Lake Highlands High hosted a pep rally for fall sports Thursday night, with coaches of the volleyball, cross country, golf, swim, dive, tennis and football teams introducing their players to the delighted squeals of cheerleaders and Highlandettes, the clang of the Bell Boys’ bell and the beating of the marching band’s drum. Wildcat choirs led the crowd in the school fight song, and Exchange Club members gave away hot dog dinners.
You can see my photos here.
The old joke is that every team is undefeated just before the season begins, but, truly, each team expressed high hopes for success on their field of play and growth as teammates and as skilled players.
I sat down with one of Coach Lonnie Jordan’s football captains, middle linebacker Jack Hutton (No. 52), to ask about the team’s prospects under Friday night lights.
How does the team look, and what are you expecting once games begin?
Our district got realigned this year, and we’re pretty positive that Duncanville will be our biggest opponent. They have a history of being really good and going deep into the playoffs. They are a state championship contender, so that will be a hard-fought game, and I’m excited to see how it goes.
Having such a tough team move into your district – is that a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s exciting. I love having good competition. I love a chance to see the community and play my best and hopefully get to the playoffs. That’s my goal.
Can you envision a win over Duncanville?
I can. I’m confident in my team and the skill that we have been building up over the past weeks and months. We can beat them. We just need to come together.
We’ve gone back-and-forth with them over the past few years. That will also be an intense game. [LH lost 44-37 in 2017.]
Which RISD school looks toughest?
J.J. Pearce is really starting to make a name for themselves. Over the past few years they’ve been getting better and better, and last year was a tough game against them. [LH won 42-28.]
You know, Pearce was in 4A as recently as 2011.
I had no idea. The fact that they’ve come this far and can play this hard against 6A teams is incredible.
Do you focus on the next play or the player across from you or are you a ‘big picture guy’?
I’m constantly analyzing and taking in information and seeing which players are the best and reading the other team. My number one priority is what’s happening right now.
Coach Jordan told me you’re really smart. Where do you rank in your junior class?
[Laughing] Number 20.
What is your playing style? Is there a player you are similar to?
I try to play like the [Wildcat] linebacker before me, Terrance Clark. He was a real stud – he was smart, he was athletic and he was super-fast. I’m just trying to live up to that standard and even go beyond it. That’s my goal.
Is there a pro player you resemble?
There isn’t anyone in the NFL I’ve been compared to, but the NFL player I look up to most is [DeSoto grad] Von Miller. He was MVP when the Broncos won the Super Bowl. That’s the kind of linebacker I want to be.
Who on your team doesn’t get a lot of recognition but ought to?
There are plenty, but the one who comes to mind is Caleb Parker (#7), weak side linebacker. He’s been playing with me since fourth grade, and, like me, this is his first year playing on the varsity. He’s played receiver and safety, but this is his first year playing linebacker. He’s going to be a real star this year.
You can catch the Wildcats’ first home game this Friday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 as they take on the Mesquite Skeeters. The full schedule is here.