Ever since the Lake Highlands football team was swept out of the playoffs in the first round of the 2011 season, head coach Scott Smith has been anxiously awaiting his team's chance to get back out on the field. His wait - as well as the wait of the Lake Highlands community - is nearly at an end as the 2012 football season begins on Friday.

The Wildcats have a difficult slate of non-district opponents lined up and just like last year, the first team up is Mesquite High School. Last year, Lake Highlands shot down Mesquite, 34-27, in the first game of the season, and Smith is certain that Mesquite will be looking to pay them back for that loss.

"We kind of had Mesquite's number the last couple of years, so I know they're going to be really focused on trying to get a 'W' on us," said Smith.

The Wildcats will be trotting out a relatively young team onto the field this year, but Smith is certain that his players will grow quickly and rise to the challenge. He points to his skill players - quarterback Trent Jones and running back Elbert Landry - as leaders that the younger players will follow.

It also never hurts the offense to have one of the top offensive lineman in the nation protecting the quarterback and leading the way for the running back. Senior Kent Perkins was ranked No. 32 in the 100 ranking last year and is also No. 1 in the SportsDayHS area top 50 list of juniors.

Lake Highlands will have to contend with Mesquite's formidable one-two punch of prolific quarter Alex Cooper and running back Junior Sessions. Last year, Cooper threw for 2,471 yards and 21 touchdowns while Session ran for 1,001 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The two teams will clash on Friday, August 31 at Mesquite's E.H. Hanby Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Bankhead