DeSoto (13-2) vs. Austin Vandegrift (14-1), 3 p.m. Saturday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
DeSoto is back in the state title game for the first time since 2016, and after several near misses under head coach Claude Mathis, the Eagles broke through in emphatic fashion with a 47-28 win over Denton Guyer last week.
The Eagles offense rolled up 556 yards on the afternoon, including 434 yards rushing. Sophomore RB Deondrae “Tiger” Riden led the Eagles with 224 yards and two touchdowns , but QB DJ Bailey had 78 yards and a touchdown rushing and Texas commit Tre Wisner had 78 yards on the ground as well.
The real story was an underrated defense for DeSoto that stymied a potent Guyer attack in the first half allowing the Eagles to race out a 26-7 halftime lead.
Vandegrift played an absolute classic last week in a 38-35 win over perennial powerhouse Katy to advance to the state title game for the first time in school history.
WR Miles Coleman was a monster for the Vipers with 183 receiving yards and a touchdown catch; he also had two passing touchdowns on trick plays. QB Brayden Buchanan threw for 453 yards and two touchdowns and he added a touchdown rushing for VHS in the win. The difference in the game was a 37-yard game winning field goal as time expired by Vandegrift kicker Hayden Arnold.
Both offenses are plenty prolific. This game is going to come down to the defenses and, for my money, any defense that can slow down Jackson Arnold and the Denton Guyer attack gets the nod. DeSoto wins their second state title.
Stepp’s Pick: DeSoto by 6
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior WR Johntay Cook II - One of the most talented receivers in the nation isn’t a secret. Cook is DeSoto’s most dangerous players with 1,368 yards and over 20 touchdowns to his name. He’ll be the focus of Vandegrift’s secondary and even that may not be enough.
Junior QB Darius Bailey - DeSoto’s offense has been as open as it’s been since the Shawn Robinson state title team and Darius Bailey’s a big reason why the Eagles are dreaming of gold. The big-armed junior has the talent to get his playmakers the ball and is tough to bring down in the pocket or on the move.
Junior LB Brandon Booker - DeSoto’s talented junior mans the middle of the defense and has a knack for making plays on the ball in coverage. The physical linebacker can also lay some hits in the run game. Booker’s just the tip of the iceberg on a real freakishly talented front seven.
Senior WR Miles Coleman - It’s not every day that you see an undersized wideout dominate at the 6A level the way Vandegrift’s Miles Coleman has. The 5-foot-5 speedster has over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns this season and is by far the Vipers’ most dangerous big-play threat both downfield and in the screen game.
Senior DE Daemian Wimberley - Vandegrift’s defense has been its strength all year with 13 sacks and Wimberley’s freaking size and strength creates mismatches for opposing pass protection schemes. He’ll be a load to deal with and potentially the best defensive end DeSoto’s faced since they played South Oak Cliff and Duncanville during non-district.
Junior LB Alex Foster - Patrolling the middle of the field will be Alex Foster. He’ll be asked to make numerous tackles in space and the Vipers’ leading tackler (120) should prove to be up to the task. If Foster can control the middle and slow down the Eagles’ explosive plays, Vandegrift will be in good shape.
- Ishmael Johnson
Vandegrift OL vs. DeSoto DL
Vandegrift announced its arrival as a Class 6A power to take seriously by out Katy’ing Katy with a big, physical offensive line that owned the trenches. That group of big, bad Vipers is led by four-star offensive tackle Ian Reed, who is committed to Clemson. The unit paves the way for 1,000-yard rusher Alex Witt and a backfield that averages over five yards a carry. DeSoto must limit this rushing attack, hold its own in the trenches, and force the Vipers to throw the football.
DeSoto wide receiver Johntay Cook vs. Vandegrift secondary
DeSoto can beat teams with a variety of explosive offensive weapons that include running back Tre Wisner and wide receivers Dahlyn Jones, Caimon Mathis, and Cedric Harden Jr. But the best of the bunch is five-star wide receiver Cook, a Texas pledge that is a top-five player in the state and a top-50 player nationally. He’s the Eagles’ leading receiver in virtually every category. Vandegrift must take away the big plays from Cook and force the other DeSoto weapons to win the game.
- Mike Craven
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