HP Looking to Feast on Bulldogs

Cade Saustad and the Highland Park offense have been scoring at a torrid pace. Saustad had three touchdowns last week. (File photo: Melissa Macatee)

One of the few things more difficult than winning a state football championship in Texas is repeating that state championship.

Highland Park found out firsthand when the Scots held on for a 56-49 win over Texarkana Texas High in the Class 5A Division I Region II bi-district round at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.

That latest chapter in a classic postseason rivalry might have been thrilling, yet for many it also was a surprisingly close call for a team that rolled to a 70-2 victory over Mount Pleasant in last year’s playoff opener on the same field.

However, there are no style points. It’s about surviving and advancing, which HP will look to do once again when it faces McKinney North in the area round at noon Friday at AT&T Stadium.

The Scots (10-1) will enter the game with a 10-game winning streak and an offense that has looked almost unstoppable at times. John Stephen Jones threw six more touchdown passes against the Tigers, while surpassing 3,000 yards in just 11 games this season. He’s also got 44 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

His top target, Cade Saustad, went past 1,000 yards for the season against Texas High, becoming the first HP receiver to reach that milestone in six years. He also has a team-high 13 scores, eight of which have come in the past three games.

Paxton Alexander has proven to be equally effective in the rushing and passing game, with 1,344 total yards and 10 touchdowns. And the receiving corps, as usual, is deep and talented.

Those playmakers might prove difficult to handle for a McKinney North defense that has allowed 39 or more points five times this season. However, the Bulldogs (8-3) did shut down Frisco Centennial during a 56-14 win last week.

On offense, McKinney North has plenty of firepower, averaging 59.5 points per game during its current four-game winning streak.

Dual-threat quarterback Cameron Constantine rushed for 173 yards and three touchdowns while also throwing for two scores against the Titans — all in the first half. Constantine, who has committed to play baseball at Texas as a catcher, has accounted for 31 touchdowns this season.

Lamar Lucas has rushed for almost 1,500 yards this year with 17 scores, while receivers Brett Hartland and Parker Brehm both have big-play capability.

The Scots eliminated the Bulldogs from the playoffs in back-to-back years in 2005 and 2006. McKinney North made its deepest run in 2014, when it reached the regional quarterfinals, but fell in the bi-district round a year ago.

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