HP vs Mansfield Lake Ridge – 1pm kickoff Black Friday at The Star in Frisco

by Kirk Dooley

The Highland Park defense has aggressively grabbed the spotlight during the playoffs, stuffing high-octane offenses and proving to be the difference between the Scots being a good team and a great team.mansfield-lakeridge-helmets
   That challenge escalates this Friday night as the Scots battle the Mansfield Lake Ridge Eagles, who averages 490 yards and 42.5 points per game. The winner of this game plays the winner of the Frisco Wakeland – Mansfield Legacy contest in the state quarterfinals next week.
   Last week the Eagles scored 87 points against the Samuel Spartans. They never let their foot of the gas because the Spartans kept scoring themselves, finishing the night with 58 points. And to be clear, the Scots offense could have scored 90 points each of the past two games if their opponents had kept scoring. But those past two teams, Mount Pleasant and Frisco Independence, were completely shut down by a destructive HP defense. Mount Pleasant was credited with a safety and Independence came away with an early field goal. No touchdowns. The HP defenders are still mad about the loss to Wylie East and they are playing like mad men.
   The Scot coaches get an A-plus for their preparation, giving their players the best chance to succeed. Independence had the highest-rated 5A offense in North Texas (508 yards per game) and had a 2,000-yard runner. The Scots defense, built Ford-tough, held the Knights to 148 yards of total offense and held their star back to 35 yards rushing. That was not luck. It was talent, determination, spirit and preparation.
   This week the Scots face a better team. Lake Ridge was in the state finals last year. Its quarterback, Jason Dean, has thrown for 2,725 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has also run for 530 yards and six more TDs. The Eagles have a star running back, Darrius Lee, is 52 yards away from 1,000 yards for the season.
   The Scots’ top two receivers, Cade Saustad and Scully Jenevein, are injured and out for the season. But the Scots rotate eight top-notch receivers each game, so a dropoff isn’t felt. J.T. Dooley got more playing time last week and responded with a dazzling 97-yard, two-touchdown night.
   Common opponents? Both teams beat Poteet, but not by much. HP shut out Mansfield Timberview, 31-0, then the Wolves turned around and gave Lake Ridge its worst loss of the season, 35-7. Go figure. Waxahachie, once a state top-10 team, beat the Scots on Sept. 2, then Lake Ridge beat Waxahachie, 63-49, in their final district game. The winner made the playoffs and the loser stayed home. Waxahachie is arguably the best team in Texas that didn’t make the playoffs.
   Both Highland Park and Lake Ridge come from outstanding districts, as 9-5A and 15-5A had four teams advance to the second round and both have three teams in the third round. HP, Lake Ridge and Mansfield Legacy are three of the four Div. I teams left in the region. Poteet, Wylie East and Lancaster are three of the four teams left in Div. II. That is a lot of firepower for two districts.
   Scots quarterback John Stephen Jones last week completed 11 of 15 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. He is comfortable, confident and seems right at home at the Ford Center at The Star.
   Lake Ridge averages 42.5 points per game and the Highland Park defense allows 12.9. How will that translate? My money is on Luke Blanton, Marshall Hammack, Turner Coxe, Matt Gahm, Bennett Brock, John House, Max Holsomback, O’Neil Sitzer, Alex Walzel, George Stewart, Zac Folts and James Herring.
   Gentlemen, start your defense.

Scots to face Mansfield Lake Ridge this Friday in round 3 of the playoffs

The Scots football team is advancing to the third round of the playoffs after defeating Frisco Independence 45-3 on Nov. 18. Highland Park will now face Mansfield Lake Ridge at 1 p.m., Friday Nov. 25 at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

Click here to order your tickets online now. Prices are $11.75 online or $12 at the Ford Center box office, and parking is free. Click here to view the stadium’s bag and purse policy. Tickets will not be sold at the HPISD Athletic Office this week.


The Scots have outscored their two playoff opponents by a total score of 115-5, but HP will face a tough test against Lake Ridge, the 2015 UIL 5A state finalist. Head Coach Randy Allen and Athletic Director Johnny Ringo would like to thank the fans who have supported the team during the first two games, and they are encouraging all fans who are in town to enjoy some post-Thanksgiving football at The Star.
HP fans will be seated on the west side of the stadium. Click here for entry and seating diagrams.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Mansfield Legacy/Frisco Wakeland game. The Scots are one of only 16 teams remaining in the 5A Division I playoffs – click here to view the playoff bracket.

Go Scots!


HP vs Frisco Independence in Round Two

by Kirk Dooley

The first round of the Texas high school football playoffs can produce eye-popping scores, especially in the games where the number one seed from one district plays the number four seed from the adjacent district. It is not unlike the NCAA basketball tournament when top seeds play #16 seeds and the results are predictable. img_0491

Such was the case when 8-2 Highland Park battled 3-7 Mount Pleasant in the first round. The Scots won, 70-2, and held the Tigers to 65 yards of total offense and two first downs. Eight different Scots scored touchdowns, the last being JV Blue running back Cameron Reeves.

One team scoring a lot of points isn’t unusual during bi-district week. If Highland Park advances this week it will play Mansfield Lake Ridge (who scored 49 points last week) or Samuel (60). A possible quarterfinal opponent, Mansfield Legacy, put up 56 points. Semifinals? Denton Ryan (54) or Colleyville Heritage (50). And if the Scots make it to the finals, teams they might play and how many points they scored last weekend include Dripping Springs (63), Richmond Foster (72), Angleton (73) and Manvel (78).

In this week’s Area round the games shouldn’t be as lopsided. There is a chance that contest between Highland Park and Frisco Independence could be the highest scoring game in the state. Unless one or both defenses rise to the occasion, this game could be one of those 59-55 shootouts. The Knights will be the best offensive team the Scots have faced. They are the only 5A team in North Texas averaging more than 500 yards per game. Their top running back, Dom Williams, has already hit the 2,000-yard mark and has scored 29 touchdowns. Their quarterback, Kyle Saddler, has thrown for 2,482 yards and 29 touchdowns. Their top receiver, Colton Nielson, has 902 yards and 14 TDs.
Last week’s destruction of Mount Pleasant was a first-round aberration. The playoffs really begin for the Scots this Friday night. The competition will be 10 times stronger and the Scots need to have their heads on straight to stay in a potential close game.
Independence is tough but not unbeatable. They were stopped by a very good Frisco Lone Star team for the district championship two weeks ago, 37-13. Last week the Knights beat McKinney North, 47-28, for their first playoff win in school history. Independence opened in 2014.
To advance, the Scots’ offense needs to score like it always does, then add two more TDs. On defense, slow down Williams without giving Saddler one-on-one coverage across the board. Usually, it’s pick your poison. Stopping Williams by clogging the box has given the Rangers’ passing game a free ride to six points.
Earlier this season Independence scored 61 points against Frisco Heritage. But Heritage was the last one to score and won, 64-61. Let’s put that game under a microscope because Heritage finished the season 2-8.

HP vs Mt. Pleasant – Playoffs 1st Round – Sat 1pm Kickoff at The Star in Frisco

by  Kirk Dooley

   The 2016 playoffs are upon us and on Saturday HP fans will zip up the Tollway to watch the Scots take on the Mount Pleasant Tigers at 1:00 p.m. at the Ford Center at the Star, better known as the new Dallas Cowboys’ 12,000-seat indoor practice facility in Frisco. All the Frisco ISD high school teams use the state-of-the-art stadium for games throughout the season and it has become a popular playoff facility … as of this weekend. mountpleasanths
   The district 15-5A co-champions and number-one-playoff-seed Scots will face the Tigers, who finished fourth in district 16-5A. While the Tigers’ 3-7 record is not as good as the Scots’ 8-2 season total, Mount Pleasant’s winning streak is a two, while HP’s is zero. Therein lies one of the key aspects of the Texas high school football playoffs. Throw the records out the window. Forget the standings. Rankings mean nothing. As the great philosopher Randy Allen says, “A playoff team is a playoff team.”
   Any team with any record can beat any other team in the playoffs. Right now the Tigers are playing their best football of the season and they believe that they will win their third straight game this weekend.
   The Scots took a week off from a very good season and let the Wylie East Raiders beat them up in the final game of the regular season. It was the first time a Wylie ISD team has ever beaten Highland Park. To me the game boiled down to the Raiders’ final drive of the game, which took nine minutes off the clock and culminated with an Eno Benjamin 11-yard touchdown run with 80 grains of sand left in the hourglass. Final score: Wylie East 20 – HP 9.
   The Scots vow to bounce back this week and play at the level that put them in the state’s Top 10. On paper HP should run circles around a 3-7 team but the Scots are facing an offensive line that goes 260, 270, 295, 305 and 310. That’s a lot of East Texas beef leading an offense that is coming into its own with a sophomore quarterback and a sophomore running back. They’re both now playing like veterans as the playoffs begin.mountpleasant-helmets
   This season the Tigers boasted one of the best running backs in North Texas, a kid who gained over 1,900 yards as a junior. But he became unavailable in August and the Tigers are just now recovering from his loss.
   The Scots will wake up from last Friday’s slumber party in Wylie. They should have their heads on straight and take their frustrations out on the Tigers, who are thrilled just to make the playoffs.
   If the Scots take care of business, next week they will play the winner of this Friday evening’s Frisco Independence-McKinney North game at the Ford Center at the Star. Both of these teams will come armed with a 2,000-yard runner of their own. Hopefully the Wylie East game, in which the Scots held Eno Benjamin to 186 yards (that’s below his average), will serve as a practice game to prepare the Scots defense for Independence’s Dom Williams or McKinney North’s Lamar Lucas. Both of these guys have gained more yards rushing than Benjamin.
   But to get to that game, the Scots must do better than field goals against Mount Pleasant.

Scots open football playoffs at The Star in Frisco

The Scots football team will begin its run through the UIL 5A playoffs with a game against Mt. Pleasant at 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12. Highland Park will play in the brand new Dallas Cowboys training facility – the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster – click here to order your tickets. HP will be the home team at the Ford Center, and only 6,000 seats are available on the home side. Tickets are $10 online or $12 at the Ford Center box office, and parking is free. Click here to view the stadium’s bag and purse policy. Tickets will not be sold at the HPISD Athletics Office, so guarantee your seat online now.

The Scots finished the regular season as District 15-5A Champions with a 8-2 record. This is Highland Park’s 58th playoff appearance, a state record. Click here to view the playoff bracket.
Come out and support your Highland Park Scots as they march through the playoffs. Go Scots!

HP at Wylie East Tonight for Final Regular Season Game

by Kirk Dooley

   This week is Eno Week for the Highland Park Scots.
   HP travels to Wylie to end the district season with a key match against the Raiders and their star running back, Eno Benjamin, one of the nation’s top recruits.  wylie-east-helmet
   Not since Kendial Lawrence of Rockwall Heath back in 2008 has Highland Park faced a running back that can determine the outcome of a game by himself. Lawrence, whom the Scots couldn’t stop, led his team to the district championship over HP in the last game of the season. He was fast, strong, agile and each time he touched the ball he could go all the way. Lawrence gained 4,420 yards in two years at Heath, scoring 64 touchdowns and averaged 9.3 yards per carry.
   Let me repeat that. He averaged 9.3 yards every time he touched the ball over a two-year period. Whew!
   I have not seen a better performance from a Texas high school running back than Lawrence in 2008 when he ran over, around and through the Scots. That year Heath had a dozen players go on to play D-1 college ball. Lawrence went on to a lackluster college career at Missouri and then has bounced around the Canadian Football League since then.
   Eno Benjamin comes into the HP game with 1,605 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. He is averaging six yards per carry. He is number nine on the Dallas News list of recruits for the Class of ‘17 and is the number 26 overall recruit in the state by the 247Sports composite.
   Benjamin orally committed to the University of Iowa back in April and then last Wednesday he dumped the Hawkeyes and re-opened his recruitment. Nine times out of 10 when somebody de-commits like that, he is already in somebody else’s back pocket. We’ll see.
   The Raiders were predicted to challenge the Scots for the district 15-5A championship but two things got in the way – Mesquite Poteet and West Mesquite. The Raiders lost to Pirates, 26-14, and then were beaten by the Wranglers, 7-0. In both of those losses the Wylie East defense played well but gave up ill-timed big plays. They held Poteet to 139 yards of total offense and six first downs, but the Pirates scored 26 points. Go figure. They held West Mesquite to 119 yards and six first downs but gave up the only TD of the game.
   The takeaway from the West Mesquite game is that the Wranglers did what any intelligent team would try to do – stop Eno – but when they did, another running back did some damage. Benjamin carried the ball 20 carries for only 65 yards (only 3.25 yards per carry), but when the Wranglers keyed on Eno, Corbin Johnson carried the ball 32 times for 117 yards. Either way, West Mesquite kept the Wylie East offense out of the end zone. That is the goal.
   The Raiders have put Eno in at quarterback (why waste time by handing off?) and he has performed well at running, but not passing. Against Poteet, he threw the ball 14 times, completed seven – four to his receivers and three to the Pirates.
   The Scots want to win the district championship outright and so they will battle hard on Friday. Beating the Scots would make the Raiders’ season, so they will battle hard also. But the outcome of this game won’t change the playoff picture.  HP and West Mesquite will go into the Division I bracket next week while Mesquite Poteet and Wylie East will head into the Division II bracket. This last district game against a quality opponent will help both the Scots and the Raiders gear up for the playoffs.

HP Senior Night vs Royse City – Kickoff 10/28 7:30pm

royse-city-helmetsby  Kirk Dooley

   How does a first-place team get excited about playing a last-place team? In Highland Park’s case, the coaches have a list of areas where the team needs to improve and they are using that list as the focus this week as they prepare to face the Royse City Bulldogs.
   It’s nothing personal but they are not focusing on the Bulldogs. They are using this game to prepare for the playoffs, which will begin in two weeks.royse-bulldog-pride
   What can we say about Royse City? Well, first of all, they should have spelled it Royce. Second, Wylie East beat them 38-0 and Poteet beat them 48-0. And third, the Bulldogs are 0-5 in district play and are averaging 7.8 points per game.
   Meanwhile, HP is averaging 40.4 points per game as they’ve run up a 5-0 district record. Amateur prognosticators might assume that the Scots will win 40.4 to 7.8. That cannot happen but it might be close.
   This is the final home game for the Scots and it is Senior Night. The best thing that can happen is to jump out to a big lead and let all the seniors get some playing time. For the majority of those players and their parents, this is an emotional game, the climax to a lifetime of football that began in YMCA sports at Armstrong, Bradfield, Hyer or University Park and will end when the Scots season ends. A few HP players will take a stab at college football but most of them will hang up their shoulder pads and then find out how incredibly competitive (and fun) flag football can be in college intramurals.
   Friday will be a big night for the Highlander Band, whose seniors will be honored at halftime and then the band will perform after the game.
   Royse City has a running back named Brett Martinez who ran for 1,207  and 15 touchdowns last season. So far this season he has gained 680 yards and scored five times. He is also the team’s leading receiver, with 340 yards on 19 receptions. Sophomore quarterback Matthew Yelverton has completed 48 of 111 passes for 80 yards and three TDs. Clogging up the line will be defensive tackle Sam Rosenstengle.
   Truly, the worst thing the Scots can do is to go into this game thinking about the big Wylie East game next week. The best thing they can do is to play well early and then give their hard-working backups some action under the Friday night lights.

HP at Forney: 7:30pm Kickoff Tonight


by Kirk Dooley

   The Scots took care of business last Friday, knocking off district rival Poteet, 40-29, to retain first place in district 15-5A with three games remaining.
   Highland Park did it the hard way, spotting the Pirates 15 points early in the second quarter. The Scots were down by six at the end of two quarters and made some good adjustments at halftime to command the third quarter with 24 straight points to ice the game.
   By rolling up more than 600 yards of total offense and holding the Pirates to under 240, the Scots made its most significant statement of the season against a very good team. Now the Scots, undefeated in district play, face Forney, Royse City and Wylie East to close out the regular season.
   This week Highland Park travels to Forney to hunt some Jackrabbits. Forney is 3-4, with wins over Berkner, Lindale and Royse City along with losses to Terrell, Poteet, Lovejoy and West Mesquite. They are 1-3 in district play but have fought most teams to close games.forney-jackrabbits-logo-1

Click Here for directions to game.  7:30pm kickoff tonight, October 21, 2016.

The Jackrabbits’ quarterback is junior Devon Rideaux who has completed 53 of 129 passes for 755 yards and six touchdowns. He is also the team’s second leading rusher, totaling 430 yards on 84 carries. If the Scots focus on Rideaux, they need to be careful because then Aaron Rideaux can hurt you. He is the team’s third leading rusher and third leading receiver. It’s confusing when they’re both in the backfield at the same time.
   Forney also has some excellent talent at center (all-district Ethan Hanley), linebacker (all-district Brendan Vaughn and defensive line (all-state Jaylon Hutchins). While taking a break from starring on defense Vaughn is also the team’s leading receiver (23 yards per catch) and Hutchins is the team’s leading rusher (526 yards on 79 carries). These guys are good but they will also be good and tired.
   The number for the Scots to be concerned with is six. That’s the number of yards per carry that Hutchins, Rideaux and Rideaux each average every time they run with the ball. That sounds like a lot of first downs…
   Last month an intoxicated man from Terrell stumbled into a Forney fast food restaurant and demanded some free enchiladas. When he wasn’t given any, he got into an argument and so his buddy took him outside. There the two of them got into a fight and enchilada man bit the ear off his buddy. I mention this as a reminder to all Scots fans who go to Forney this Friday. If you stop for dinner and order enchiladas, make sure you let your waiter or waitress know that you fully intend to pay for them.

Mesquite Poteet at HP Friday, 10/14– Kickoff 7:30pm

by Kirk Dooley

What is the key word in this week’s Scots-Pirates battle?
The Poteet Pirates have plenty of it and the Scots will need to overcome it. Coach Randy Allen calls it “sprint relay speed” and he’s right. The Pirates have it on offense. They have it on defense. They have speed on special teams and they even have it when the team runs onto the field before the game. These guys are FAST.
The Pirates and the Scots come into the game undefeated in district play and this game is what everyone predicted when the schedules were announced – a battle for the district championship. Each team still has three more district games after this one, and the Scots must travel to Wylie East to close out district play, but the Poteet battle is the home game of the year for Highland Park.img_0409
Please note that Poteet has already defeated Wylie East, 26-14. The Raiders held the Pirates to 91 yards passing, 48 yards rushing and only six first downs for the night. Yet Poteet scored 26 points. The Pirate defense allowed Raider quarterback Eno Benjamin 190 yards on the ground but won the game because they kept him out of the end zone. That’s the point, right?
But let’s look at those 26 points. Cha Cha Corbin, a (fast) Poteet wide receiver, caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Kaleb Fletcher, who is also fast. Da’Michael Smith ran back a punt 86 yards for touchdown. We assume he didn’t stroll all the way to the end zone. The Pirates added two field goals by two different kickers. The first one out there gets to kick?
In Poteet’s 42-3 win over North Forney last Friday, Cha Cha Corbin had a 48-yard touchdown run, Daiquan Jackson had a 47-yeard TD run and Josh Johnson topped them both with a 57-yard run for a score. It seems that we can deduct that if any of these guys turn the corner or get into open space, it’s six points.
The Scots go into this game prepared and focused. They know this is a big game and they know they have the horses to win it. Outside of Denton Ryan, Poteet has not seen a defense like Highland Park’s. My gut feeling is that HP will keep the Pirate passing game off balance and will limit the big plays enough for the Scots offense to control the clock and the scoreboard.
HP quarterback John Stephen Jones has completed 60 percent of his passes this season for 1,335 yards and 10 touchdowns. The weather forecast calls for rain all night Thursday and much of Friday. Will a wet Highlander Stadium field force the Scots to abandon its superlative passing game? Well, maybe not. The best way to quickly dry off a soaked football field is to hover a helicopter over it.
I’m just sayin’…