Bring Your Umbrella! Scots Host Richardson Friday Night

by Kirk Dooley

   This Friday the HP seniors’ parents will join their Scots in the Highland March as they walk across Grassmere Lane from the indoor practice facility to Highlander Stadium before the Richardson game. None of the parents will suit up and play but they will make an excellent entourage for their sons on the  final regular season home game of their high school careers.

While it would be absurd for parents to suit up and play in the game, I don’t think there’s a rule against grandparents. So this Friday let’s allow Beau Lilly’s 83-year-old grandfather to play one more game. He could be a one-man Doomsday Defense.

There will be a 90 percent chance of rain during the game this Friday so look for a sea of golf umbrellas in the stands and 22 drenched teenagers on the field. Before the game the seniors will be introduced but there might be more folks on the field than in the stands. Keep in mind that if Highland Park Coach Randy Allen asks for the rain to stop, it will stop.

The Richardson Eagles fly into Highlander Stadium on a one-game winning streak. They shut out the Irving Tigers 21-0, last weekend. The Scots are also coming off a shutout win, 52-0, over Irving MacArthur.

Richardson’s other district win was the 50-7 trampling of Irving Nimitz, a game in which the Eagles had 412 yards of total offense, 124 in the air and 288 on the ground. They can move the ball and they can score points. In addition to the 50 points they put on Nimitz, they also scored 54 against Bryan Adams. But they lost to Berkner (49-0), MacArthur (55-21), Pearce (28-14) and Lake Highlands (45-10), so they give up points also.

The Richardson quarterback is Howard Armstrong, a big, physical senior. At times the Eagles will roll out a sophomore QB, Cole Cage, a smaller, shiftier athlete  who gives a different look.

The Eagles’ running back is sophomore Miles Buckley, who has picked up 487 yards and five touchdowns on 72 carries for the season.

Last week the Scots defense had a great game, forcing four turnovers and pitching a shutout against a potential playoff team. The stars of the show were safety Brady Dauterive and linebacker William White, two Player Committee members who had breakout games. Dauterive returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown while White had seven tackles, two forced fumbles, a hurry and a blocked field goal. Collectively, the Scots defense held the Cardinals to 151 yards of total offense for the night.

The 8-0 Scots will battle the 3-5 Eagles in the rain, so how will the weather affect the game? First of all, there won’t be any mud. I still have a hard time with that concept. What would Willie, Lilly, Jethro and George think of artificial turf? They would tell you that a muddy field on a rainy day is part of football.

Assuming a potential downpour will drench the passing game, the Scots might try my creative rainy day offense: Line up offensive linemen Lawson Petty (6-4, 285) and Robert Sweeney (6-5, 280) next to each other in the backfield in a double-wildcat formation. Snap the ball directly to one and have the other as a lead blocker. Then rotate. At worst they will fall forward four yards every play. At best they will be first-down machines and light up the scoreboard.

   But the best part of these two giants running the ball would be they would develop a new perspective – an appreciation for how offensive linemen really do open all the doors for the running backs of the world.

HP Plays at Irving MacArthur Friday Night

by Kirk Dooley

This Friday the 7-0 Scots head west to Irving to challenge the 4-3 MacArthur Cardinals.

When the season began, Highland Park, Jesuit and Lake Highlands were predicted to finish first, second and third in the district race. With three games left in regulation play, Highland Park, Jesuit and Lake Highlands sit at first, second and third. Who finishes fourth and qualifies for the playoffs was – and still is – a mystery.

The three teams fighting for the fourth playoff slot are MacArthur, Pearce and Berkner. My prediction is that all three will finish 4-4, assuming that MacArthur beats Berkner. Teams battling for a playoff spot can whip themselves into a competitive frenzy. (Think Jesuit in the fourth quarter vs. HP). The Scots play MacArthur this week and Pearce two weeks later. Both teams will fight and scratch to beat the district leader and make the playoffs.

For now, let’s focus on the MacArthur Cardinals. They return eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense, so they are experienced. They are 4-3 for the season and 3-2 in district play, averaging 40 points per game but allowing 34. They smashed Nimitz, Richardson and Irving (averaging 55 points per game) then lost big to Lake Highlands, 42-7. The Cardinals’ most pivotal game was a dramatic 55-49 overtime loss to Pearce.

In MacArthur’s game against Pearce, the two teams combined for more than 100 points and almost 1,200 yards of total offense. Both teams have a lot of gas in their tanks. MacArthur quarterback Glendon Willis completed 14 of 25 passes for 390 yards and six touchdowns. Even more impressive was Cardinals receiver Jerbrandin Henderson who caught seven passes for 275 yards and five touchdowns of 53, 95, 34, 47 and 20 yards.  For the season has 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Cardinals running back Darelle Smith was also a work horse, carrying the ball 19 times for 134 yards and one touchdown. Both offenses were explosive and the score at the end of regulation was 49-49. One would think that Pearce would have the inside track to make the fourth playoff spot but they haven’t played HP or Lake Highlands. MacArthur must play HP and Jesuit. Berkner has already lost to HP, Jesuit and Lake Highlands so maybe they have the inside track. Unless there are some crazy upsets, the MacArthur-Berkner game on Nov. 4 could be the game to determine the district’s fourth playoff team.

The Scots’ 51-6 win last week over Nimitz was a coming out party for Beau Lilly who solidified his position as the fourth hero on the Mount Rushmore of Scots receivers. He caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Brennan Storer in the second quarter to put himself on the map. Then he returned the second half kickoff 93 yards to extend the HP lead to 35-0. On the ensuing kickoff the Scots kickoff team recorded a safety and the Vikings had a free kick. Of course, Lilly ran it all the way back for another HP touchdown.

That’s 16 points in 32 seconds, which doesn’t even happen in basketball.

The Scots have had plenty of time to celebrate last Friday’s solid win over Nimitz. Now they play the MacArthur Cardinals who boast a receiver who recently scored five touchdowns on seven receptions. Is Jerbrandin Henderson the next superstar receiver like Jalen Reagor, Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Marvin Mims?

   I hope not because he’s only a junior.

Homecoming Friday Night

by Kirk Dooley

It’s Homecoming weekend at Highland Park as the Scots host the Nimitz Vikings at Highlander Stadium. Both teams come into the game on winning streaks but aside from that, they are not similar at all. The Vikings’ winning streak stands at one after they won their first game of the season last week in an exciting 30-25 win over the Irving Tigers. The HP winning streak stands at six and the undefeated Scots are state-ranked as they barrel towards the playoffs.

The Vikings’ win last week against Irving was a thriller. The Tigers kicked a field goal with 2:11 left in the game to take a 25-24 lead. With Nimitz then facing a fourth and 14 play on its final drive, quarterback Pedro Maldonado hit Christopher Hernandez with a shocking 59-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds left. It took a Nimitz interception to ice the game, 30-25.

On September 15 the Scots also defeated the Tigers. But the score of that game was 63-0.

In the Vikings first four district games, they have allowed an average of 55 points per game. It is a young team, probably the youngest the Scots have seen in several years. There are 40 players on the Vikings roster and half are sophomores and freshmen.

For the Highland Park players, the HPHS student body and the Park Cities community, this has been a tough couple of weeks. On Saturday, Oct. 1 senior cheerleader Grace Scheipe was critically injured in an auto accident and remains in the ICU at Parkland Hospital. Her struggle has united the entire community. A prayer vigil held on the field at Highlander Stadium drew more than 1,000 students and community members.

Then on Sunday, Oct. 2, Dan Lyke, the father of Highlander Band president George Lyke, died suddenly while walking his dog at a local dog park. Dan Lyke was a very popular band dad and his passing has stunned the band community. At his standing-room-only funeral mass this past Monday, George and his brother Henry both gave eulogies which were heartfelt, articulate and wonderful legacies for their father.

Like the Highlander Band, the HP cheerleaders and the Scots football team, the entire Park Cities community holds the Scheipe family and the Lyke family in their thoughts and prayers.

With that as a backdrop, this Friday’s game and Homecoming festivities will be a reminder of what is important in life.

Coach Randy Allen and the other HP coaches share the concern their players have. Their job is to use that emotion to keep focused when they take the field Friday night. The Scots did a good job against Berkner last Thursday and they hope to keep up their focus this Friday. Winning the game and going 7-0 for the season are the Scots’ goals. They also want to work on improving and building up depth by having back-ups see significant game action.

   No matter what happens on the field and no matter who is crowned as the Homecoming Queen Friday night, Amazing Grace will be the honorary HCQ in the hearts of the football players, the cheerleaders and all Highland Park fans.