Highland Park might be best known for its prolific offense, but you can’t win three consecutive state titles without a stellar defense.
HP’s opponents know that after the Scots dramatically boosted their sacks and takeaways in the first season under defensive coordinator Cale Melton. HP allowed 14 or fewer points in 10 of its 16 games, all victories, including four shutouts.
Defensive leaders said they wouldn’t let last year’s success make them complacent.
“You have to have short-term memory,” said linebacker John Beecherl. “You can’t think about the past. We’re focusing on this year and not looking back.”
The Scots are undersized but aggressive, led by superstar defensive end Prince Dorbah, a three-year starter who has verbally committed to Texas.
Dorbah leads an experienced line alongside Andrew Washburne, who saw significant playing time at nose tackle last season, and Jesuit transfer Houston Hummel. Isaiah Pedack, who missed last season with a knee injury, also should make an impact.
The deep and talented linebacker pool features returnees Cal Hirschey, Andrew Bonnet, Patrick Turner, Gus Vincent, and Beecherl. Of that group, only Turner weighs more than 200 pounds, but sharp instincts and hard-hitting mentality are equalizers.
“We’re pretty strong up-front,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “Our secondary has to come through and mature.”
Two juniors, Tanner Schrank and Ford Frazar, could emerge as the primary cornerbacks, which will put more pressure on those linebackers and safety Brock Bakich — the only returning starter in the secondary. Bakich had a team-high nine tackles in last year’s state championship game.