After more than a month of playing drama-free football, the stakes will increase significantly for Highland Park on Friday.
The Scots will travel to Lancaster for a first-place showdown that should determine the District 6-5A Div. I title. Plus, a victory for HP would get longtime head coach Randy Allen to the 400-win milestone for his career.
Starting with the game, both teams already have clinched playoff berths and likely will be the top two seeds from the district in the Division II postseason bracket.
The Scots (7-1, 5-0) have outscored their first five league opponents by a combined margin of 339-12. HP has averaged 59.5 points per game this season, including five games of more than 60 points and two of more than 70.
Those numbers are skewed somewhat by a 79-0 drubbing of winless Sunset last week that quickly became an exercise in score control even before HP racked up 72 points by halftime.
Senior quarterback Chandler Morris, an Arkansas commit, has 2,232 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Hunter Heath has 461 rushing yards on just 31 carries (for a 14.9-yard average) with six scores. The deep receiving corps includes Ben Smith, Case Savage, and Paxton Anderson. On defense, Texas commit Prince Dorbah leads the way at defensive end.
The soft portion of the schedule has allowed the Scots plenty of opportunities to pad their statistics, to rotate in second- and third-team reserves, and to tune up for opponents such as Lancaster who will provide a playoff-style test.
The experienced Tigers (7-1, 5-0) will be the first opponent who can legitimately compete with HP since the Scots fell to Frisco Lone Star on Sept. 13.
After all, Lancaster boasts many of the same lofty numbers, with a resume that includes four consecutive shutouts — against many of the same foes HP has faced — prior to last week’s 33-10 victory over playoff contender Mansfield Timberview.
The Tigers have won seven straight games since a season-opening loss to 6A state power Duncanville. They have averaged 58.4 points during that span, with an athletic defense anchored by cornerback Lorando Johnson, an LSU commit.
Dual-threat quarterback Glenn Rice has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns, while the tandem of Tre Bradford and D.Q. James have combined for 20 scores on the ground. LaTrell Caples (Boise State) and Majik Rector (Kansas) are top recruits at receiver.
As for Allen, he could become just the third coach in Texas history to reach 400 wins, joining Corpus Christi Calallen’s Phil Danaher (466) and former Celina and Pilot Point coach G.A. Moore (426). Earlier this season, Allen passed ex-Brownwood coach Gordon Wood for third place on the state’s all-time wins list.
Allen has a career record of 399-88-6 in 39 years, including stints at Ballinger, Brownwood, and Abilene Cooper prior to his arrival at HP in 1999. He has won 246 games while leading the Scots.