Before the Kickoff

HP vs J.J. Pearce

October 3, 2014

jj pearce mustangs logoAn old rivalry renews tonight as the Highland Park Scots and J.J.

Pearce Mustangs battle for the first time as 6A warriors.

Reunited in District 10-6A, the two schools are known for the

similarities in their sports teams, student bodies and winning traditions.

While the Scots lead the Mustangs in wins on the gridiron,

nobody can forget the 2001 double-overtime thriller in

Richardson when Pearce handed HP one of its only two district

losses during the Randy Allen era, dating back to 1999.

“Our games with Pearce are always emotional,”

said Allen. “They were excited

when we joined their 10-6A district. Their

school is in close proximity to ours and our

kids know their kids. This game renews an

old rivalry.”

This is a rebuilding year for the Mustangs.

They are coming off a 5-6 season in 2013

where they squeaked into the playoffs. This

season they come into Highlander Stadium

with a 1-3 record. Pearce has been defeated

by McKinney, 26-22, McKinney North,

54-16, and Richardson, 48-30. In Week 2

the Mustangs beat South Garland, 49-42.

In last week’s contest against the Richardson Eagles, Pearce used

two quarterbacks, Hank Hughes (#11) and Austin Noland (#7).

Hughes completed 11 of 21 passes for 117 yards while Noland

connected on 10 of 14 passes for 75 yards. The top three wide

receivers are Jake Griffin (#6) with 22 receptions for 261 yards,

Hughes with 10 receptions for 143 yards and Ryan Hart (#4) with

six catches for 122 yards.

The Mustangs have three runners with over 100 yards. Hughes

leads the team with 197 yards on 39 carries while Jake Hercamp

(#27) has 118 yards on 20 carries and Alex Silva (#22) has gained

112 yards on 23 carries. The number to remember is that each of

these Mustangs is averaging more than five yards per carry.

The Scots will try to keep Hughes bottled up wherever he lines

up and keep Griffin from nabbing too many passes.

A potent Highland Park offense that is averaging 44.5 points per

game will face a Pearce defense that is allowing 42.5. Conversely, a

Scots defense that is allowing 13 points per game will square off

against a Mustang offense that averaging 29.

In last Friday’s 29-9 win over North Mesquite, the Scots started

slow, falling behind 9-0 in the second quarter. The spirited

Stallions defense bottled up the Scots, keep them from a first down

until midway through the second quarter. Then HP quarterback

Brooks Burgin (#5, 6-2, 189) hit wide receiver Andrew Frost (#3,

6-0, 180) with a 24-yard touchdown strike to allow the Scots to go

into halftime with a small 9-7 deficit.

During halftime the Scots players made adjustments and decided

that they’d like to play more efficiently. The second half Scots

looked like a new team. The offense scored 22 points while the

swarming defense shut out the Stallions, allowing them only 48

total yards in the second half. The game ended after HP’s 29 unanswered

points propelled them into the new

world of 6A football.

“We need to start faster,” said Allen.

“North Mesquite was emotional and they

executed well. We were a little stale after

our open date. Once we got in sync we

were able to score 29 points and hold

them. We played a good team and got our

first 6A win. We won the fourth quarter.

Our defense was consistent throughout the

game and our offense showed signs of running

the ball well. Our kicking game was

solid all night and we had two play-action

passes for touchdowns.”

Running back Stephen Dieb (#34, 5-7, 145) made some NM

defenders think he was 6’3″ and 240 lbs. as he ran over, ran

around and ran through several Stallions en route to a 140-yard

game. Dieb averaged more than eight yards per carry.

Burgin finished the night completing 12 of 27 passes for 175

yards and three touchdowns. Frost caught three passes for 89

yards and two TDs, Kevin Ken (#17, 6-0, 170) grabbed six passes

for 57 yards and one touchdown.

Linebacker Michael Linehan (#35, 6-1, 230) had a monster

game against North Mesquite, with 17 tackles (nine of which were

solo) and earning The Dallas Morning News Defensive Player of

the Week honorable mention. Hayden Schnieders (#40, 5-10,

195) had 14 tackles, Matthew White (#49, 6-2, 205) had 12,

Danny Gouskos (#94, 5-9, 210) had nine, Nick Waterman (#44,

6-2, 217) had eight while Benji Walzel (#31, 5-10, 170) and Zach

Snelling (#32, 6-0, 205) each had seven.

Injured linebacker Mitchell Kaufman (#10, 6-3, 225) is expected

to rest again tonight. In his place the Scots will continue to play

Snelling and Josh Block (#41, 5-10, 180).

 

HP vs Prosper
September 12, 2014

The Prosper Eagles soar into Highland Stadium for the first time
to battle the Scots, who boast an 80-game home winning streak.
That streak looked vulnerable last Friday with five and half minutes
left in the first half against Pulaski Academy of Little Rock.
The Bruins had just scored to go up 28-14, testing the Scots, the
coaching staff and the jam-packed home crowd.
A minute later the Scots offense reached into its own quiver of
electricity and pulled out a lightening bolt as scatback Stephen
Dieb (#34, 5-7, 145) scored on a nine-yard
run to tighten the score, to 28-21.
Then lightening stuck again 20 seconds
later as linebacker Mitchell “Pick Six”
Kaufman (#10, 6-3, 225) stepped in front of
a Pulaski pass and returned it 33 yards to tie
the contest and change the complexion of
the battle. It was a game-changing play.
With the momentum dramatically shifted
in Highland Park’s favor, the defense smothered
Pulaski’s fourth down attempt on its
own 32-yard line and then it took quarterback
Brooks Burgin (#5, 6-2, 189) two
plays to put the Scots ahead at halftime. He hit Sam Welfelt (#9,
6-2, 180) with a 22-yard strike, then Dieb ran it in from the
10-yard line with 2:32 remaining in the half.
That third lightening bolt put HP ahead 35-28. The Scots had
scored 21 points in less than two minutes and never trailed again.
In the third quarter the Scots defense stopped the Bruins again
on a fourth down attempt at the Pulaski 30-yard line. (Maybe it’s a
good idea to punt sometimes.) Burgin hit Andrew Frost (#3, 6-0,
180) with two strikes for 21 yards, Dieb picked up two more then
Burgin ran it in from the seven, giving the Scots a 42-28 cushion.
In the fourth quarter Dieb scored his third touchdown to put the
Scots up, 48-28. The Bruins came back strong at the end of the
game, scoring twice and tightening the score to 48-42 but the HP
kickoff return team warriors recovered the Bruins’ final onside
kick … as they had done with every onside kick all night, giving
the HP offense nice field position throughout the entire game.
“Our ability to get the onside kicks was important,” said HP
head coach Randy Allen . “Our defense got better as the game
went on. We scored 34 unanswered points and had a seven-point
halftime lead, which was important. I think that Mitchell
Kaufman’s interception return for a touchdown was important.
“Pulaski was as good or better than we had thought. They had
solid blocking and good players at skill positions. Their quarterback
was good and their team is used to winning. I think it is
important that we didn’t play our best game and still beat a good
team. Their offense ran 93 plays – 60 is normal – so our defense
was on the field a lot. We had players cramping but they were
never demoralized. I give them credit for adjusting to the fourthdown
plays and finding a way to win. It was an exciting game and
we came out healthy and came out with a win. Plus we were
exposed to some new formations and schemes. We’ll be better prepared
next season when we play them.”
Tonight the Scots face Prosper, which
beat Birdville, 41-20, and lost to Justin
Northwest, 42-19. The Eagles were 3-7 last
season after graduating star quarterback
Davis Webb (Texas Tech) and receiver
Torii Hunter (Notre Dame), who had led
Prosper to gridiron glory.
“Prosper is good offensively,” said Allen.
“They’ve got a running back (Robert
Mahone ) who ran a kickoff back 90 yards
for a touchdown against Justin Northwest.
Their quarterback (Colton Hepp ) wears
number 90. He’s a good passer and good runner. Prosper has a lot
of pride and good school spirit. They are a classy group and they
want to be the best.”
Against Birdville, Hepp passed for 210 yards and Mahone had a
95-yard touchdown run. The Bruins kicker, Liam Gamboa , connected
on a 40-yard field goal.
In the first two games of the season, Scots QB Burgin has completed
33 of 48 passes (69 percent) for 517 yards, four touchdowns
and one interception. Dieb leads the team in rushing with
136 yards on 23 carries (six yards per carry) and three touchdowns.
Campbell Brooks (#2, 6-0, 175) has caught nine passes
for 228 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team in receiving.
Leading the Scots in tackles against Pulaski were linebackers
Matthew White (#49, 6-2, 205) and Michael Linehan (#35, 6-1,
230), followed by defensive ends Michael Thornton (#95, 6-2,
215) and Nick Waterman (#44, 6-2, 217) and linebacker Hayden
Schnieders (#40, 5-10, 195). The HP defense will have a healthy
Danny Gouskos (#94, 5-9, 210) back at nose guard tonight.
“Our depth was important in our victory over Pulaski,” said
Allen, “and it will be just as important against Prosper.”

Highland Park vs Prosper Eagles

Highland Park vs Prosper Eagles

7:30pm Kickoff, Friday, September 12, 2014

Their quarterback wears number 90. What’s up with that? Is he a converted nose guard?
Prosper’s QB, Colton Hepp, has a name as cool as his number. In his first two games he has completed 31 of 45 passes (69 percent) for 395 yards and four touchdowns. His key receiver, Zack (with a “k”) English, has caught 13 passes for 215 yards and three scores.
But the guy to keep an eye on is running back Robert Mahone, who in the first two games has run back a kickoff 90 yards and has a 95-yard run from scrimmage. Both for touchdowns, obviously.
The Eagles fly into Highlander Stadium for the first time ever. Years ago, Prosper was a dot on the road north of Dallas and now it’s got a school with 1,600 students, impressive facilities and a strong tradition of winning over the years. The Eagles are learning the hard way that 5A is a far cry from 2A and 3A, where they used to mop up (much like Forney did). They were 3-7 last year and are not projected to do much better this season.
But two years ago they were flying high. Led by high-profile quarterback Davis Webb, who is now starting at Texas Tech, Prosper was 10-3 in 2012 and went three games deep into the playoffs. Webb’s top receiver was Torii Hunter, Jr., who caught 71 of Webb’s passes for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 17.4 yards per reception. He now plays for Notre Dame.
The Scots are coming off an important win over Pulaski Academy of Little Rock, Arkansas, which had won 125 of its previous 144 games, and averaged 50 points per game going into Friday night’s fight.
It didn’t take long for the Scots to realize that these guys were for real. The Scots looked up and found themselves losing 28-14 and couldn’t stop Pulaksi’s offense. Stephen Dieb scored to tighten the score to 28-21 when linebacker Mitchell Kaufman made the play of the game, snatching a Pulaksi pass out of the air and running it back 33 yards to tie the score. The huge momentum shift continued, the HPdefense stuffed the Pulaski offense and the Scots scored 34 unanswered points to defeat the Bruins 48-42.
A few HPtouchdowns came about due to great field position that was the result of recovering onside kicks and stopping fourth down plays deep in HP territory. Maybe it makes sense to punt every once in a while.
“I think it is important that we didn’t play our best game and still beat a good team,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “It was an exciting game and our guys found a way to win.”
It was a good team win. But Kaufman, who is also a Scots basketball standout, gets the assist.
Pulaksi goes to Florida to play a game this weekend. The Bruins may be discombobulated because they’re not used to coming off a loss. But the Bruins and the Scots both benefited from last Friday’s game.
They will play again in Dallas next year. Pulaksi already has it circled. They want another shot at the Scots’ home winning streak, now sitting at an incredible 80 games.

Highland Park vs Pulaski Academy of Little Rock, Arkansas

Highland Park vs Pulaski Academy of Little Rock, Arkansas

7:30pm Kickoff, Friday, September 5, 2014

Well, this is going to be interesting.  The mad genius of football, Kevin Kelley, is bringing his Pulaski Academy Bruins from Little Rock, Arkansas, to show North Texas how different high school football can be.

Kelley is the most unorthodox football coach in America. He makes the mad pirate of Washington State, Mike Leach, look as boring as an old SEC offense. If he weren’t so successful, people might think he’s crazy. But he is successful – winning 125 of 144 games the past 11 years – and still some think he’s off his rocker.
Why? Because he approaches football from a whole different perspective. He doesn’t think like the conventional coach. He questions everything and has the moxie to act on it. The result is the most unconventional football team in America at any level. You can’t call them weird because they win 87 percent of their games.
Pulaksi never punts. Kelley thinks that punting is offensive failure. They go for it on all fourth downs and get a first down 50 percent of the time. Professor Kelley likes the percentages. He knows that the odds of a team getting the ball inside the Pulaski 10-yard line will score 92 percent of the time. He knows that punting out to the 30- or 40-yard line gives his opponent a 77 percent change of scoring. He’ll take that 15 percent difference because his team will get a first down on 50 percent of its fourth-down attempts. Half the time he keeps the ball and the other team doesn’t have it so it doesn’t matter what yard line they would have been on.
Every Pulaksi kickoff is an onside kick. They have 12 different onside kick formations and they’ve become very good at using it as a key offensive weapon. Against one rival they ran up a 29-0 score before the other team ever touched the ball. You will never see a better team at onside kicks.
Opponents recovering an onside kick will be an average of 14 yards ahead of where they would have been (on average) after a regular kickoff return, so we can begin to understand the logic behind the madness.
On defense, Pulaski blitzes 80 percent of the time. On punt returns, they have nobody deep … and they don’t try to block the kick. On offense they average 520 yards per game. Next week they play against a high school team in Florida. None of this is conventional, folks.
The Scots coaches have not been able to scout the Bruins. The HP game is their first game of the season. The HP coaches have film from last year but most of those players have graduated.
I don’t think that Pulaski never punting is going to throw off the Scots defense but I do think that the Bruins onside kicks can be damaging because of their expertise at it. The best way to negate that possibility is to keep them from scoring in the first place.
Keep a team averaging 50 points a game from scoring? Yes, if the Scots defense can keep them out of the end zone each quarter, then the percentage chance of Pulaski scoring becomes zero.