MESQUITE – Despite boasting an elite quarterback and deep receiving corps, the Highland Park offense seems to function best when it achieves a reasonable balance between rushing and passing.
The Scots did that on Friday, and the result was an efficient 45-14 win over Mesquite at Hanby Stadium that solidified HP’s hold on second place in District 10-6A.
Brooks Burgin accounted for five touchdowns in one of his best games this season. He tossed three touchdown passes and ran for two more. As a team, the Scots (7-1, 4-1) finished with 229 yards passing and 201 on the ground.
“I was proud of the way we ran the ball, because they were trying to take the passing game away from us,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “We’re going to have to run the ball better to be good against the outstanding teams we’re going to see in the playoffs, so it was good to see us get 200 yards rushing.”
HP was dominant in the first half, when it took a 28-0 lead. Burgin, who tallied a game-high 78 rushing yards, scored on a 53-yard run late in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Burgin connected with Kevin Ken on a 9-yard touchdown pass and Andrew Frost on a 22-yarder, the latter set up by a lengthy punt return by Stephen Briggs.
The Scots tacked on another score in the final minute of the first half, after Michael Thornton recovered a fumble at the Mesquite 26-yard line. Burgin found Frost for 25 yards over the middle, then plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out on the next play.
“Brooks is getting into the groove,” Allen said. “He’s looking like he can run it or throw it, and I think that makes our offense so much better.”
Meanwhile, the HP defense limited Mesquite to 68 total yards before halftime and did not allow the Skeeters (2-6, 2-3) to cross midfield until the third quarter.
The Mesquite offense showed signs of life in the third quarter, opening with a 76-yard drive capped by a 39-yard scoring pass from Dazmon Scott to Chance Fisher, the first of two touchdown strikes for Scott in the second half.
However, the Scots followed with their most sustained drive of the game, covering 68 yards and ending with a looping 20-yard touchdown pass from Burgin to Matthew Barge.
The next possession showed more of the quick-strike ability of HP, as Hayden Black took a counter play 46 yards for a rushing touchdown to increase the margin to 42-7.
The Scots added a 28-yard field goal by Grayson Borrego in the fourth quarter, which was his second of the season. Borrego lined up for a 37-yard try on HP’s opening drive of the game, but a fumbled snap squandered that opportunity.
The Scots will play their final road game of the regular season next week when they travel to face Richardson Berkner.
Who would have thought the defense would be the most consistent factor this season for Highland Park?
That unit was lacking experience, changing coordinators, and had various other excuses to become a weak link during the Scots’ first season at the Class 6A level.
Yet the defense, for the most part, has been stellar. Another example came last week during a 34-7 win over Lake Highlands. That marked the fifth time in seven games that HP held an opponent to single-digit points, with three shutouts in the mix.
In the two other games, the Scots allowed 42 points to high-powered Pulaski Academy from Little Rock — who is currently 6-1 and has scored at least 49 points in every other game, by the way — and in a loss to Mesquite Horn.
Tonight, the Scots (6-1, 3-1) will travel to face Mesquite, an inconsistent outfit that remains in contention for one of the final two playoff spots in 10-6A. It will be the third trip to Hanby Stadium for HP in the past five weeks.
A week ago, the Skeeters (2-5, 2-2) scored three times in the fourth quarter during a 28-7 win over struggling Richardson Berkner. But they haven’t shown the ability this season to stop an offense as powerful as the Scots.
HP bounced back nicely from the Horn loss last week by scoring 34 unanswered points against the Wildcats. The Scots remain in sole possession of second place in the 10-6A standings, and while they can’t technically clinch a postseason berth tonight, their final three opponents have a combined overall record of 5-16.
Highland Park easily cleared the first hurdle in its attempt to claim a 16th state team tennis title when the Scots swept three opponents at the District 10-6A tournament this week at Fair Oaks Tennis Center.
HP defeated Sunset and Richardson Berkner by identical 10-0 scores on Tuesday, then rolled past Lake Highlands 10-0 in the title match on Wednesday.
The Scots will compete in the Class 6A Region II tournament, which begins Oct. 31 in Mansfield, to earn a state berth next month in College Station.
Highland Park easily won both the boys and girls team titles at the District 10-6A cross country meet on Tuesday at Warren Sports Complex in Frisco. Hope McLaughlin and Rico Lara claimed the individual gold medals.
In the girls race, HP won its 36th district championship — and its first in the new 6A classification — by placing six of its seven runners in the top eight overall. McLaughlin crossed the finish line in a time of 19 minutes, 38 seconds. Other top finishers for the Lady Scots included Emma Parker (third place, 21:01), Gabby Crank (fourth, 21:03), Anna Beecherl (fifth, 21:10), Becky Ketch (sixth, 21:10), and Olivia Aasheim (eighth, 21:27).
On the boys side, Lara’s time of 16:11 helped the Scots cruise to the team crown. He was followed by a slew of HP teammates, including Griffin Beitter (second place), Austin Roberts (fifth), Brooks Munn (seventh), Stanton Geyer (eighth), and Andrew Kliewer (ninth).
Both groups of HP runners will compete in the 6A Region II meet on Nov. 1 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie for a chance to qualify for the state meet on Nov. 8 in Round Rock.
Also at the district meet, the Scots swept the JV races, with Matthew Meletio winning the boys event and Brooke Foy taking the girls title.
The director of the award-winning Highland Belles drill team, Shannon Phillips, has announced the 2014-2015 honor squads. These ladies are recognized for their excellence in dance and high kick. In addition to the squads, Maddie James was named Miss High Kick. See the jump for more winners.
The Highland Park boys and girls cross country teams will begin their first postseason at the Class 6A level on Tuesday at the District 10-6A meet at Warren Sports Complex in Frisco.
The girls race will start at 9 a.m. followed by the boys at 9:55 a.m. The Region II meet will be Nov. 1 at Lynn Creek Park in Grand Prairie, with the state meet slated for Nov. 8 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.
The HP boys have been led all season by senior Rico Lara, while junior Hope McLaughlin paces the Lady Scots.
While it was business as usual for the Highland Park defense on Friday night, the offense took a slightly different approach to yield the same results.
The Scots scored 34 unanswered points to rally past Lake Highlands 34-7 at Highlander Stadium for their 83rd consecutive home victory.
HP bounced back from a tough loss to Mesquite Horn last week, and remained a game behind the Jaguars for the District 10-6A lead with three games remaining.
On offense, the Scots took a more methodical approach than usual focused on establishing the run and controlling the clock. They ran 43 rushing plays and 16 passing plays — with just one completed pass in the first quarter — an unusual ratio considering HP’s quick-strike mentality.
One second-half drive covered 90 yards in 18 plays, and consumed eight minutes off the clock, ending in a 2-yard touchdown run by Hayden Black to help seal the win.
“It’s nice to know we can do that when we need to,” said HP head coach Randy Allen.
Just because the passes weren’t plentiful, however, doesn’t mean they weren’t effective. Brooks Burgin’s 11 completions racked up 237 yards, for an average of more than 21 yards per play. In fact, the 16 passing plays outgained the 43 rushing plays. But that can be deceiving.
“Balance in our offense means that if they give you the run, you’ve got to be good enough to take it and beat them with it,” Allen said. “We could have thrown the ball more, but the run was going good.”
Meanwhile, the HP defense got stronger as the game progressed. The Scots were stingy when it came to big plays, and surrendered only 80 yards in the second half.
HP spotted the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead when Lake Highlands marched 80 yards on its opening drive, scoring on a 53-yard pass from Brock Jones to Blake Cronin.
The Scots responded less than three minutes later, with Burgin capping the first HP possession with a 2-yard touchdown plunge.
Stephen Dieb later ran for two scores, while Burgin found Andrew Frost on a 34-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter that put the Scots ahead to stay.
The Wildcats had a chance to tie the score midway through the second quarter, but HP’s Daniel Gouskos recovered a fumble at the Scots 13-yard line. Dieb capped the ensuing drive with a short scoring run, and Lake Highlands never threatened after that.
Perhaps most importantly, after committing four turnovers in the defeat against Horn, HP was more efficient and didn’t have any miscues on Friday.
“I was really happy with the way they came back,” Allen said. “We made some improvements in certain areas, but still have some work to do.”
The Scots will hit the road for the next two games, including a third trip to Hanby Stadium next week to face Mesquite.
Last week’s loss to Mesquite Horn severely dented Highland Park’s chances of winning a district title in their first season at the Class 6A level. But it didn’t do much to harm the Scots’ playoff chances.
HP sits in a three-way tie for second place in District 10-6A entering tonight’s matchup against Lake Highlands, another one of the current runners-up (North Mesquite is the other). The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Highlander Stadium.
It should provide a solid test for the Scots (5-1, 2-1) as they look to bounce back from the 42-27 loss to the Jaguars, who now control their destiny atop the standings.
Lake Highlands is coached by Scott Smith, but it’s not the same Scott Smith who was Randy Allen’s predecessor at HP for three seasons during the mid-1990s. That Scott Smith retired two years ago.
But the guy with the same name at Lake Highlands has taken the Wildcats to the playoffs in each of the last six years — albeit with the last four runs ending in the first round.
The Wildcats (3-3, 2-1) might be the best team remaining on the schedule for the Scots, and also the opponent with the best chance of qualifying for postseason play, despite some inconsistency.
Lake Highlands had its best offensive performance of the season last week during a 45-38 overtime win over Richardson. Dual-threat quarterback Brock Jones rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns and added three scoring passes to Jamarice Preston, who finished with 169 receiving yards. Tyler Hughes added 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.
HP struggled to contain the size and speed of Horn last week, but still had some bright spots despite committing four turnovers. Matthew Barge rushed for two scores, and Andrew Frost posted 111 receiving yards.
Plus, the Scots have always been known for their resilience. Remarkably, they haven’t lost consecutive games in the same season in almost 20 years.
Tonight’s contest will be the penultimate home game for HP this season. After tonight, the Scots won’t play at Highlander again until the regular-season finale against Richardson on Nov. 7.
Having already clinched a playoff spot in its first season at the Class 6A level, the Highland Park volleyball team still has some unfinished business as the regular season winds down.
For starters, the Lady Scots (24-11, 9-1) will hold their Senior Night festivities on Friday prior to their home match against Lake Highlands. A brief ceremony will honor graduating seniors Allegra Munoz, Caroline Downing, Eleanor Watson, and Grace Bonnet.
HP, which is in second place in the District 10-6A standings behind Richardson Pearce with four matches remaining, will play its final home match on Tuesday against North Mesquite.
We’ve done a few updates in the past on the weightlifting pursuits of 13-year-old Highland Park native Alexandra Thornton, but this weekend will represent perhaps her biggest challenge yet.
Thornton, an eighth-grader at Highland Park Middle School, will represent the United States in the 15-and-under girls division at the International Youth Invitational at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
She’s the top female lifter in the country in the 13U age group, and set a new American record for her age group this summer at the Youth National Championships weightlifting tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla.
She is slated to compete at 10 a.m. CDT on Saturday, and the event will be streamed live here.