Young HP Defense Shines in Scrimmage

Christian McAnalley threw a pair of touchdown passes during a live scrimmage quarter against Plano East on Friday. (Photo: Melissa Macatee)

Although the score and stats won’t carry over, Friday’s scrimmage should provide some momentum for Highland Park heading into its season opener.

The Scots dominated a live quarter against Plano East at Highlander Stadium, with the defense forcing turnovers while the offense found the end zone on both of its possessions.

“In a scrimmage, you want to play hard, you want to get some guys in the game, you want to evaluate your team, and you’d like to get out without any serious injuries,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “I think we got that accomplished.”

HP’s Cole Bohner began the live quarter that concluded the scrimmage with an interception, and the Scots scored a few plays later on a 13-yard pass from Christian McAnalley to Scully Jenevein.

After another defensive stop, McAnalley connected with Cade Saustad on a 27-yard touchdown pass.

Points were scarcer during the controlled portion of the scrimmage, with both defenses generally controlling the action. HP’s James Herring provided a highlight with an interception on Plano East’s opening drive, and the Scots drove to the Panthers’ 11-yard-line on the ensuing possession before turning the ball over on downs.

Starting quarterback John Stephen Jones didn’t play in the scrimmage, but he will be ready when HP officially starts its state title defense on Sept. 1 at Rockwall.

His absence allowed the Scots to rotate three quarterbacks, each of which played well. During the controlled scrimmage, sophomore Kevin Shuman threw a touchdown pass to Carson Bryant, while McAnalley connected with Finn Corwin for another score.

Chandler Morris, the sophomore son of SMU head coach Chad Morris, found Saustad on a 47-yard strike for the longest gain of the evening.

Sophomore running back Trey Jones accounted for the only touchdown for the Panthers, who made the playoffs in Class 6A last season. But overall, the HP defense was quite impressive, particularly considering no starting linemen or linebackers return from last year’s starting lineup.

“That front seven seemed to hold their own. They couldn’t move us around,” Allen said. “We stymied them at the line of scrimmage and were making a lot of tackles for no gain. They really were aggressive.”

While the general reaction was positive on both offense and defense for the Scots, Allen cautioned against complacency and overconfidence.

“We’ve got to remain humble and hungry all season long,” Allen said. “We’ve got to find ways to improve.”

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