Highland Park has already locked in its playoff position, but it’s too early to look ahead. There’s still work to be done.
The Scots will host Richardson Pearce on Friday at Highlander Stadium with an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the District 7-6A title.
They’re currently tied atop the league standings with Lake Highlands, who beat HP head-to-head earlier this year. But if they both win this week, they technically finish as co-champions. It would be the ninth consecutive district championship for the Scots, either outright or shared.
The Wildcats will be the district’s top seed in the Class 6A Division I playoffs, while the Scots have the same spot wrapped up in the Division II bracket. HP likely will host Arlington in the bi-district round on Nov. 10.
However, first the Scots (8-1, 6-1) have an opportunity to extend their six-game winning streak against the Mustangs, who are eliminated from postseason contention.
One question for HP this week involves the health of its skill players. Starting quarterback Warren Peck left last week’s 34-15 win over Richardson after hitting his helmet on the turf, while top rusher Wilson Axley has also been out.
Reserve quarterback Parker Thompson, an Air Force commit who has primarily been used as a receiver this season, kept the HP offense rolling against the Eagles. Thompson has six rushing touchdowns this season, along with one passing and two receiving.
The HP offense has relied on a versatile ground game for the bulk of the season, which will likely be emphasized even more with Thompson taking snaps. The Scots have scored 29 of their 44 offensive touchdowns this season via rushing plays.
Meanwhile, the HP defense has been able to counteract any offensive inconsistency by allowing just 11.3 points per game during the current winning streak. The Scots earned their first defensive touchdown of the season on a Jack McCallum interception return against Richardson.
The Mustangs (6-3, 4-3) have already clinched their first winning season since 2018, even though they will miss the playoffs. They have won four of their last five games, including a 49-3 romp against Irving last week.
Pearce has been especially potent on offense, averaging more than 39 points per game behind junior quarterback Presley Harper, who has thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Half of those scoring passes have gone to leading receiver Jack McGarry.