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Highland Park’s season opener against reigning 6A-II state champion Austin Westlake canceled

Dallas Morning News logo Dallas Morning News 9/18/2020 By Joseph Hoyt, The Dallas Morning News
a close up of a logo: Highland Park logo. © SportsDay Staff/The Dallas Morning News/TNS Highland Park logo.

The start of Highland Park’s football season will be delayed, once again.

Highland Park ISD learned of 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in its football program on Wednesday night, forcing the school to cancel its Thursday scrimmages with Euless Trinity and its highly-anticipated season opener against Austin Westlake.

The Westlake team Twitter account confirmed the cancellation on Thursday night.

As of Thursday afternoon, Jon Dahlander, the Highland Park ISD director of communications, told The Dallas Morning News the school district was consulting with Dallas County Health and Human Services regarding the team’s immediate future.

“Our staff is in the process of contact tracing this morning,” Dahlander said in an email, “and we will continue to consult with DCHHS on potential next steps.”

The 11 confirmed cases at Highland Park happened “over the last couple weeks,” Dahlander said, though he said the district just learned of them on Wednesday night.

“Some have already been cleared to return,” he added.

Highland Park, like other 5A and 6A teams across the state, already had the start of its season delayed for about a month while smaller classifications played. Now Highland Park will be delayed at least one extra week.

Instead of Highland Park, Austin Westlake – the reigning 6A-II state champions – will open its season at home next Friday against Schertz Clemens.

Multiple games across the Dallas area have been canceled this week due coronavirus cases. Keller Fossil Ridge had to put its athletic programs on hold as the school switched to virtual learning until Sept. 30. Life Waxahachie couldn’t find a replacement for Caddo Mills after the two teams had to cancel their game this week, but Sanger – forced to cancel its game with Mineral Wells due to COVID-19 cases there – was able to find a new opponent in Canton, according to The Denton Record-Chronicle.

The game between Highland Park and Westlake was so anticipated due in large part to the coaches on each sidelines.

Highland Park head coach Randy Allen is one of three coaches in Texas high school football history to surpass the 400-win mark. He’s won four state titles with the Scots, including three in a row from 2016-18.

Westlake head coach Todd Dodge won four state titles of his own when he coached at Southlake Carroll. He won his fifth state title last year when Westlake beat Denton Guyer.

The delay also means the delay of the Brayden Schager era at Highland Park. The senior quarterback is already committed to Hawaii despite never starting a varsity game. His starting debut – like the Scots 2020 season – comes with high expectations. The start of both will have to wait.

Highland Park’s next scheduled game is against Mesquite Horn on Oct. 2.

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©2020 The Dallas Morning News

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