It’s a problem that a lot of schools would like to have.
Highland Park has advanced past the first two rounds of the playoffs in five of the past six years, but hasn’t been able to clear that hurdle in the Class 4A Division I Region II semifinals.
The latest opportunity to reverse that trend for the Scots comes on Friday, when they face Mansfield Legacy at 12:30 p.m. at AT&T Stadium.
The game, which will start about 18 hours after the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders finish their Thanksgiving Day game on the same field, is scheduled to be televised live on KTXA-TV (Channel 21).
HP appears to be rounding into form after easily dispatching its first two postseason opponents, The Colony and Kimball, by a combined score of 96-38. HP has an 11-game winning streak overall, and the team has plenty of motivation and momentum.
Excluding last year’s upset loss to Frisco in the first round, the Scots (11-1) have been ousted in the regional semifinal round by Tyler John Tyler (2011), Mesquite Poteet (2010), Waxahachie (2009), and Waco Midway (2008).
In 2007, HP defeated South Oak Cliff in the third round and eventually fell to Lake Travis in the state title game.
Plus, when the Scots won their most recent title in 2005, behind star quarterback Matthew Stafford, they were eliminated in the first round the year before. They hope the same set-up will yield similar results this time around.
“We’ve got to have a great week of preparation,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We’ve got to get better and correct some mistakes.”
The Broncos (10-2) will play in the regional semifinals for the first time and have already set a school record for wins this year. The program played its first varsity season in 2008.
Legacy has scored more than 30 points in 11 of its 12 games behind a rushing attack that has averaged 385.8 yards per game.
To put that in perspective, HP averages 158.8 rushing yards per contest. Cole Feigl, who leads the Scots with 805 rushing yards on the season, would rank fourth on the Legacy roster with those statistics.
The top three ball carriers for the Broncos have combined for more than 5,000 yards and 48 touchdowns, and more than seven yards per carry. However, injuries are an issue.
Starting quarter Terrance Ivery has thrown for 999 yards and rushed for 1,297, with 21 combined touchdowns. But he will miss the game with a broken ankle after being carted off the field during the first half of a 70-49 win over McKinney North last week, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Starting running back Kijana Amous (1,876 yards, 27 touchdowns) was shaken up during a bi-district win over Tyler John Tyler, and his status for Friday is uncertain. That could put the spotlight on backup Kenton Mayberry, who carried 37 times for 340 yards and six touchdowns last week.
Of course, HP has a distinct advantage in terms of passing, with more than 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns through the air this season. The Scots have significantly more depth at receiver. And the Legacy defense has allowed more than 30 points in half of its games.
The Scots could have a couple of other minor advantages. They had an extra day of rest and preparation after playing on Thursday last week, and HP also has a game under its belt at AT&T Stadium, a venue that can be intimidating for first-timers.
The bottom line: Expect a lot of scoring.