It’s easy to look ahead at the difficult road Highland Park must navigate in order to win a fourth straight Class 5A Division I state title.
But that postseason quest starts in the Region II bi-district round with a matchup against Frisco Wakeland on Friday at Highlander Stadium.
The Wolverines don’t have the pedigree of Frisco Lone Star, Lufkin, Denton Ryan, or other potential rivals elsewhere in the playoff bracket. And the Scots have lost in the opening round just once since 2004.
However, you can be assured that HP players and coaches are focused on the first hurdle before tackling any others. That’s how the Scots (9-1) won seven consecutive games and rolled to a District 6-5A title.
Their first postseason test could be another high-scoring affair, with HP averaging more than 56 points per game this season. Dual-threat quarterback Chandler Morris has thrown for more than 2,800 yards and 33 touchdowns with 13 interceptions.
He has a deep receiving corps that includes six targets with at least three touchdown receptions. Plus, the Scots backfield has been invigorated by the late-season surge of the speedy Hunter Heath, who has rushed for 852 yards (or 13.5 yards per carry) and 10 scores despite missing several games with an injury.
While HP has typically been dominant in the first round, the Wolverines (5-5) have advanced past the bi-district weekend just once in nine tries in their history.
Wakeland finished in a tie for fourth place in District 5-5A, and made the playoffs despite falling to previously winless Frisco Liberty 45-35 in the regular-season finale.
On offense, the Wolverines average more than 36 points per game behind a high-powered passing attack. At 6-foot-6, Dylan Laible has thrown for 1,211 yards and 15 touchdowns despite missing several games earlier this year with a broken clavicle.
Kevin Rychel is the top receiving target with 46 catches for 892 yards and 15 touchdowns. Charlie Burkhart fuels the ground game with 825 yards and 11 scores.
The winner of Friday’s game will play either Mesquite Poteet or Magnolia next week in the area round.