Nandyāl by Kirk Dooley
The 7-0 Scots travel to Wylie this Friday to close out district play against the 1-6 Wylie East Raiders. It will be the quintessential first place team against the last place team in district 7-5A. But before you relax, let me take you back in time, say 48 months.
The Scots traveled to Wylie to close out district play in 2016. HP was undefeated in district and were riding high. The Raiders had a bruising running back named Eno Benjamin who is now playing for the Arizona Cardinals. The Scots held Benjamin to 186 yards on the ground (which, believe it or not, was below his average) and the HP offense, under QB John Stephen Jones, was manhandled by the Raiders defense. Wylie East used Benjamin to ride out the clock and won the game, 20-9. The spirited HP offense scored zero touchdowns, three field goals and looked like a hapless unit that wouldn’t last long in the playoffs.
It was the lowest moment I can remember in HP football in the past two decades.
“It was a big disappointment,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “But the next morning we gathered the team and started preparing for our new season: the playoffs. We put our 8-2 record behind us and used the Wylie East loss to refocus. The parents bought the team new playoff uniforms and we dedicated ourselves to never play below our abilities again, to have a chip on our shoulders and to create a goal of winning six playoff games including the state finals.”
Well, do you believe in miracles?
In the first playoff game the recalibrated Scots took out their frustrations out on Mount Pleasant, 70-2, and then never took their foot off the accelerator en route to the 2016 state championship.
If the Raiders knock off the Scots this year it will need to be with 929-yard running back Christian Johnson and duel-threat, 927-yard sophomore QB Terrell Washington, Jr. This duo has scored 96 of the team’s 120 points this season. Most of their damage is done on the ground. The Raiders would like to knock off the Scots again but they would much rather climb out of an 18-game district losing streak that goes back to 2017.
Assuming he Scots go into the playoffs as the top seed from 7-5A, they will play the fourth-place team from 8-5A, probably Lufkin, at Highlander Stadium next weekend.
But as the Scots face Wylie East on Friday, I will have nightmares about how the Scots couldn’t stop Eno Benjamin four years ago. You probably have the same nightmares about Marvin Mims.
Just keep reminding yourself that he’s gone.