by Kirk Dooley
It’s good to be king.
The Scots and their coaches and fans and families and neighbors and alums have all had a big time celebrating their unlikely state championship ever since the moment Turner Coxe slammed Temple quarterback Reid Hesse into his own end zone for a safety with five minutes left to ice the title game on December 17.
Never has a safety been so important to a Highland Park team. It wasn’t the only outstanding play by the Scots, but it was the nail in Temple’s coffin. The Scots walked away from AT&T Stadium with a state championship, a Defensive MVP (Coxe), an Offensive MVP (QB John Stephen Jones) and the Ford Tough Player of the Game (running back Paxton Alexander).
There has been a video created on the magical season, as well as a coffee table book. The celebration has been ongoing ever since that fateful state championship victory.
While it is good to be king, it is also hard to be king, as the Scots will find out Friday night in Rockwall. All the partying and all the pats on the back will end with the kickoff of a new season. Highland Park will have a huge target on its back for every game, starting in Rockwall.
And the Yellowjackets, who are picked to finish in the top two of its 6A district, are still bitter about the way a 5A team from Dallas ran them out of the stadium last year. The Scots jumped out to a 22-0 first-quarter lead last season and cruised to a 43-21 win. An HP quarterback who had never taken a varsity snap – Jones – lit up the Rockwall secondary for 327 yards and four touchdowns. He completed an impressive 18 of 22 passes and distributed his TD strikes to four gentlemen – Alexander, Scully Jenevein, Cade Saustad and Hudson Wood.
We begin a new season this Friday but the Scots come armed with veteran offensive starters such as Jones, Alexander, Jenevein, Saustad and all-state offensive lineman Thomas Shelmire. The defensive returns starting safeties James Herring and Zak Folts. The team’s theme this season is “Reload. Repeat.” Here’s who else they are reloading with: On offense it will be center Matt Sewall, guards Ben Boudreaux and Bolton Corwin, tackle Regan Riddle, receivers Carson Bryant and Jay Smith, and Cameron Reeves stepping in as the second running back. The rebuilt defense will include defensive ends Luke Lochausen and sophomore Prince Dorbah, nose guard Elliott Newsom, linebackers Marshall Ballard, Noble Nash, Ryan Coxe and Cole Bohner, and cornerbacks Grayson Serio and Hudson Clark. It is early in the season so many players will be fighting for playing time. Be prepared for some new starters to emerge.
In the meantime your defending state champions – picked fourth in the state in Texas Football’s preseason poll – is predicted by The Dallas Morning News to lose this Friday to Rockwall, 35-34.
It ain’t easy being king.