Regardless of classification, Highland Park has made the first round of the playoffs look easy for more than a decade — and counting.
In the latest example, the Scots opened up a big halftime lead and rolled past Arlington 45-17 on Friday in a Class 6A Division II bi-district game at Highlander Stadium.
The competition will get significantly more challenging when they meet McKinney — which defeated Flower Mound Marcus in its postseason opener — in the Region II area round on Nov. 17 at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
HP will carry an eight-game winning streak into its quest to avenge a defeat against Denton Guyer in the same round a year ago. The Scots (10-1) also clinched their 11th consecutive 10-win season on Friday.
Parker Thompson threw a touchdown pass and ran for two scores. Keller Holmes rushed for 106 yards and two second-half touchdowns, and the defense came up with some key stops to help build a 31-3 halftime advantage.
The Scots scored on all five of their first-half possessions, including three touchdowns in an 8-minute span in the second quarter to break the game open. HP scored five times on the ground.
“We’ve got some explosive players and a good offensive line,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “I was also proud of the way we through the ball to get a little balance in there.”
Thompson, an Air Force commit who made his second start in place of injured starting quarterback Warren Peck, engineered a 75-yard drive in just five plays, culminating in a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to make the score 16-3.
Three plays later, HP’s Daniel Turner recovered a fumble at the HP 19-yard line, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Wilson Axley.
A sack by HP’s Jack Morse on the next Arlington possession gave the Scots favorable field position again, and they capitalized with another short scoring run by Thompson in the final minute before halftime.
HP led throughout after marching 75 yards on the opening drive of the game, capped by a 30-yard touchdown strike from Thompson to Brian Rapp on fourth-and-8.
The Colts (4-7) tried to answer after a 39-yard run by Isaiah Robertson on a fake punt set up first-and-goal. But they settled for a field goal.
In fact, the Arlington penetrated inside the HP 20 three times in the first half but had just three points to show for it. The Colts had the ball at the 4-yard line on the final play of the first half sailed a pass out of bounds.
“We executed really well on both sides of the ball. The defense holding them right before halftime took a little momentum away from them,” Allen said. “Our guys got some big stops and made big plays when we had to make them.”
Drelon Burton ran for 101 yards for the Colts. Robertson and reserve quarterback Mason Hensley each had rushing touchdowns after halftime.
“We had a lot of things go against us. Once it went to 31-3, we knew we were in trouble,” said Arlington head coach Scott Peach. “I’m so proud of our kids for the way we finished. We played great in the second half.”
Nicholas Rigas kicked a field goal for the Scots in the first quarter. Later, Holmes scored on a 60-yard run early in the fourth quarter for one of HP’s longest plays from scrimmage this season.
PHOTOS: Chris McGathey