HP at Lovejoy — 7:30pm Kickoff Tomorrow

by Kirk Dooley

This is a game that concerns Randy Allen. Lovejoy worries me also.
   The players and coaches are taking this game very seriously but the fans think they see a mismatch. On paper, Lovejoy is 0-3 and has lost all three games by an average of 38-12. Not much of a challenge for the defending state champions?
   Hold your horses.
   Let’s look at the Leopards’ first opponents and the scores of the games. Argyle (42-21) is one of the highest-rated 4A schools in the state. Frisco Wakeland (38-14) and Frisco Lone Star (36-3) are the top two favorites in district 13-5A (aka the Frisco district). In their first three games these teams have been offensive machines – Argyle scored 42, 70 and 49; Wakeland scored 51, 38 and 41; and Lone Star scored 41, 45 and 35. All three are undefeated and all three are predicted to go far in the playoffs.
   After going through Murderer’s Row, the Leopards are opening district 15-5A play by hosting the Scots, who are state-ranked but will be the first team Lovejoy has faced which is not undefeated.
   Scots followers who saw the game last year will recall how it was an epic battle that could have gone either way. Two and a half minutes into the game the Leopards led, 14-7, after an 85-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Carson Collins to Chase Van Wagoner. In the second quarter Collins hit Van Wagoner with a 73-yard touchdown but the Scots blocked the PAT. (Do we see a trend?) When Scully Jenevein caught a 13-yard TD pass from John Stephen Jones, the Scots took a 21-20 halftime lead on HP’s homecoming night.
   Matt Gahm’s pick six was the only score in the second half and the Scots held on to win, 27-20. HP rolled up 456 yards of total offense and held the high-octane Leopard offense to 318 yards and 10 first downs. 
   Collins, who last season threw for 2,394 yards as the 15-5A Newcomer of the Year, completed 19 of 30 passes for 338 yards in the Leopards’ season opener against Argyle. The past two weeks the quarterback for Lovejoy has been Blake Motl, who threw for 232 yards against Wakeland and only 45 against Lone Star.
Van Wagoner is back and is still the team’s most dangerous playmaker.
   On defense, the leader is all-state linebacker Bumper Pool (yes, that’s his name) and he has also been making appearances on offense as a running back and as a wide receiver. He might even drive the team bus.
   The Scots are fortunate to come away with a hard-fought 34-32 win last week against Mansfield Timberview. There were many nice plays by the Scots offense and defense that led to victory but the Play of the Game was Cole Jackson’s third-quarter interception of a Timberview fake punt. That set up a touchdown pass from Jones to Paxton Alexander to put the Scots ahead for the first time.
   Highland Park needed a big-time play and Jackson – a big-time athlete – came up with it. His heroics inspired the entire team.
   It’ll take that kind of effort and more for the Scots to survive Friday’s Leopard ambush.