by Kirk Dooley
Wylie East certainly got the Scots’ attention last year.
In the final district game of 2016 the Raiders climbed up on the back of Eno Benjamin and used his 186 yards rushing to grind out a 20-9 win over the sleep-walking Scots, prompting a Dallas Morning News sportswriter to predict that Highland Park would make an early exit in the playoffs.
It was the first win over Highland Park by any Wylie ISD school ever. The shocking loss did the Scots a favor by revealing how low HP could go. Even though the Raiders controlled the clock with its battering ram offense, when the Scots got the ball they couldn’t put it in the end zone. Matteo Cordray was the Scots’ leading scorer with two field goals. It was the first time since the opening game of 2013 that the Scots didn’t score a touchdown in a game.
This time last year I wrote that the Wylie East loss would be the best thing that happened to the Scots.
The next morning the HP coaches gathered the team together and they hit the reset button.
“We put our 8-2 record behind us and used the Wylie East loss to refocus,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We dedicated ourselves to never play below our abilities again, to have a chip on our shoulders and to create the goal of winning six playoff games including the state finals.”
It was obvious that the HP universe shifted during the days after the Wylie East loss. The players were wildly focused. The first team they met in the playoffs, Mount Pleasant, shouldn’t have gotten off the bus. They felt the brunt of the Scots’ wrath, 70-2.
My, how things can change in a year. Wylie East is now armed with a new star running back, Corbin Johnson, but the Raiders have won only two games all year. Meanwhile North Forney is in the playoffs and Lovejoy (who started the season 0-4) could make the playoffs this Friday, possibly at the expense of Poteet, who made it to the state semifinals last season.
The HP seniors will never forget the Wylie East beatdown last year. They’ve been foaming at the mouth for a year to get back on the field with these guys. It will be a physical game and it should bring out the best in the Highland Park players. A win for Wylie East will make their 2-7 season a success. A win for Highland Park will let 50 seniors finally sleep at night.
Then they can enjoy dreaming about being state champions.