by Kirk Dooley
Going into this season, Mansfield Legacy was the popular choice to derail the Highland Park football freight train. The Dallas Morning News picked Legacy to win district 6-5A Div. I, with the Scots slated to come in second. Before the season started, Texas Football magazine had HP and Legacy as the second and third ranked teams in the state. Some predicted Legacy to win the state title because the Broncos had something nobody else had – Jalen Catalon.
Generally considered one of the top 10 high school safeties in the nation, Catalon became an all-state defensive back as a sophomore and was named the 5A Defensive Player of the Year. As a junior he was asked to also play quarterback for the team and then was handed the keys to the offense. While still controlling half the field on defense as lightning-fast DB, he also passed for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns while running for a team-best 1,014 yards and 13 more touchdowns.
He led a very good Legacy team to the state semifinals where the ride ended with a 28-21 loss to Aledo.
Going into this season Catalon was Texas Football’s 5A coverboy and the Broncos had a goal of winning the state championship. They had been eliminated by the Scots in the 2016 quarterfinals and then lost to Aledo in last year’s semifinals. Like HP, these guys had a goal of winning the state title and nothing less.
The Broncos lost their first game of the season against Oklahoma powerhouse Jenks, 35-14, but more importantly, they lost Catalon to a season-ending knee injury.
The team is still very talented. Cam Clark stepped in as the starting quarterback while running back Kaleb King stepped up his role. The Broncs beat Crowley, 39-7, then dropped two games to Mansfield (14-7) and Lancaster (21-8). In the battle of the 6-5A Mansfield titans, Legacy defeated Timberview, 27-22, to re-establish itself as a district champion contender.
This is a team that is hungry for revenge after its heart-stopping 14-7 loss to the Scots in the 2016 state quarterfinals at AT&T Stadium. The game that came down to the final play. On fourth and goal from the eight-yard-line, Catalon’s brother Kendall lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone and Highland Park defensive back George Stewart swatted the ball away as time expired and the Scots escaped with a 14-7 victory.
This Friday’s game has been circled on the Mansfield Legacy calendars for a long time. The Broncos – even without Jalen Catalon – have the talent to win the game. They have the will. They have the emotion.
What they don’t have is Chandler Morris or Finn Corwin.
Morris is leading the area 5A quarterbacks with 1,401 yards and 16 touchdowns. Corwin is the second-ranked receiver with 27 receptions for 584 yards and nine TDs. Armed with a great offensive line, the Scots’ top passing threat has been unstoppable. Could Jalen Catalon have disrupted them this Friday?
Maybe. But we’ll never know.
by Kirk Dooley
This Friday the Scots will need to contain Mr. Lucas Woltjen.
He’s the 5’10”, 170-lb. quarterback for the Woodrow Wilson Wildcats. He’s the team’s leading passer and leading rusher. He’s a hard runner who likes to pull the ball on option plays and run it himself. And he has had good success, passing for 557 yards and eight touchdowns and running for 300 yards and three TDs. Woltjen led the Wildcats to a 3-0 pre-district record, beating Frisco, Frisco Heritage and Wylie East.
Then last week the district 6-5A race started and Woodrow battled Mansfield Timberview in a game that introduced the Wildcats to the quality of the HP/Timberview/Lancaster/Legacy district leaders. The Wolves surprised the Wildcats, 54-7. (This Friday Timberview faces crosstown rival Legacy and the winner will be a leading candidate to challenge the Scots for the district title.)
The Scots are the number two 5A team in the AP state poll. They have a 4-0 record and have beaten three strong teams, including Rockwall, who opened their district race last week with a 73-point performance. HP’s game last Friday against Bryan Adams was another surreal game that got moved up to 6:00 p.m. then got called near the end of the third quarter. Like the Mesquite Horn game, it was a weather-delayed match that ended in a water-logged, empty stadium. But the BA game was different in that the Scots won 49-0 without playing the final quarter.
Highland Park dominated Bryan Adams on both sides of the ball. The defense held the Cougars offense to minus-two yards of total offense and two first downs. Had the Scots offense missed the bus and never showed up HP would have won, 7-0, based on linebacker Colby Hopkins’ fumble recovery in the BA end zone.
Chandler Morris had another outstanding game, throwing five touchdown passes – three of which went to Mr. Touchdown, Finn Corwin – in a game that was missing a quarter. Statistically, Morris in now the top 5A quarterback in the area (with over 1,000 yards) and Mr. Touchdown is the number two receiver.
Against Woodrow, Hopkins has been moved to outside linebacker to fill in for injured Andrew Bonnet. Cal Hirschey will start at inside linebacker next to James Lightbourn.
With temperatures in the mid-’70s and no rain in the forecast, the Woodrow game at Highlander Stadium will bless fans from both teams with perfect weather under the Friday night lights. Like Highland Park, Woodrow Wilson has a long, storied history. It’s alumni association is strong, like HP’s and they will sell out the visitors’ section. The Woodrow fans will loud and proud.
While Highland Park is proud of its Heisman Trophy winner, Doak Walker, Woodrow is the only public high school in America to boast two Heisman winners – Davey O’Brien and Tim Brown. And while HP loves its NFL star quarterback, Matthew Stafford, WW boasts two NFL players – Sergio Kindle and Greg McCoy.
Pride, heritage and tradition aside, only the current players can dictate Friday night’s score. I don’t think the talented Wildcat defense will stop Morris and the HP offensive machine. The game will probably come down to Lucas Woltjen and if he is able to move the ball gainst the Scots with his arm and/or his legs.
Pick your poison.
by Kirk Dooley
Highland Park football fans who were at the Frisco Lone Star game last Thursday are still hyperventilating.
The few who stayed for the rain-soaked, lightning-delayed marathon against Mesquite Horn two weeks ago are still wet. Or at least their clothes are.
But nobody is complaining. The Scots are 3-0 in pre-district play, topping three very good teams and earning the ranking of the number two 5A team in the state.
Playing 0-3 Bryan Adams this Friday might won’t be as challenging for the Scots in many ways but it will be difficult in one key area: Playing the game at all.
There is rain in the forecast Thursday night, Friday morning, Friday afternoon and Friday evening. Then around game time there is an 80 percent chance of heavy thunderstorms. That’s the kind of rain that includes lightning and we know what that means. Dozens of Dallas-area high school games have been moved up from Friday to Thursday.
If the game does get cancelled after several lightning delays, there’s several great restaurants I can recommend that are on the way back to the Park Cities. The burgers at Goodfriend Beer Garden (Peavy and Garland Road) are among the best in Dallas. Next door to Goodfriend is Twenty Feet Seafood Joint, which has the best lobster rolls in town. On the other side of Goodfriend is Hello Dumpling, a noodle place that also carries Wild About Harry’s custard. Tex-Mex? Try El Vecino at the corner of N. Buckner Blvd. and Northcliff Drive.
But what if the game takes place as scheduled? The Scots are 3-0 and the Cougars are 0-3. HP is favored.
Through the first three games. BA quarterback Morgan Spears has completed 16 of 45 passes for 164 yards with one touchdown and six interceptions. Running back Kenvodrick Shaw has rushed 53 times for 177 yards. And the Cougar’s leading receiver, DaQuan Bell, has caught nine passes for 129 yards and two TDs. Bryan Adams has lost its three games by the scores of 32-7, 33-7 and 37-7. After much thought, I have deducted that the Cougars are averaging seven points per game. They were district champions last year and were D1 area finalists, so they are proven winners. In the new district realignment the Cougars landed in the same district with Highland Park, Lancaster and two difficult Mansfield teams. Tough sledding.
The one statistic that stands out to me is that Bryan Adams has scored three touchdowns so far this season while Finn Corwin has scored four.
Forester Field is named after the grandfather of 1972 HP captain Mike Forester. I hope there’s a good HP crowd there Friday night, but to quote the President of the United States, Friday night’s storms will be “wet”.
by Kirk Dooley
The playoffs begin this Thursday in Frisco. Are you ready?
OK, I realize that the district race hasn’t even started yet but the Scots are walking into a major playoff atmosphere as they challenge Frisco Lone Star in a Thursday night showdown at Memorial Stadium.
It will be the first time these two teams have ever met. Since Lone Star was founded eight years ago it has become the football royalty of Frisco, which has six teams in district 5-5A Div I.
The Lone Star Rangers were regional finalists last year, boasting a 12-2 record. They return 13 starters and have begun the 2018 season by trouncing Richland, 42-2, and Denton, 51-6.
The Scots and the Rangers are ranked the top two 5A teams in the Dallas area. The AP ranks HP number two and Lone Star number four in the state. This will be one of those “clash of the titans” battles and it’s only the third game of the season.
It is important to note that this is the biggest game in the history of Lone Star High School. Memorial Stadium in Frisco will be shaking with playoff electricity. Highland Park usually has a big target on its back and on Thursday the Rangers will have a M1 Abrams tank pointed at it.
The Scots are coming off two impressive wins over good 6A teams. The Rangers are also 2-0 and have outscored their opponents 93-8. Last week Lone Star quarterback Julian Larry completed 10 of 12 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Six receivers caught at least one pass, led by Ife Opere who caught five for 75 yards and two scores. Running back Quinn Maloney ran for 140 yards and two TDs. The Rangers secondary is solid, consisting of four returning starters.
Denton was down 51-0 when it scored on a three yard pass in the last 83 seconds. It was the only touchdown the Rangers have allowed this season. That will be a good challenge for Mr. Touchdown on Thursday.
Mr. Touchdown, aka Finnegan Corwin, is the Scots receiver who has a knack of turning receptions into six points. He was named the Dallas Morning News Offensive Player of the Week after his 205-yard, four-touchdown performance against Mesquite Horn last Friday. Defensive end Prince Dorbah was honorable mention Defensive Player of the Week for his five sacks and a safety.
Last week’s rain and lightning delays caused both bands and both drill teams abandon ship and miss the game. The contest was ultimately played in its entirety but the loss of the music and dancing made those rain-drenched warriors still in the stands realize how important the bands and drill teams are to the magic of the Friday night lights.
I’ll go out on a limb and make two predictions. The Lone Star defense is allowing an average of four points per game and I predict that the Scots will score more than four points. My other prediction is that this won’t be the only time the Scots face the Rangers this season.
A playoff atmosphere this Thursday? Get used to it.
by Kirk Dooley
The Friday Night Lights went out in Texas on August 31 as Highlander Stadium went dark at 10:00 p.m. with seven minutes left in the Highland Park-Rockwall football game. Fans on both sides lit up their cell phones and illuminated the darkness until the lights came back on 17 minutes later.
It was surreal.
Actually, the break helped the Scots deal with their cramping issues as both teams got a breather from the hot August night. The Scots defense was able to keep the Yellowjackets out of the end zone in the fourth quarter as the HP offense built up a 49-35 lead. The Jackets scored on the last play of the game to tighten the score to 49-42, but there was no time for an onside kick and a miracle finish, like how last year’s game ended.
Two of the Rockwall stars from last year’s win were on the field again this past Friday. Quarterback Jacob Clark, a 6‘5” Minnesota commit, completed 22 of 34 passes to his receivers and two to HP cornerback Hudson Clark, who returned one of them 42 yards for a touchdown. Dangerous Yellowjackets receiver Jaxon Smith caught 13 passes for 232 yards and two scores.
But the night belonged to HP’s junior quarterback Chandler Morris, who introduced himself on the fifth play from scrimmage with a nifty 70-yard touchdown run. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns, both to Drew Scott. Morris was also the Scots’ leading rusher, picking up 105 yards on 10 carries, and scoring four touchdowns on the ground.
This Friday the Scots host the Mesquite Horn Jaguars, another big and speedy 6A powerhouse. The Jags’ quarterback, Jermaine Givens, had 4,000 of total offense as a junior and is one of the top dual-threat QBs in the state. Last year he was 11-6A’s offensive MVP as he led Horn to a 10-2 record.
Last week the Jaguars ran into a buzz saw known as the Allen Eagles. Horn suffered its first shutout since 2010 as the Eagles soared away with a 40-0 win. The Horn players now move from Allen (6A state champions) to Highland Park (5A state champions). Tough schedule.
Highland Park coaches are just as worried about Horn’s speed as they were before the Jaguar’s opening loss. They said that Horn is just like Rockwall except faster. It will be another challenging pre-district game.
On another subject, the best player the Scots would face this season has been injured and is out for the season. Mansfield Legacy quarterback/safety Jalen Catalon, one of the best high school players in the nation, will miss his senior season. Legacy was picked to win the district championship over Highland Park and picked to win the state championship by some. Legacy still has a team that will challenge the Scots in district play and beyond.
I feel like flying my flag at half-mast in honor of Catalon, the Scots’ talented and worthy opponent. After he sorts through his 24 scholarship offers, he’ll be playing on Saturdays for a big-time team next year.
In the meantime the Scots have Jermaine Givens to worry about. He and the Jaguars will be tough opponents on Friday night at Highlander Stadium. Bring your flashlight.