Ford-Tough Scots Face Speedy Lake Ridge

After cruising past Frisco Independence, Highland Park will look to extend its playoff run on Friday against Mansfield Lake Ridge. (Photo: Chris McGathey)
After cruising past Frisco Independence, HP will look to extend its playoff run on Friday against Mansfield Lake Ridge. (Photo: Chris McGathey)

The practice home for the Dallas Cowboys has also become a second home for Highland Park.

Despite the 20-mile distance from their campus, the Scots have resembled the 2016 version of the Cowboys when they’ve taken the field at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

After outscoring their first two postseason foes by a combined 115-5 at the venue, HP will try to extend their run of climate-controlled playoff success at 1 p.m. Friday against Mansfield Lake Ridge, which was the state runner-up in the Class 5A Division I bracket last season.

The Scots (10-2) might have been healthy favorites against both Mount Pleasant and Frisco Independence during the past two weeks, but they looked dominant on offense and defense in a pair of lopsided victories.

Against the Knights, HP shut down one of the top offenses in the Dallas area by limiting standout running back Dom Williams to just 36 rushing yards and standout quarterback Kyle Saddler to 112 passing yards.

It marked the fifth time this season in which the HP defense hasn’t surrendered a touchdown. The Scots have allowed seven points or fewer in six of their past eight games.

Meanwhile, the HP offense has been just as potent in the playoffs. The Scots scored the last 62 points against Mount Pleasant and the last 45 against Independence.

Jack Kozmetsky rushed for two scores against the Knights, while J.T. Dooley caught two touchdown passes from John Stephen Jones. The balance on the ground and in the air has been perhaps most impressive. Jones has rushed for six scores while throwing for 24.

Speaking of offense, Lake Ridge beat Samuell 87-58 in the area round last week. They had 719 total yards and scored at least 20 points in all four quarters. And the Eagles (8-4) have averaged more than 66 points per game during their three-game winning streak.

Among those who will test the HP defense are Darrius Lee and Chandler Rogers, who each ran for four touchdowns against Samuell. Rogers also threw a touchdown pass.

Dual-threat quarterback Jason Bean has thrown for 2.725 yards and 25 touchdowns this season while also rushing for six scores as the replacement for Jett Duffey, who’s now at Texas Tech. Bean has a deep corps of receivers at his disposal in a fast-paced attack.

However, the Lake Ridge defense has proven to be vulnerable, allowing 35 points or more in six straight games.

The Eagles made a breakthrough last year in just their fourth varsity season by winning their first 15 games prior to a 56-0 loss to Richmond George Ranch in the state championship game. This season, they were fourth in District 10-5A during the regular season.

HP faced two 10-5A opponents during nondistrict play. Timberview beat Lake Ridge 35-7 and lost to HP 31-0, while Waxahachie defeated HP 40-37 but fell to Lake Ridge 63-49.

As December approaches and the field continues to be whittled down, the winner will play either Frisco Wakeland or Mansfield Legacy, who will meet later Friday on the same field in the other Region II semifinal.

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