HP Plays at Irving MacArthur Friday Night

by Kirk Dooley

This Friday the 7-0 Scots head west to Irving to challenge the 4-3 MacArthur Cardinals.

When the season began, Highland Park, Jesuit and Lake Highlands were predicted to finish first, second and third in the district race. With three games left in regulation play, Highland Park, Jesuit and Lake Highlands sit at first, second and third. Who finishes fourth and qualifies for the playoffs was – and still is – a mystery.

The three teams fighting for the fourth playoff slot are MacArthur, Pearce and Berkner. My prediction is that all three will finish 4-4, assuming that MacArthur beats Berkner. Teams battling for a playoff spot can whip themselves into a competitive frenzy. (Think Jesuit in the fourth quarter vs. HP). The Scots play MacArthur this week and Pearce two weeks later. Both teams will fight and scratch to beat the district leader and make the playoffs.

For now, let’s focus on the MacArthur Cardinals. They return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense, so they are experienced. They are 4-3 for the season and 3-2 in district play, averaging 40 points per game but allowing 34. They smashed Nimitz, Richardson and Irving (averaging 55 points per game) then lost big to Lake Highlands, 42-7. The Cardinals’ most pivotal game was a dramatic 55-49 overtime loss to Pearce.

In MacArthur’s game against Pearce, the two teams combined for more than 100 points and almost 1,200 yards of total offense. Both teams have a lot of gas in their tanks. MacArthur quarterback Glendon Willis completed 14 of 25 passes for 390 yards and six touchdowns. Even more impressive was Cardinals receiver Jerbrandin Henderson who caught seven passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns of 53, 95, 34, 47 and 20 yards.  For the season has 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Cardinals running back Darelle Smith was also a work horse, carrying the ball 19 times for 134 yards and one touchdown. Both offenses were explosive and the score at the end of regulation was 49-49. One would think that Pearce would have the inside track to make the fourth playoff spot but they haven’t played HP or Lake Highlands. MacArthur must play HP and Jesuit. Berkner has already lost to HP, Jesuit and Lake Highlands so maybe they have the inside track. Unless there are some crazy upsets, the MacArthur-Berkner game on Nov. 4 could be the game to determine the district’s fourth playoff team.

The Scots’ 51-6 win last week over Nimitz was a coming out party for Beau Lilly who solidified his position as the fourth hero on the Mount Rushmore of Scots receivers. He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brennan Storer in the second quarter to put himself on the map. Then he returned the second half kickoff 93 yards to extend the HP lead to 35-0. On the ensuing kickoff the Scots kickoff team recorded a safety and the Vikings had a free kick. Of course, Lilly ran it all the way back for another HP touchdown.

That’s 16 points in 32 seconds, which doesn’t even happen in basketball.

The Scots have had plenty of time to celebrate last Friday’s solid win over Nimitz. Now they play the MacArthur Cardinals who boast a receiver who recently scored five touchdowns on seven receptions. Is Jerbrandin Henderson the next superstar receiver like Jalen Reagor, Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Marvin Mims?

   I hope not because he’s only a junior.