Written by Corbett Smith
Highland Park's Blake Poston has knack for finding the right spot
Highland Park (12-0) vs. Mesquite Poteet (10-2) -- 7 p.m. Saturday, Cowboys Stadium (KAAM-AM 770, KEOM-FM 88.5)
UNIVERSITY PARK - To say that Blake Poston has been on a hot streak undersells it.
Poston, a 5-10 cornerback and a senior captain for Highland Park, has 10 interceptions this season, nine in the last five games.
"Just falling my way, I guess," Poston said.
Four out of the last five weeks, Poston has had two-interception games, including last week in a 49-14 win over Hillcrest.
"If you can get in double digits in a career, you've done pretty good, much less in one season," Highland Park defensive coordinator Mark Howeth said.
Three of his interceptions have gone back for scores.
Poston has been an integral part of a Highland Park defense that replaced a majority of its starters from a year ago.
Only Poston, linebacker Mauricio Garza and safety Jake Howeth returned as primary starters. And Howeth, splitting time at quarterback, has played sparingly on defense.
"Coming into my senior year, I knew I needed to be a different player than last year," Poston said. "Step up, take the challenge and guide my team to where they are now."
The Scots (12-0) face Mesquite Poteet (10-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Cowboys Stadium in the Class 4A Division II Region II semifinals.
Mark Howeth, Jake's dad, said that Poston might have had more interceptions if he hadn't started the season at safety. The cornerback position affords more of an opportunity for turnovers, he said.
Since being moved to corner, Poston has been shadowing the other team's top receiver, in a mix of zone and man-to-man coverage.
To compensate for the relative lack of athleticism in the secondary, Highland Park uses myriad coverage schemes to make do.
For instance, in the bi-district round against Frisco Centennial, Mark Howeth called 10 different versions of coverage.
"We do a lot of stuff in the back - have to," Howeth said. "Partly because people are so diverse with their passing game, and partly just because, generally from year to year, we don't have four DBs that run 4.5 or better."
Poston, however, is one of those 4.5 40-yard-dash athletes. Howeth said Poston plays as if he's four or five inches taller, because of his 40-inch vertical leap.
In large part, Highland Park's successes this season have been driven by turnovers.
In 12 games, Highland Park has forced an average of three per game: 36 total turnovers, with 15 fumble recoveries and 21 interceptions. On the whiteboard in coach Randy Allen's office, there's an NCAA stat that states teams that force two or more turnovers win 83 percent of the time.
"That's one of our goals," Allen said.
"It's kind of been contagious once we've got started," Allen added. "I've seen a continual improvement over the year, and that's a result of good coaching and players that are paying attention and learning as they go."