by Kirk Dooley
When the season began folks circled Oct. 20 on their calendars and prepared for an epic battle between two of the top 5A teams in North Texas. As it was last year, the game would feature two undefeated teams in 15-5A that would battle for the inside track for the district championship.
The showdown between Highland Park and Poteet this Friday in Mesquite will still be epic but the Pirates limp into the game with a 3-3 record to face the 5-1 Scots. And worse, Poteet comes off a 40-28 loss to North Forney last Friday.
Make no mistake. Poteet will be a major challenge for the Scots, who will play their third tough district game in a row. North Forney and West Mesquite are now in the Scots’ rearview mirror and both look like playoff teams.
The irony of the North Forney win over Poteet is that the Falcons coach, Randy Jackson, is the former Poteet coach who whipped the Pirates into a winning program a few years ago. After turning around Poteet, he moved on to Grapevine where he did the same thing. Then this year he took the reigns at North Forney and has put it on the map. Last season NF was 1-6 in district and this year it could go 6-1.
Poteet remain is good hands with head coach Kody Groves. They have plenty of talent and still control their playoff destiny. During the off-season former star receiver Cal Lampkin was moved to quarterback where his athleticism could be on call for every play. Over the past few weeks Dalton Dale has taken over the QB duties and he can both pass and run. Against the Falcons Dale completed 13 of 28 passes for 202 yards and he ran 16 times for 132 yards. His two interceptions partially offset his 334 total yards.
Lampkin returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and De’Michael Smith caught a 64-yard TD pass from Dale which tightened the score to 33-28 in the fourth quarter. The Pirates still have their lightening.
Keep an eye on sophomore running back Seth McGowen. He’s a very talented running back who hasn’t busted out of the barn yet, but he will at some point. Hopefully not this Friday.
Last Friday Scots linebacker Noble Nash had a breakout game, flying all over the field making tackles and returning a key interception 84 yards. He sprinted all the way down the sideline to the seven-yard line before being tripped up by either an invisible gamma ray or a magic spell cast by the Wrangler coaches. Nose guard Elliott Newsom had a nice game against West Mesquite, as did cornerback Hudson Clark.
So, what is the key to beating Poteet? I think game film from last week’s North Forney-Poteet game will enlighten the HP coaches. While North Forney has a respectable passing game, Falcons running back Calvin Ribera gained 246 yards on the ground on 36 carries. He controlled the clock and the game.
Ribera is only one guy but the Scots have Paxton Alexander, Conner Allen, John Stephen Jones, Benner Page, Cameron Reeves and Davenn Robinson who can run the ball all night.
By Kirk Dooley
Let me introduce you to Mr. Curtis Williams.
Nice guy. Great athlete. He’s the star running back for West Mesquite and you will get to know him well on Friday night. He’s #6.
Bring your calculator with you to the game at Highlander Stadium because #6 is averaging more than 11 yards every time he touches the ball. He’s a first-down machine. Over the past five games he has been handed the football 75 times and he has run for 837 yards.
Now, he doesn’t run for 11 yards every carry. But on every fifth or sixth run he’ll break through the line, sidestep a linebacker and go for 50 or so yards. He knows how to pad his average.
Mr. Williams is currently the fourth-ranked 5A ball carrier in yardage in the area. You may remember him from last year. As a junior he ran for 67 yards and caught eight passes for 86 yards against HP. He’s got 4.5 speed and is only one of several big-play threats on this West Mesquite Wranglers squad. In their most recent game, Wranglers quarterback Connor Neill – the son of the coach – threw touchdown passes of 86 yards to Dylan Wright and 52 yards to #6 while sophomore Ty Jordan ran a punt back 95 yards for a touchdown. You’d think the Scots were lining up against North Forney and all its high-tech weapons.
The Wranglers are 5-0 and they’ve played some good teams. They beat Rockwall Heath … who beat Rockwall … who beat the Scots. West Mesquite and Highland Park are both ranked in the top 10 in the area. But after the game Friday the Highlander Stadium scoreboard will reflect a reality that polls lack.
HP coach Randy Allen says that the Wranglers offense is better than it was last year. Having nine offensive starters back helps. And he believes that WM will have the most athletic defense the Scots have faced.
Two weeks ago the Scots faced a similar challenge against North Forney (which still has the most productive 5A offense in the area). Allen talked about “breaking serve” as each team poured on the touchdowns until Prince Dorbah hit the Falcons quarterback as he was throwing and the ball sailed into the welcome arms of HP linebacker James Lightbourn. On the next play Paxton Alexander ran 52 yards for the dagger touchdown that put the Scots up by 21 points. The HP defense had broken serve.
This Friday the threat is different, but just as real. While the HP defense will have to contain the Wranglers speedy skill players and not give up the big play, the Scots’ biggest challenge will be the ultra-fast Wrangler defense. They will be step faster than any team the Scots have played. The Wranglers have smothered their opponents, holding them to 183 yards per game.
Meanwhile the Scots have played some good teams and are averaging 487 yards per game under the leadership of QB John Stephen Jones.
Coach Allen believes that the team that wins Friday night will out-execute its opponent. Will the Scots offense get its 487 yards, or will the Wranglers hold them to 183? Will the Scots defense contain #6 and limit the WM big plays?
I think the Scots will answer both questions by welcoming captains Thomas Shelmire and James Herring back in the starting lineup.
With the Scots at full strength, it should be a nerve-racking but joyous homecoming night.
by Kirk Dooley
People attending the Highland Park–North Forney game this Friday at Highlander Stadium should bring their hazmat suits.
The anticipated offensive explosion on the field could create fallout that will roll up into the stands and possibly contaminate University Park. The scoreboard will explode after the teams reach 100 total points and 1,000 total yards of offense. It could be the highest scoring game in the history of Highland Park football.
The North Forney Falcons soar into Highlander Stadium 4-0 and averaging 62.5 points per game. They lead North Texas 5A teams in points scored and in total offense. Last week they beat Wylie East, 70-65.
But wait. Isn’t this the same North Forney team the Scots beat, 66-7, last year in Forney?
Yes and no.
Yes, it is the same North Forney but no, it is not the same team. They have a new coach, Randy Jackson, who turned Mesquite Poteet into a powerhouse a few years ago. At 4-0, and having already dispatched one key 15-5A playoff contender, they have a newly-found confidence to match their skill level.
This is the most dangerous type of high school football team, the kind that has players who have this new feeling of believing they will whip anyone they line up against.
Oh, and the Falcons quarterback, Colby Suits, accounted for 10 touchdowns last week. He ran for five TDs, threw for four and caught one. He plays like he’s radioactive.
Of course, the superlative Falcons offense has not faced the Highland Park Scots defense, which stuffed a good Lovejoy team last week. They are not yet the Dark Alley Boys who won State last year, but they are good and improving each week. They are missing safety James Herring but they’ve got the depth to fill the void. His replacement, Ryan Khetan, last week intercepted a Lovejoy pass and ran it back 41 yards to set up the Scots’ final touchdown.
On offense the Scots have been missing left tackle Thomas Shelmire but left guard Ben Boudreaux has slid over and done a good job filling in for the all-state team captain. Coaches have moved up Ryan Butz to starter and he joins Regan Riddle, Matt Sewall and Bolton Corwin as the protectors of John Stephen Jones.
Last week Jones could have led his team to 70 points if the Lovejoy offense had played well enough that the Scots needed to keep their starters in the entire game.
This Friday could be a 70-65 offense explosion. Or the Scots defense could step up and knock the high-flying Falcons offense back down to earth.
If that happens, you can take your hazmat suit off.
by Kirk Dooley
This is a game that concerns Randy Allen. Lovejoy worries me also.
The players and coaches are taking this game very seriously but the fans think they see a mismatch. On paper, Lovejoy is 0-3 and has lost all three games by an average of 38-12. Not much of a challenge for the defending state champions?
Hold your horses.
Let’s look at the Leopards’ first opponents and the scores of the games. Argyle (42-21) is one of the highest-rated 4A schools in the state. Frisco Wakeland (38-14) and Frisco Lone Star (36-3) are the top two favorites in district 13-5A (aka the Frisco district). In their first three games these teams have been offensive machines – Argyle scored 42, 70 and 49; Wakeland scored 51, 38 and 41; and Lone Star scored 41, 45 and 35. All three are undefeated and all three are predicted to go far in the playoffs.
After going through Murderer’s Row, the Leopards are opening district 15-5A play by hosting the Scots, who are state-ranked but will be the first team Lovejoy has faced which is not undefeated.
Scots followers who saw the game last year will recall how it was an epic battle that could have gone either way. Two and a half minutes into the game the Leopards led, 14-7, after an 85-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Carson Collins to Chase Van Wagoner. In the second quarter Collins hit Van Wagoner with a 73-yard touchdown but the Scots blocked the PAT. (Do we see a trend?) When Scully Jenevein caught a 13-yard TD pass from John Stephen Jones, the Scots took a 21-20 halftime lead on HP’s homecoming night.
Matt Gahm’s pick six was the only score in the second half and the Scots held on to win, 27-20. HP rolled up 456 yards of total offense and held the high-octane Leopard offense to 318 yards and 10 first downs.
Collins, who last season threw for 2,394 yards as the 15-5A Newcomer of the Year, completed 19 of 30 passes for 338 yards in the Leopards’ season opener against Argyle. The past two weeks the quarterback for Lovejoy has been Blake Motl, who threw for 232 yards against Wakeland and only 45 against Lone Star.
Van Wagoner is back and is still the team’s most dangerous playmaker.
On defense, the leader is all-state linebacker Bumper Pool (yes, that’s his name) and he has also been making appearances on offense as a running back and as a wide receiver. He might even drive the team bus.
The Scots are fortunate to come away with a hard-fought 34-32 win last week against Mansfield Timberview. There were many nice plays by the Scots offense and defense that led to victory but the Play of the Game was Cole Jackson’s third-quarter interception of a Timberview fake punt. That set up a touchdown pass from Jones to Paxton Alexander to put the Scots ahead for the first time.
Highland Park needed a big-time play and Jackson – a big-time athlete – came up with it. His heroics inspired the entire team.
It’ll take that kind of effort and more for the Scots to survive Friday’s Leopard ambush.
by Kirk Dooley
It’ll be Thursday Night Lights for the Scots as they travel to Mansfield to challenge the Timberview Wolves this week. For those of you not taking the family helicopter to the game, I urge you to leave early so that you don’t arrive late. There’s a lot of Metroplex rush-hour traffic to be navigated before the 7:00 p.m. kickoff.
The 1-1 Scots face the 1-1 Wolves in a rematch of last year’s HP shutout, 31-0, at Highlander Stadium. It was the Scots’ first shutout in two years and it set the tone for a dominant season for the HP defense.
In its opening game two weeks ago, Timberview trounced Everman, 44-8, then last Friday the Wolves fell to a very good Frisco Lone Star team, 45-21. QB Jyron Russell is back for the Wolves and he is the team’s top runner and top passer. The most electric player on the team is Jalen Knox. Last week Knox caught two passes for 137 yards. You do the math on his yards per catch. I’ll spot you a 93-yard touchdown reception and you guess how many yards his other reception was for. We’ll be able to tell whether you went to Armstrong, Bradfield, Hyer or University Park.
In last year’s game HP safety James Herring had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Two weeks ago he was injured in the Rockwall game and did not play against Waxahachie. He may or may not play this week. The same goes for fellow team captain Paxton Alexander, the hero RB of last year’s Scots playoff run. The bad news is that two key Scots are banged up. The good news is that Ryan Khetan has filled in well at safety, while running backs Conner Allen and Benner Page have covered Alexander’s running back spot well. Khetan was a Player of the Week for his performance last Friday. Allen carried the ball 12 times for 108 yards while Page gained 59 yards on 10 carries. Together they averaged 7.6 yards per carry, which is where Alexander left off.
Quarterback John Stephen Jones had another impressive night, completing 18 of 26 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns (both to Finn Corwin). He was even highlighted on national television when the NFL Sunday Night Football broadcast team showed film of the Scots’ win over Waxahachie, coached by former Cowboys quarterback Jon Kitna.
After two games the most amazing statistic in Highland Park is that Scots receiver Cade Saustad has already caught 13 passes for 343 yards. That’s a pretty good season for most humans. Corwin has jumped up to the second best on the team, with 123 yards. Meanwhile, running backs Page and Allen are both averaging at least six yards per carry. That speaks well of their abilities as well as the offensive linemen’s performances, including Thomas Shelmire, who is having another all-state season so far.
The Defensive Players of the Week against Waxahachie were Khetan (with a key pick) and lineman Jack Jurgovan. Note to the HP defense: On Thursday night keep Jyron Russell in the pocket and keep Jalen Knox out of the end zone. If you’ll do those two things you can take Friday off.
by Kirk Dooley
As the Waxahachie Indians ride into Highlander Stadium Friday night for the Scots’ home opener, two thoughts come to mind.
First, the Indians won’t have interstellar receivers Jalen Reagor and Kenedy Snell anymore. Last season the two track stars sprinted through the Scots secondary for 289 yards on 11 receptions. They had touchdown catches of 90, 73, 54 and six yards – the latter coming with 19 seconds left to win the game, 40-37.
Second thought is that quarterback Bryce Salik is back for his senior year at Waxahachie. Last year he completed 15 of 25 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns against the Scots. Now that Reagor and Snell have graduated and moved on to TCU and the Big 12, the Indians will attempt their own “Reload and Repeat” with a new cast of speedy characters.
Jerreth Sterns (#4) is the Indians’ most explosive threat. Last week against Garland Lakeview Sterns he returned a first-quarter punt 60 yards for a touchdown, then had a 64-yard TD run in the second quarter as Waxahachie rolled up 35-points in the first half. Salik completed passes to eight different receivers while his running backs picked up 392 yards on the ground. When the Lakeview defense focused on Sterns, Demani Richardson (#6), scored on his own 64-yard run, which is nifty because he plays safety. He carried the ball three times for 127 yards. Maybe he should step away from safety and try offense full time. A third running back, Jaden Watson (#26), picked up 114 yards on eight carries.
So we understand that Waxahachie is explosive. Four of the top skill players on this potent offense – Sterns, Richardson, Jarvis McCray and lineman Alonso McGruder – go both ways and are standouts on defense. They’ll get tired but not any more tired that last year as they racked up 40 points.
The Scots are coming off a heart-breaking 53-49 shootout loss to Rockwall, who used two kickoff recoveries to outscore the Scots. Both teams combined for more than 100 points and more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Receiver Cade Saustad broke a Highland Park school record for receiving yards in a game as he gathered in 10 of John Stephen Jones’ passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
Safety Zak Folts led the Scots defense with 20 tackles. Linebackers Ryan Coxe (10 tackles), Noble Nash (9) and Marshall Ballard (8) had solid games. Kicker Matteo Cordray was outstanding on kickoffs, field goals and punts. He deserved three game balls. Coach Allen was pleased with his team’s heart and its fighting spirit. The Scots unveiled a new secret weapon at defensive end – a sophomore named Prince Dorbah, who at 6’4”, 215 lbs. is built like Ezekiel Elliott and has the potential to shut down his half of the field. Keep an eye on number 32. This guy will be fun to watch the next three years.
by Kirk Dooley
It’s good to be king.
The Scots and their coaches and fans and families and neighbors and alums have all had a big time celebrating their unlikely state championship ever since the moment Turner Coxe slammed Temple quarterback Reid Hesse into his own end zone for a safety with five minutes left to ice the title game on December 17.
Never has a safety been so important to a Highland Park team. It wasn’t the only outstanding play by the Scots, but it was the nail in Temple’s coffin. The Scots walked away from AT&T Stadium with a state championship, a Defensive MVP (Coxe), an Offensive MVP (QB John Stephen Jones) and the Ford Tough Player of the Game (running back Paxton Alexander).
There has been a video created on the magical season, as well as a coffee table book. The celebration has been ongoing ever since that fateful state championship victory.
While it is good to be king, it is also hard to be king, as the Scots will find out Friday night in Rockwall. All the partying and all the pats on the back will end with the kickoff of a new season. Highland Park will have a huge target on its back for every game, starting in Rockwall.
And the Yellowjackets, who are picked to finish in the top two of its 6A district, are still bitter about the way a 5A team from Dallas ran them out of the stadium last year. The Scots jumped out to a 22-0 first-quarter lead last season and cruised to a 43-21 win. An HP quarterback who had never taken a varsity snap – Jones – lit up the Rockwall secondary for 327 yards and four touchdowns. He completed an impressive 18 of 22 passes and distributed his TD strikes to four gentlemen – Alexander, Scully Jenevein, Cade Saustad and Hudson Wood.
We begin a new season this Friday but the Scots come armed with veteran offensive starters such as Jones, Alexander, Jenevein, Saustad and all-state offensive lineman Thomas Shelmire. The defensive returns starting safeties James Herring and Zak Folts. The team’s theme this season is “Reload. Repeat.” Here’s who else they are reloading with: On offense it will be center Matt Sewall, guards Ben Boudreaux and Bolton Corwin, tackle Regan Riddle, receivers Carson Bryant and Jay Smith, and Cameron Reeves stepping in as the second running back. The rebuilt defense will include defensive ends Luke Lochausen and sophomore Prince Dorbah, nose guard Elliott Newsom, linebackers Marshall Ballard, Noble Nash, Ryan Coxe and Cole Bohner, and cornerbacks Grayson Serio and Hudson Clark. It is early in the season so many players will be fighting for playing time. Be prepared for some new starters to emerge.
In the meantime your defending state champions – picked fourth in the state in Texas Football’s preseason poll – is predicted by The Dallas Morning News to lose this Friday to Rockwall, 35-34.
It ain’t easy being king.
Put the Scots Illustrated Baseball Program in the palm of your hand! Click to download!
After defeating Marshall in the first round of the postseason, the Scots baseball team will advance to face Prosper High School in the Area Round of the UIL 5A playoffs.
The matchup will be a winner-take-all one-game series, and first pitch will happen at 8 p.m., Thursday, May 11 at McKinney Boyd High School. Tickets will be available at the gate, $5 for adults and $3 for students. If the game is rained out, it will be played Friday, May 12 at the same time and location.
In the first round against Marshall, the Scots won the first game of the best-of-three series with a 4-1 victory on May 5 at Scotland Yard. Marshall won game two the next day with a 6-3 victory, setting up the decisive game three on Saturday afternoon. The score was tied 1-1 through six innings until HP’s Kage Forrest batted in two runs on a single. The Scots would hold on to the lead and clinch the series with a 3-1 win.
Click here for a playoff bracket.
From HPHS Head Football Coach Randy Allen –
The 2016 State Championship Documentary of the 6 play-off victories which earned the 4th State Football Championship is on sale at the Scot Shop in Highlander Stadium. The documentary is professionally done with narration from coaches and players about highlights from each play-off victory. There are shots from ground level of the State Championship game of the big plays against Temple. This is a must have item for every Scot Football fan. DVD’s are $30.00 and Blue Ray’s are $40.00 and can be purchased at the Scot Shop (214-219-0487). All proceeds go to the Football Fund in the Educational Foundation.
Respect All, Fear None.