by Kirk Dooley
The Scots roll into the second round of the playoffs against the Magnolia Bulldogs this Thursday night at AT&T Stadium. Many Highland Park fans will not be familiar with Magnolia, a school the Scots have never faced.
First of all, Chip Gaines is not the coach.
The town of Magnolia, located about four hours south of Dallas, is in Montgomery County. The Woodlands and Conroe are also in Montgomery County, as is the best-named Texas town, Cut and Shoot.
Magnolia High School has 1,990 students and the population of Magnolia is 1,400, so how does that work? I guess they just do math differently down there.
The Bulldogs are 8-3 for the season and came in third in district 8-5A Div. I behind Lufkin and College Station. The Magnolia head coach, Craig Martin, was the offensive coordinator at Temple when the Scots faced the Wildcats in the 2016 state championship match, better known as the Turner Coxe Safety Game.
Magnolia has one of the biggest and best offensive lines we’ll see this season. The five guys on the O-line are: 6-5, 260 – 6-2, 280 – 6-5, 290 – 5-11, 260 – 6-6, 265. Three are committed to D-1 schools.
I have a family connection to Magnolia. My brother Craig has a nephew, Derek Bowman, a left tackle who is committed to Dana Holgorsen at the University of Houston. I’d like to say that Derek got his athleticism from my side of the family, since Craig was a standout on the Highland Park Buck-Buck team in 1969. But Derek’s dad punted for Texas Tech and his brother Reed is a punter at Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs use that O-line to pound the ball up the middle, right between the tackles. Running back Mitch Hall is a 5’9” battering ram who rushed for 208 yards against Poteet in the Bulldogs’ 34-14 win last Friday. Earlier in the season Hall ran for 230 yards against College Station.
The Scots are happy to have Henry Hagenbuch back from an injury. The offense is averaging 54 points per game and will be at full strength with Hagenbuch back at his right tackle position. The HP defense has been playing well and is holding opponents to 17 points per game. Magnolia is averaging twice that so we’ll see who wins that battle.
With some sophomores being brought up for the playoffs, we have two sets of brothers taking the field together for the first time. Senior DB Christian Wright welcomes his LB brother, George, to varsity and junior OL Will Gibson is now joined by brother Grant, also an offensive lineman. The Magnolia game will fade from our memories as time marches on but this will be a day these two sets of brothers will remember for the rest of their lives.
Magnolia will try to win this game between the tackles. And the Scots can’t score if they don’t have the ball.