Scots Host 1st Round Rematch vs New Caney

by Kirk Dooley

The 2021 playoffs begin this Friday and for the second year in a row, the Scots will host the New Caney Eagles at Highlander Stadium.

A reminder for HP season ticket holders: When you go to find your seat at the game and someone else is sitting there, you’ll need to find another seat. This game is general admission and season ticket holders need to get to the game very early if you’d like to sit in “your” seats.

New Caney comes into the bi-district game with a 7-3 record. The Eagles were flying high at 7-1 until they ended their district run with two losses. They were beaten by Magnolia West, 31-24, and Magnolia, 52-21. Earlier in the season they had lost to College Station, a team that went on to win the district championship …. is undefeated at 10-0 …. is ranked second in state …. is averaging 53.9 points per game (and allowing 6.4) …. and could be a Scots playoff opponent a couple of weeks down the road.

The Eagles are good. They are balanced. They average 203 yards per game on the ground and 198 in the air. Their quarterback is Cornelius Banks. (Wasn’t that the father’s name in “Mary Poppins”?) Banks has completed 67 percent of his passes this season. He has connected on 134 of 201 passes for 1,926 yards and 20 touchdowns. But their most dangerous Eagle is running back Kedrick Reescano, who averages 7.3 yards per carry and 139 yards per game.  As a junior he was good for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. This season he has already picked up 1,393 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Keep an eye on receiver Cameron Thomas who is Banks’ favorite target. Thomas has caught 46 passes for 808 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Scots are coming off two wins that were not glamorous but they wound up being convincing. And although West Mesquite and Wylie East finished at the bottom of district standings, they both were talented and had a lot of spunk. Like most teams, they gave their best effort when trying to knock off the Scots. I feel like West Mesquite and Wylie East, compared to all the teams who finished at the bottom of their district standings, are the best two teams in Texas.

Coach Allen’s theory of playing very good 6A teams in pre-district is a good one when the playoffs roll around. The Scots finished 3-1 with a loss to Southlake Carroll and victories over Coppell, Flower Mound and Rockwall. All four of those 6A teams are in the playoffs and undefeated Carroll could go all the way. Those teams gave the Scots the critical blueprint on where they needed to improve. And once they find themselves in a firefight with a great playoff team, they won’t be surprised because they’ve seen it before.

And they’ll see some of it this Friday night. Did I mention that New Caney running back Kedrick Reescano averages 7.3 yards every time he touches the ball?

It’s Senior Night and Wylie East at Highlander Stadium

by Kirk Dooley

The Scots are putting their eight-game winning streak on the line this Friday as the 3-6 Wylie East Raiders roll into Highlander Stadium for Senior Night. Before the game, all the seniors on the team will be introduced. Bring your stadium seat because there’ll be more than five dozen Scots honored. There’s a special place in heaven for the seniors who are Highland Park student athletic trainers –  Clark Turner, Andie Criswell, Sadie Mayo and Ashiyana Dahiya – who have each unselfishly served the team for several years.

Concluding the season with Wylie East brings back the memory of the Raiders win over the Scots in 2016 that shook the Park Cities like an earthquake. A promising HP team suddenly didn’t look like a playoff contender anymore.

“It was a big disappointment,” said Coach Allen. “But the next morning we gathered the team together and started preparing for our new season – the playoffs. We put our record behind us and used the Wylie East loss to refocus. We dedicated ourselves to never play below our abilities again, to have a chip on our shoulders and to create a goal of winning six playoffs games including the state finals.”

Well, it worked. The Scots were foaming at the mouth and obliterated their first-round playoff opponent, Mount Pleasant, 70-2. The Scots then rolled through the playoffs and won the state championship.

I’ve never seen high school players react to a convincing loss and reinvent themselves like the 2016 team did. My money says no Wylie East loss, no state championship. That loss woke them up like a cold shower.

But that was then and now is now. In 2016 the Raiders had a machine named Eno Benjamin who ran for 186 yards. This year the man to stop is quarterback Terrell Washington, Jr. who takes the snap as the QB then runs most of the time. He’s already got more than 1,000 yards on the ground.

In last week’s 60-28 win over West Mesquite the Wranglers – who will finish in last place in the district – gained 595 total yards against the Scots. Their top receiver, T.J. Turner, caught eight passes for 311 yards. West Mesquite also picked up over 200 yards on the ground. So while the Scots are ranked third in the state, there is still room for improvement. Especially against serious playoff competition.

There were two developments in last week’s game that had probably never happened before in the history of Highland Park football. First, the Scots scored four consecutive points … on a blocked PAT returned the length of the field by Blake Bevans, then minutes later the HP defense got a safety. Four points the hard way.

The second unusual stat is that during a one-minute aerial battle, both teams combined for four touchdowns in four plays from scrimmage. There were 28 points scored in less than a minute. That has got to be a first in Scots history.

This Friday Highland Park will need to take care of business against Wylie East. Once the game is over, the HP coaches will be tripping over each other to see who won the Denton Ryan – Frisco Lone Star game. Or more specifically, who lost.

The Scots could see one of them in the third round and the other one in the fourth round. Pick your poison.

Scots Travel to West Mesquite this Evening

by Kirk Dooley

As we wind down the final two weeks of the district race, the Scots face West Mesquite this Friday and host Wylie East next Friday. Last Thursday those two teams battled for the rights to avoid the bottom of the barrel. The result? Wylie East 34, West Mesquite 8. So on Friday the first place Scots will play the last place Wranglers. Could it be a trap game? Maybe.

Although West Mesquite has lost every district game, their offense has looked good. They scored 28 points against Longview, 38 against McKinney North and 18 against Tyler before falling off the scoring wagon with only eight points last week. The difference was that quarterback Craig Dale did not play against the Raiders. 

When the Wranglers battled the Longview Lobos, the score was tied, 21-21, at halftime and the Lobos led, 28-21, after three quarters. That was your proverbial close game. Then in the fourth quarter the sleeping giant awoke and outscored West Mesquite, 28-7. The final score: 56-28, but keep in mind how close this game was through three quarters. QB Dale completed 11 of 23 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

In the Tyler game Dale connected on 15 of 26 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns.

That’s six TD passes versus Longview and Tyler. Not bad. What’s bad for the Wranglers is that Dale did not play against Wylie East last week and the Wranglers could manage only one touchdown, an eight-yard run by Gabriel Corona in the second quarter. Corona then scored on the two-point conversion and the Wranglers led, 8-0. Wylie East’s Maddox Fraley then returned the kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown and that was the beginning of the end for West Mesquite.

With Dale out, the Wrangler quarterback was Samuel Martinez, who completed five of 19 passes for 59 yards and two interceptions.

The Scots had their hands full last Friday against Tyler, a team that puts up big plays like we change shirts.

The Lions’ Derrick McFall broke away for a 52-yard touchdown sprint in the first quarter and then in the second quarter QB Eli Holt hit Montrell Wade with a 62-yard TD. Those were both impressive plays but the Scots defense kept the Lions offense in check the rest of the game. Wade, who also plays defense, intercepted two HP passes, which were two of five turnovers the Scots gave up in the game. Although the Scots won, 42-14, those five turnovers need to be examined and eliminated in future games, especially future playoff games.

My favorite play of the season took place last Friday and it doesn’t exist. But I swear I saw it.

After a late HP touchdown, the PAT was blocked and a speedy Tyler Lion picked it up and sprinted the length of the field to score two points. The Scots’ PAT holder, John Rutledge, got up and started chasing the runner who was about 15 or 20 yards ahead of him. At one point Rutledge shifted gears from football speed into sprinter speed. He looked like The Freeze as he chased down the ball carrier, who was streaking toward the end zone. Rutledge caught the runner on about the eight-yard line and pulled him down before he could collect his two points. I was stunned, but so was every person in the visitors stands. A Highland Park guy just caught their speedster from behind! What the heck?!

Tyler was called for a penalty on the play and HP was able to re-kick the PAT, the Scots’ 42nd point.

So Rutledge’s miracle play never happened.
But I will never forget it.