HP Takes on Rockwall in Game #2 of 2020

by Kirk Dooley

Since two of the games in Highland Park’s 2020 pre-district 6A world tour were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, this Friday’s shootout against Rockwall will be the Scots’ second game of the season.

And I use the word “season” loosely. While the Scots rose to the occasion last Friday and beat a good Coppell team, 42-36, it’s still one game. The Scots hadn’t even scrimmaged anyone before they were thrown into the fire and they looked good playing an area top 20 6A team that was 2-0 and averaging 40 points per game. So now, instead of catching their breath, the Scots face a rock wall that is an area top 20 6A team that is 3-0 and averaging 54 per game.
And last week the Yellow Jackets beat Southlake Carroll, the number seven 6A team in the state. It is extremely rare to play a team that has just knocked off the Dragons. What’s amazing is that the Dragons feature the nation’s top ranked quarterback in the Class of 2021 and he came in second place to the Rockwall quarterback, Braedyn Locke, last Friday. Locke was 31 of 44 for 352 yards while Carroll QB Quinn Ewers (who, ironically, is coached by former Scots QB coach Tristan Weber) was 19 of 30 for 326 yards.
The plot thickens now that Southlake Carroll has cancelled its marque game against Denton Guyer this weekend due to a Carroll athlete testing positive for COVID-19 at an athletic event on Oct. 8. Hmmm. That’s the day when Carroll played Rockwall.

The Scots came together quickly last Friday to topple Coppell and HP may still be a work in progress this Friday against a team that is averaging 54 points per game. This Friday’s game has the potential to be a high scoring shootout. The Scots unleashed their Brayden Schager era as the Hawaii commit completed 19 of 31 passes for 310 yards. Not a bad start. But conversely, Rockwall’s Locke has already thrown for 1,000 yards.
Indeed, this rivalry has been a shootout. Over the past four years the Scots have won three and lost one. The Jackets won in 2017 (53-49) while the Scots prevailed in 2016 (43-21), 2018 (49-42) and 2019 (66-59). All those games were as electric as the scores indicate. Incredible, high-octane, nail-biting thrillers. Texas high school football at its best.
The Jackets no longer have five-star receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who thankfully graduated and went on to terrorize the Big 10 at Ohio State. Rockwall has reloaded with a trio of receivers – Jax Johnson, Brenden Bayes and Goodnews Iwuamadi – who are 100-yard-per-game guys for Braedyn Locke on any given night.
Coach Randy Allen summed it up by saying, “This is going to be a classic high school football game.”
Most sportswriters are predicting a Rockwall win. I’m going with the Scots Friday night for the strangest of reasons. In another thrilling shootout HP gets the nod because its star quarterback knows how to spell Brayden.

Game #1 of 2020: HP vs Coppell Preview

by Kirk Dooley

In the strangest high school football off-season since World War II, the Scots spent the spring and summer staying six-feet apart while staying in shape. When the players finally got the green light to get on the field as a team, the first two games of the season were cancelled due to COVID-19. Austin Westlake and Mesquite Horn were two 6A opponents that never got on the team busses.

While the rest of the world played games one and two, the Scots didn’t even practice while they quarantined. We all have been challenged by the coronavirus restrictions and protocols but the Highland Park Scots learned how to be good teammates without being in the presence of their teammates.
When the quarantine was lifted, the Scots had a few days of practice for this Friday’s kickoff at Highlander Stadium against the 6A Coppell Cowboys. While the action on the field will be standard, nothing else will be. Seating will be limited. Fans will be socially distanced from each other. The visiting band and drill team will not make the trip. The HP stands will be sparse and the Coppell side will be a ghost town on each end. Masks will be required.
Coppell will be led by standout quarterback Ryan Walker who has a 2-0 record while his team is averaging 40 points per game. The Cowboys beat Mesquite, 36-21, two weeks ago and then outlasted a good Sachse team, 42-35. Walker threw for 230 yards against Mesquite and 348 yards and four touchdowns against Sachse.
The Scots will face one of their most challenging wide receivers Friday when they line up against KJ Liggins. It will be hard to keep him from hitting the 100-yard mark and it will be imperative to keep him out of the end zone. He has the big play ability to take over a game. And the worst part of it is that Coppell has two other receivers, Dylan Nelson and Anthony Black who average over 27 yards per catch. Pick your poison.
The good news for the Scots is that the Cowboys gave up 507 total yards and 35 points to Sachse. So it appears that the Scots can move the ball and that HP-Coppell game could be a horse race.
On offense the Scots return four of their five starting offensive linemen. They have the senior quarterback – Brayden Schager – who will start in his first game for the Scots and he already has several major college offers and has committed to play at Hawaii. He’s got a clown car full of skilled receivers and three running backs who  can each make big plays.
It will be exciting to see the HP defense come together. There is some real talent, especially at linebacker.
The HP defense will be challenged by the high-octane Coppell offense but if the Scots can keep the Cowboys to 40 points or below, they should prevail.
As the great philosopher Randy Allen said, “We have a lot of catching up to do.”

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