Written by Corbett Smith
Highland Park's 77-game home winning streak faces huge challenge with Poteet
UNIVERSITY PARK — For all that Randy Allen has accomplished at Highland Park — a state title, 14 playoff appearances, his 300th win — there’s one thing he’s never done during his 15-year tenure.
Allen, who came from Abilene Cooper in 1999, has never lost a game at Highlander Stadium.
“We really don’t talk about it that much, but I think it’s something — as a coach — that you are proud of,” Allen said. “That’s a long period of time. There’ve been some great teams that have come in here, and we’ve had some great games. And we’ve always seemed to find a way to come out on top.”
Highland Park is riding a 77-game home winning streak, 75 coming under Allen’s watch, and will face one of its biggest tests in recent memory against emerging power Mesquite Poteet on Friday.
Highland Park also has a 30-game district winning streak, with the District 10-4A title potentially hinging on Friday’s outcome.
After suffering a 44-3 loss to Class 4A top-ranked Aledo in the opening week of the season, Highland Park has hit its stride, averaging 49.8 points in its last four games.
“We’ve made a lot of improvement since then,” Allen said. “Each week, we’ve found phases of our game that we’ve tried to improve. If you do that over a long period of time, you’re going to get where you want to be.”
Brooks Burgin has settled in at quarterback, passing for 1,192 yards and rushing for seven touchdowns. Allen said his secondary and offensive line — question marks at the start of the season — have coalesced into dependable units.
“They’re a good football team — a real sound football team,” Poteet quarterback Lane Novy said. “But then again, it’s just another football team we’ve got to beat to get to our ultimate goal.”
That’s the mind-set that Poteet’s first-year coach Kody Groves has tried to instill after moving up from defensive coordinator when Randy Jackson left for Plano East. Groves, who played at Odessa Permian during Allen’s time at district rival Abilene Cooper, said his team has stayed focused on week-by-week goals and last year’s last-minute 20-19 loss to Highland Park hasn’t been used as a motivational tool.
“Monday was the first time that we’ve said the name Highland Park all year,” Groves said. “No disrespect to them, because we think they are a well-coached, good football team. But for our guys, we’ve got to get the mentality that it’s just another game.”
For the first time all season, Poteet will be fully healthy on defense. Senior cornerback and Baylor pledge Verkedric Vaughns will get his first game action, adding to an impressive array of talent — including cornerback Nate Gaines (SMU) and elite junior linebacker Malik Jefferson, who picked up an offer from Alabama this week.
Allen said he’s expecting another great game, one of many he’s had over his 33-year coaching career. But it will take high drama to top Allen’s first win at Highlander Stadium, the 1999 opener against Garland.
With Allen’s team trailing, 18-14, Garland’s punter accidentally took a knee while fielding the snap, putting Highland Park 26 yards from the end zone with 20 seconds to play. The Scots scored on the next play, securing a 20-18 win. It would be the only loss that year for Garland, which finished 15-1 and won the Class 5A Division II title.
“That kind of got us going,” Allen said. “And yes, we’ve been really fortunate. You’ve got to be really fortunate to win for that long a period.”
Follow Corbett Smith on Twitter at @corbettsmithDMN.
Highland Park coach Randy Allen said it takes some good fortune to win 77 home games in a row. Here are all of HP’s one-score wins at Highlander Stadium during its winning streak. (Data courtesy of Scott Farrell)
1999: Garland, 20-18
1999: Mesquite Poteet, 17-12
2000: Coppell, 21-13
2000: Carrollton Newman Smith, 21-14
2001: Terrell, 33-25
2003: West Mesquite, 29-23
2004: Wylie, 35-34
2007: Frisco, 31-26
2008: Royse City, 46-43
2009: Richardson Pearce, 51-44
2010: Rockwall, 37-30
2010: Wylie, 24-21
2010: Richardson Pearce, 35-28