by Kirk Dooley
It’s a safe bet that Highland Park has never faced a team called the Sharks.
My pre-season pick for the state championship game was Highland Park versus the Hutto Hippos, who were very good this year and also have one of the best names in our great state. I had never heard of Shadow Creek (which is a pretty cool name) so I figured they couldn’t be dangerous.
I figured wrong.
The Scots have their hands full in the state championship game. The two best 5A Div. I teams in the state are meeting in the title game. HP is going for its third straight championship and it has some great statistics. HP has won more games that any other high school in Texas. With 30 wins in a row, the Scots now have the longest winning streak in the state. But Shadow Creek has a statistic that’s just as impressive.
The Sharks have never lost a varsity game.
This is the first year that the Shadow Creek Sharks are competing on a UIL varsity level. The school opened in 2016 and the past two years have played an independent and junior varsity schedule.
What gives about the team being refered to as Alvin Shadow Creek and Pearland Shadow Creek? The school is located south of Houston in a sub-division called Shadow Creek Ranch. It is in the city limits of Pearland and is in the Alvin ISD.
In the Alvin ISD it is possible to go to Walt Disney Elementary and then to Nolan Ryan Junior High School.
Here’s where the plot thickens. When Shadow Creek was created, it drew students from the other two high schools in the district – Alvin and Manvel.
Uh-oh. I just said the M word. That should spook every blue-and-gold-blooded Scots fan.
“Shadow Creek is Manvel Two,” deadpanned HP coach Randy Allen.
The Sharks are coached by Brad Butler who was the defensive coordinator at Manvel a couple of years ago before moving 15 minutes to the new school. Small world: When Butler was an all-state quarterback at Brownwood High School his head coach was a young Randy Allen. They’ve been good friends for decades.
Shadow Creek was picked to finish sixth in their district and now they sit at 15-0. It is the state’s best Cinderella story this year.
To win the game the Scots will need to limit contain elusive quarterback Jamarian George. He is one of those players who can beat you by himself. Every time he has his hands on the ball he could go all the way. The Sharks have speed at every position. They have come from behind to pull off several wins, so you can never count them out. They are as relentless as the Scots and are very fast and very athletic.
Randy Allen predicts a close game that could come to the final possession. He’s right that the HP crowd noise gave the Scots the energy to help them in their incredible comeback against Tyler John Tyler. He’s hoping for a loud and enthusiastic crowd for the state title game. It helps his players play harder and run faster.
And that’s the energy the Scots will need to give their fans a three-peat for Christmas.
by Kirk Dooley
The Highland Park – Tyler John Tyler game featured the greatest fourth quarter comeback in Scots history. While one of the best HP crowds in recent memory got behind the team that was down by 21 points going into the final period, there were some fans who left the game after three quarters, thinking the season was over.
They missed 12 minutes of Highland Park football at its best.
It was an incredible comeback. The John Tyler Lions had eaten the Scots’ lunch for the first three periods. They led 21-14 at the half and 35-14 after three quarters. Usually HP has a strong third quarter but last week they were outscored 14-0 and a lot of people feared the season was coming to an end.
Fortunately the HP coaches and players never thought that.
“Our guys have seen previous Highland Park teams come back and win,” said head coach Randy Allen. “We believe that there’s a constant level of expectations to be a championship team. Whatever it takes to win. Throw it all out on the field. We have strong senior leadership and we never got to the point where we lost hope.”
At the beginning of the season young Chandler Morris was given the keys to the HP offense. He had big shoes to fill after backing up a magician named John Stephen Jones. At the time I was told by coaches that Morris was as talented a field general as Jones. That has proven to be true as he led the Scots to a 13-0 record going into the quarterfinals. His dazzling fourth quarter performance last Saturday – two touchdown passes and two touchdown runs – combined with a shutdown defense, allowed the Scots to shock the Lions, who had already punched their ticket to the semifinals.
Morris’s fourth-quarter leadership brought back the glory of John Stephen Jones, Matthew Stafford, Lance McIlhenny, Scott Smith, Bobby Layne and other Highland Park great quarterbacks.
We will probably never see another HP comeback like that in our lifetimes. Unless we see it this Saturday.
The Scots face a 14-0 Denton Ryan team in the semifinals for the third year in a row.
The Raiders have a coach’s son at quarterback. Sophomore Seth Henigan beat out his older brother Ian for the position. Both are sons of head coach Dave Henigan, who spent a few years on Randy Allen’s staff at HP. Two other standouts – Billy Bowman, Jr. and Drew Sanders – are also sons of team coaches.
Ryan has lost only three games in the past four years. They lost in the playoffs to Allen in 2015, Highland Park in 2016 and Highland Park in 2017. They haven’t lost a regular season game since 2015.
What does all that mean? Nothing. This is a new year and these are new teams. Hit the re-set button.
The Ryan player to watch is Drew Sanders (#16). He’s the guy who has thrown three touchdown passes, caught five and run for seven. He also leads the team in tackles, has three interceptions, six sacks and has blocked a punt and a field goal.
I presume the Scots will humbled by their lackluster performance in the first three quarters against John Tyler. I presume their confidence will be strong after their magical comeback win.
And I presume that it would be unwise for you to leave the Ryan game until the end of the fourth quarter.
by Kirk Dooley
When Coach Randy Allen scattered mousetraps throughout the Scots locker room last week, the players either thought there was a rodent problem or they thought their coach was losing it.
As it turned out, there were no mice and Coach Allen was simply a genius.
When he called the team together he talked about their opponent, Mansfield Timberview, who the Scots had beaten 42-7 three weeks before in their final district contest. It is human nature for one to assume one can defeat an opponent one thrashed 23 days before. It is very difficult to keep football players focused and hungry when in they assume that all they have to do it show up and they’ll win.
“It’s a trap,” warned Coach Allen.
He talked to them about how Timberview had improved and was playing with confidence. They had upset their first two playoff opponents, both good teams. Their star running back, Stacy Sneed, was averaging 200 yards per game in the playoffs. The Scots had to stay focused. They had to avoid the trap.
On the third play of the game Chandler Morris hit Finnegan Corwin for a 61-yard touchdown. Three drives later the Scots were up, 24-0. Just before the end of the first quarter Corwin returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown and HP led, 31-0. The Mansfield team’s confidence was already shaken and they were ready to get on the bus and go back home.
While the offense was putting up points – 38 at half time and 52 after three quarters – the defense shut down the Wolves and forced five turnovers. Sneed finished the night with 29 yards on eight carries.
That same hunger will be imperative as the Scots face a stronger, bigger, faster John Tyler team on Saturday. The fact that John Tyler beat the snot out of a very good Frisco Lone Star team means that the Lions are peaking at the right time, just like the Scots.
They have several players who are a heartbeat away from six points at any given moment from anywhere on the field. Stopping the big plays will be the key for the Scots, who are getting pretty good at containing skill players who are faster. HP defenders must continue doing a good job of getting off their blocks.
Much of the Lions’ success against Lone Star was taking away the Rangers’ top receiver and harassing a good quarterback into completing only two out of 12 passes for the night.
Will that strategy work against Highland Park? When they double-team Corwin, the Scots have a stable of excellent receivers ready to take up the slack. And I’ll take Chandler Morris over any QB in the state.
John Tyler averaged 5.36 yards per carry on the ground in their win last week. The Scots will need to whittle that number down. The Lions’ quarterback, Devlen Woods, is a good passer and runner who is very slippery. His scrambling could be the difference in the game. The Scots have three giant mouse traps – Jack Jurgovan, Jeremy Hanes and Prince Dorbah – who could be the difference in the game if they can set a trap for him in the backfield.