Written by Jon Machota
Coach Claude Mathis: DeSoto has best spring game in five years
DESOTO -- After DeSoto's spring game ended Friday night, head coach Claude Mathis gathered his team together and told the group that they had just completed the best spring game the program has had since Mathis started coaching the team five years ago.
One reason why Mathis was so impressed was because his offense demonstrated on several occasions that depth won't be a problem at the skill positions.
Quarterback Desmon White showcased his running ability on three particular rushes of 10 or more yards. White also unloaded a few accurate deep throws, the most impressive coming on a 40-yard completion to Brandon McDowell along the sideline. That same combo connected for a 65-yard touchdown later in the evening.
White also found Chris Lacey for a 35-yard score and Rickey Daniels on a 30-yard gain.
"Everybody says he's short, so he can't throw," Mathis said of his 5-7 quarterback. "I love when people say that. Continue to underestimate that kid right there and we're going to score points on you. We're excited about it. Dez loves to sling the football."
White was DeSoto's backup signal-caller last season, completing 54-of-88 passes for 734 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
"People think my specialty is running the ball but I can do both," White said.
And when he's slinging it like that, it only makes things easier for running back Dontre Wilson, who committed to Oregon at halftime Friday night. Wilson was used sparingly in the first half and even less in the second half.
Mathis already knows what he has with Wilson so he allowed other players to get involved.
"It's great that we hit some big plays in the passing game because I really didn't think our passing game was going to be all there," Wilson said. "But that's great. It's just another asset to our running attack."
Defensive linemen Shaquille Jackson and Vernon Johnson each made their presence known with sacks while Dorian Yarby recovered a fumble and returned it for a touchdown.
Mathis is so excited about the group he has up front that he applied some of the highest praise imaginable.
"This year they're going to be pretty good," Mathis said. "But after this year, I'm probably going to have the best defensive line the next two years across the nation."
How the 2011 season ended: DeSoto finished 10-2 after losing to Skyline, 41-31, in the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs.
Other key returners: Offensive lineman Sergio Phillips, defensive lineman Josh Gay, running back Roy Smith, wide receivers Tavares Royal and Kyle Collins and middle linebacker Taylor Young.
"Taylor Young might pass Zach Orr as the best linebacker I've coached at DeSoto," Mathis said. "He controls the defense. Everything goes through Taylor."
Notables: In January, Mathis resigned from his position as head coach at DeSoto to become running backs coach at the University of Houston. A month later, Mathis decided to return to coaching the Eagles. He joked Friday that no one did him any favors when they made the 2012 football schedule.
"I leave and go to Houston and they reward me with this dang schedule," he said. "When I left, I gave them the green light and they just put it on my butt. When I got back I said, 'Thanks, I really appreciate you.'"
Mathis is about getting his best players on the field and said Friday that he will put Wilson in at defensive back in crucial moments during the season. The 5-10 speedster helped the DeSoto track team win a state championship this year. He was a member of both relay teams that clocked the fastest times in the nation.
Mathis also told his group Friday night that he believes they are one of the top 15 teams in the state. How the defense meshes with a talented offense will likely determine if that holds true.
"I think those guys can give themselves a chance to win it this year," he said. "This is a team that's close. This is a hungry team. This is a team that everyday in practice they got to fight for a spot ... especially on defense."
He said it: "[White] can just flat out get it. I'm curious how teams are going to play us with him and Dontre in the backfield." - Mathis talking about the athleticism of starting quarterback and top running back.
Season Opener: At Arlington Martin.
Full regular season schedule:
Aug. 31 at Arlington Martin at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 vs. Jenks [Oklahoma] at 4:00 p.m.
Sept. 15 vs. Euless Trinity [at Kincaide Stadium] at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 21 vs. Cedar Hill at 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 vs. South Grand Prairie at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Mansfield Timberview at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 vs. Midlothian at 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Duncanville at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 vs. Grand Prairie at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8 at Mansfield [at Vernon Newsom Stadium] at 7:00 p.m.