Some inclement weather couldn’t wash away Highland Park’s hopes for a District 10-6A title last week, and neither could Mesquite, which became the Scots’ fifth consecutive victim in its quest for a league crown.
That 35-14 victory at a soggy Highlander Stadium leaves just two obstacles remaining. Having already assured a postseason berth, a win in Thursday’s home finale against Richardson Berkner would allow HP to clinch a share of the 10-6A championship, and the Scots could win it outright next week against Richardson.
Both of the remaining opponents are a combined 2-8 in district play, so although the players and coaches aren’t supposed to look ahead, we’ll do that anyway, and delve into potential playoff opponents with the assumption that HP will be the top Division II seed from the district.
Over in District 9-6A, the postseason landscape is shaping up almost identically to a year ago, when the Scots faced Irving Nimitz in the bi-district round. That looks like the most likely scenario again, although the Vikings need to defeat W.T. White this week to clinch their spot.
Jesuit, which is in the driver’s seat for the 9-6A title, will be the top Division II seed from that district, while Skyline and Irving MacArthur will again be the Division I representatives.
Back to Thursday’s game, the numbers don’t suggest that HP will get much of a test from Berkner, a team that is rebuilding with a young roster and a new coaching staff this season.
The Rams (3-5, 1-4) snapped a five-game skid last week with a 14-10 win over rival Richardson. That marked the best defensive performance of the season for a unit that allowed 54 points per game in its first four district contests.
Berkner’s offense does most of its damage on the ground, thanks to the combination of Chris Douglas (862 yards, eight touchdowns) and dual-threat quarterback Kris Castillo (582 yards, five touchdowns). It’s also worth pointing out that Berkner’s Tanner Lange is one of the area’s top kickers, with seven field goals.
The Rams might have difficulty scoring against an improving HP defense, and the biggest question is whether Berkner can slow down a Scots offense that has gained confidence both with the run and the pass behind quarterback Henry Allen.
Stephen Dieb leads HP with 13 touchdowns and needs 183 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. Chris Buell and Cy McCullough each have been steady receiving targets.
On defense, the Scots have allowed an average of 12.3 points in their past three games after surrendering no fewer than 26 points in any of their first five outings.
As a reminder, there will be a pregame ceremony to honor the HP seniors prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff on Thursday, so arrive early if you can.