Last Week’s Magic; This Week Irving

by Kirk Dooley

September 9, 2022, was simply one of the most magical nights in Highland Park football history.

In preparation for the sold out district clash with the Lake Highlands Wildcats, stands were constructed in the east end zone to house the Highlander Band and Highland Belles. That freed up an entire section of the stadium to meet the demand for tickets.

I’ve always felt that Lake Highlands was the red and white version of Highland Park in many ways. Looking across the field to the visitors’ stands has been like looking into a mirror. The Wildcats were 10-2 last year (as were the Scots) and 2-0 going into last Friday’s game. There was a Friday night excitement in the air for a game that was completely sold out.

In what was predicted to be a close game, the Scots dominating an area top 20 6A team, 52-21. But, incredibly, the action on the field was the third most important factor in creating a dazzling evening. The win gave Highland Park coach Randy Allen the 427th win of his career. That moved him past Celina and Pilot Point coach G.A. Moore as the second winningest coach in Texas high school football history and the winningest in the DFW area. Watching a Scots football game and watching history being made was unique and special.

Then at halftime former Scots state champion quarterback and current Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl-winning QB Matthew Stafford was honored as his #7 jersey was retired.

Stafford and the Rams had played the Buffalo Bills in a Thursday night NFL game, which gave him the only Friday night opportunity of the season to be available to come to Dallas to be honored. During the first half Stafford watched the game from across the street from the stadium with his teammates from the 2005 state championship team. When he and his family entered the stadium surrounded by TV cameras, they headed to midfield like  rock stars taking the stage. The normally staid HP crowd went wild. After hugging Coach Allen, Stafford took the microphone and said all the right things. The entire Scots football team stayed on the sideline during the presentation. As the Staffords walked off the field the HP student section chanted Matthew’s name. When the teams cranked up the third quarter, the Staffords were in a private jet headed to LA.

For those who were in attendance, it was a extraordinary evening that will never be forgotten.

But that was last week. This week the Scots travel west to battle the 1-1 Irving Tigers in a Thursday night game. The Tigers lost to Ft. Worth Paschal, 16-7, in the season opener and beat South Garland, 33-21, two weeks ago. They had a bye last week. The Tigers have a nifty QB, Connor Martin, who can run and pass. In the South Garland game Martin threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more. Running back Andrew Benavidez picked up 81 yards. Martin ran for 72 yards and passed for 110. On the strength of the Scots 3-0 start against three very good teams, HP is now ranked 10th in the state in 6A.

Coach Allen now has 427 wins. He needs to reach 491 to become the all-time leader. Fast forward five or six years when he is honored for reaching that threshold. There will be a ceremony at halftime and one of his former players, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Matthew Stafford will return to Highlander Stadium not to be honored but to honor his beloved high school coach.

   That night will be magical also.