Since Highland Park can’t technically improve upon its Class 5A state championship finish last season, the Scots will focus on trying to maintain their unprecedented run of success.
The HP coaching staff didn’t change much about the spring routine, which included nine practices and three scrimmages for the Scots over a three-week span, concluding with Thursday's annual Blue-Gold spring game at Highlander Stadium.
Longtime head coach Randy Allen, who announced his retirement in late March only to reconsider a couple of weeks later, said he’s pleased with the progress.
“Our players have had a great attitude and we’ve gotten some good leadership,” Allen said. “We’ve got a pretty good idea of the depth chart.”
As usual, the roster turnover will be high, with graduating seniors giving back to inexperienced newcomers at several positions. That includes at quarterback, where John Stephen Jones is now at Arkansas after leading HP to back-to-back state titles.
The new starter is junior Chandler Morris, the son of Arkansas head coach Chad Morris, who’s now coaching Jones. Chandler Morris served as the primary backup to Jones a year ago, and completed 10 of 24 passes in limited action. He also rushed for a touchdown.
“He’s made a lot of improvement, in terms of being familiar with our offense,” said Allen, who touted Morris’ dual-threat ability. “He’s been very accurate.”
Among the other developments this spring, Allen promoted linebackers coach Cale Melton to defensive coordinator. Melton replaces Don Woods, who left the program to become the defensive coordinator at Jesuit.
Allen also said the decision to include six captains on the 2018 squad, rather than the traditional four, was the result of a close vote among players.
Even if varsity playing experience will be at a premium on both sides of the ball — with only a handful of starters returning — most of the incoming regulars were at least on the sidelines for HP’s entire playoff run a year ago.
“Having been there and experienced the playoffs and the state championship,” Allen said, “it gives them an idea of what to expect.”
The Scots will begin fall practice on Aug. 13, will scrimmage against Plano East on Aug. 24, and will start the regular season a week later when they host Rockwall. HP will open the District 6-5A (Division I) schedule on Sept. 21 against Bryan Adams.