By JUSTIN BURKHARDT
The year was 1991 and current Topeka High coach Carlos Kelly was the quarterback for the Scots the last time Highland Park's football team won a playoff game.
Fast forward 32 years and several coaching changes later and the Scots have won another playoff game, rolling to a 55-7 win over Kansas City-Harmon Friday night at Hummer Sports Park.
Highland Park advanced to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs next Friday at Hummer to host Shawnee Heights, which took a 68-0 playoff win over KC-Sumner Academy Friday night.
Highland Park entered the playoffs winning one of their previous three games to close out the regular season while having a high of 22 players ineligible or injured at one point.
But those issues have improved significantly and that showed in Friday night's performance as Highland Park improved to 7-2 while notching its second rout of the season over Meadowlark Conference foe Harmon (1-8).
“I have to tip my hat to the educators at the school,'' Highland Park coach Jermaine Monroe said. "It took a village to get the grades up and kids back onto the football field.”
Senior running back Amari Taylor led the Scots on the ground with 144 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
“I want to say thank you to my offensive line for creating holes for me, and to my coaches for trusting me” Taylor said.
The Scots didn’t find the end zone in the first quarter, but everything started clicking in a 27-point second quarter.
Making his first start at quarterback, sophomore Donnie Fox found the end zone for the first of four touchdowns he was involved in.
“I appreciate my coaches for allowing me to get the start and trusting me to get the job done,” Fox said.
Monroe had great things to say about Fox's performance in his starting debut at QB.
“He is a solid kid that has been tearing it up on (junior varsity),'' Monroe said. "He has led our JV team to an undefeated season.”
Monroe said he also really liked what he had seen out of junior JaCorey Robinson at quarterback, but wanted him at receiver and decided now was the time to showcase his sophomore, who most likely could be the Scots' starter the next two years.
Junior Mikey Williams finished the game as the Scots' leading receiver with 66 yards and a touchdown.
“I appreciate Donnie for throwing me the ball and the O-line for blocking so he can pass it to me,” Williams said.
Next week the Scots will face city rival Shawnee Heights, which is also 7-2 on the season.
“They are a solid team, very disciplined and very tough defensively,'' Monroe said of the T-Birds.
HIGHLAND PARK 55, KC-HARMON 7
KC-Harmon (1-8) 0 7 0 0 – 7
Highland Park (7-2) 0 27 6 22 – 55
Highland Park -- Fox 2 run (Sanders kick)
Highland Park -- Williams 38 pass from Fox (conversion failed)
Harmon -- Reeves 72 pass from Young (Flores kick)
HP- Montgomery 70 Kickoff Return (2-point fail)
HP- Montgomery 2 run (Taylor 2-point)
HP- Fox 18 run (2-point fail)
HP- Fox 1 run (Robinson pass from fox)
HP- Taylor 2 run (Thomas Run)
HP- Robinson 2 run (2-point fail)
Rushing—Harmon: Young 12-54, Reeves 3-14, Day 1-13. Highland Park: Taylor 12-144, Fox 10-83, Montgomery 8-70, Wilson 7-59, Robinson 1-2.
Passing—Harmon: Young 5-20-1, 92 yards. Highland Park: Fox 3-13-1, 85.
Receiving—Reeves 3-79, Rodriguez 1-10, Sparks 1-3. Highland Park: Williams 2-66, Robinson 1-19.