John King first heard of Randy Allen as soon as he arrived in Texas.
It took a little while before the two coaches got to know one another and even longer for them to square off on the football field.
That wait is over.
In a highly-anticipated showdown that’s been a marque matchup in the state since it was announced, Allen’s Scots and King’s Lobos will square off on Friday as Highland Park comes to Lobo Stadium in a crucial District 7-5A, DI game.
“I’ve known of Randy Allen since I came to Texas but we first spoke in 2009 when we nearly matched up in the postseason and have gotten to know one another over the years through the Texas High School Coaches Association and speaking at the same events,” King said. “I think the world of him — he’s a class act and a great football coach.”
Both coaches have a lot in common and that’s winning football games. Allen, who just coached his 500th game recently, and King have a combined 82 percent win percentage in their careers. At Highland Park, Allen is 256-30 in his 22nd season at the school and King sits at 183-38 at Longview.
“He’s won over 400 games, that’s hard to do against tall grass, let alone the people they’ve been doing it against,” King said. “Just coached in his 500th game, which is amazing.
“Tremendous respect for him and their program. There’s a reason they’ve won so many games and that’s because of tradition and kids believe in what they do. It’s like this place, they grow up wanting to play at Highland Park just like these kids want to grow up and play at Longview.”
Friday is the first meeting between the two programs in 34 years and, outside of near matchup deep in the postseason in 2009, the two haven’t crossed paths since, other than on tape.
“He’s got impeccable timing with everything that they do, just watching them throughout the years when they played Rockwall in non-district or against common opponents,” King said. “They’re going to do what they do and this season is no different. They’ve got a package that they’re well-schooled in and have answers for every program you can present them.”
The Scots are off to a 3-0 start to the season after having two games canceled due to COVID-19. They dispatched Coppell and Rockwall before taking down Sherman this past week in their district opener.
Offensively, the Scots are led by quarterback Brandon Schager, a Hawaii commit, and left tackle Jack Leyrer, a 6-8, 270-pound Stanford commit. The Scots average 471 yards per game — 314.3 passing and 156.7 rushing.
On defense, King simply said the Scots are sound in what they do. Through three games, teams are averaging 336 yards per game — 229.7 passing and 106.3 rushing, including a 3.4 yard-per-carry clip.
“Obviously, extremely well-coached with playmakers in the right places,” King said. “The quarterback is extremely accurate, the backs compliment each other and a big offensive line that’s solid run blocking and pass blocking.
“Defensively, they’ve hardly been out-leveraged and are creating negative plays.”
The winner of Friday’s game will more than likely find themselves in the driver’s seat in 9-5A, DI for the top seed in a stout Region II in 5A, DI.
“We’re going to get their best shot and we better prepare to give them ours,” King said. “There’s a lot of hype and extra talk going on but, like I told the kids, what you hear, all of that, means nothing. This is about Friday night. We’ve got to show up every day and prepare with a focus on what we’re trying to do as a football team to win a game.
“We better get ready to play our best football.”
The wait is indeed over.