Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Skyline has chance to prove mettle against tradition-rich Southlake Carroll
Tyus Barrett wakes at 6:30 a.m. so he can make the 7:15 bus to Skyline High School. He returns about 7:30 p.m. after a full day of classes and football practice.
The sophomore lives near Carter High School but chose to commute because of Skyline’s highly regarded program — in culinary arts.
“When I found out they were going to do cooking, that was it for me,” Barrett said. “I came because of the magnet, not because of football.”
Barrett, though, represents two big reasons why Skyline has become a dominant football force. He is a 6-4, 285-pound offensive lineman plucked from a talent pool unbounded by district lines.
Skyline, with an enrollment of 4,765 students, has long been known for its athletes. The federally funded magnet school attracts students from all over Dallas.
But the school had only modest postseason football success until coach Reginald Samples took over in 2005. Since then, Skyline has ascended to perennial power status.
The Raiders are 59-8 over the past five seasons, including 13-4 in the playoffs. They take a 14-0 mark into Saturday’s game against Southlake Carroll.
Samples, who played receiver and defensive back at South Oak Cliff, coached Lincoln to the 2004 4A state final, where the Tigers lost in double overtime.
He came to Skyline in 2005, figuring that the enrollment and facilities would allow him to put the Raiders in line with elite suburban programs such as Carroll and Euless Trinity.
“It always amazed me how many Division I athletes Skyline had,” Samples said. “The fact that it’s a magnet school helps because we recruit good students, and that’s part of what it takes to win. You look at schools like Highland Park and Southlake Carroll, they have good students.”
Skyline has won at least 12 games in four of the last five seasons. The lone exception was last year’s 9-3 mark.
From 1971 to 2004, Skyline’s only 12-win season came in 1972 (12-2). The Raiders compiled only 11 winning records (.500 or better) in the 34 seasons preceding Samples.
But despite his 73-16 record in seven seasons, Samples hears criticism about failing to win a state title.
The 2007 and 2008 Skyline teams lost in the fourth round to Plano and Round Rock Stony Point, respectively. The 2009 team, which boasted 11 FBS recruits, lost in the third round. And in 2010, the Raiders lost in the second round to DeSoto, 38-0.
“I get it all the time,” said Samples, who is quick to credit his assistant coaches. “I don’t understand it. What bothers me the most is when people insinuate that because we’re coaching in Dallas, we’re not good coaches. Look at the record. I’ll match it with anybody.”
The current Raiders are stocked, as usual, at skill positions with quarterback Devante Kincade, running backs David Greene and Ellis Onic, and receivers Thomas Johnson, RaShaad Samples (the coach’s son) and Lamont Levels. And they have another strong group of linebackers, defensive backs and defensive linemen.
“It’s a big school, but we’re like a family,” Levels said. “We’re all close on and off the field. That seems to be our backbone.”
But the biggest difference is on the offensive line, where Skyline finally has the size and strength to contend with the suburban schools.
The depth is remarkable with Marlin Brown (6-2, 330), Kevin Coleman (6-2, 300), Samuel Crayton (5-11, 240), Demetrius Mills (6-3, 260), Domenic Woods (6-1, 280) and Barrett contributing.
Given Skyline’s tradition of skilled athletes, it took Samples and his staff several years of rigorous offseason training, and instilling a new mindset, to develop a line of this magnitude. Brown, Mills and Crayton are the only seniors.
“I have changed the attitude,” Samples said. “Offensive line is the most technical position on the team, and it’s one that’s very undesirable because all you do is sacrifice your body for someone else. So it takes a special guy. More guys want to do it now because they see the success and the difference they can make.”