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.
Highland Park vs Frisco Centennial
7pm Kickoff, Saturday, August 30, 2014
The 2014 edition of Highland Park football storms into the Ford Stadium spotlight Saturday evening in a Tom Landry Classic battle with the strong Frisco Centennial Titans.
While the world is clammering about Highland Park moving up to the large 6A classification, the Scots will have their hands full with the local powerhouse from the lower 5A level.
“Centennial has emerged as the best team in its district,” said HPhead coach Randy Allen. “The Frisco teams are good and Centennial has averaged 11 wins a season over the past three years.”
The Scots last tangled with the Titans in the 2010 playoffs, with HP dominating, 49-7. In that game Jake Howeth completed seven of nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 146 yards and two more scores. But it was also a preview of HP’s next big quarterback. Brady Burgin stepped in the spotlight, completing 12 of 12 passes for 180 yards.
Brady’s younger brother, Brooks, returns as the Scots starting quarterback and reigning district MVP. Last season he led his team to the state semifinals as he passed for 3,500 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for 725 yards and 19 more TDs. Then, as now, he has been operating behind a big, talented offensive line.
The Titans boast some serious D-1 talent. Offensive tackle Trace Ellison, who is 6’5”, 280 lbs., has committed to play for Texas Tech where he may someday protect its potential Heisman quarterback, Davis Webb. The King brothers, Jack and Sam, are two other offensive linemen who are both 6’5” and 300 lbs. The Titan center is another returning starter, as are three wide receivers. Devin McCord, with 4.5 speed, is the one to watch for going deep.
Centennial returns only three starters on defense but one of them is an aggressive linebacker named Brandon Anderson, who has 4.4 speed and can be found making tackles all over the SMUcampus. Watch for him playing some offense against the Scots.
HPcoach Randy Allen enters the game as the 6th winningest coach in Texas high school football history. The irony is that his opposing coach, Mark Howard, got his start in coaching as an assistant at Brownwood, where he was hired by its young head coach, Randy Allen.
“Mark Howard is a very steady professional,” said Allen of his former assistant. “He has his life in perspective.”
Howard remembers Brady Burgin completing 12 of 12 passes against his playoff team in 2010. He just hopes that little brother Brooks doesn’t have a perfect game this Saturday night.
But he knows it’s possible. He’s got good perspective.