Written by SportsDayDFW.com
No Johnathan Gray, but Aledo has no problem in 31-12 win over Highland Park
Record-setting RB is gone, but team still has big-game talent
UNIVERSITY PARK — Aledo has different ingredients as a three-time defending state champion, but the formula looked similar Friday in a 31-12 victory over Highland Park at SMU’s Ford Stadium.
A suffocating defense shut out Highland Park in the second half, and Aledo senior quarterback Pate Davis guided a balanced offense with two passing touchdowns and one rushing.
“We knew we had a good defense,” Aledo coach Tim Buchanan said. “Other than a couple mental mistakes in the first half, they played well. You have to play well against a team like Highland Park.”
Aledo was without record-setting running back Johnathan Gray for the first time in four years. Gray is a heralded freshman at Texas after leading Aledo to the last three Class 4A Division II state titles.
Davis, making his first varsity start at quarterback, had been an all-district receiver last season. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 187 yards and touchdown passes of 40 and 33 yards. He also rushed for 76 yards, including a 17-yard score.
But a defense led by senior brothers Jared and Aaron Hinsley up front and linebackers Jordan Mittie and Gunnar Johnson were the foundation of ending Highland Park’s 26-game nondistrict winning streak and a seven-year run of victories in the Tom Landry Classic.
“We talked a little bit in the spring about playing without Johnathan,” Buchanan said. “But this junior and senior class have lost about one football game since they were in seventh grade. They didn’t have to prove they could win without Johnathan. They knew they could win.”
Aledo took a two-touchdown lead in the second quarter and rarely led by less than 10 points. Highland Park scored when senior receiver Hunter Feagans broke behind the secondary for touchdown receptions of 59 and 38 yards. Highland Park first-year starting quarterback Jet Tuma completed 12 of 23 passes with two interceptions and was repeatedly pressured. Aledo had three consecutive sacks on a second-half drive.
Aledo took a 7-0 lead on a 40-yard reception by junior receiver Taco Anderson from Davis. Aledo led 14-0 on a 17-yard scamper by Davis, who took a quick snap, bolted off left tackle and caught a slow-reacting Highland Park defense.
Highland Park pulled within 14-12 on the touchdown passes but missed an extra-point kick, and a 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete. Aledo scored early in the third quarter on a 33-yard scoring pass to Willie Gibson from Davis for a 21-12 lead. And sophomore running back Jess Anders scored the final touchdown on a 1-yard run.