A year ago, Highland Park entered its first season in Class 6A with a new defensive coordinator, eight new starters, and plenty of uncertainty about how it might stop opposing offenses.
The Scots responded by posting four shutouts during the regular season and turning into statistically the best defense in District 10-6A. And that could be a springboard to an even more impressive performance this year.
“They worked so hard to improve on some of the little things that maybe we let slide in the past,” said HP defensive coordinator Don Woods. “They started priding themselves on those shutouts.”
While this year’s defensive unit will be typically short on varsity experience — only linebacker Hayden Schnieders returns from last year’s starting group — it should feature more depth, thanks to some talent imported from a squad that was unbeaten at the junior-varsity level in 2014.
“We’ve got great teamwork and camaraderie,” Schnieders said. “We’re all closely knit and all really good friends. We can really trust the guy next to us.”
The Scots will open the season on Saturday against Frisco Centennial at the Tom Landry Classic in Allen.
Highland Park’s more athletic secondary will include Joseph Sweeney and Matthew Barge, who also will see some snaps on offense. The new-look defensive line should be bigger and stronger, with five players that could rotate among three spots, including converted linebacker Zach Snelling. And there could be even more depth at the four linebacker positions alongside the versatile Schnieders.
“You can keep your guys fresh,” Woods said. “We’re known for good offense, but we want to be known for doing our part, too.”