As two of the most decorated high school football programs in Texas, Highland Park and Southlake Carroll are each familiar with playoff pressure — and success.
The powerhouse programs, who have combined for nine state championships in the past two decades, will meet on Friday in a Class 6A Division II Region I semifinal at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington.
The head-to-head meetings between the Scots and Dragons have been scarce, primarily because they are in different enrollment classifications. Carroll won the only recent regular-season meeting to open the 2021 campaign.
In their only prior postseason showdown, the Dragons knocked off HP in the 4A state quarterfinals in 1998, which was the last game prior to the arrival of Scots head coach Randy Allen the next year.
At any rate, the Scots (11-1) have won nine straight games after a thrilling 22-21 comeback victory over McKinney in the area round last week. HP scored 16 unanswered points in the second half, capped by a Nicholas Rigas field goal on the final play.
Parker Thompson has settled into the starting quarterback role he assumed in late October. The dual-threat Air Force commit has accounted for 14 touchdowns this year — eight rushing, four passing, and two receiving.
Thompson has fueled a potent HP rushing attack led by Keller Holmes, who scored both touchdowns for the Scots against McKinney to go with two more in a first-round win over Arlington.
The HP defense has not allowed more than 24 points in any of its 11 victories this season, highlighted by a second-half shutout against the Lions.
While the Scots have never been to the third round of the 6A playoffs, the Dragons (11-1) are in very familiar territory in the state’s largest classification. In fact, Carroll has played into December in each of the past six seasons.
Their offensive juggernaut has averaged 55.3 points per game, which increases to 58.7 if you subtract a 34-17 loss to Byron Nelson in late October. Fast starts are one key, as Carroll has scored at least 42 points before halftime in seven of its 11 wins.
Carroll’s proficient ground game is led by junior Riley Wormley and sophomore Davis Penn, who have combined for 37 touchdowns and almost 10 yards per carry.
Graham Knowles, a Georgia Tech commit, has thrown for more than 2,500 yards and 19 scores, with top targets including sophomore Brock Boyd and Clayton Wayland, who led all receivers during a 49-14 win over Wolfforth Frenship in the area round.
The winner of Friday’s matchup will advance to the regional final to face either Byron Nelson or Coppell, who are both unbeaten heading into their Saturday showdown.