by Kirk Dooley
The Highland Park – Tyler John Tyler game featured the greatest fourth quarter comeback in Scots history. While one of the best HP crowds in recent memory got behind the team that was down by 21 points going into the final period, there were some fans who left the game after three quarters, thinking the season was over.
They missed 12 minutes of Highland Park football at its best.
It was an incredible comeback. The John Tyler Lions had eaten the Scots’ lunch for the first three periods. They led 21-14 at the half and 35-14 after three quarters. Usually HP has a strong third quarter but last week they were outscored 14-0 and a lot of people feared the season was coming to an end.
Fortunately the HP coaches and players never thought that.
“Our guys have seen previous Highland Park teams come back and win,” said head coach Randy Allen. “We believe that there’s a constant level of expectations to be a championship team. Whatever it takes to win. Throw it all out on the field. We have strong senior leadership and we never got to the point where we lost hope.”
At the beginning of the season young Chandler Morris was given the keys to the HP offense. He had big shoes to fill after backing up a magician named John Stephen Jones. At the time I was told by coaches that Morris was as talented a field general as Jones. That has proven to be true as he led the Scots to a 13-0 record going into the quarterfinals. His dazzling fourth quarter performance last Saturday – two touchdown passes and two touchdown runs – combined with a shutdown defense, allowed the Scots to shock the Lions, who had already punched their ticket to the semifinals.
Morris’s fourth-quarter leadership brought back the glory of John Stephen Jones, Matthew Stafford, Lance McIlhenny, Scott Smith, Bobby Layne and other Highland Park great quarterbacks.
We will probably never see another HP comeback like that in our lifetimes. Unless we see it this Saturday.
The Scots face a 14-0 Denton Ryan team in the semifinals for the third year in a row.
The Raiders have a coach’s son at quarterback. Sophomore Seth Henigan beat out his older brother Ian for the position. Both are sons of head coach Dave Henigan, who spent a few years on Randy Allen’s staff at HP. Two other standouts – Billy Bowman, Jr. and Drew Sanders – are also sons of team coaches.
Ryan has lost only three games in the past four years. They lost in the playoffs to Allen in 2015, Highland Park in 2016 and Highland Park in 2017. They haven’t lost a regular season game since 2015.
What does all that mean? Nothing. This is a new year and these are new teams. Hit the re-set button.
The Ryan player to watch is Drew Sanders (#16). He’s the guy who has thrown three touchdown passes, caught five and run for seven. He also leads the team in tackles, has three interceptions, six sacks and has blocked a punt and a field goal.
I presume the Scots will humbled by their lackluster performance in the first three quarters against John Tyler. I presume their confidence will be strong after their magical comeback win.
And I presume that it would be unwise for you to leave the Ryan game until the end of the fourth quarter.