Sunset at HP This Friday

by Kirk Dooley

Here’s a statistic you should ponder as the Scots prepare to host the Sunset Bison this Friday:
Five weeks ago HP defeated Bryan Adams 62-0. Two weeks later Bryan Adams defeated Sunset, 76-0.
Wow. You do the math.
The Scots, now ranked fourth in state, have three more district games – Sunset, Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. Playing the state’s seventh-ranked team, Lancaster, seven days after facing Sunset is like speeding down the Tollway and throwing your car into reverse.
The Bison (which is singular and plural, by the way) have played four district games and lost to Samuell (32-0), Bryan Adams (76-0), Lancaster (73-0 and Timberview (84-0).
Conversely, the Scots have beaten Bryan Adams (62-0), Woodrow Wilson (66-0), Mansfield Legacy 76-6) and Samuell (56-6).
In every district there is statistically a best team and a worst team and at some point they play each other. For district 6-5A Div. I that game will be this Friday at Highlander Stadium.
The Highland Park coaches are trying to keep the Scots focused on improving every week but when the competition is not challenging, it’s hard to determine how you are progressing. On the other hand, your backups get to play a lot and that makes for a happy locker room. And a memorable Senior Night.
The Sunset players are coming off a 84-0 loss to the third best team in the district. What are these young men thinking? How do they show up for practice every day and keep their spirits up?
Here’s a true story about life as the Sunset head coach. Last year Coach Chris Castillo had 12 guys show up for the first day of practice. Instead of folding his hand he went out into the school and into students’ homes trying to convince guys to come play football. They could even bring a friend. Castillo was also the campus athletic coordinator. One morning at 3:00 a.m.he got a call from the tennis coach saying that he needed a heart procedure. Castillo became the tennis coach for the rest of the year. Then the softball coach had to report for duty by the Army Reserves right as the playoffs were about to begin. Castillo became the softball coach also.
This past summer Castillo stepped down after three years and a 3-27 record in football. Although his record wasn’t impressive, the way he related to his athletes was. The new coach, Armando Gutierrez, is continuing the fight to pull the Bison out of the bottom of the standings but it’ll take some time. I admire guys like Castillo and Gutierrez, like I admire the Highland Park coaches. They’re all working to help turn boys into young men.
I’m pulling for the Sunset players to be able to experience the joy of victory instead of living in the agony of defeat. Next week, of course.
In the meantime the Scots will face a very fast and very talented Lancaster team next Friday in a game that will give the HP coaches a real gauge on where their team stands. Then a tough match against Timberview will vault HP into the playoffs where Frisco Lone Star, Denton Ryan, Shadow Creek and their cousins will be lying in wait.

HP at Samuell Tonight

by Kirk Dooley

Going into Friday’s game against Samuell we’re approaching the halfway point of the district race, two things are evident and neither one is surprising.
First, the Scots have two major rivals for the district championship – Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. All three teams are 3-0 so far in district play and are the only teams with winning records.
The other is that Highland Park once again has a very good football team that is getting better every week. The return of receiver Drew Scott gives the Scots a tremendous weapon on the outside and the return of running back Hunter Heath gives the Scots a breakaway threat coming out of the backfield. The offensive line has been steady and strong, giving Chandler Morris the time he has needed to complete 122 of 169 passes for 1,887 yards and 21 touchdowns.
The Scots defense has been more fierce with the addition of defensive end Houston Hummel who leads the team in solo tackles with 13, followed by Andrew Bonnet (11), Prince Dorbah (10) and Cal Hirschey (10). Leading the Scots defense in tackle assists is Patrick Turner with 17, followed by Dorbah (13), Bonnet (12), Marshall Landwehr (12), John Beecherl (11) Hummel (11) and Andrew Washburne (10).
Dorbah is the sack master with four. Beecherl, Dorbah and Walker Cobb have snared an interception. Ford Frazar leads the team with five pass breakups, followed by Beecherl with four. This defense has allowed only one touchdown in the past three games, pitching district shutouts agains Bryan Adams (62-0) and Woodrow Wilson (66-0) and then holding Mansfield Legacy to six fourth quarter points in a 76-6 win.
Meanwhile you’ve got Lancaster, a state’s top 10 team with all kind of guns, averaging 69-0 in its three district games against Legacy, Samuell and Sunset. The Scots’ collision with the Tigers is set for Nov. 1 in Lancaster. In the meantime, HP faces Samuell this week and Sunset next Friday.
What to expect from Samuell? They’ve won two games – Spruce, 13-7 and Sunset, 32-0. But they’ve lost their last two games by an average of 61-0. The Spartans’ leading runner is De’Marcus Jones with 322 yards, their quarterback, Romie White, has thrown for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Jones is the leading receiver with 65 yards and one touchdown. Brandon Dotson has 58 receiving yards and a score.
This could a game where the HP reserves get some valuable playing time. But the HP starters shouldn’t forget what it is like to play an entire game because when HP visits Lancaster, they’ll play all night long.
Still, experience tells us that if the Scots lose any starters to injuries in the playoffs, having backups who have solid district reps unde their belts helps in the team’s efforts to advance.
It’s just an insurance policy the Scots hope they never need to cash in, but experienced backups who have become starters during the playoffs have been instrumental in the Scots three straight state championships.
That’s why they call it a team.

Mansfield Legacy at HP this Friday Night

by Kirk Dooley Blog

Last year your local back-to-back state champions were picked to finish second in district 6-5A DI.
Rival Mansfield Legacy was predicted to win the district championship and some sportswriters prognosticated that the Broncos would go all the way and win the state title. Highland Park was good but the Scots were basically a statistical afterthought. Runners-up at best.
Legacy was led by a wizard quarterback/safety named Jalen Catalon who was a mixture of Michael Vick, RG3, Kyler Murray and Jett Duffey (who led Mansfield Lake Ridge to the state finals in 2015). Catalon had led his team to the 5A DII state semifinals in 2017 while the Scots were winning their second ring. But in the first game last year tragedy struck early. Catalon suffered a catastrophic knee injury and lost for the season. The proud Broncos fought all season but didn’t have the leader to take them to the promised land. When the Scots played them at Vernon Newsome Stadium, HP drowned the Broncos, 28-7, in a bizarre downpour. Drew Scott scored the first touchdown in that game.
It’s different this year. The 4-1 Scots host the 0-5 Broncos in front of a Highlander Stadium homecoming crowd. On paper the Scots should dominate. The offense is averaging 64 points per game in district and the defense has not allowed a point. Coach Randy Allen has his team approaching this game like any other. He knows that Legacy has a proud history. They have the athletes. They have the coaching. They have playoff experience and they have pride. Like the Scots, the Broncos have had some key injuries and like the Scots, they are getting some of their top players back. Plus they’ve had two weeks to prepare for the Scots.
Lurking down the road for HP are state-ranked Lancaster (Nov. 1) and area ranked Timberview (Nov. 8) to give the Scots some true playoff-like challenges. But every game in district counts so there’s no need to look ahead. Especially this Friday.
While the Scots looked good with Drew Scott and Hunter Heath back from injuries, I was despondent over David Sherer being knocked out of the Bryan Adams game. He had just caught a Brayden Schager third-quarter pass and scampered 16 yards for a touchdown and it was the most dazzling run I’ve seen this year. Who was this guy?! I loved watching him dart through the secondary. A few minutes later he was laying on the sideline with a broken collar bone, out for the season. That’s truly a tough break.
This Friday at halftime of the homecoming game the school will be presented with the 2018 Lone Star Cup. And Coach Randy Allen will be honored for becoming the third winningest coach in Texas high school football history.
If you enjoy watching Scots football and you like history, it all comes together this Friday.
I’ll leave you with a trivia question. During halftime one of the 1969 HP captains, Paul Flowers, will be introduced. What special gifts does he have in common with Coach Randy Allen?

HP vs Woodrow at Hillcrest HS

by Kirk Dooley

Some people think that it’s a trick that the Scots play Woodrow Wilson this Friday at Hillcrest High School.
The fear is that the HP players, coaches, band, cheerleaders, Belles and fans show up at Franklin Stadium on the Hillcrest campus only to find that Woodrow is winning the game by forfeit at different stadium.
But it is no scheme. Each of the DISD stadiums belong to all the schools even if some stadiums stand proudly on certain school campuses. There was a time when the Scots did not play on the HP campus. Does anyone remember when Highland Park games were held at SMU while the new Highlander Stadium was being built?
This Friday’s game is the only away game in your lifetime to which you could easily ride your bicycle. As a matter of fact, Franklin Stadium in half a mile closer to HPISD’s new Boone Elementary School than  Highlander Stadium.
Woodrow is a proud school with a great tradition and loyal alums. And it produces elite athletes. It is the only public high school in the nation to boast two Heisman Trophy winners. While the Scots were winning state in 2005, Woodrow had the best football player in Texas. His name is Sergio Kindle. He was the only player in Texas to be first team all-state on offense and defense.  A running back, he gained 5,627 yards and scored 86 touchdowns. As a linebacker he was named a Parade Magazine all-American and was a finalist for Player of the Year. He also started at center on the Wildcats’ basketball team and ran the 400m in track.
In other words, he was the Prince Dorbah of his era.
While playing for the Texas Longhorns Kindle was the first player ever to be a finalist for both the Butkus Award (best linebacker in the nation) and the Ted Hendricks Award (best defensive end in the nation).
This Friday the Wildcats come into the game 0-4 for the first time since 1999. They lost 45-17 to Frisco, 43-28 to Frisco Heritage, 21-18 to Wylie East and 50-14 to Mansfield Timberview. The Wildcats are led by quarterback Sam Fennegan who has thrown for 573 yards, and running backs Evan Blackmon, Jack Wilkenson and Matthew Jackson. The most electrifying skill player is Mileek Gipson, who caught a 47-yard TD pass at the end of the second quarter of the Wylie East game to give the Wildcats a 15-14 halftime lead.
Once again, Woodrow is one of the better DISD schools in our district, and they have the nucleus to challenge the Scots if the Scots don’t have their heads in the game.
Last Friday quite a few HP backups got some serious playing time. Quarterback Brayden Schager hit WR David Sherer with at 16-yard TD strike at the end of the third quarter and Sherer danced into the end zone in one of the most impressive touchdowns of the season. Unfortunately, Sherer was injured later in the game.
Starting QB Chandler Morris completed 16 of 19 passes for 353 yards and five touchdowns.
In the first half!
WR Ben Smith was a Dallas News Player of the Week finalist as he caught eight passes for 215 yards and three TDs, also in one half.
Woodrow has a wide receiver named Ben Smith on its roster. Be careful. It could be a trick.


HP vs Bryan Adams Tonight

by Kirk Dooley

The Scots are still one of the best 5A teams in the state.
They got knocked off their throne last Friday night at Highlander Stadium by a Frisco Lone Star team that now sits upon that throne – and deservedly so. With the state’s longest winning streak (33) coming to an end, the number-one ranking now out the window and the Scots’ first home loss to a Texas school in the Randy Allen era (21 years) the Highland Park football team now comes back down to Earth.
But let’s stop a moment and review. To win 33 games in a row means a team had to win at least two straight state championships and this program has won three. To put that into perspective, the storied Highland Park football program won exactly one state championship between 1946 and 2004. Those in AP Math can tell us that we’re talking about more than half a century. Then here comes these new high-voltage Scots who have won three in a row. What would legendary 1940s running back Doak Walker think?
Well I’m sure he’s up in that Highlander Stadium in the sky bragging to his buddies in heaven that his grandson is the starting at running back for the Scots this week. Original Doak – who several sportswriters said was the best running back to ever play football – never won a state championship but grandson Doak has.
The number one ranking in the AP state poll? The Scots won three state titles and were never ranked number one during those seasons. Being the underdog has served this locker room well.
The home record is the most amazing of recent HP superlatives. With last week’s loss, the Scots now stand at 102-2 at home during the Randy Allen/Grayson Wells regime. A big reason this coaching staff is so successful is that the coaches emphasize getting better every week. And their teams do. The quarterfinals Scots will be a totally different team that the pre-district Scots. That’s why my money is still on the coach’s son.
Bryan Adams stands in the way of HP being undefeated in district play after game one. The Cougars come into the contest with a one-game winning streak after beating Fort Worth Southwest last week, 12-0. They won one game last season so they already have a better start. BA quarterback Amari Jones (#7) has thrown for 42 yards this season compared to Chandler Morris and his 990 yards. Top BA receiver Diaron Carey (#1) has 27 yards receiving while Ben Smith leads the Scots with 319.
The Cougars have two good defensive linemen to keep an eye on. Tackle Chimeremeze Nwanju (#44) and end Semaj Kimbrough (8) are plenty talented. Safety James Murphy (#9) and linebacker Antoine Murphy (#5) each had an interception last week. Antoine also had a TD in the first game when he returned a fumble 83 yards for a score.
Highland Park has 111 more players on its roster than Bryan Adams, 148 to 37. Counting only juniors and seniors, the Scots have 146 compared to the Cougars’ 24. Of course, each team can play only 11 at a time.
If the Scots take care of business, quite a few reserves will be able to play this Friday. And they can be key parts of their team kick-starting another home winning streak.