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HP vs Mesquite: Kirk Dooley’s Blog

It’s back to Hanby Stadium for the Scots on a perfect Texas high school football night. This week’s Mesquite host will be the original Mesquite Skeeters, a team that has been a rival of Highland Park’s since Mesquite was a dusty little farm town lost somewhere between Dallas and Shreveport. mesquite skeeters helmet

Today that farming community is a major Dallas suburb that dwarfs the Park Cities in population and has five large high schools. Part of the school district lies inside of the LBJ Freeway loop, so it’s not considered far away anymore.

Last year the Skeeters snuck into the playoffs with a 3-3 district record before they were eliminated by Sachse in a razor-thin close game. This year’s version of the Skeeters is 2-5 but have playoff potential with a 2-2 district record. Last week Mesquite used a 21-point fourth quarter to put away Richardson Berkner, 28-7.

But two weeks ago the fireworks were flying when the Skeeters battled a red-hot Richardson Pearce team. The Mustangs prevailed but it was exciting. With three minutes left in the game Skeeters quarterback Dazmon Scott hit wide receiver Jordan Rider with a 91-yard touchdown pass to tightened the score to 45-41. But the Mustangs held the ball on their final drive and scored at the end of the game to win, 52-41. Both teams combined for 1,256 yards of total offense along with 64 first downs. It was a track meet. In that game, Pearce quarterback Hank Hughes completed 32 of 41 passes for 498 yards and four touchdowns. Not a bad day at the office. He also ran 22 times for 97 yards. The Skeeters allowed Pearce receiver Jake Griffin to grab 17 passes for 269 yards. Conversely, the Scots defense managed to keep a lid on Griffin.

Mesquite is battling for a playoff spot so its players will be desperate for a win. To do that they’ll need their tandem quarterbacks – Anthony Tennison and Scott – to be on target. The Skeeters’ top two receivers are Chance Fisher (90 receptions for 607 yards and six TDs) and Scott, who has caught 34 passes for 286 yards and five touchdowns, presumably when he was not playing quarterback.mequite skeeter emblem

On paper, Mesquite will not be as challenging as the two other Hanby hosts, but they have beaten Berkner and Lake Highlands over the past three weeks. So this is no time for the Scots to look past their opponent. To have a 2-2 district record puts the Skeeters on the playoff bubble, and as we’ve seen over the years, anything can happen when high school football players pull together with a quest to make the playoffs.

They won’t be Horn, but they could be a thorn.

HP vs Lake Highlands: Kirk Dooley’s Blog

Here comes the 3-3 Lake Highland Wildcats.
   This will be the first meeting between the Scots and the Wildcats since 1999. That was the year that Randy Allen blew in from West Texas on the wings of his Air Raid Offense and ever since then things around here have been riveting.
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   For those of you who remember the Herman Bailey days, the current state of football at Highland Park seems miraculous. Coach Bailey put together a 42-27-2 record over a seven-year period from 1967 to 1973 with similar talent as today but the program lacked the winning tradition that Tugboat Jones brought in when he was recruited from West Texas in 1956.
   It was in 1974 that Frank Bevers (from Mineral Wells) single-handedly brought back the championship attitude that Highland Park had trademarked in the 1940s.
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After that, Randy Emery, Don Richardson and Scott Smith combined for 84 wins and 33 losses to continue the winning tradition. But then came Randy Allen and he redefined championship football in a way that would impress even Doak and Bobby. His record is 179-22 since 1999, and includes only three district losses and zero losses at home. Each of those stats is incredible. In the meantime the Scots have now won more games than any team in Texas high school football history.
   Had Coach Allen or Coach Bevers arrived in the late ‘60s and stayed through the early ‘70s they might have strung together several 10-game seasons. Give them Kyle Rote, Jr. or Bobby Halpin or Larry Dupre in a spread offense and watch the fireworks erupt. Throw in Johnny Koons, Paul Flowers, Bond Beams, David Clarke or Mike Forester and there might have been some state championships using a Randy Allen offense or a Frank Bevers defense.
   Fireworks is what we have right now. The Scots are 4-1 on the big 6A stage and Lake Highlands is the next challenge. After two fumbles and two interceptions doomed the Scots’ perfect season last week, they will regroup and work on their weaknesses. The Scots face the Wildcats while HP’s lip is still bloody and so I wouldn’t want to be Lake Highlands this Friday.
   Look for Wildcats running back Tyler Hughes to assault the HP defensive line with his five yards per carry average. (At least he isn’t 290 pounds, like Horn’s nose guard/running back Dalen Morgan.) Stop Hughes and the Wildcats will have a hard time staying in the game.
   The Highland Park Independent School District celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend and the eyes of many old timers will be on the 2014 Scots on Friday. What these silver-haired alums will see is a team of young men out to prove that their link in the storied HP football tradition is as strong as their fathers and grandfathers and great grandfathers.
   It’s not all about winning. It’s about pride and heritage and leadership and character on the football field.
   And it dates back to 1923.

HP vs Lake Highlands: Before the Kickoff

The Scots welcome the Lake Highlands Wildcats to this side of Northwest Highway tonight for the first time since 1999, head coach Randy Allen’s first year at Highland Park.

RichardsonLakeHighlands helmets“Lake Highlands was a playoff team last year,” said Allen. “They are well disciplined, well coached and they play hard. They are 2-1 in district, coming off a 45-38 win over Richardson.”

The Wildcats have lost to Rowlett, 37-35; Colleyville Heritage, 40-16; and Mesquite, 56-21. They’ve beaten Plano East, 18-13; Berkner, 37-22; and Richardson, 45-38.

Brock Jones (#13) is the Wildcats quarterback. He has completed 38 of 76 passes for 608 yards and seven touchdowns. Junior quarterback Brendyn Gettens (#16) has seen plenty of action, completing 22 of 29 passes for 286 yards and four touchdowns.

The leading wide receiver for LH is Jamarice Preston, who has caught 35 passes for 630 yards and eight TDs. He is averaging 18 yards per catch and is the Wildcats’ leading scorer for the season.

Lake Highlands has a healthy ground game, led by a big front line and a punishing runner named Tyler Hughes, who has rumbled 140 times for 684 yards and seven touchdowns over the first six games. Last season as a junior he gained more than 1,000 yards while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Not only is Hughes a tough runner but is armed with 4.5 speed.

Experience will be a key for the Wildcats at the skill positions. Last year Jones was the team’s leading passer, Preston was the top receiver and Hughes led the team in rushing.

In Last Friday’s 45-38 win over Richardson, Jones scored with 30 seconds left in the game to put Lake Highlands up by three. But that was enough time for the Eagles to drive to the Wildcats sixyard line and kick a field goal to send the game into overtime.

Lake Highlands fed the ball to its power runner and he went 25 yards in three runs to score in overtime. Richardson then drove to the six-yard line before a fourth-down interception in the end zone ended the nail-biter.

The Wildcats gained 535 yards of total offense, including 144 yards on the ground by running back Hughes and 175 yards receiving by wide receiver Preston.

The Scots are coming off a tough 42-27 loss to Mesquite Horn at Hanby Stadium. The loss snapped the Scots’ impressive 37-game district winning streak and marks the third HP district loss in the past 16 years. The major difference-maker was Horn’s talented wide receiver Jarrison Stewart, who caught six passes for 120 yards, including touchdowns of 20, 34 and 28 yards.

But Stewart’s biggest play helped set the tone for the Jaguars in the first quarter. After Brooks Burgin (#5, 6-2, 189) led the Scots on a textbook 98-yard touchdown drive to start the game, Stewart returned a punt for 67 yards to tie it up and give the crowd a preview of how the game was going to be played. Stewart’s big plays earned him The Dallas Morning News Offensive Player of the Week. He is verbally committed to TCU.

“Our mistakes – the punt return, a fumble and an interception – were key to Horn going up 28-14 at the half,” said Allen. “We came back and with four minutes left we had the ball and were down by eight.”

The Jaguars defense held the Scots offense and then ran out the clock by lining up 290-pound nose guard Dalen Morgan in the backfield and handing him the ball. He rolled for 51 yards on three carries, including a 27-yard touchdown with 56 seconds left in the game. The Scots battled back and the game ended with HP on the two-yard line.

So Horn has the inside track to the district championship but the Scots feel that they can learn from this defeat and it can help them in the playoffs.

“It takes playing a good team for us to learn the areas in which we need to improve,” said Allen. “We’re excited and anxious to get back on the field and find out what we’ve learned. ”

The biggest lesson the Scots learned at Hanby on Friday is that a team cannot give up two fumbles and two interceptions and expect to beat a good opponent.

With a solid dose of reality, the Scots are practicing a little harder and are working on areas that need improvement. Defensive back Pearson Feagans (#22, 6-0, 165) is out with a broken collar bone.

Linebacker Michael Linehan (#35, 6-1, 230) had a good game for the Scots. His six tackles included three for a loss and one sack. Linebacker Mitchell Kaufman (#10, 6-3, 225) overcame a nagging back injury and was credited with six solo tackles. Feagans had four solo tackles before his injury. Nose guard Danny Gouskos (#94, 5-9, 210) had seven total tackles including one for a loss.

Tonight the Scots will be battling turnovers as well as Wildcats.