HP at Lovejoy — 7:30pm Kickoff Tomorrow

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.

Thursday Night Lights at Mansfield Timberview — 7pm Kickoff

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.

Scots Host Waxahachie in Home Opener Friday, September 8th — 7:30pm Kickoff

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.

HP at Rockwall Sept 1st

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.

HP vs Temple State Championship Game Preview – Kickoff at Noon Sat 12/17 at Cowboys Stadium

by Kirk Dooley

The Scots shocked the world last week by knocking top-ranked Denton Ryan out of the playoffs. The win puts Highland Park in the state finals for the first time in nine years.temple-logo-1
   How did an injury-plagued team with two losses defeat an undefeated, top-ranked football machine boasting a 27-1 record over the past two years?
   Pride. Heritage. Tradition. Solid Leadership. Players with heart. The best high school coaching staff in Texas.
   The best third-string running back in the world. A nifty quarterback with football genes. Backups who stepped up when injuries struck. Linebackers who set the standard for their team. A receiving corps as deep as the Mariana Trench. Two kickers who make each other better. Being part of the winningest high school football program in the state. Playing with great intensity and making plays with the game on the line.
   There was one moment that exemplified the Ryan game in a nutshell. The Raiders quarterback handed the ball to his running back headed up the middle. Just before he got to the line of scrimmage, he was violently hit and went flying backwards. He ran into a charging Luke Blanton like a Smart car smashing into an oncoming freight train. The stunning collision could be felt all the way up in the stands. Thousands of people watching the giant video screen gasped and winced. Mothers covered the eyes of their children.
   The Denton Ryan players realized that they were not going to roll over this team. This was not a game, it was a battle. And none of them wanted a part of Luke Blanton. Or Turner Coxe for that matter.
   So the Scots win the game and advance to the finals. What should they expect in the Temple Wildcats?
   Coach Randy Allen says that Temple looks like Ryan but faster.
   A QB who has thrown for 3,626 yards. A 1,000-yard running back. A 1,000-yard receiver. Three other solid receivers, all named Johnson. (Aren’t there nepotism rules?). They’ve got a fast secondary and fast linebackers.
   All season the Scots defense has eaten 1,000-yard runners like Burger House fries. After Temple has studied film of the HP defense, I would expect them to come out throwing, and they are very good at it. Their go-to receiver is D’Yonte Heckstall (#1) but like the Scots, the Wildcats have a truckload of good receivers. They just all happen to have the same last name.
   Last week Hesse completed 11 passes for 360 yards, including an 89-yard TD. For those of you doing the math that’s an eye-popping 32.7 yards per catch. It looks like HP’s secondary defenders – O’Neil Sitzer, George Stewart, Alex Walzel, James Herring and Zac Folts – will have their work cut our for them. But they have risen to the occasion all season and the state championship game will be like another day going to work.temple-helmet
   The best thing the Scots have going for them is the fact that Temple is picked to win the game. Last week everyone picked Denton Ryan and that ignited an intensity in the Scots that turned them into warriors. With sportswriters picking Temple to beat Highland Park this week, the players have reacted with a deep resolve to prove them wrong again. See paragraph 3 for their weapons.
   Plus, they shouldn’t make Luke Blanton or Turner Coxe mad, but I’m afraid it’s too late for that.
   1945, 1957, 2005, 2016.


Put Scots Illustrated in the palm of your hand!  Click to download!


Tickets, Seating and Parking Information:

After a thrilling win over Denton Ryan, the Highland Park Scots are headed back to the state championship game for the first time since 2007. HP will face the Temple Wildcats in the title game at noon Saturday, Dec. 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Tickets for the game will be on sale this week at the following times at the Highlander Stadium Box Office (4233 Grassmere Lane, Dallas, TX 75205).

  • 8:30-11:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 16

Tickets purchased at Highlander Stadium are $14 for adults and $10 for students.

Tickets may also be purchased online through Ticketmaster. Online tickets are $24.75 each, including all service fees. Tickets can be purchased Saturday at AT&T Stadium for $15 each.

Parking is $10 per vehicle in lots 5, 6, 7 or 11, and the lots will open at 10 a.m. Fans may enter the stadium through gates C or H beginning at 10:30 a.m., and seating is general admission. HP fans will be seated on the south side of the stadium. Click here for entry and seating diagrams, and click here to view the stadium’s bag and purse policy.
“Our goal is to have more fans at the game than Temple,” HPISD Athletic Director Johnny Ringo said. “Temple has a tremendous football tradition, and they will have a large, vocal crowd and band at AT&T Stadium.”
To celebrate the team’s march to the finals, Highland Park High School will host a state championship pep rally for the community at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 in the main gym. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and students will sit on the east side of the gym and parents and families will sit on the west side. You may also join the community for a team send-off at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in front of Highlander Stadium.
The victory over Denton Ryan was Highland Park’s 800th overall victory, a state record. The Scots won the game 31-24, led by four touchdowns from running back Paxton Alexander. Click here to read Todd Jorgensen’s recap in Park Cities People.
This is the seventh time in school history the Scots have reached the state championship game, and the Scots have won the championship in 1945, 1957 and 2005. Help cheer your Scots on to their fourth state championship this weekend.
Click here to view a photo gallery from the Highland Park/Denton Ryan game.



For those of you who want to listen to the awesome Russell Scott, Jim Castellaw and Jae Ellis on the radio here is the info you will need…

kaam-bannerThe radio broadcast of the Highland Park vs. Temple Championship Game will be carried on KAAM 770 AM  throughout the Dallas area.  Pre-Game starts at 11:00 AM with kickoff slated for Noon.

Fans listening at home (or anyplace other than the stadium) can hear the game by any of the following methods:

1. With a radio tuned to 770 AM.
2. On a mobile phone or computer by going to www.kaamradio.com … then clicking the “Listen Live” button.
3. By going to App Store and searching for “Legends 770 KAAM” and then downloading the free app.

For those fans who are attending the game at AT&T Stadium:

1. Tune your transistor radio to 1670 AM. You should be able to hear our simulcast from KAAM.
2. If you are inside the stadium, do NOT try to listen on your phone or computer. Your phone or computer will delay the transmission by 7-10 seconds and therefore what you are hearing will not “match-up” with what you are seeing. This delay does not occur when listening on a transistor radio.


Preview State Semifinal: HP vs Denton Ryan — 1:30pm Sat, 12/10, at AT&T Cowboys Stadium

by Kirk Dooley

Of all the flashy stars from both teams in Saturday’s state semifinal shootout between Highland Park and Denton Ryan, the MVP could very well wind up being Matteo Cordray.
   Cordray, a junior kicker at HP, stepped in when talented starting kicker Jackson Hubbard suffered an injury. Like Dak Prescott, Cordray has done quite well and hasn’t given the starting job back.denton-ryan-logo
   This state semifinal game pits two offenses that can light up a scoreboard against two defenses that have sucked all the oxygen out of North Texas. Usually we’re trying to predict which team will slow down the other team’s offense. This game could beg the question, “Which defense will shut down the other team’s offense?” While it’s hard to believe that Saturday’s offensive fireworks could be suffocated, the reality is that this game could go 10-7 either way. In that case, my money is on Cordray.
   He was a middle school soccer standout when PE coach Ryan Gibbs pulled him aside and asked if he had ever thought about kicking a football.
   “No, sir. I never thought about it.”
   Gibbs, the Scots’ running backs coach, has a nose for talent and he helped Cordray develop into a solid and dependable football kicker. If a field goal beats Denton Ryan Saturday, the assist goes to Gibbs.
   While Denton Ryan will be the best team the Scots have faced in several years, HP has a great advantage in playing Frisco Independence, Mansfield Lake Ridge and Mansfield Legacy in the playoffs leading up to this game. Those three playoff wins featured a Highland Park defense that shut down three of the best offenses in North Texas. The fact that the Scots neutralized Legacy’s Kendall Catalon last week means that HP has the ability to neutralize Ryan’s QB Spencer Sanders (which, by the way, nobody has come close this season).
   Ryan is averaging 40.4 points per game. HP is averaging 38.6. Ryan is giving up 16.1 points per game. HP is giving up 13.5. Ryan is coached by a former Highland Park assistant. He knows what makes the Scots special. Can he outfox his former mentor? Although he has the D-1 talent to beat some colleges right now, I think he will face the best prepared team he’s seen in his three years in Denton.
   On paper nobody can beat Denton Ryan. They are said to have the best 5A defense in North Texas but I think the Scots’ defense will be better on Saturday. Spencer, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, could get rattled if his offense gets throttled early. His team is not used to being behind.
   This game should be a defensive death match. When was the last time the Scots won a game like that?
   Well, last week. 
   I know it’s not this simple, but let me repeat my theory: If you can corral Kendall Catalon, you can corral Spencer Sanders. And if that happens, the Scots will be playing next Saturday for the state championship.



Highland Park will face Denton Ryan at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 10 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Click here to order your tickets online now. Prices are $13.80 online or $15 at the stadium box office. Parking is $10 per vehicle in lots 5, 6, 7 or 11, and the gates will open at 4 p.m. Tickets will not be sold at the HPISD Athletic Office.


This is the first time the Scots have been in the final four of the playoffs since 2013. Head Coach Randy Allen and Athletic Director Johnny Ringo are excited that the community has been so supportive of the team so far, and they are looking forward to a large, vocal crowd at the upcoming game.
HP fans will be seated on the south side of the stadium. Click here for entry and seating diagrams, and click here  to view the stadium’s bag and purse policy.
The winner of this game will compete in the state championship against the winner of the Temple/Richmond Foster game. Click here to view the playoff bracket. The state championship game is scheduled to be played at noon, Saturday, Dec. 17 at AT&T Stadium.

For those of you who want to listen to the awesome Russell Scott, Jim Castellaw and Jae Ellis on the radio here is the info you will need…

Our radio broadcast of the Highland Park vs. Denton Ryan State Semifinal Playoff Game on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10th will be carried on 103.3 ESPN (KESN) throughout the Dallas area. Pre-Game starts at 12:30 PM with kickoff slated for 1:30 PM. Fans listening at home (or anyplace other than the stadium) can hear the game by any of the following methods:

1. With a radio tuned to 103.3 FM
2. On a mobile phone or computer by going to www.kesn1033.com … then clicking the “Play” (right) arrow to “Listen Live”.
3. By going to www.kesn1033.com … then downloading the free app via the link on the homepage.

For those fans who are attending the game at AT&T Stadium:

1. Tune your transistor radio to 103.3 FM ESPN. You should be able to get reception on the FM station inside the stadium. If you are having trouble getting steady, clear reception, try moving to another seating location. The signal tested “good” in most locations on the Highland Park side of the stadium.
2. If you are inside the stadium, do NOT try to listen on your phone or computer. Your phone or computer will delay the transmission by 7-10 seconds and therefore what you are hearing will not “match-up” with what you are seeing. This delay does not occur when listening on a transistor radio.

The game will be broadcast live on KTXA-Channel 21.
Go Scots!

HP vs Mansfield Legacy at AT&T Stadium – 5:30pm kickoff Friday, 12/2

by Kirk Dooley

It’s right about now that we should be glad the Scots lost to Wylie East in the final district game.
   Not that we’re pleased with a loss (especially the first loss in HP history to a Wylie team) but it did expose some HP weaknesses and it propelled the Scots into the playoffs with that bitter taste of defeat in their mouths. The players left their Superman capes in the phone booth and came out with a blue-collar resolve to prove to the world that they had what it takes to be champions.
   And win they did. In the first three playoff games they have averaged 52 points per game and kept the bad guys out of the end zone the first 10 quarters of the playoffs. These Scots have matured, come together, overcome injuries and have the zeal to leave a football legacy like previous generations of Scots before them.mansfield-legacy-helmet
   And now Mansfield Legacy walks into their crosshairs. This is the best Mansfield team, not that the other two HP beat this season were slouches. The only two losses Legacy has suffered have been to Aledo and Lancaster, both of which are playing this weekend in the state quarterfinals.
   Like Poteet, Legacy has sprinter speed. Randy Allen says that this is the fastest team the Scots have faced this season. They have a 2,000-yard running back (Cameron Session), A wide receiver (Trenton McDonald) who runs back kickoffs for touchdowns as often as Southwest flies to Houston, a sophomore free safety (Jalen Catalon) who has 140 tackles and seven interceptions and a quarterback (Kendall Catalon) who has thrown for 1,581 yards and run for 1,036, accounting for 47 touchdowns.
   Kendall Catalon injured his shoulder last Friday and didn’t play in the second half. Will he and his 47 touchdowns play this Friday against the Scots? Coach Allen says he probably will. If he doesn’t, I think his little brother, Jalen, will fill in and could be a challenge to contain. Think Michael Vick or RG3.
   The Scots come into this game without their leading receivers, Cade Saustad and Scully Jenevein, and their top running back, Jack Kozmetsky. But other good players are filling in and there should not be any drop-off.
   Here’s five things to look for Friday at AT&T Stadium:
   1. The Scots defense clogging the box and forcing the Broncos to throw the ball.
   2. Jack Sell and Junior Dorbah making vicious tackles on the kickoff coverage teams.
   3. On the video screen: Stephen Jones high-fiving his dad in the owners box every time John Stephen tosses a TD pass.
    4. After the game, the Catalon brothers starting to prepare for the track season.
    5. Paxton Alexander enjoying a breakout game, turning short gains into electrifying touchdowns.   
   This game could be a nail-biter, where the winner is determined on the final drive of the game. Whether HP has the ball or not, this is where the Scots’ offensive line or defensive line puts the team on its back and carries it to the state semifinals.


Click here to order your tickets online now. Prices are $13.80 online or $15 at the stadium box office. Parking is $10 per vehicle in lots 5, 6, 7 or 11, and the gates will open at 4 p.m. Tickets will not be sold at the HPISD Athletic Office.
HP fans will be seated on the south side of the stadium. Click here for entry and seating diagrams, and click here  to view the stadium’s bag and purse policy.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Denton Ryan/Colleyville Heritage game. Click here to view the playoff bracket. Highland Park is now one of only eight teams left in UIL 5A Division I playoffs.

HP vs Mansfield Lake Ridge – 1pm kickoff Black Friday at The Star in Frisco

by Kirk Dooley

The Highland Park defense has aggressively grabbed the spotlight during the playoffs, stuffing high-octane offenses and proving to be the difference between the Scots being a good team and a great team.mansfield-lakeridge-helmets
   That challenge escalates this Friday night as the Scots battle the Mansfield Lake Ridge Eagles, who averages 490 yards and 42.5 points per game. The winner of this game plays the winner of the Frisco Wakeland – Mansfield Legacy contest in the state quarterfinals next week.
   Last week the Eagles scored 87 points against the Samuel Spartans. They never let their foot of the gas because the Spartans kept scoring themselves, finishing the night with 58 points. And to be clear, the Scots offense could have scored 90 points each of the past two games if their opponents had kept scoring. But those past two teams, Mount Pleasant and Frisco Independence, were completely shut down by a destructive HP defense. Mount Pleasant was credited with a safety and Independence came away with an early field goal. No touchdowns. The HP defenders are still mad about the loss to Wylie East and they are playing like mad men.
   The Scot coaches get an A-plus for their preparation, giving their players the best chance to succeed. Independence had the highest-rated 5A offense in North Texas (508 yards per game) and had a 2,000-yard runner. The Scots defense, built Ford-tough, held the Knights to 148 yards of total offense and held their star back to 35 yards rushing. That was not luck. It was talent, determination, spirit and preparation.
   This week the Scots face a better team. Lake Ridge was in the state finals last year. Its quarterback, Jason Dean, has thrown for 2,725 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has also run for 530 yards and six more TDs. The Eagles have a star running back, Darrius Lee, is 52 yards away from 1,000 yards for the season.
   The Scots’ top two receivers, Cade Saustad and Scully Jenevein, are injured and out for the season. But the Scots rotate eight top-notch receivers each game, so a dropoff isn’t felt. J.T. Dooley got more playing time last week and responded with a dazzling 97-yard, two-touchdown night.
   Common opponents? Both teams beat Poteet, but not by much. HP shut out Mansfield Timberview, 31-0, then the Wolves turned around and gave Lake Ridge its worst loss of the season, 35-7. Go figure. Waxahachie, once a state top-10 team, beat the Scots on Sept. 2, then Lake Ridge beat Waxahachie, 63-49, in their final district game. The winner made the playoffs and the loser stayed home. Waxahachie is arguably the best team in Texas that didn’t make the playoffs.
   Both Highland Park and Lake Ridge come from outstanding districts, as 9-5A and 15-5A had four teams advance to the second round and both have three teams in the third round. HP, Lake Ridge and Mansfield Legacy are three of the four Div. I teams left in the region. Poteet, Wylie East and Lancaster are three of the four teams left in Div. II. That is a lot of firepower for two districts.
   Scots quarterback John Stephen Jones last week completed 11 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. He is comfortable, confident and seems right at home at the Ford Center at The Star.
   Lake Ridge averages 42.5 points per game and the Highland Park defense allows 12.9. How will that translate? My money is on Luke Blanton, Marshall Hammack, Turner Coxe, Matt Gahm, Bennett Brock, John House, Max Holsomback, O’Neil Sitzer, Alex Walzel, George Stewart, Zac Folts and James Herring.
   Gentlemen, start your defense.

HP vs Frisco Independence in Round Two

by Kirk Dooley

The first round of the Texas high school football playoffs can produce eye-popping scores, especially in the games where the number one seed from one district plays the number four seed from the adjacent district. It is not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament when top seeds play #16 seeds and the results are predictable. img_0491

Such was the case when 8-2 Highland Park battled 3-7 Mount Pleasant in the first round. The Scots won, 70-2, and held the Tigers to 65 yards of total offense and two first downs. Eight different Scots scored touchdowns, the last being JV Blue running back Cameron Reeves.

One team scoring a lot of points isn’t unusual during bi-district week. If Highland Park advances this week it will play Mansfield Lake Ridge (who scored 49 points last week) or Samuel (60). A possible quarterfinal opponent, Mansfield Legacy, put up 56 points. Semifinals? Denton Ryan (54) or Colleyville Heritage (50). And if the Scots make it to the finals, teams they might play and how many points they scored last weekend include Dripping Springs (63), Richmond Foster (72), Angleton (73) and Manvel (78).

In this week’s Area round the games shouldn’t be as lopsided. There is a chance that contest between Highland Park and Frisco Independence could be the highest scoring game in the state. Unless one or both defenses rise to the occasion, this game could be one of those 59-55 shootouts. The Knights will be the best offensive team the Scots have faced. They are the only 5A team in North Texas averaging more than 500 yards per game. Their top running back, Dom Williams, has already hit the 2,000-yard mark and has scored 29 touchdowns. Their quarterback, Kyle Saddler, has thrown for 2,482 yards and 29 touchdowns. Their top receiver, Colton Nielson, has 902 yards and 14 TDs.
Last week’s destruction of Mount Pleasant was a first-round aberration. The playoffs really begin for the Scots this Friday night. The competition will be 10 times stronger and the Scots need to have their heads on straight to stay in a potential close game.
Independence is tough but not unbeatable. They were stopped by a very good Frisco Lone Star team for the district championship two weeks ago, 37-13. Last week the Knights beat McKinney North, 47-28, for their first playoff win in school history. Independence opened in 2014.
To advance, the Scots’ offense needs to score like it always does, then add two more TDs. On defense, slow down Williams without giving Saddler one-on-one coverage across the board. Usually, it’s pick your poison. Stopping Williams by clogging the box has given the Rangers’ passing game a free ride to six points.
Earlier this season Independence scored 61 points against Frisco Heritage. But Heritage was the last one to score and won, 64-61. Let’s put that game under a microscope because Heritage finished the season 2-8.

HP vs Mt. Pleasant – Playoffs 1st Round – Sat 1pm Kickoff at The Star in Frisco

by  Kirk Dooley

   The 2016 playoffs are upon us and on Saturday HP fans will zip up the Tollway to watch the Scots take on the Mount Pleasant Tigers at 1:00 p.m. at the Ford Center at the Star, better known as the new Dallas Cowboys’ 12,000-seat indoor practice facility in Frisco. All the Frisco ISD high school teams use the state-of-the-art stadium for games throughout the season and it has become a popular playoff facility … as of this weekend. mountpleasanths
   The district 15-5A co-champions and number-one-playoff-seed Scots will face the Tigers, who finished fourth in district 16-5A. While the Tigers’ 3-7 record is not as good as the Scots’ 8-2 season total, Mount Pleasant’s winning streak is a two, while HP’s is zero. Therein lies one of the key aspects of the Texas high school football playoffs. Throw the records out the window. Forget the standings. Rankings mean nothing. As the great philosopher Randy Allen says, “A playoff team is a playoff team.”
   Any team with any record can beat any other team in the playoffs. Right now the Tigers are playing their best football of the season and they believe that they will win their third straight game this weekend.
   The Scots took a week off from a very good season and let the Wylie East Raiders beat them up in the final game of the regular season. It was the first time a Wylie ISD team has ever beaten Highland Park. To me the game boiled down to the Raiders’ final drive of the game, which took nine minutes off the clock and culminated with an Eno Benjamin 11-yard touchdown run with 80 grains of sand left in the hourglass. Final score: Wylie East 20 – HP 9.
   The Scots vow to bounce back this week and play at the level that put them in the state’s Top 10. On paper HP should run circles around a 3-7 team but the Scots are facing an offensive line that goes 260, 270, 295, 305 and 310. That’s a lot of East Texas beef leading an offense that is coming into its own with a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore running back. They’re both now playing like veterans as the playoffs begin.mountpleasant-helmets
   This season the Tigers boasted one of the best running backs in North Texas, a kid who gained over 1,900 yards as a junior. But he became unavailable in August and the Tigers are just now recovering from his loss.
   The Scots will wake up from last Friday’s slumber party in Wylie. They should have their heads on straight and take their frustrations out on the Tigers, who are thrilled just to make the playoffs.
   If the Scots take care of business, next week they will play the winner of this Friday evening’s Frisco Independence-McKinney North game at the Ford Center at the Star. Both of these teams will come armed with a 2,000-yard runner of their own. Hopefully the Wylie East game, in which the Scots held Eno Benjamin to 186 yards (that’s below his average), will serve as a practice game to prepare the Scots defense for Independence’s Dom Williams or McKinney North’s Lamar Lucas. Both of these guys have gained more yards rushing than Benjamin.
   But to get to that game, the Scots must do better than field goals against Mount Pleasant.