DeSoto State Championship Preview


DeSoto Player holds flag after the win against Guyer | Image by Brian McLean/SB Live

DeSoto will play in its first state championship game since 2016 (when it beat Cibolo Steele for the 6A Division II title) and for the second time in the program’s history.

Their opponent in Saturday’s 6A Division II championship will be the Austin Vandegrift Vipers, who are appearing in their program’s first-ever state title game.

Both teams pulled off upsets in the semifinal round.

The Eagles of DeSoto (13-2) ended Denton Guyer’s perfect season stunningly, rolling up 556 total yards of offense, including 434 yards rushing in a 47-28 win.

Sophomore running back Deondrae Riden led the Eagles with 224 rushing yards and two touchdowns. QB DJ Bailey added 78 yards and a touchdown rushing, and senior Texas commit Tre Wisner also had 78 yards on the ground.

Meanwhile, Vandegrift (14-1) beat nationally ranked perennial powerhouse Katy in an instant classic. Vandegrift kicker Hayden Arnold connected on a 37-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give his team a 38-35 win.

Both offenses are prolific, with DeSoto averaging 43.6 points and 461.2 total yards of offense per game. The Eagles’ offense is highlighted by senior wide receiver Johntay Cook II, a four-star recruit committed to Texas with 1,368 yards receiving and over 20 touchdowns to his name.

Their junior QB, Bailey, has been a big part of Cook’s and the entire offense’s success, with 3,536 passing yards and 42 touchdowns to just two interceptions.

DeSoto also has three running backs with over 700 rushing yards on the season in Riden (1,166 yards, 15 touchdowns), junior Jaden Trawick (721 yards, 11 touchdowns), and Wisner (720 yards, seven touchdowns).

Vandegrift’s strength on offense is an offensive line that features four-star senior tackle Ian Reed (a Clemson commit) and four-star junior Blake Frazier, the No.15 offensive tackle in the country from his class, per 247Sports.

Senior running back Alex Witt (1,064 yards, 18 touchdowns) has benefited from running behind the powerful offensive line. Miles Coleman, a 5-foot-5 junior wide receiver, with 1,420 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns is a dynamic deep threat for a Vandegrift offense averaging 38 points per game.

With both teams boasting explosive offenses, the game will likely come down to which defense gets the most stops.

DeSoto’s underrated defense stymied a potent Guyer offense that ranked among the best in the state in 6A. The Eagles raced out to a 26-7 halftime lead over Guyer as the defense did an excellent job of containing five-star Oklahoma quarterback commit Jackson Arnold.

DeSoto held the dual-threat quarterback to just 39 rushing yards on 20 attempts, knocked down four of his passes in the first half, sacked him four times, and held Guyer to just 67 yards of offense in the first half.

The Vipers’ defense has been its strength all year, with 13 sacks. The unit is led by senior defensive end Daemian Wimberly, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound SMU commit who is a walking mismatch for opposing offensive lines.

Vandegrift is entering the title game on a roll, having won 14 consecutive games since a 23-20 loss to Dripping Springs in Week 1. The Vipers even avenged their lone loss, defeating Dripping Springs in the quarterfinals 27-24.

Still, DeSoto is the more battle-tested team. Its only losses were in a 47-7 defeat to nationally-ranked Maryland private school St. Frances Academy in Week 2 and a 41-17 loss to District 11-6A rival Duncanville in Week 10.

The losses to St. Frances (ranked No.13 in the country by MaxPreps) and 6A Division I finalist Duncanville (ranked No.12 in the country by MaxPreps) have only helped DeSoto at this stage of the season.

“Battle-tested,” DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis said after Saturday’s win over Denton Guyer. “We’re a battle-tested team. Man, you play that St. Frances team, you better be ready. They changed a lot of what we do. We’re battle-tested. St. Augustine (in Week 1) battle-tested. Waxahachie (in Week 5), battle-tested. Our schedule prepared us for this moment right here.”

Mathis was the architect behind DeSoto becoming one of the Dallas area’s premier football programs over the last decade. He coached at DeSoto from 2008-14 before he left to coach at SMU and Marshall High.

DeSoto won its 2016 state title under coach Todd Peterman, and Mathis returned to DeSoto’s sidelines in 2019.

Mathis’ first stint at DeSoto coincided with Allen’s dynasty, as future Heisman Trophy winner and No.1 overall NFL Draft choice Kyler Murray knocked DeSoto out of the playoffs three times from 2012-14. Mathis will be itching to win his first state title as a coach.

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