By Todd Fertig
Highland Park held off a comeback by Kansas City-Schlagle to preserve a 32-26 Meadowlark Conference victory at Hummer Sports Park and improve to 2-0.
The Scots shook off a 12-6 deficit, scoring twice late in the second quarter to go to intermission leading 18-12. After posting 14 points in the third quarter to lead 32-12, the Scots faced a threat late.
A fourth-quarter rally brought the Stallions back to within striking distance at 32-26 with 17.9 seconds left.
A wild scramble for an onsides kick ultimately resulted with the Scots in possession of the ball and a kneel down gave the Scots their second victory of the season.
“I love how our guys stayed focused and stayed resilient,” Highland Park coach Jermaine Monroe said. “We never really panicked. As long as we’re in arms reach, we’re going to keep working hard.”
Perhaps the turning point of the game occurred late in the third quarter when the Stallions, having driven the ball 71 yards in 10 plays, fumbled at the Highland Park 1- yard-line.
Instead of cutting into the Scots’ 26-12 lead, Schlagle relinquished the ball.
Two plays later, Highland Park’s Jamon Wilson took a short pass and raced 75 yards for a touchdown.
“That was big,” Monroe said. “I just wanted to get the ball in Jamon’s hands on a bubble screen and he made one guy miss and he was gone because they stacked the box and sent three linebackers on that play.”
Wilson added two more touchdowns on the ground. His 104 yards on seven carries and 127 yards on three receptions gave him 231 total yards from scrimmage on just 11 touches.
Having suffered through an 0-9 freshman season, the junior Wilson knows how bleak the recent history of the Highland Park program was.
“That’s definitely over,” Wilson said. “The program has been completely changed around, honestly. All that losing is over. That’s in the past.”
“We’re in a position where we’re used to winning. Our mindset is winning,” said third-year coach Monroe, who guided the Scots to a 6-3 mark a year ago. “The whole culture has changed…the way we work out, the way we practice, the way we approach games, the way we approach difficult situations. We don’t take it hard. We keep calm and focus on the next play.”
What’s different about this team?
“Honestly, I think it’s the chemistry and everybody being able to bond together and depending on one another,” Wilson said. “We have a tight core.”
Amari Taylor rushed for 85 yards on six carries, including an 18-yard touchdown. Quarterback Craig Sipple completed 7 of 13 passes for 159 yards, including an 18-yard scoring pass to Ja’Corey Robinson.
In all, Monroe worked the ball to eight different ball-carriers and five different receivers in the game.
“The hardest part for me is we have a bunch of talent, and I’ve got to share the ball with everybody and make sure that everybody has the opportunity to break a big one and score for us,” Monroe said.
HIGHLAND PARK 32, KC-SCHLAGLE 26
KC-Schlagle (1-1, 1-1) 6 6 0 14 -- 26
Highland Park (2-0, 2-0) 6 12 14 0 -- 32
Highland Park – Robinson 18 pass from Sipple (pass failed)
Schlagle – Evans 8 run (kick failed)
Schlagle – Miller 3 run (run failed)
Highland Park – Taylor 18 run (pass failed)
Highland Park – Wilson 54 run (run failed)
Highland Park – Wilson 10 run (Williams pass from Wilson)
Highland Park – Wilson 75 pass from Sipple (pass failed)
Schlagle – Johnson 24 run (run failed)
Schlagle – Miller 9 run (Miller run)
Rushing – Schlagle: Evans 13-42, Lewis 12-86, Simms 5-5, Miller 15-86, Braden 1-(minus)7, Johnson 1-16. Highland Park: Sipple 2-(minus)5, Taylor 6-85, Wilson 7-104, Montgomery 2-19, Brown 4-20, Ma. Williams 1-18, Mitchell 2-(minus)7, Kingcannon 1-1.
Passing – Schlagle: Lewis 3-9-0 68 yards. Highland Park: Sipple 7-13-1 159 yards.
Receiving – Schlagle: Simms 1-42, Braden 1-27, Evans 1-(minus)1. Highland Park: Taylor 1-10, Wilson 3-127, Robinson 1-18, Savage 1-2, Montgomery 1-2.
Punting – Schlagle: Carrillo 6-29.0. Highland Park: none.