by Kirk Dooley
With the Scots winning three straight state championships, one would think that their opponents would be somewhat intimidated.
The Yellowjackets traditionally hold their own against the Scots. And Rockwall is the only team in the past two years to beat Highland Park.
So this Friday we go back to the scene of the crime, Wilkerson-Sanders Stadium in Rockwall, where a wild and woolly offensive shootout broke out two years ago. The Scots came into the game flying high, with the confidence and momentum of defending state champions. HP was about to win a high scoring shootout when the Yellowjackets scored near the end of the game, recovered an onside kick then scored again on a 55-yard pass with 88 seconds left to win the game, 53-49.
Last year’s match at Highlander Stadium featured the first start for junior quarterback Chandler Morris, who made a huge statement for the game – and for the season – when on the game’s fifth play he ran 70 yards for a touchdown. Boom!
The two teams had scored 77 points through three quarters when the stadium lights suddenly went out with seven minutes let in the game. Highlander Stadium became the Twilight Zone for 17 minutes. The Scots were up by 14 points when the blackout hit. Rockwall, a team that never gives up, scored on the final play of the game then headed back to Lake Ray Hubbard on the losing end of a 49-42 scary movie.
Expect similar fireworks this Friday, like 100 points and 1,000 total yards. Rockwall will again be one of the best teams HP will face this season. They lost to state champion Longview by seven points last season and finished as area finalists. This year the Jackets, like the Scots, are planning on winning the state championship.
Rockwall is armed with one of the top receivers in the nation, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who lit up the Scots secondary last year with 13 receptions for 232 yards. He is the number one receiver in North Texas, with 1,828 yards last season. Running back Zach Henry is a 1,000-yard ball carrier. The player to monitor is sophomore open field magician Alex Orji who has the talent to break a game open by himself. It’s an Orji family tradition.
The Scots will be led by all-state quarterback Morris and all-state defensive end Prince Dorbah. I predict that both HP defensive ends will disrupt the Yellowjackets passing game and help the secondary cover Smith-Njigba. The Scots’ depth at linebacker will also be evident.
On offense I see the line giving Morris time to find his receivers – some great young ones to go with the experienced seniors. Last year Morris found nine different WRs and this year he might just break his record.
The Scots are picked to win state but several sportswriters pick Rockwall to win this first game.
Meanwhile I’m wondering why the Yellowjackets are orange.