HP Hosts Jesuit; Honors Collins and Richards

by Kirk Dooley

The Jesuit Rangers ride into town to battle the Highland Park Scots tonight in a match that marks the first time in 80 years that these two legendary North Dallas programs have ever played each other in a district game.

This will be the second sellout in a row for the Scots at Highlander Stadium. There is excitement in the air because these two teams are playing for the district title and it’s still just September.

Jesuit leads district 7-6A with a 3-0 record. Right behind the Rangers are HP and Irving MacArthur at 2-0.

During halftime Highland Park will honor two of its outstanding alums, Dave Richards and Jack Collins. In 1957 Collins was a running back who led the Scots to the state championship. In 1983 Richards was the first offensive lineman to be named the Parade Magazine National High School Football Player of the Year.

Collins went on to lead the Texas Longhorns to Southwest Conference championships in 1959 and 1961. In 1959 he was named all-SWC while leading the Horns in rushing, receiving, total offense and all-purpose yards.

At 6’5”, 310 lbs., Richards was an all-SWC guard at SMU his sophomore year and an all-SWC tackle his junior year. When SMU was faced with the death penalty Richards transferred to UCLA for his senior year. He was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers and spent five seasons as a starter. In 1993 he signed a three-year $5.1 million agreement to play for the Detroit Lions. He later played for the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots.

Jesuit, Highland Park and Lake Highlands were pre-season favorites in district 7-6A. HP and Jesuit have both beaten Lake Highlands so now it’s a two-pony race. All three will be in the playoffs.

The Rangers have beaten  Hebron (38-7), J.J. Pearce (40-13), Lake Highlands (32-31) and Irving (56-7) and were defeated by Rockwall (51-23). The key game was Lake Highlands, a close battle that ended with a Jesuit field goal with 3:10 left in the game to win it by one point. Conversely, the Scots swamped the Wildcats, 52-21.

Last week the Rangers beat Irving, 56-7. Quarterback Charlie Schmidt (#17) passed for 132 yards and a touchdown and ran for two scores, from the two and from the 40. The Jesuit running attack was led by running back Jake Musso (#7) who picked up 139 yards on just five carries. For those keeping score, that’s 27.8 yards per carry. He scored twice. The other Jesuit running back, Cameron Martin (#25), scored once and picked up 51 yards on seven carries, a more human 7.29 yards per carry.

Scots quarterback Brennan Storer (#7) has thrown for more than 1,000 yards in four games. The O-line is giving him time and his receivers are all weapons. Throw in running back Jay Cox (#5) who scored six touchdowns in the first half of his most recent game. He carried the back six times and scored TDs on five of them. Toss in a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown and we can all agree that Mr. Cox had a decent first half. He and the other starters spend the second half on the sideline cheering on their teammates.

Eleven Jesuit Rangers attended either Highland Park Middle School or Christ the King Catholic School on Colgate. This is one of those games where emotions can propel a team to play with more intensity than usual.

   If this game is too intense, then try hitting the Highland Park volleyball game at Irving MacArthur Friday night. These Scots are 31-2 and are ranked first in the area and second in the nation.

Last Week’s Magic; This Week Irving

by Kirk Dooley

September 9, 2022, was simply one of the most magical nights in Highland Park football history.

In preparation for the sold out district clash with the Lake Highlands Wildcats, stands were constructed in the east end zone to house the Highlander Band and Highland Belles. That freed up an entire section of the stadium to meet the demand for tickets.

I’ve always felt that Lake Highlands was the red and white version of Highland Park in many ways. Looking across the field to the visitors’ stands has been like looking into a mirror. The Wildcats were 10-2 last year (as were the Scots) and 2-0 going into last Friday’s game. There was a Friday night excitement in the air for a game that was completely sold out.

In what was predicted to be a close game, the Scots dominating an area top 20 6A team, 52-21. But, incredibly, the action on the field was the third most important factor in creating a dazzling evening. The win gave Highland Park coach Randy Allen the 427th win of his career. That moved him past Celina and Pilot Point coach G.A. Moore as the second winningest coach in Texas high school football history and the winningest in the DFW area. Watching a Scots football game and watching history being made was unique and special.

Then at halftime former Scots state champion quarterback and current Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl-winning QB Matthew Stafford was honored as his #7 jersey was retired.

Stafford and the Rams had played the Buffalo Bills in a Thursday night NFL game, which gave him the only Friday night opportunity of the season to be available to come to Dallas to be honored. During the first half Stafford watched the game from across the street from the stadium with his teammates from the 2005 state championship team. When he and his family entered the stadium surrounded by TV cameras, they headed to midfield like  rock stars taking the stage. The normally staid HP crowd went wild. After hugging Coach Allen, Stafford took the microphone and said all the right things. The entire Scots football team stayed on the sideline during the presentation. As the Staffords walked off the field the HP student section chanted Matthew’s name. When the teams cranked up the third quarter, the Staffords were in a private jet headed to LA.

For those who were in attendance, it was a extraordinary evening that will never be forgotten.

But that was last week. This week the Scots travel west to battle the 1-1 Irving Tigers in a Thursday night game. The Tigers lost to Ft. Worth Paschal, 16-7, in the season opener and beat South Garland, 33-21, two weeks ago. They had a bye last week. The Tigers have a nifty QB, Connor Martin, who can run and pass. In the South Garland game Martin threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. Running back Andrew Benavidez picked up 81 yards. Martin ran for 72 yards and passed for 110. On the strength of the Scots 3-0 start against three very good teams, HP is now ranked 10th in the state in 6A.

Coach Allen now has 427 wins. He needs to reach 491 to become the all-time leader. Fast forward five or six years when he is honored for reaching that threshold. There will be a ceremony at halftime and one of his former players, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Matthew Stafford will return to Highlander Stadium not to be honored but to honor his beloved high school coach.

   That night will be magical also.

#7 Matthew Stafford Returns to Highlander Stadium to Help the Scots Defeat Lake Highlands

by Kirk Dooley

In 1994 Lake Highlands had a good quarterback who was replaced by a once-in-a generation talent by the name of Marcus Stiggers. The replaced QB moved to defense and had a good season. Stiggers ran for 1,600 yards as a quarterback. He had 2,000 all-purpose yards and ran for 20 touchdowns. I recall coaches telling me that he was one of the best talents to ever play high school football in Dallas. Stiggers went the University of Colorado but didn’t live up to his potential.

The other QB-turned-DB never gave up his dream of being college quarterback and he wound up at the United States Naval Academy and played quarterback for the Midshipmen. After graduating he served his country and became a Navy Seal. After retiring from active duty, he returned to Dallas. In 2011 he and another Navy Seal created a non-profit to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day. It now honors our nation’s heroes 365 days a year.

The non-profit is Carry the Load. The QB who co-founded it is Stephen Holley. Carry the Load has raised more than $33 million that is distributed to non-profit partners that provide services to our nation’s veterans.

So what does Carry the Load have to do with the Highland Park-Lake Highlands football game?

Plenty. The starting quarterback for the Wildcats is Stephen’s son, Tripp Holley, a 6’3” 190-lb. legacy who in two games has thrown for 277 yards and five touchdowns and has run for 188 more yards.

The Wildcats were 10-2 last season and are now ranked among the top 6A teams in the Dallas area. They shut out Mesquite Poteet, 21-0, in Week One and beat Flower Mound, 27-17, last Friday.

This is the first district game. It will go a long way to determine the eventual 7-6A district champion.

The Scots are coming off two tough pre-district games. They beat Flower Mound Marcus and Lewisville by 14 points each. Both games were close and went back and forth until the Scots broke serve and scored the final touchdown to go up two scores at the end of the game.

The Scots passing game has set the pace this season. Quarterback Brennan Storer returns after passing for 2,514 yards and 25 touchdowns last season as a junior. With a solid offensive line and a clown car full of great receivers, Storer has thrown for 584 yards and seven touchdowns over the first two games. He is ranked third among Dallas area 6A quarterbacks in total yards. It is hard enough to try to cover all four HP receivers but when running back Jay Cox comes slithering out of the backfield covered by a linebacker in the open field, he can take it to the house at any time.

There are two other factors in play that have helped create a sold-out game at Highlander Stadium. First, HP coach Randy Allen can become the second-winningest coach in Texas high school football history with a win on Friday. And during halftime former Scots quarterback Matthew Stafford will be honored and his Scots jersey (#7) will be retired. The Super Bowl winning QB will be at Highlander Stadium Friday night for this special night. There is so much electricity in the air that I think the Scots could have sold out AT&T Stadium for this game.

   Stafford’s #7 jersey will be retired at halftime. So why am I the only one worried about what number Brennan Storer will be in the second half?