article supérieur by Kirk Dooley
It’s Senior Night at Highland Park. Before the West Mesquite game this Friday night, all the HP seniors on the team will be introduced, so come early to honor these guys.
Highland Park football has been a Texas tradition since 1923 and this year’s version of the Scots has the most seniors ever. Hats off to these players for being a part of something bigger than themselves and a tip of the fedora to their coaches for keeping this large number of young men on board, focused and contributors to the team’s success.
Special teams players and scout team players make up a healthy percentage of the team. The offensive scout team and defensive scout team do an admirable job of making the starters better and more prepared for each week’s opponent. While they will not set foot on the field during a game, the scout team players deserve a lot of credit for each win.
Highland Park football is like a well-oiled machine. When Players of the Week are announced after each game, the honorees include offensive players, defensive players, special team players, scout team players, managers/trainers and two awards for injured players – 12th man and video. When each division of the corporation has a couple Players of the Week, there are about a dozen honorees. In the locker room, the star offensive player is on the same level as the trainer of the week and the scout team players of the week. It is a very healthy and successful system. It is one of the reasons why Highland Park has won more football games than any school in Texas history.
This Friday West Mesquite visits Highlander Stadium and the Wranglers are coming off a 41-27 win over Wylie East. The fact that they lost their previous seven games doesn’t matter to the Scots. The Wranglers have tasted victory, are on a winning streak and are playing their best football of the season right now.
The Scots have gotten off to sizzling starts the past two games over McKinney North and Tyler. They will need to continue this tradition on Friday and next week against Wylie East. This is not the time to fall asleep against teams with poor records.
If the Wranglers get the momentum and the Scots are not in the proper mental state to fight back, I say put in the entire scout team, with players foaming at the mouth to get in a game. Fans in the stands will see spirit and fury that the HP starters see every day in practice. Which, of course, is why the starters will be totally prepared and in the proper mental state so that they won’t let a momentum shift throw them off.
The Scots have earned enough respect this season to be ranked second in the state. Every player, coach and trainer shares in this ranking. And each one will tell you, “When you play one of us, you play all of us.”
by Kirk Dooley
Friday’s district battle between the Scots and the Tyler Lions will have an elephant in the stadium. While the big playoff game against the Lions was two year ago, it will be a major factor in this week’s game in Tyler. At least in the minds of the players, coaches and fans.
In the 2018 state quarterfinals the Scots faced the Lions at the Star in Frisco. Tyler (then called John Tyler) controlled the first three quarters and led 35-14 going into the final period.
The great back-to-back state champions were about to be knocked out of the playoffs for the first time in three years. Some Scots fans were leaving the stadium, thinking the game – and the season – were both over.
When the HP players saw the Tyler players dancing and celebrating their big upset victory, something clicked and the Scots suddenly became laser-focused on salvaging their pride. And they had the personnel to dig out of the hole, including sophomore linebacker Patrick Turner, who had six tackles in the game.
HP quarterback Chandler Morris (now the Oklahoma Sooners’ third-team QB as a true freshman) led his team to one of the most magical quarters in HP football history. Down 21 points, Morris hit Benner Page with a six-yard TD, tightening the score to 35-21. DB Hudson Clark (now an Arkansas Razorback star) stopped the Lions with his second interception of the night. That play electrified the Scots. Morris and his big O-line marched down and scored on a 28-yard TD pass to Bennett Brown.
35-28 with 8:18 left.
The Scots defense stopped the next Tyler drive and the HP offense responded by marching down to the 14 before Morris ran it in himself to tie the score with 3:25 left in the game.
Again, the HP defense held and the Scots offense was given the chance to win the game. An incredible 45-yard pass from Morris to Finn Corwin (who went on to become an Oklahoma Sooner) looked like a TD but the officials ruled him out on the one-yard line. So with nine seconds left Morris scored from the one-yard line to give the Scots a cardiac 42-35 win for the ages and set up their third state championship in a row.
So that brings us to Tyler this Friday. The Lions are 2-4 for the season and 2-1 in district. A win by the Lions would give them a tie for the district lead. In other words, they are very motivated and they also believe they have score to settle from 2018. Beware of high school players with deep emotions.
Tyler QB Ken’Yontae Pinkard (#2) has thrown for 780 yards and run for 209. QB Eli Sanchez (#4) has passed for 377 yards. Top receiver Makavion Potts (#1) is also a dangerous kick returner. On defense Trevion Ates (#7) is averaging 11.7 tackles per game and leads the team in interceptions and tackles for loss.
Nobody wants to beat the Scots more than Tyler. The Scots will need a quick start like they did last week. The last time the Scots beat the Lions it led to a state championship. It’s too early to think about that now but Tyler will learn this Friday that Brayden Schager is the new Chandler Morris and Patrick Turner is the new Patrick Turner.
by Kirk Dooley
East Texas powerhouse Longview is the 64th winningest high school football program in the nation and they don’t lose at home much. Last Friday they defended their home turf against the Highland Park Scots who didn’t seem to be intimidated by the Lobo’s winning tradition. That’s because the Scots are the 10th winningest high school football program in the nation. And they don’t lose at home much, either.
Two strong, state-ranked teams with deep traditions collided last Friday in Longview. The Scots’ defense stepped into the spotlight and held the top two running backs in district 7-5A to a total of one touchdown. HP came away with a hard-fought 18-13 win in one of the Scots best defensive performances since John House, Bennett Brock and Matt Gahm wrote the book on linebacking as they led the Scots to the 2016 state title.
At the Lobos’ practice on Monday their coach let them know that their game this Friday against Sherman has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns at Sherman High School. With Nov. 20 being a bye week for the Lobos, their next game will be Thanksgiving weekend against McKinney North.
So this Friday when the Scots host McKinney North, if there is a sea of green letter jackets in the stands, it’ll be the Lobos team scouting the Bulldogs in person. They might even all go to Banditos after the game for some good post-game Tex-Mex before heading back east.
On Friday this will be the third game in a row that the Scots face an opponent who is undefeated in district play. McKinney North is 3-0 and is coming off an impressive 52-31 win over Wylie East.
The Bulldogs will be screaming into Highlander Stadium playing like this is the district championship game. Sure enough, the winner will come away with sole possession of the district lead. The Bulldogs will be motivated and energized. They’ve got a sophomore quarterback – Gavin Constantine (#6) – who is fast and has a good arm. He’ll be handing the ball off to a freshman running back – Taylor Offord (#80) – who is shifty and quick but doesn’t have a driver’s license. The best player on the Bulldogs team is wide receiver J.J. Henry (#2) who last Friday against Wylie East averaged 20.75 yards per catch on four receptions. Last year, Henry lit up Justin Northwest for 204 yards. For the season he had 60 receptions for 1,214 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s no Marvin Mims or Jaxon Smith-Njigba but he can light up a secondary. Just ask Magnolia West, who lost their playoff game last November to the Bulldogs, 70-36.
“They can score a lot of points,” said HP coach Randy Allen.
Last Friday night the HP defense held Longview to only two explosive plays. Two Brayden Schager touchdown passes (to John Rutledge and Will Pettijohn) and two Jack Stone field goals were enough offense to give the Scots the 18-13 win.
The weather this Friday will be ideal for high school football under the Friday night lights. But, beware! It will be Friday the 13th.