its own 7-yard line, leading 14-7. Hunter Heath, who had scored the Scots’ second TD, took a handoff and broke into the Lancaster secondary and started sprinting up the sideline. A couple of Lancaster defensive backs plugged in their GPS angle finders and screamed toward the 5’6” Heath. Everyone in the stands could see where they would collide. As the Tigers speedsters caught up with Heath, he turned on an afterburner and outran the Tigers to the end zone. What?!
Let me repeat that. Hunter Heath scored on a 93-yard sprint by outrunning the Lancaster secondary, maybe the fastest DBs in the state. I had to adjust my glasses. Did I just see a mirage? A miracle?
A couple of weeks ago Heath broke a Highland Park record and tied a statewide record by running 99 yards for a touchdown. But his 93-yard performance against Lancaster was more dramatic.
The win gives the Scots at least a share of the district title. This Friday they can win it outright with a victory over Mansfield Timberview. But let me warn you: The Wolves are capable of beating the Scots.
New quarterback Jaden Hullaby is a transfer who accounted for 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. His backfield includes our old friends Stacy Sneed (1,250 rushing yards last year) and Montaye Dawson (1,020 rushing yards last year). When was the last time the Scots faced an opponent with THREE thousand-yard rushers? Never.
Playing Timberview will be like playing a Big 12 team. Hullaby has committed to Texas. His younger brother Landon, has more than a dozen offers. Sneed and Dawson have 30 offers between them. Jalen Kimber  is a four-star recruit who has committed to Georgia. And there are others. The Wolves went into this season expecting to win the state championship. They still feel that way right now.
The trick play the Scots used to start the Lancaster game was introduced to Coach Allen by his son, Zac, who sent a replay of Kyler Murray scoring an Arizona Cardinals touchdown with it. Coach Allen then saw a replay of Matthew Stafford using it for a Detroit Lions touchdown. Coach Allen incorporated it and the magic Chandler Morris bought enough time to make it work.
Coach Allen showed me the replays of both NFL teams running the play to perfection. I asked him if he knew the significance of those NFL TDs. He hesitated and I said, “You know both of the quarterbacks.”
He thought about and nodded. But the real question is, “Do Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford know that Coach Allen just won his 400th high school game? And that only three coaches have accomplished that in the history of Texas high school football?”
To me that’s as impressive as Hunter Heath outrunning the Lancaster secondary for a 93-yard touchdown.
I still can’t believe my eyes.

District championship on the line at Lancaster

by Kirk Dooley

For months the Highland Park Scots have circled Friday, November 1 on their calendars. That would be the day the proverbial rubber would meet the proverbial road.
And here we are.
Going into this season, HP and Lancaster were predicted to battle each other for the district championship. Although the road has not been especially challenging for either team, this Friday is when the competition gets serious and the district title is literally on the line.
As badly as the Scots have beaten their district foes, the Tigers have equalled those lopsided scores. Where we have a big difference is that the only team that can spook either the Tigers or the Scots – Mansfield Timberview – lost to Lancaster last week, 33-10, the only normal score so far in district 6-5A Div. I. The Scots host the Wolves next Friday in the district finale.
Going into this Friday’s game in Lancaster, the Tigers have the opportunity to win the district title by beating the Scots. They would secure the number one seed in the playoffs in the event of a tie for the district crown. If the Scots beat Lancaster and Timberview loses Friday, then HP wins the district title.
Highland Park, Lancaster and Timberview have all secured playoff spots and they are the only 6-5A teams with winning records. The fourth playoff spot is very competitive and there is a chance of a five-way tie for that position, although Sunset would have to win its final two games for that to happen.
Lancaster is led by shifty running back Tre Bradford, who has run for 682 yards on 59 carries and 13 touchdowns. He averages 11.5 yards every time he touches the ball. He’s a first down machine. Receiver La’Trell Caples is a legitimate threat with 434 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Glenn Rice, Jr. has thrown for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns to eight different receivers.
They are all fast. All quick. All athletic. The Scots defense will need to keep pressure on Rice and keep Bradford from turning the corner. The Tigers will be tough to slow down but they – like the Scots – are used to being up by 30 points and so being down by 14 could get in their heads.
This will be Lancaster’s Super Bowl. The players, coaches and fans will be rabid to dethrone Highland Park. The Scots have been down this road and now is the time to flex their muscles. Instead of feeling guilty about scoring 60 points, HP may need to score 60 points if they wind up in a track meet against Lancaster.
My advice: Slow the Tigers down, don’t try to race them.
I’m optimistic because the chains finally come off for the Scots on Friday. They will need to go hard for all four quarters and I think they are ready for their first 48-minute explosion since Sept. 13.
The Tigers are fast but Scots find a way.

Sunset at HP This Friday

by Kirk Dooley

Here’s a statistic you should ponder as the Scots prepare to host the Sunset Bison this Friday:
Five weeks ago HP defeated Bryan Adams 62-0. Two weeks later Bryan Adams defeated Sunset, 76-0.
Wow. You do the math.
The Scots, now ranked fourth in state, have three more district games – Sunset, Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. Playing the state’s seventh-ranked team, Lancaster, seven days after facing Sunset is like speeding down the Tollway and throwing your car into reverse.
The Bison (which is singular and plural, by the way) have played four district games and lost to Samuell (32-0), Bryan Adams (76-0), Lancaster (73-0 and Timberview (84-0).
Conversely, the Scots have beaten Bryan Adams (62-0), Woodrow Wilson (66-0), Mansfield Legacy 76-6) and Samuell (56-6).
In every district there is statistically a best team and a worst team and at some point they play each other. For district 6-5A Div. I that game will be this Friday at Highlander Stadium.
The Highland Park coaches are trying to keep the Scots focused on improving every week but when the competition is not challenging, it’s hard to determine how you are progressing. On the other hand, your backups get to play a lot and that makes for a happy locker room. And a memorable Senior Night.
The Sunset players are coming off a 84-0 loss to the third best team in the district. What are these young men thinking? How do they show up for practice every day and keep their spirits up?
Here’s a true story about life as the Sunset head coach. Last year Coach Chris Castillo had 12 guys show up for the first day of practice. Instead of folding his hand he went out into the school and into students’ homes trying to convince guys to come play football. They could even bring a friend. Castillo was also the campus athletic coordinator. One morning at 3:00 a.m.he got a call from the tennis coach saying that he needed a heart procedure. Castillo became the tennis coach for the rest of the year. Then the softball coach had to report for duty by the Army Reserves right as the playoffs were about to begin. Castillo became the softball coach also.
This past summer Castillo stepped down after three years and a 3-27 record in football. Although his record wasn’t impressive, the way he related to his athletes was. The new coach, Armando Gutierrez, is continuing the fight to pull the Bison out of the bottom of the standings but it’ll take some time. I admire guys like Castillo and Gutierrez, like I admire the Highland Park coaches. They’re all working to help turn boys into young men.
I’m pulling for the Sunset players to be able to experience the joy of victory instead of living in the agony of defeat. Next week, of course.
In the meantime the Scots will face a very fast and very talented Lancaster team next Friday in a game that will give the HP coaches a real gauge on where their team stands. Then a tough match against Timberview will vault HP into the playoffs where Frisco Lone Star, Denton Ryan, Shadow Creek and their cousins will be lying in wait.

HP at Samuell Tonight

by Kirk Dooley

Going into Friday’s game against Samuell we’re approaching the halfway point of the district race, two things are evident and neither one is surprising.
First, the Scots have two major rivals for the district championship – Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. All three teams are 3-0 so far in district play and are the only teams with winning records.
The other is that Highland Park once again has a very good football team that is getting better every week. The return of receiver Drew Scott gives the Scots a tremendous weapon on the outside and the return of running back Hunter Heath gives the Scots a breakaway threat coming out of the backfield. The offensive line has been steady and strong, giving Chandler Morris the time he has needed to complete 122 of 169 passes for 1,887 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The Scots defense has been more fierce with the addition of defensive end Houston Hummel who leads the team in solo tackles with 13, followed by Andrew Bonnet (11), Prince Dorbah (10) and Cal Hirschey (10). Leading the Scots defense in tackle assists is Patrick Turner with 17, followed by Dorbah (13), Bonnet (12), Marshall Landwehr (12), John Beecherl (11) Hummel (11) and Andrew Washburne (10).
Dorbah is the sack master with four. Beecherl, Dorbah and Walker Cobb have snared an interception. Ford Frazar leads the team with five pass breakups, followed by Beecherl with four. This defense has allowed only one touchdown in the past three games, pitching district shutouts agains Bryan Adams (62-0) and Woodrow Wilson (66-0) and then holding Mansfield Legacy to six fourth quarter points in a 76-6 win.
Meanwhile you’ve got Lancaster, a state’s top 10 team with all kind of guns, averaging 69-0 in its three district games against Legacy, Samuell and Sunset. The Scots’ collision with the Tigers is set for Nov. 1 in Lancaster. In the meantime, HP faces Samuell this week and Sunset next Friday.
What to expect from Samuell? They’ve won two games – Spruce, 13-7 and Sunset, 32-0. But they’ve lost their last two games by an average of 61-0. The Spartans’ leading runner is De’Marcus Jones with 322 yards, their quarterback, Romie White, has thrown for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Jones is the leading receiver with 65 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Dotson has 58 receiving yards and a score.
This could a game where the HP reserves get some valuable playing time. But the HP starters shouldn’t forget what it is like to play an entire game because when HP visits Lancaster, they’ll play all night long.
Still, experience tells us that if the Scots lose any starters to injuries in the playoffs, having backups who have solid district reps unde their belts helps in the team’s efforts to advance.
It’s just an insurance policy the Scots hope they never need to cash in, but experienced backups who have become starters during the playoffs have been instrumental in the Scots three straight state championships.
That’s why they call it a team.