BEFORE THE KICKOFF: HP vs Midway
The Battle of Midway begins tonight and after the smoke clears, the victor will live to battle another week.
While the Panthers had only one challenge in their district race, their pre-district performance was impressive. In the first game, Midway knocked off Lake Travis, 38-30, then beat Mansfield (24-14), Mansfield Timberview (41-34) and Duncanville (42-36). Both Lake Travis and Timberview are now 10-1, are state ranked and are still alive in the playoffs.
“We’ll need to raise our level of play in order to compete with Midway,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We expect this to be a tough game but we’ll be prepared.”
On offense, the Panthers return six starters from last year’s 9-3 area finalist. Quarterback Ben Hicks (#8, 6-2, 195) threw for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior last year. This season he has completed 182 of 261 passes for 2,816 yards and 25 TDs.
Midway’s top receiver, Devontre Stricklin (#2, 6-3, 160) has caught 51 passes for 1,074 yards and 10 touchdowns. He won’t have to go far to play college football. He has committed to Baylor. The Scots secondary will need to watch a couple other Panther wide receivers. Joseph Ward (#9, 5-10, 170) has caught 38 passes for 559 yards and eight TDs while R.J. Rangel (#11, 5-10, 200) has caught 22 passes for 364 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Eric Clayburn (#29, 6-0, 180) will be tough to bring down. He has already picked up 1,385 yards on 205 carries, scoring 17 touchdowns on the ground.
But the secret behind this prolific offense is the college-size offensive line that the Panthers have. They average just under 300 lbs. each and give Hicks plenty of time to find Stricklin.
Scoring? The Panthers average 47.5 points per game and hold opponents to 23.8.
Last week Midway faced Tyler Lee in the first round of the playoffs. Lee received the kickoff. On the first play from scrimmage, Marcus Johnson (#27, 5-10, 170) intercepted a Lee pass. On the second play, Hicks hit Stricklin with a touchdown pass. And it went downhill from there for Lee. Midway scored four times in the first 14 plays and led 41-7 at the end of the first quarter, then 62-14 at halftime. The Panthers scored on all of their possessions en route to a 76-47 win.
But perhaps the most impressive win for the Panthers was in the battle for the district 12-6A title. The only other team in the district with a winning record was Copperas Cove and the two teams lit up the scoreboard as Midway won, 66-54. The two teams combined for 1 Your Domain Name , 286 in total yards (591 yards rushing and 695 passing) and 65 first downs.
The good news is that the Scots should be able to move the ball on the Panthers. The bad news is that Midway has a very potent offense. The Panthers have many weapons and they are all lethal. But the Scots boast one of the most brutal defenses in the Dallas area, holding teams to an average of 12.8 points per game – the best 6A effort in the Greater Dallas area right now.
This major battle – the Midway offense against the HP defense – should determine who advances. “To win this game we’ll need to focus on limiting turnovers, making explosive plays, third-down conversions and field position in the kicking game,” said Allen.
The Scots eliminated 5-5 Irving Nimitz last Friday, 49-17, in a game that was close in the first half (21-17). The Vikings had the ball and the momentum at the beginning of the second half when HP’s own personal Pick-6-Machine, Mitchell Kaufman (#10, 6-3, 225) grabbed a Viking pass out of the sky and sprinted 38 yards for a touchdown that changed the momentum of the game.
“We never looked back after that play,” said Coach Allen. “Mitchell really has a knack for knowing where the ball is being thrown. He’s got good hands, good agility and can jump, but his ability to make plays like that comes from his reading the quarterback’s eyes and watching film to study offensive tendencies.”
Scots quarterback Brooks Burgin (#5, 6-2, 190) threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns in the Nimitz win, giving him 3,000 passing yards for the season.
The game tonight is being played in Midlothian, which is 32 miles from Highland Park and 85 miles from Waco. The winner of this match will advance to play the winner of Lake Travis and Spring. As many Texas high school coaches are fond of saying,
“There are no turkeys in the playoffs after Thanksgiving.”