Lone Star Rangers Rematch for HP this Friday at AT&T

by Kirk Dooley

Every game in the playoffs is a big game. Every player knows that it could be his last dance.
The Scots are treating the Frisco Lone Star rematch like another weekly challenge. They have been preparing to play their best against a team that is generally considered to be the top 5A team in the state.
Let’s back up. In Week Three the Scots hosted the Rangers at Highlander Stadium. HP was ranked number one in the state and Lone Star was ranked fourth.
The Scots kicked off to the Rangers and Marvin Mims returned the kick 54 yards to the HP 45-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage sophomore quarterback Garret Rangel hit Mims for a 45 yard touchdown. Boom! That was the first of 24 unanswered points the Rangers scored on the Scots in the first half. The HP defense had a nice goal-line stand, holding the Rangers scoreless after a first and goal from the four. And the HP offense moved the ball but turnovers kept them off the scoreboard.
In the second half the Scots settled down, scoring 19 points and holding Lone Star to two field goals. But the 24-0 deficit was too much to overcome and the Rangers won 30-19, taking the state’s number one 5A ranking away from the Scots and keeping it for themselves ever since.
Watching HP’s biggest playoff games over the past three years, I’ve been amazed at how the Scots can dig deep and find a gear nobody knew they had. Much of it is coaching. HP goes into a big game they’re picked to lose and they find a way to win. That’s the emotion you’ll see the day after Thanksgiving, only 10 times more.
I think this game is the biggest game for Highland Park in the past several years. Unlike the Denton Ryan, Temple, Manvel and Shadow Creek games, the Scots are playing a team that beat them earlier this season. There’s a score to settle and the HP players be rabid like we haven’t seen this season.
I do think it is important to note that the Rangers have never seen Hunter Heath or Drew Scott or Will Gibson play. The Scots are playing on all cylinders right now and relish the chance to fight as underdogs. Something magic happens when the Scots are picked to lose.
Coach Allen and his staff know how big, fast, strong and athletic Lone Star is on offense and defense. Highland Park will have to play its best game of the season to advance. It may take 50 points to win this game but whatever it takes, I believe the Scots will find a way.

Round 2: HP vs Magnolia at AT&T Cowboy Stadium THURSDAY NIGHT

by Kirk Dooley

The Scots roll into the second round of the playoffs against the Magnolia Bulldogs this Thursday night at AT&T Stadium. Many Highland Park fans will not be familiar with Magnolia, a school the Scots have never faced.
First of all, Chip Gaines is not the coach.
The town of Magnolia, located about four hours south of Dallas, is in Montgomery County. The Woodlands and Conroe are also in Montgomery County, as is the best-named Texas town, Cut and Shoot.
Magnolia High School has 1,990 students and the population of Magnolia is 1,400, so how does that work? I guess they just do math differently down there.
The Bulldogs are 8-3 for the season and came in third in district 8-5A Div. I behind Lufkin and College Station. The Magnolia head coach, Craig Martin, was the offensive coordinator at Temple when the Scots faced the Wildcats in the 2016 state championship match, better known as the Turner Coxe Safety Game.
Magnolia has one of the biggest and best offensive lines we’ll see this season. The five guys on the O-line are: 6-5, 260 – 6-2, 280 – 6-5, 290 – 5-11, 260 – 6-6, 265. Three are committed to D-1 schools.
I have a family connection to Magnolia. My brother Craig has a nephew, Derek Bowman, a left tackle who is committed to Dana Holgorsen at the University of Houston. I’d like to say that Derek got his athleticism from my side of the family, since Craig was a standout on the Highland Park Buck-Buck team in 1969. But Derek’s dad punted for Texas Tech and his brother Reed is a punter at Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs use that O-line to pound the ball up the middle, right between the tackles. Running back Mitch Hall is a 5’9” battering ram who rushed for 208 yards against Poteet in the Bulldogs’ 34-14 win last Friday. Earlier in the season Hall ran for 230 yards against College Station.
The Scots are happy to have Henry Hagenbuch back from an injury. The offense is averaging 54 points per game and will be at full strength with Hagenbuch back at his right tackle position. The HP defense has been playing well and is holding opponents to 17 points per game. Magnolia is averaging twice that so we’ll see who wins that battle.
With some sophomores being brought up for the playoffs, we have two sets of brothers taking the field together for the first time. Senior DB Christian Wright welcomes his LB brother, George, to varsity and junior OL Will Gibson is now joined by brother Grant, also an offensive lineman. The Magnolia game will fade from our memories as time marches on but this will be a day these two sets of brothers will remember for the rest of their lives.
Magnolia will try to win this game between the tackles. And the Scots can’t score if they don’t have the ball.

Scots to Play Frisco Wakeland at HP in Round 1 of the Playoffs

by Kirk Dooley

Wanna see some magic? Watch wizard Randy Allen draw up a play to score on the first play of the game.
Using a solid offensive line, just have your Elite 11 quarterback to hand the ball to this 5’6”, 145-lb. motorized humming bird and watch as he scampers 75 yards for a touchdown before the National Anthem is over.
And that was only the beginning for Hunter Heath last Friday. He gained 240 yards running the ball and 96 more in the air as his four touchdowns helped seal another district championship for the Scots. It wasn’t just another good day at the shop. This was statistically the best performance by a Highland Park running back in decades.
I believe Stephen Dieb holds the HP record for most yard gained in a game but he didn’t have 96 yards receiving. I still have the calculator I needed to keep up with Paxton Alexander’s total yards. He reminded me of Mark Marynick who reminded old timers of Doak Walker’s grandfather. Some sportswriters said the original Doak was the best running back ever to play football, but even he couldn’t pound out tough yards like his namesake grandson, who enjoys running behind the same O-line as Heath.
Now we are the point of no return. Lose this Friday and your season is over. The Scots have been excellent in rising to the occasion when the playoff season begins. It is a good thing that HP was able to finish the district race against two good teams – Lancaster and Mansfield Timberview. Both are good enough to see the Scots again later in the playoffs. Legacy, on the other hand, finished the season by blasting the four DISD teams and may have a distorted view of reality when they face Frisco Lone Star in the first round.
What can we expect from Wakeland? A passion to beat the Scots. The HP volleyball team just eliminated Wakeland in a nail-biter last week. The Highlander Band finished second in the state championship, just ahead of – who else? – Wakeland.
The Wolverines are 5-5 and have a 1,000-yard quarterback, Dylan Laible, who starts at quarterback and another 1,000-yard quarterback, Peyton Lewis, who starts at wide receiver. Watch out for the double pass!
Wakeland boasts two good running backs, Charlie Burkhart and Jared White, with 1,500 yards between them, and two good receivers, Kevin Rychel and Dugan Sexton, who have 1,500 yards between them. A third threat at receiver is Lewis (the other QB) who has thrown or caught 20 TDs this season.
When Randy Allen was at Abilene Cooper, Marty Secord was on his staff, When Allen left for Highland Park 21 years ago, Secord became the head coach at Cooper. Now he’s the head coach at Wakeland and the two old friends meet again.
Secord knows Allen is a great coach but does he know he’s also a wizard?

HP vs Mansfield Timberview for Outright Title

by Kirk Dooley

The season really started last Friday for Highland Park.
The Scots traveled to Lancaster last week to get a reality check. How good were the Scots? It was hard to say until they battled the Tigers and came away with a 42-35 overtime win. The good news and the bad news was that the Scots won despite masquerading as turnover buckets. They stubbed their toes then “found a way” to win.
Note to selves: Work on eliminating fumbles and interceptions.
The Tigers looked as fast and talented as the HP coaches predicted. Even after the loss to the Scots, the Tigers are still ranked in the state’s 5A top 10.
The first play from scrimmage was a flea flicker gadget play that resulted in sophomore Jack Curtis catching a 75-yard touchdown strike from Chandler Morris. Talk about making an opening statement.
The teams traded touchdowns and HP found itself on its own 7-yard line, leading 14-7. Hunter Heath, who had scored the Scots’ second TD, took a handoff and broke into the Lancaster secondary and started sprinting up the sideline. A couple of Lancaster defensive backs plugged in their GPS angle finders and screamed toward the 5’6” Heath. Everyone in the stands could see where they would collide. As the Tigers speedsters caught up with Heath, he turned on an afterburner and outran the Tigers to the end zone. What?!
Let me repeat that. Hunter Heath scored on a 93-yard sprint by outrunning the Lancaster secondary, maybe the fastest DBs in the state. I had to adjust my glasses. Did I just see a mirage? A miracle?
A couple of weeks ago Heath broke a Highland Park record and tied a statewide record by running 99 yards for a touchdown. But his 93-yard performance against Lancaster was more dramatic.
The win gives the Scots at least a share of the district title. This Friday they can win it outright with a victory over Mansfield Timberview. But let me warn you: The Wolves are capable of beating the Scots.
New quarterback Jaden Hullaby is a transfer who accounted for 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. His backfield includes our old friends Stacy Sneed (1,250 rushing yards last year) and Montaye Dawson (1,020 rushing yards last year). When was the last time the Scots faced an opponent with THREE thousand-yard rushers? Never.
Playing Timberview will be like playing a Big 12 team. Hullaby has committed to Texas. His younger brother Landon, has more than a dozen offers. Sneed and Dawson have 30 offers between them. Jalen Kimber  is a four-star recruit who has committed to Georgia. And there are others. The Wolves went into this season expecting to win the state championship. They still feel that way right now.
The trick play the Scots used to start the Lancaster game was introduced to Coach Allen by his son, Zac, who sent a replay of Kyler Murray scoring an Arizona Cardinals touchdown with it. Coach Allen then saw a replay of Matthew Stafford using it for a Detroit Lions touchdown. Coach Allen incorporated it and the magic Chandler Morris bought enough time to make it work.
Coach Allen showed me the replays of both NFL teams running the play to perfection. I asked him if he knew the significance of those NFL TDs. He hesitated and I said, “You know both of the quarterbacks.”
He thought about and nodded. But the real question is, “Do Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford know that Coach Allen just won his 400th high school game? And that only three coaches have accomplished that in the history of Texas high school football?”
To me that’s as impressive as Hunter Heath outrunning the Lancaster secondary for a 93-yard touchdown.
I still can’t believe my eyes.

District championship on the line at Lancaster

by Kirk Dooley

For months the Highland Park Scots have circled Friday, November 1 on their calendars. That would be the day the proverbial rubber would meet the proverbial road.
And here we are.
Going into this season, HP and Lancaster were predicted to battle each other for the district championship. Although the road has not been especially challenging for either team, this Friday is when the competition gets serious and the district title is literally on the line.
As badly as the Scots have beaten their district foes, the Tigers have equalled those lopsided scores. Where we have a big difference is that the only team that can spook either the Tigers or the Scots – Mansfield Timberview – lost to Lancaster last week, 33-10, the only normal score so far in district 6-5A Div. I. The Scots host the Wolves next Friday in the district finale.
Going into this Friday’s game in Lancaster, the Tigers have the opportunity to win the district title by beating the Scots. They would secure the number one seed in the playoffs in the event of a tie for the district crown. If the Scots beat Lancaster and Timberview loses Friday, then HP wins the district title.
Highland Park, Lancaster and Timberview have all secured playoff spots and they are the only 6-5A teams with winning records. The fourth playoff spot is very competitive and there is a chance of a five-way tie for that position, although Sunset would have to win its final two games for that to happen.
Lancaster is led by shifty running back Tre Bradford, who has run for 682 yards on 59 carries and 13 touchdowns. He averages 11.5 yards every time he touches the ball. He’s a first down machine. Receiver La’Trell Caples is a legitimate threat with 434 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Glenn Rice, Jr. has thrown for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns to eight different receivers.
They are all fast. All quick. All athletic. The Scots defense will need to keep pressure on Rice and keep Bradford from turning the corner. The Tigers will be tough to slow down but they – like the Scots – are used to being up by 30 points and so being down by 14 could get in their heads.
This will be Lancaster’s Super Bowl. The players, coaches and fans will be rabid to dethrone Highland Park. The Scots have been down this road and now is the time to flex their muscles. Instead of feeling guilty about scoring 60 points, HP may need to score 60 points if they wind up in a track meet against Lancaster.
My advice: Slow the Tigers down, don’t try to race them.
I’m optimistic because the chains finally come off for the Scots on Friday. They will need to go hard for all four quarters and I think they are ready for their first 48-minute explosion since Sept. 13.
The Tigers are fast but Scots find a way.