browse around this website by Kirk Dooley
Read More Here If you’ve found yourself whining about the lack of district competition for the Scots the past few years, just hop in your car Friday evening and drive 137 miles to Longview. Make sure your seat belt is buckled, even after you get there.
The Longview Lobos, who are recent 6A state champions, dropped down to 5A this season and are picked to win district 7-5A D-I, with Highland Park picked as the runner-up. Some sportswriters pick Longview to beat the Scots this Friday. The Lobos come into the game averaging more than 50 points per game in district play. If you yearn for top competition for the Scots, you’ve come to the right place.
Highland Park is ranked second in state and Longview is ranked third. How’s that for some district competition? And these two teams aren’t just good every once in a while. They are competitive all the time and are two of the winningest high school football programs in America. As of this week, Highland Park is the 10th winningest program in nation, with 843 all-time wins. East Texas powerhouse Longview is the 64th winningest program in the nation with 737 all-time wins.
Last year Longview went 11-1 and this season is currently 5-1, including two big district wins. The Lobos beat West Mesquite 49-24 two weeks ago and then last Friday they pounded Wylie East, 52-17.
What makes the Lobos go? Their offense begins with a star running back named Kaden Meredith (#7), who is a power runner with sprinter speed. Last year he ran for 1,646 yards and found the end zone 20 times. This season he is averaging 113 yards per game. While he’s no Don or Joe or Jake or Josh Meredith, his 4.4 speed could be the difference in the game. So while the Scots defense focuses on Meredith, another running back, Markevion Haynes (#17) is a 100-yard RB who averages two running TDs per game. Last week he averaged 20 yards every time he touched the ball.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Allen (#12) is averaging just 75 yards per game in the air, so the Lobo passing game is not yet where it will be come playoff time.
Another Lobo speciality is explosive special teams. Shannon Jackson II (#32) had a 93-yard kickoff return against West Mesquite. And wide receiver Cedric Hopkins (#6) is a very dangerous kick returner who also caught an 88-yard touchdown pass two weeks ago.
Yes, the Scots got an upgrade in district competition. And Longview has played twice as many games as the Scots this season. On paper you would call the Scots inexperienced at this point, but Coppell and Rockwall would beg to differ. Today, both 6A teams are undefeated except for their losses to Highland Park.
For the Scots, that’s gaining experience the hard way, but the quickest way.
So district play begins this week in the craziest football season we’ll ever see on our lifetimes.
Forget El Paso Eastwood. Forget Flower Mound Marcus. Forget Skyline. Forget Austin Westlake. Forget Mesquite Horn. Those five teams were on Highland Park’s schedule and none of them happened.
The Scots wound up playing two 6A teams in pre-district games and came away with two wins despite no scrimmages, no practices during quarantine and no games. The Scots played 2-0 Coppell in HP’s delayed home opener on Oct. 9 and came away with a big win. Coppell averaged 40 points per game and the Scots knocked them off, 42-36. In game two, the Scots met Rockwall for the fifth year in a row. The Yellow Jackets were 3-0 and averaging 54 points per game. It looked like humility time for Highland Park.
But when the dust cleared, the Scots had squished the Yellow Jackets, 46-18. The HP defense humiliated one of the top offenses in the state and made a statement that caught the attention of Texas high school football.
Now as the Scots start the real season, they are ranked second in state (behind Denton Ryan, as usual) but before anyone gets a little too full of themselves, keep in mind that next week the Scots travel to Longview for a district game against the state’s third-ranked 5A team. Last year they won the 6A state championship and this year they dropped down to 5A and landed in HP’s district. And, by the way, the Lobos are picked to win the district championship. The Scots are picked to finish second.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Scots face the Sherman Bearcats this Friday.
Sherman is 2-3 for the season but its most recent game is the only one to focus on. Last Friday the Bearcats opened their district season by smashing Wylie East, 45-7. And the game was not that close. With six minutes left in the game, Sherman led, 38-0.
The Bearcats are led by quarterback Tate Bethel, who has a baseball arm and a supporting cast of great skill players. Keep an eye on Benji Omayebu (#10), who will line up in the backfield or as an inside receiver. The running back, Andrew Nehrbass (#8), is a very hard-nose runner. On defense, the middle linebacker Brandon Bonilla (#50), sets the pace as the defensive playmaker. Defensive end Teyvian Knight is the team’s top pass rusher. Two safeties, Jeffrey Banks (#1) and Phoenix Grant (#13) will challenge the HP’s passing attack.
As a little boy I remember going to see the Scots play Sherman in 1964 when my brother, Pat, played. I remember Pat’s friends thinking the Scots could win state if Johnny Mac Bergen had played football instead of choosing to be a rock and roll drummer, hoping to be the next Ringo Starr. As it turned out, the Scots beat the Garland Owls, then finished second in district to the Owls, who went on to win the state championship.
Now a half century later, Highland Park and Sherman are still duking it out in the same district. My only advice to the Scots is to focus on the challenge this Friday, and not look ahead to the big game next week.
Since two of the games in Highland Park’s 2020 pre-district 6A world tour were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns, this Friday’s shootout against Rockwall will be the Scots’ second game of the season.
And I use the word “season” loosely. While the Scots rose to the occasion last Friday and beat a good Coppell team, 42-36, it’s still one game. The Scots hadn’t even scrimmaged anyone before they were thrown into the fire and they looked good playing an area top 20 6A team that was 2-0 and averaging 40 points per game. So now, instead of catching their breath, the Scots face a rock wall that is an area top 20 6A team that is 3-0 and averaging 54 per game.
And last week the Yellow Jackets beat Southlake Carroll, the number seven 6A team in the state. It is extremely rare to play a team that has just knocked off the Dragons. What’s amazing is that the Dragons feature the nation’s top ranked quarterback in the Class of 2021 and he came in second place to the Rockwall quarterback, Braedyn Locke, last Friday. Locke was 31 of 44 for 352 yards while Carroll QB Quinn Ewers (who, ironically, is coached by former Scots QB coach Tristan Weber) was 19 of 30 for 326 yards.
The plot thickens now that Southlake Carroll has cancelled its marque game against Denton Guyer this weekend due to a Carroll athlete testing positive for COVID-19 at an athletic event on Oct. 8. Hmmm. That’s the day when Carroll played Rockwall.
The Scots came together quickly last Friday to topple Coppell and HP may still be a work in progress this Friday against a team that is averaging 54 points per game. This Friday’s game has the potential to be a high scoring shootout. The Scots unleashed their Brayden Schager era as the Hawaii commit completed 19 of 31 passes for 310 yards. Not a bad start. But conversely, Rockwall’s Locke has already thrown for 1,000 yards.
Indeed, this rivalry has been a shootout. Over the past four years the Scots have won three and lost one. The Jackets won in 2017 (53-49) while the Scots prevailed in 2016 (43-21), 2018 (49-42) and 2019 (66-59). All those games were as electric as the scores indicate. Incredible, high-octane, nail-biting thrillers. Texas high school football at its best.
The Jackets no longer have five-star receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who thankfully graduated and went on to terrorize the Big 10 at Ohio State. Rockwall has reloaded with a trio of receivers – Jax Johnson, Brenden Bayes and Goodnews Iwuamadi – who are 100-yard-per-game guys for Braedyn Locke on any given night.
Coach Randy Allen summed it up by saying, “This is going to be a classic high school football game.”
Most sportswriters are predicting a Rockwall win. I’m going with the Scots Friday night for the strangest of reasons. In another thrilling shootout HP gets the nod because its star quarterback knows how to spell Brayden.