HP vs Mesquite: Kirk Dooley’s Blog

It’s back to Hanby Stadium for the Scots on a perfect Texas high school football night. This week’s Mesquite host will be the original Mesquite Skeeters, a team that has been a rival of Highland Park’s since Mesquite was a dusty little farm town lost somewhere between Dallas and Shreveport. mesquite skeeters helmet

Today that farming community is a major Dallas suburb that dwarfs the Park Cities in population and has five large high schools. Part of the school district lies inside of the LBJ Freeway loop, so it’s not considered far away anymore.

Last year the Skeeters snuck into the playoffs with a 3-3 district record before they were eliminated by Sachse in a razor-thin close game. This year’s version of the Skeeters is 2-5 but have playoff potential with a 2-2 district record. Last week Mesquite used a 21-point fourth quarter to put away Richardson Berkner, 28-7.

But two weeks ago the fireworks were flying when the Skeeters battled a red-hot Richardson Pearce team. The Mustangs prevailed but it was exciting. With three minutes left in the game Skeeters quarterback Dazmon Scott hit wide receiver Jordan Rider with a 91-yard touchdown pass to tightened the score to 45-41. But the Mustangs held the ball on their final drive and scored at the end of the game to win, 52-41. Both teams combined for 1,256 yards of total offense along with 64 first downs. It was a track meet. In that game, Pearce quarterback Hank Hughes completed 32 of 41 passes for 498 yards and four touchdowns. Not a bad day at the office. He also ran 22 times for 97 yards. The Skeeters allowed Pearce receiver Jake Griffin to grab 17 passes for 269 yards. Conversely, the Scots defense managed to keep a lid on Griffin.

Mesquite is battling for a playoff spot so its players will be desperate for a win. To do that they’ll need their tandem quarterbacks – Anthony Tennison and Scott – to be on target. The Skeeters’ top two receivers are Chance Fisher (90 receptions for 607 yards and six TDs) and Scott, who has caught 34 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns, presumably when he was not playing quarterback.mequite skeeter emblem

On paper, Mesquite will not be as challenging as the two other Hanby hosts, but they have beaten Berkner and Lake Highlands over the past three weeks. So this is no time for the Scots to look past their opponent. To have a 2-2 district record puts the Skeeters on the playoff bubble, and as we’ve seen over the years, anything can happen when high school football players pull together with a quest to make the playoffs.

They won’t be Horn, but they could be a thorn.

HP vs Lake Highlands: Kirk Dooley’s Blog

Here comes the 3-3 Lake Highland Wildcats.
   This will be the first meeting between the Scots and the Wildcats since 1999. That was the year that Randy Allen blew in from West Texas on the wings of his Air Raid Offense and ever since then things around here have been riveting.
   For those of you who remember the Herman Bailey days, the current state of football at Highland Park seems miraculous. Coach Bailey put together a 42-27-2 record over a seven-year period from 1967 to 1973 with similar talent as today but the program lacked the winning tradition that Tugboat Jones brought in when he was recruited from West Texas in 1956.
   It was in 1974 that Frank Bevers (from Mineral Wells) single-handedly brought back the championship attitude that Highland Park had trademarked in the 1940s.
bevers 1981-82
After that, Randy Emery, Don Richardson and Scott Smith combined for 84 wins and 33 losses to continue the winning tradition. But then came Randy Allen and he redefined championship football in a way that would impress even Doak and Bobby. His record is 179-22 since 1999, and includes only three district losses and zero losses at home. Each of those stats is incredible. In the meantime the Scots have now won more games than any team in Texas high school football history.
   Had Coach Allen or Coach Bevers arrived in the late ‘60s and stayed through the early ‘70s they might have strung together several 10-game seasons. Give them Kyle Rote, Jr. or Bobby Halpin or Larry Dupre in a spread offense and watch the fireworks erupt. Throw in Johnny Koons, Paul Flowers, Bond Beams, David Clarke or Mike Forester and there might have been some state championships using a Randy Allen offense or a Frank Bevers defense.
   Fireworks is what we have right now. The Scots are 4-1 on the big 6A stage and Lake Highlands is the next challenge. After two fumbles and two interceptions doomed the Scots’ perfect season last week, they will regroup and work on their weaknesses. The Scots face the Wildcats while HP’s lip is still bloody and so I wouldn’t want to be Lake Highlands this Friday.
   Look for Wildcats running back Tyler Hughes to assault the HP defensive line with his five yards per carry average. (At least he isn’t 290 pounds, like Horn’s nose guard/running back Dalen Morgan.) Stop Hughes and the Wildcats will have a hard time staying in the game.
   The Highland Park Independent School District celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend and the eyes of many old timers will be on the 2014 Scots on Friday. What these silver-haired alums will see is a team of young men out to prove that their link in the storied HP football tradition is as strong as their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers.
   It’s not all about winning. It’s about pride and heritage and leadership and character on the football field.
   And it dates back to 1923.

Highland Park vs Mesquite Horn

This is the big one.

When Highland Park learned it was going to be in 6A, its coaches immediately circled October 10 as the biggest challenge. Mesquite Horn. With 11 starters returning from a 9-3 area finalist team, many predicted the Jaguars to be the team to beat, but Highland Park was the pre-season pick to win the district.

mesquite horn helmet

Sure enough, it looks like the district championship will be determined at Hanby Stadium on Friday.

This will indeed be the biggest challenge for the 5-0 Scots. The 4-1 Jaguars lost only to an undefeated Rockwall team but they have impressive wins over Duncanville and McKinney Boyd. The secret weapon Horn brings into the game is head coach Mike Overton who knows the Scots well from his days as the coach at West Mesquite. The fact that Horn is loaded with D1 talent is no surprise. One of the best offensive linemen in the state, Connor Dyer, will be playing for Texas Tech next year. Two wide receivers – Emmanuel Ogwo and Jarrison Stewart – have committed to play for Iowa and TCU. And neither one is the leading receiver on the team. Kakpa Mansaray has caught 22 passes for 308 yards to lead the team.

Statistically, these two teams match up. Horn QB Chris Robison has completed 76 of 136 passes for 1,339 yards and 14 touchdowns. HP’s Brady Burgin has completed 80 of 126 passes for 1,223 yards and 12 touchdowns. Horn is averaging 910 yards on the ground compared to HP’s 840. While the Scots are scoring 46.8 yards per game (compared to the Jaguars’ 33.2), I think the game will be determined by the Highland Park defense. While The Dallas Morning News picks Horn to win, 28-24, I think the Scots defense will hold the Jags to under 24 and I think Burgin’s balanced offense will score more than 30.

When the Scots start slow, they have adjusted at halftime and won the second half. That may happen again this Friday, but if the hole is too big, even a big second half won’t help. This is the first team HP will play that is loaded with college players. Like many teams the Scots face, these Jaguars are foaming at the mouth to snap the Scots’ 36-game district winning streak. Their extra step of quickness will challenge the Scots’ air game.

But there is something about rising to the occasion that makes Highland Park football unique. They have the bitter taste in their mouths of being picked to lose the game. The individuals on the team will reach deep inside and find a gear they didn’t know they had … but they know they’ll need it against a talented team like this.
Horn has D1 talent. Scots got pride.

That will be the difference.