http://topimatge.com/es/projecte/cn-torneos/ by Kirk Dooley
It goes back to the 2016 Scots football slogan, “Respect all. Fear none.” Highland Park has always had quite a bit of respect for Denton Ryan and its nationally-acclaimed talent. But nobody on the HP roster fears the Raiders. It’s almost the opposite. Denton Ryan is one of the most intimidating teams in the state but in their hearts they know they’re lining up against a team that is not scared of them.
The Raiders are 12-0 so far this season. The four years before that they were 14-1, 14-1, 14-1 and 15-1, losing three times in a row to Highland Park in the semifinals and then in last year’s finals they lost to Shadow Creek, 28-22. So over the past five years Denton Ryan is 69-4. Their only losses were to HP and Shadow Creek. (Conversely, Shadow Creek won every game in its first two years of existence, with the exception of their 2018 state finals loss to Highland Park.)
To a high school football team, what has happened in years past is nothing but background noise. What happens on the field this week is their only concern in the world.
So how is this Denton Ryan/Highland Park game different than 2016, 2017 and 2018?
“This may be the best Denton Ryan team we’ve faced,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “They are better defensively than any Ryan team we’ve seen. Their offensive line is better and they have great skill players, many of whom have started for three years. And their senior quarterback, Seth Henigan, is great.”
Most folks who talk about the Raiders will bring up Billy Bowman, Jr. and Ja’Tavion Sanders, two superlative athletes who play both ways and are probably the best set of high school receivers in the nation. When Coach Allen talks about the Raiders, the first guy he talks about is a giant nose tackle named Bear Alexander. Mr. Bear is 6-3, 325 lbs. and disrupts the middle of the line. “He is quite a load,” said Allen, shaking his head.
The Highland Park coaches have done a good job keeping their troops focused and ready to play the state’s top-ranked 5A team. They know Ryan is picked to win. They know it will take their best effort to advance to the semifinals. But there is no fear on this roster. The Scots believe they will play their best game and will be victorious.
With the exceptional HP offensive line giving Brayden Schager time, he can pick apart any defense. The Scots feature a clown-car full of receivers who are all talented and each one can beat you. The biggest arrow in the HP quiver this season is the defense, which is truly one of the best in the state.
Who will step up and be the hero on New Year’s Day? That will be determined during the game but the list of nominees is long