by Kirk Dooley
The Scots shocked the world last week by knocking top-ranked Denton Ryan out of the playoffs. The win puts Highland Park in the state finals for the first time in nine years.
How did an injury-plagued team with two losses defeat an undefeated, top-ranked football machine boasting a 27-1 record over the past two years?
Pride. Heritage. Tradition. Solid Leadership. Players with heart. The best high school coaching staff in Texas.
The best third-string running back in the world. A nifty quarterback with football genes. Backups who stepped up when injuries struck. Linebackers who set the standard for their team. A receiving corps as deep as the Mariana Trench. Two kickers who make each other better. Being part of the winningest high school football program in the state. Playing with great intensity and making plays with the game on the line.
There was one moment that exemplified the Ryan game in a nutshell. The Raiders quarterback handed the ball to his running back headed up the middle. Just before he got to the line of scrimmage, he was violently hit and went flying backwards. He ran into a charging Luke Blanton like a Smart car smashing into an oncoming freight train. The stunning collision could be felt all the way up in the stands. Thousands of people watching the giant video screen gasped and winced. Mothers covered the eyes of their children.
The Denton Ryan players realized that they were not going to roll over this team. This was not a game, it was a battle. And none of them wanted a part of Luke Blanton. Or Turner Coxe for that matter.
So the Scots win the game and advance to the finals. What should they expect in the Temple Wildcats?
Coach Randy Allen says that Temple looks like Ryan but faster.
A QB who has thrown for 3,626 yards. A 1,000-yard running back. A 1,000-yard receiver. Three other solid receivers, all named Johnson. (Aren’t there nepotism rules?). They’ve got a fast secondary and fast linebackers.
All season the Scots defense has eaten 1,000-yard runners like Burger House fries. After Temple has studied film of the HP defense, I would expect them to come out throwing, and they are very good at it. Their go-to receiver is D’Yonte Heckstall (#1) but like the Scots, the Wildcats have a truckload of good receivers. They just all happen to have the same last name.
Last week Hesse completed 11 passes for 360 yards, including an 89-yard TD. For those of you doing the math that’s an eye-popping 32.7 yards per catch. It looks like HP’s secondary defenders – O’Neil Sitzer, George Stewart, Alex Walzel, James Herring and Zac Folts – will have their work cut our for them. But they have risen to the occasion all season and the state championship game will be like another day going to work.
The best thing the Scots have going for them is the fact that Temple is picked to win the game. Last week everyone picked Denton Ryan and that ignited an intensity in the Scots that turned them into warriors. With sportswriters picking Temple to beat Highland Park this week, the players have reacted with a deep resolve to prove them wrong again. See paragraph 3 for their weapons.
Plus, they shouldn’t make Luke Blanton or Turner Coxe mad, but I’m afraid it’s too late for that.
1945, 1957, 2005, 2016.
ADDITIONAL INFO ABOUT THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME:
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Tickets, Seating and Parking Information:
After a thrilling win over Denton Ryan, the Highland Park Scots are headed back to the state championship game for the first time since 2007. HP will face the Temple Wildcats in the title game at noon Saturday, Dec. 17 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Tickets for the game will be on sale this week at the following times at the Highlander Stadium Box Office (4233 Grassmere Lane, Dallas, TX 75205).
- 8:30-11:30 a.m., Friday, Dec. 16
Tickets purchased at Highlander Stadium are $14 for adults and $10 for students.
Parking is $10 per vehicle in lots 5, 6, 7 or 11, and the lots will open at 10 a.m. Fans may enter the stadium through gates C or H beginning at 10:30 a.m., and seating is general admission.
HP fans will be seated on the south side of the stadium. Click here
for entry and seating diagrams, and click here to view
the stadium’s bag and purse policy.
“Our goal is to have more fans at the game than Temple,” HPISD Athletic Director Johnny Ringo said. “Temple has a tremendous football tradition, and they will have a large, vocal crowd and band at AT&T Stadium.”
To celebrate the team’s march to the finals, Highland Park High School will host a state championship pep rally for the community at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 in the main gym. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and students will sit on the east side of the gym and parents and families will sit on the west side. You may also join the community for a team send-off at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in front of Highlander Stadium.
The victory over Denton Ryan was Highland Park’s 800th overall victory, a state record. The Scots won the game 31-24, led by four touchdowns from running back Paxton Alexander. Click here to read Todd Jorgensen’s recap in Park Cities People.
This is the seventh time in school history the Scots have reached the state championship game, and the Scots have won the championship in 1945, 1957 and 2005. Help cheer your Scots on to their fourth state championship this weekend.
RADIO BROADCAST INFORMATION:
For those of you who want to listen to the awesome Russell Scott, Jim Castellaw and Jae Ellis on the radio here is the info you will need…
The radio broadcast of the Highland Park vs. Temple Championship Game will be carried on KAAM 770 AM throughout the Dallas area. Pre-Game starts at 11:00 AM with kickoff slated for Noon.
Fans listening at home (or anyplace other than the stadium) can hear the game by any of the following methods:
1. With a radio tuned to 770 AM.
2. On a mobile phone or computer by going to www.kaamradio.com … then clicking the “Listen Live” button.
3. By going to App Store and searching for “Legends 770 KAAM” and then downloading the free app.
For those fans who are attending the game at AT&T Stadium:
1. Tune your transistor radio to 1670 AM. You should be able to hear our simulcast from KAAM.
2. If you are inside the stadium, do NOT try to listen on your phone or computer. Your phone or computer will delay the transmission by 7-10 seconds and therefore what you are hearing will not “match-up” with what you are seeing. This delay does not occur when listening on a transistor radio.