Southlake Carroll vs HP at AT&T Cowboys Stadium on Thursday, 8/26: 7pm Kickoff

Bhitarwār by Kirk Dooley

Vilyeyka I still can’t get my arms around the Highland Park Scots playing on national television.

It has never happened before. And it is another major milestone in the Randy Allen era at HP. The Scots face the Southlake Carroll Dragons at AT&T Stadium on Thursday and it will be telecast on ESPN+. Scots fans are calling and texting their friends, families and former neighbors coast to coast to tell them to tune in.

Link for broadcast: https://www.espn.com/watch/player/_/id/9f6b806e-32c6-4530-a694-00df9e25cd9e


It reminds me of the summer of 1981 when Mickey Holden, Jere Thompson, Jr. and I came together to put Highland Park football on cable TV for the first time. Word got out about our idea and when we made a presentation to the Highland Park School Board, there were two other entities bidding on the project. What?! After our presentation we were told that they would let us know of their decision in two hours.

We got the phone call and were told that since we were in our mid-20s and inexperienced, the contract went to the former SMU athletic director, Russ Potts. We were stunned at how we were outmaneuvered.

Then the phone rang again. It was Potts calling to see if he could hire us to produce the games. I said no, Jere said no and Mickey said yes. Holden went on to create HP football on cable TV and that launched his successful Mickey Holden Production Group. I wished Mickey well and went on to start Park Cities People. Jere also went on to create his own businesses and earlier this year sold his latest effort, Ambit Energy, for $475 million.

So now the Scots are again blazing new television trails. This will be the first Highland Park football game where ESPN is telling the Highlander Band and Highland Belles that they have 10 minutes for halftime instead of 20.

This game was already buzzing throughout all 50 states when the Dragons quarterback, Quinn Ewers, who was the number one high school recruit in America, decided this summer to skip his senior year at Southland Carroll and enroll early at Ohio State. He made this monumental decision so that he would qualify for the new Name, Image and Likeness compensation that college athletes can now earn. In Ewers’ case he has more than a million dollars lined up this season.

It used to be a hypothetical question. Would you bypass your senior year in high school for a million bucks?

Now that it is a reality, the choice of being a millionaire or being a senior in high school is a no-brainer for most teenage boys in Ewers’ position.

Coach Allen quickly points our that the new Dragon quarterback, junior Kaden Anderson, is a D-1 talent and that Carroll has 15 returning starters from a 12-2 team that played in the 6A state championship game last season. They have a 2,000-yard running back (Owen Allen) and a 1,200-yard receiver (Landon Samson).

With its tradition, experience and talent, Southlake Carroll may be the best high school football team in Texas this year. The Highland Park players are excited and working hard to prepare for the challenge.

On one hand, they want to play their best in front of the TV cameras. On the other hand, they know that what they experience in this game will help them as they strive to create a deep playoff run.

Regardless of who wins this game, if both teams go on to win state championships, you read it here first.

Quarterfinals Friday vs Denton Ryan

by Kirk Dooley

It goes back to the 2016 Scots football slogan, “Respect all. Fear none.” Highland Park has always had quite a bit of respect for Denton Ryan and its nationally-acclaimed talent. But nobody on the HP roster fears the Raiders. It’s almost the opposite. Denton Ryan is one of the most intimidating teams in the state but in their hearts they know they’re lining up against a team that is not scared of them.
The Raiders are 12-0 so far this season. The four years before that they were 14-1, 14-1, 14-1 and 15-1, losing three times in a row to Highland Park in the semifinals and then in last year’s finals they lost to Shadow Creek, 28-22. So over the past five years Denton Ryan is 69-4. Their only losses were to HP and Shadow Creek. (Conversely, Shadow Creek won every game in its first two years of existence, with the exception of their 2018 state finals loss to Highland Park.)
To a high school football team, what has happened in years past is nothing but background noise. What happens on the field this week is their only concern in the world.
So how is this Denton Ryan/Highland Park game different than 2016, 2017 and 2018?
“This may be the best Denton Ryan team we’ve faced,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “They are better defensively than any Ryan team we’ve seen. Their offensive line is better and they have great skill players, many of whom have started for three years. And their senior quarterback, Seth Henigan, is great.”
Most folks who talk about the Raiders will bring up Billy Bowman, Jr. and Ja’Tavion Sanders, two superlative athletes who play both ways and are probably the best set of high school receivers in the nation. When Coach Allen talks about the Raiders, the first guy he talks about is a giant nose tackle named Bear Alexander. Mr. Bear is 6-3, 325 lbs. and disrupts the middle of the line. “He is quite a load,” said Allen, shaking his head.
The Highland Park coaches have done a good job keeping their troops focused and ready to play the state’s top-ranked 5A team. They know Ryan is picked to win. They know it will take their best effort to advance to the semifinals. But there is no fear on this roster. The Scots believe they will play their best game and will be victorious.
With the exceptional HP offensive line giving Brayden Schager time, he can pick apart any defense. The Scots feature a clown-car full of receivers who are all talented and each one can beat you. The biggest arrow in the HP quiver this season is the defense, which is truly one of the best in the state.
Who will step up and be the hero on New Year’s Day? That will be determined during the game but the list of nominees is long

Rematch on Christmas Eve vs Frisco Lone Star

by  Kirk Dooley

Class, let’s review. Go back two years to 2018. On September 13 the Scots traveled to Frisco to challenge the new sheriff in town, the Lone Star Rangers. The Scots were ranked second in the state and the Rangers were ranked fourth. It was billed as the Clash of the Titans. In a surprisingly defensive battle the game was tied, 7-7, when HP defensive back Hudson Clark broke up a deep, 4th-down pass from QB Julian Larry to Marvin Mims with 1:29 left in the game. With 89 seconds left Scots QB Chandler Morris drove his team 53 yards to the five-yard line with one second left on the clock.
After Clark’s heroic pass break-up, he was on the sideline when a coach told him, “By the way, if it comes down to a field goal, you’ll be the kicker.” It did, he was and his 22-yard FG gave the Scots a 10-7 victory. (Clark, now an Arkansas Razorback DB, hauled in three interceptions against Ole Miss two months ago and was named the college Defensive Player of the Week. The Offensive Player of the Week was Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. Pretty good company to keep.)
Fast forward to last September. HP hosted Lone Star on Friday the 13th. Mims stepped out of a phone booth and caught 11 Garret Rangel passes for 236 yards as the Rangers got their revenge against the Scots. Sure enough, they met in the third round of the playoffs and HP made sure that Mims wouldn’t beat them again. He was double teamed the entire game and still caught nine passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns, but he didn’t beat the Scots. The rest of the Lone Star supporting cast did. Garret threw for 417 yards and Trace Bruckler caught 14 passes for 183 yards as the Rangers slipped past the Scots 33-27 in overtime. It was the Scots only playoff loss in four years.
Which brings us to this Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Park. Mr. Rangel, Mr. Bruckler and several other starters from last year’s team are back. Once again, the Rangers are one of the best teams in the state. Once again, this will be a Clash of the Titans.
Now that Marvin Mims has graduated and is a star Oklahoma Sooners receiver, the Rangers have a new one-two punch in Ashton Jeanty (#2) and Jaden Nixon (#5). These two electrifying athletes each have more than 1,000 yards of total offense under their belts and they lead the team in scoring. QB Rangel, now a junior, has thrown for 2,199 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. On top of that, the Rangers defense is outstanding, especially at inside linebacker.
In last year’s playoff game the Scots defense held the Rangers to 46 yards rushing but gave up 417 passing yards. Without one of the nation’s best receivers, the Rangers may not put up those passing numbers but they still have plenty of firepower in Jeanty and Nixon.
On paper, it looks like a game where 49 points may not be enough to win it.
The HP players have been foaming at the mouth for a year to play these guys again. If we haven’t seen the Scots’ best foot forward yet, we will on Christmas Eve.