Defense Shines in HP’s Spring Game

When it comes to the spring, Highland Park doesn’t mess with success.

Regardless of changes in personnel or classification, the Scots stick with their routine during spring drills — trying to install offensive and defensive schemes, building a depth chart, and sorting through position battles.

Longtime head coach Randy Allen was pleased with the three weeks of practice, which culminated in an hour-long spring game on May 17.

“We got better every week,” Allen said. “We think that, come fall, everybody will be ready and we’ve got a chance to have a good football team.”

The Scots finished 10-2 in each of the past two years at the Class 6A level and lost in the area round of the playoffs. They will drop back to the 5A level next season.

If the scrimmage was any indication, the HP defense might already be in midseason form. The group includes some experience among the front seven, with returnees including Matt Gahm, John House, and Bennett Brock.

“Our defense was way ahead of our offense. They hit hard, and they pursue well, and they’ve got good speed,” Allen said. “We did some good things on offense, but we just need to be more consistent.”

Allen said there is an ongoing three-man battle for who will be the new starting quarterback. In the running are seniors Michael Clarke and Jack Fain, along with junior John Stephen Jones. Clarke might have the inside track based in part on his limited action as the varsity backup last year.

“We’ll continue to compete going into the fall,” Allen said. “We’ll begin to make decisions then.”

The HP offense has been shorthanded, with some playmakers either banged up or involved in postseason runs in baseball or lacrosse for much of the spring. But Jack Kozmetsky should be the top running back after impressing in limited duty in 2015.

“We got to look at some guys,” Allen said. “That was the main thing. We feel that we made progress in the spring. We look forward to a good summer, and by the time we come back in the fall, we’ll be ready to roll.”

Looking ahead, HP will start fall practice on Aug. 8, and will open the regular season on Aug. 26 with a home game against Rockwall. The District 15-5A opener is slated for Sept. 16 against Lovejoy.

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