The Scots kilt the Tigers

Highland Park and Texas High battled it out in an action packed face off


Photo by Angela Valle

Texas High School finishes their 2017 season with a loss to Highland Park in the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers rallied late in the game and had momentum, but it was not enough to beat the clock.

Story by Connor Brooks and Anna Grace Jones

The Texas High Tigers opposed the Highland Park Scots Nov. 18 for their first 5A district game at the Ford Center at The Star in Dallas. The Scots were undefeated in their district and the defending state championship title holders. The Tigers were 5-1 through district play. The final score was 56-49 with a Highland Park victory which puts the Scots into the second round of playoffs and the Tigers with a finished season.

The game began with a touchdown by the Scot’s, Paxton Alexander, 30 seconds into the game but the Tigers retaliated four minutes later with a 36 yard touchdown of their own. The touchdown was scored by Tevailance Hunt. Briefly after this touchdown, Texas High number seven Jaqualin Brown caught an interception and ran it to the 33-yard line. The Tigers use this momentum to gain another touchdown which is scored by Chris Sutton. This made the score 14-7 with Texas High in the lead. However, the Scots evened the score with a short touchdown play; Conner Allen with the catch. The first quarter was mainly just multiple exchanges of possession that lead to a tied game with a score of 14-14.

After a series of plays by Highland Park offense, John Stephen Jones throws the ball to Cade Saustad for a combined gain of 39 yards that lead to a touchdown making the score 21-14 Highland Park and put the Scots up for the first time in the game. The Scots defense forced Texas High to punt the ball which the lead to the Scots returning the ball to the 46-yard line. Off of this offensive possession, Saustad scores his second touchdown of the game which largens the Scots lead; this made the score 28-14 with 7:28 left in the half.

“Texas High has a player, number nine, who is an absolute baller but I’ve got the best receiver in the state, sorry to number nine, but number 88, Cade Saustad, is a straight baller,” Jones said. “He’s a big target, and he makes plays that make me look good.”

After multiple changes of possession, the Tigers have a failed 27-yard field goal attempt with three minutes left in the half. Highland Park gains 50 yards from one play and it lands them on the 26-yard line. The Scots, Scully Jenevein scores a 5-yard touchdown which changes the score to 35-14 to end the half.

Texas High quarterback Riley Russel was 21/34, 371 passing yards and 6 touchdowns in the game against Highland Park.

Beginning the second half Texas High Riley Russell completes two quarterback rushes, the first is 21 yards and the second is 20 yards totaling to 41 yards. This resulted in the opportunity to gain a first down when Russell completes a pass to Hunt that landed the Tigers on the 14-yard line and gave them a first down.

“Both number nine for Texas High and 88 for us we were hot tonight,” Highland Park coach Randy Allen said. “They made big plays when they recovered closely, but we had a hard time stopping number nine and they had a hard time stopping number 88.”

The Tigers gained yardage that put them on the second yard line which gave Russell the opportunity to score his only touchdown of the game; this made the score 35-21.

“In the second half, they knew we were gonna throw it deep, so when everybody bails out, it leaves the middle of the field wide open,” Russell said. “This gives us the opportunity to gain some easy yards.“

The Scots counterattack by scoring another touchdown with only two offensive plays and they increase their lead from 2 touchdowns to three; score was 42-21.

“The coaches have a lot of faith in me. They like to throw it up to me. John Stephen throws a great ball, and I’ve got great offensive linemen protecting for me,” Saustad said. “With all of that, I was able to make a couple plays tonight. Texas High is fast and big, and they are the first team where we’ve really had press-man as tough as they were.”

On the Texas High punt return there is an offensive penalty which resulted in a 15-yard loss of yards putting the Tigers at the 12 instead of the 27-yard line. Russell runs the ball to the 30-yard line and then a flag is thrown against Highland Park resulting in a 15-yard gain to the Tigers evening out the previous penalty on Texas High. Russell runs from the 41 to the 36-yard line for a 23 yard gain. A few plays later Vonderick Stanley receives a pass from Russell completing a 22 yard touchdown play allowing the Tigers to shorten the score gap and put the score at 42-28.

“All four of my receivers are really good. With any one of them, if I throw the ball in a place where they can catch it, they will,” Russell said. “It’s really not just one receiver; I trust all of them.”

Another touchdown is scored with one minute left in the quarter by Texas High’s Hunt but is redacted because of a holding call, however, on the next play the Tigers complete the same play but the receiver is Mason Jones making the score 42-35.

The Scots began the fourth quarter on the 40-yard line and began the process of completing a series of plays. To end off the series Jones throws a pass to Saustad for a touchdown. This put the score up 49-35. Around a minute and a half later Russell throws a pass to Sutton for a 46 yard play landing the Tigers on the 32-yard line. The next play Sutton runs for another 13 yards. The Tigers score their sixth touchdown and then the score was 49-42.

“This was one of our best games playing as a team. One or two drives can change the whole game,” Russell said. “That’s what happened in the second half. If we could have done half of what we did in the second half in the first quarter, we would have beat them by 20.”

Highland Park returns ball to the 46-yard line and then a few plays later Conner Allen run’s the ball to the 22-yard line. After getting the ball to the 1-yard line it takes Highland Park three attempts to score but they eventually succeed with a touchdown by Jones which makes the score 56-42. Texas High Russell throws a pass to Hunt but isn’t complete because of a pass interference by Highland Park. This puts the Tigers on the 7-yard line in which they eventually score within those plays making the final score of the game 56-49 with a Highland Park victory.

Texas High quarterback Russell had phenomenal plays during the game which led him to having 545 total yards, 371 passing yards, 20 carries for 125 yards, 21 out of 34 complete passes, zero interceptions, six touchdowns in which he assisted and one touchdown where he ran it.

“I’m just tremendously proud of their efforts. They never quit,” Texas High head coach Gerry Stanford said. “They had chances to quit in a lot of situations, but they didn’t. That showed their character once again tonight with the fact that they just kept on playing. I’m truly blessed to be able to coach these guys.”