After much discussion and dissection, Highland Park can prove tonight that it belongs with the big boys.
Maybe that’s overstating it somewhat, but the Scots nevertheless will make history with their debut at the Class 6A level tonight against North Mesquite. The District 10-6A opener will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Hanby Stadium.
HP has several factors working in its favor as it enters the state’s largest UIL classification, including a history of competing favorably against schools with larger enrollments.
Plus, the Scots are off to an impressive 3-0 start this season that includes dominating shutouts of Class 5A foes Frisco Centennial and Prosper.
Following a bye week, the game will provide the first road test of the year for HP, and the first of three trips to Mesquite this season, thanks to a scheduling quirk.
The Stallions (2-1) are looking for their first playoff appearance since 2007 after a near-miss last season, when North Mesquite started 6-0 and lost its final four games.
This season, the Stallions have scored wins over struggling Garland Naaman Forest and South Garland, and dropped a 12-10 decision against Arlington Sam Houston. Sophomore quarterback Ja’Quez Gooch has emerged as a dual-threat leader for the Stallions offense, having rushed for 323 yards and four touchdowns while effectively managing the passing game.
Meanwhile, HP quarterback Brooks Burgin has thrown for 844 yards and eight touchdowns through three games, despite leaving early because of big leads in two of them. He also has rushed for four touchdowns.
His favorite targets through the air have been Campbell Brooks (12 catches, 283 yards, four scores) and Kevin Ken (16 catches, 253 yards, three scores). But in true HP style, five receivers have at least six catches thus far. Stephen Dieb has emerged as a powerful running option despite his diminutive frame, with 203 yards and four touchdowns.
With the Scots averaging almost 50 points per game, it will be intriguing to see how schools with more depth and size than prior district foes will match up. We’ll find out tonight.