Before Matthew Stafford was an NFL quarterback, he was a Highland Park Scots quarterback — one that led his team to an undefeated season and a state championship.
And in the days before live streaming, when not everyone could make the trek to Tyler to take in the state championship game they gathered around TV sets and radios (and yes, it was 2005, not 1955) to watch the team they cheered for all season completely route Marshall 59-0 in Rose Stadium.
At the time, the Scots hadn’t brought home a state championship football trophy since 1957.
It was an undefeated game in an undefeated season — and possibly the most lopsided score in state championship history, with the Scots just two points shy of tying the most points scored in an 11-man championship game.
Nobody was exactly thrilled with the venue (stadium seating in the 12,000 seat stadium sold out fast, but there was plenty of lawn seating), but the outcome? Yeah, that was a thrill.
“It’s so sweet,” Stafford told the Associated Press. “I couldn’t have asked to end it any better way. It’s awesome to bring it back (to Highland Park).”
Not long after that game, a documentary was made locally about the Scots run to the state championship. A query among readers found several still have their copies, but it is also viewable on the Tubi streaming app, available on Roku and Amazon Fire.
As Stafford led the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl this season, he is still close with Highland Park head football coach Randy Allen, texting him frequently.
Allen also was on hand to watch Stafford lead the Rams to the NFC championship that punched their ticket to the Super Bowl.
Allen told People Newspapers that he sat behind the Rams bench with his wife Carolyn and son Zac, and got to see Stafford’s parents, wife, and three other teammates from the 2005 game – Pan Lucas, Patrick Hunt, and Jake Feldt.
“Although I didn’t get to see Matthew in person, we texted each other after the game,” Allen said. “I told him congratulations and he is the best! Beat the Bengals and win the Super Bowl! He usually gets back to the dressing room and looks at his text messages and texts back – ‘Thank you Coach.’ The fact that he takes time and quickly replies to my text to him means a lot to me.”
Win or lose Sunday, Allen said he — and Highland Park — will always be proud of Stafford.
“I am so proud of the man he is. A great husband, father (to 4 daughters) and former player. He’s brought a lot of pride to Highland Park,” he said. “Matthew is special to Highland Park because he always remembers where he grow up and the great experiences he had as a Highland Park Scot.
“His best friends are his former teammates from the ‘Band of Brothers’ from the 2005 State Championship team. He always had time for young boys who wanted his autograph. He’s a great representative of our community because he has great character – hard work, passion, integrity, motivation.”
— Compiled by Bethany Erickson, Rachel Snyder, and Greg Nielsen