Duncanville and coach Reginald Samples are state champions after defeating Galena Park North Shore 28-21 in an instant classic for the Class 6A Division I state championship game on Saturday at AT&T Stadium.
No play was more significant than the Duncanville defense stopping North Shore quarterback David Amador just inches short of the first down on a fourth-and-4 run at the Duncanville 12 with 1:04 remaining and Duncanville clinging to their seven-point lead.
With the stop, Duncanville finally overcame a North Shore team they had fallen to in the 6A Division I state championship game three previous times.
The trio of North Shore wins in 2018, 2019, and 2021 came down to the wire, including a win in 2018 on a 45-yard Hail Mary on the game’s final play.
Samples was doused with water and mobbed in celebration when the final whistle blew, a celebration for the legendary coach’s first state championship, Duncanville’s first football state title since 1998, and the program’s first undefeated season.
“It feels great,” Samples said. “It feels like all the hard work was worthwhile. To lose three times to the same person, it kind of haunts you. You kind of think it’s a jinx.”
The state title win is Samples’ 323rd career win in his storied 32-year head coaching career that featured stops at Lincoln and Skyline.
His career has been riddled with close calls. Samples led Lincoln to a state runner-up finish in 2004 and took Skyline to two state semifinals (2011 and 2014).
The only thing missing from his resume was a state championship, which is no longer.
Samples was asked what he felt when an official review confirmed Amador was just short of the first down.
“Fear took over euphoria,” he said. “I still was just so afraid. I had flashbacks of Hail Marys and all that kind of stuff.”
WHAT TO KNOW
Duncanville became the first Dallas-area team to win a state title in 6A Division I since Allen in 2017. Duncanville also gave District 11-6A two state champions, with DeSoto beating Austin Vandegrift 42-17 in the 6A Division II title game earlier Saturday.
It is the second time two teams from the same district have won state titles in the same year. The other was Texas City and La Marque in 4A in 1997.
Adding the 5A Division II title win by South Oak Cliff on Friday night, South Dallas went three for three in its state title games.
“Just good football played there,” Samples said about what the feat says about South Dallas. “I think sometimes we don’t get the respect that we should… so I think sooner or later someone’s gonna have to give this area credit for good coaches, good kids, and good programs.”
Duncanville leaned on four-star junior running back Caden Durham, who missed last year’s state title game with an injury. Durham rushed the ball 25 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns and was named the game’s offensive MVP.
It was Durham’s 10th 100-yard rushing game of the season as Duncanville ended North Shore’s 28-game winning streak.
Durham opened the scoring by punching a 2-yard scoring run near the end of the first quarter. He made it 21-14 for Duncanville with a 3-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes to go until halftime.
North Shore responded to that score, driving down the field in five plays, with Amador capping the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 21 at halftime.
Durham’s 9-yard touchdown run out of the Wildcat formation on fourth-and-1 gave Duncanville the final 28-21 lead with 3:41 left in the third quarter.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Duncanville defense came up huge in the second half, holding North Shore off the scoreboard. Into the final drive, Duncanville’s defense had allowed negative 7 yards of offense in the second half.
On the final drive, North Shore saw runs of 19 and 11 yards by Amador and a pair of 15-yard face-mask penalties on the defense, putting it at the Duncanville 21 with 1:26 remaining.
Vernon Grant was credited with the game-saving tackle on the final fourth down stop. It was the last of his game-high 9.5 tackles.
For North Shore, the loss is their first in a state title game in program history. North Shore was 5-0 in state title games before Saturday, including wins over The Woodlands in 2003 and Austin Westlake in 2015.
With Coach Samples finally getting his first state title game win, he was asked what he would do to celebrate.
“I’m going to go home and rest,” he said. “Maybe next week it will hit me that I’ve won a state championship, but I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m going to get up tomorrow and watch the Cowboys.”