By Kirk Dooley
The Arlington Bowie Volunteers come riding in from the west on Friday as the Scots host the bi-district playoff game at Highlander Stadium. Bowie brings its 5-5 season record to battle 10-0 Highland Park.
Midway through the season the Volunteers were able to string together a four-game winning streak, knocking off Plano, Royse City, Arlington Sam Houston and Grand Prairie. But then they dropped three of their final four games including last Friday’s concussion protocol loss to Arlington Martin, 62-12.
Not many teams roll into the playoffs after losing their last game by 50 points, but the Volunteers should give the Scots a challenge. They are averaging 35 points per game. Quarterback DeAngelo Ponder, a 2,000-yard passer, was knocked out of the Martin game in the first quarter. His back-up, Harrison Casey, finished that game and could see action this Friday.
Bowie also boasts a 1,000-yard runner, Darrion Bowers, and a 1,000-yard receiver, Kelby Valsin, who have combined for 19 touchdowns.
Among the area 6A teams the Scots are ranked second in passing and the Volunteers are ranked 11th. The Scots are ranked fifth in scoring (44 points per game) while the Volunteers are ranked 18th with 35 ppg. Bowie has 4,2049 yards of total offense for the season. HP has 4,049.
The Scots defense is allowing 277 yards per game (136 on the ground, 141 in the air), which ranks 13th in the area. They are holding offenses to 12.3 points per game, which is the third best.
Highland Park brings plenty of depth to the playoffs. They’ve had a deep roster all year but quite a few back-ups saw serious game action the second half of the season. So these guys are experienced and ready to step in if their number is called. One consistent factor in the playoffs is the potential for injuries.
What can Scots fans look for this Friday? First of all, the rain on Friday should be done by game time. Second, the Volunteer offense is explosive and balanced. They throw the ball as much as the Scots and they are used to putting up points. Last Friday they limped through the second, third and fourth quarters without their starting quarterback. They gave up three interceptions and two fumbles. Arlington Martin defensive back Josiah Charles picked off three Bowie passes and returned two of them for touchdowns of 44 and 94 yards.
Sometimes teams in the playoffs look ahead beyond the current game. The planets have lined up for the Scots to do that this week. However, 50 percent of the players on the current HP roster were witnesses to Frisco Wakeland’s upset win early in last year’s playoffs. Those guys still have that bad taste in their mouths, so I don’t see the Scots getting caught looking ahead.
It is moments like this when the Scots benefit from scheduling hard opponents early in the season. HP dispatched 6-A powerhouses Flower Mound Marcus and Lewisville in their first two games. Then two of their first three district games were against Jesuit and Lake Highlands. All four of those teams are in the playoffs.
When the going gets tough this Friday night, the Scots will recall what they did in those four tough games to come out on top.