Ready or not, District 15-5A play is here.
Highland Park and the rest of the league’s schools won’t have the luxury of a bye week prior to starting the district schedule, as in past years. Instead, 15-5A coaches mutually opted to take a break after two district games — at the midway point of the season.
For the time being, that means no extra week of preparation, or to nurse early-season bumps and bruises. The Scots (2-1) must be ready when the curtain opens on Friday against Lovejoy at Highlander Stadium.
HP will carry some momentum into the league opener after an impressive 31-0 shutout of Mansfield Timberview last week, which capped a roller-coaster ride through the nondistrict slate.
The victory over the Wolves was especially critical for the HP defense, which surrendered 40 points and yielded several big plays a week earlier during a loss to Waxahachie.
Whereas the defense has depth and experience, the HP offense has looked just fine despite its relative youth. The Scots have surpassed 30 points in each of their three games behind quarterback John Stephen Jones, who has settled into the starting role with a couple of new go-to receivers in Scully Jenevein and Cade Saustad. Jones should have a couple of other options back from injury soon.
The Scots can take comfort in playing their district opener at home, where they’ve been typically dominant so far this fall during convincing wins over Timberview and Rockwall. And HP is back in Class 5A following a two-year stay in the state’s highest classification marked by regular-season success and early playoff exits.
The Leopards (1-2) are expected to be among the toughest opponents in 15-5A, however, with a fast-paced offense led by new head coach Todd Ford, the former offensive coordinator at the University of North Texas.
Lovejoy has a program that’s less than a decade old, but has already become a perennial powerhouse, with four straight playoff appearances at the 5A level. This season, the Leopards have lost to Argyle and Frisco Lone Star — both of which played in state championship games a year ago — while defeating Frisco Wakeland.
The Lovejoy offense includes plenty of playmakers, such as quarterback Carson Collins, running back Chad Hesson, and receivers Anthony Vogel and Chase Van Wagoner. Highly recruited linebacker Bumper Pool (his real name) anchors the defense.