Football to open up district play against defending state champions

Team looks to make adjustments from non-district season


Kelsey Carroll

Senior Nick Garcia looks for open space at the line of scrimmage. The football team looks to execute after a loss to Frisco Lonestar.

With three non-district games now in the rearview mirror, the football team (0-3 overall) will face the defending state champion Highland Park Scots (2-1 overall) to open up district play.

The Leopards will host the Scots on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at Leopard Stadium. The game will have some added significance, as a big turnout is expected to celebrate “Leopard Friday.”

Senior linebacker and tight end Bumper Pool said that he isn’t concerned about the slow start to the season.

“We know we have a good team,” Pool said. “We have guys who can make big plays. We’re going to be one of those teams that puts it together at the right time. No one is winning state championships in the first three weeks; all the big things happen during district season.”

The Leopards are familiar with Highland Park, as the two teams squared off on Sept. 16 of last year. The Leopards played a competitive game against the Scots and even enjoyed a 6-point lead in the second quarter, but they were unable to score in the second half. The Scots offense added two unanswered touchdowns and held on to defeat the Leopards, 27-20.

No one is winning state championships in the first three weeks; all the big things happen during district season.”

— Senior Bumper Pool

Highland Park will head into this matchup after playing a tightly-contested non-district game against Mansfield Timberview. The Scots found themselves in a 13-0 hole in the first quarter, but they were able to ride quarterback John Stephen Jones’ four passing touchdown to pull off a 34-32 victory.

Although some players still remain from last year’s state-championship team, Pool explained that Highland Park is still trying to fill some senior vacancies on the defensive side of the ball, which could give the Leopards an advantage.

“They had 10 guys graduate on defense last year,” Pool said. “That’s not to say they’re not a good defense, but they’re a young defense, and that’s a point we need to take advantage of.”

In the Leopards’ matchup last week, they fell by a score of 35-3 at the hands of the Lone Star Rangers. The team was without starting quarterback Carson Collins, but Collins is expected to be back on the field this week after recovering from a knee injury.

“I’m at 100 percent,” Collins said. “I’ll have a brace on [my knee] just to protect it, but there’s nothing wrong with my knee.”
Collins also said that he is excited to take on Highland Park, considering the expectations for the Leopards heading into the match.

“I’m really motivated,” Collins said. “I feel like we have nothing to lose. Since they’re the state champions, they’re expected to win, so we really have nothing to lose. We just need to go out there and execute and do what we do.”

Collins said the team will make some adjustments on the offensive end by changing the pace of play calling.

“Last week we did a full-on huddle, but this week we’ll call it a sugar huddle,” Collins explained. “Our receivers will line up in their positions, while the offensive line, quarterback, and running backs will huddle in the backfield. The receivers will get signals from their coach, and I’ll get signals from my coach. Then I’ll tell the linemen the play, and we will go line up and run it.”

Pool said that he is looking forward to having the opportunity of finally breaking through with a home win for the first time since Sept. 2 of last year.

“I definitely think we have a great shot to win one here,” Pool said, “Of course, we’ve played a lot of tough teams at home in the past, and so we’re excited to get some wins here at home. I think it’s been too long because we’ve usually had a big winning record at home over the previous years, but I think if everyone does what they need to do and continues to buy in, we’ll continue to get wins and hopefully get one this Friday.”