Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Skyline determined to bring DISD its first state title since 1950
After a rough afternoon at Cowboys Stadium two years ago, sophomore quarterback Devante Kincade looked up at the scoreboard and saw the damage. It was Labor Day, and Skyline was laboring just to stay in the game with Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.
Kincade still remembers how it felt when Skyline trailed 31-3 in the fourth quarter.
“I was just hoping they would run out the clock,” he said.
Now the clock is ticking down for Kincade and Skyline’s other seniors. After making it to the Class 5A Division I semifinals last season, they have one more chance to win a state championship.
“Sometimes I get a little smile on my face when I think about winning the championship,” senior receiver Ra’Shaad Samples said. “But then I snap back into reality and know how hard I need to work and how much I need to do to get there.”
A lot of hard work remains, but Skyline appears to be closer than ever to becoming the Dallas ISD’s first University Interscholastic League state football champion since Sunset in 1950. Booker T. Washington won the 1958 Class 3A title in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, and Carter won the UIL 5A championship in 1988 but was later stripped of the title.
Since 1988, the only Dallas ISD team to play for a state championship was Lincoln in 2004. Lincoln lost to Kilgore, 33-27, in the 4A Division II title game when a blocked field goal attempt was returned for a touchdown in the second overtime.
Skyline winning a state title would be great for the school, the community surrounding it and the district, Dallas ISD athletic director Jeff Johnson said. Any kind of athletic success usually translates to happier students and fewer disciplinary problems.
“If Skyline could go undefeated and win the state playoff, it would help tremendously,” said Sonny Kemble, who was an assistant coach for Sunset’s state champs in 1950. The 88-year-old, who played quarterback at Sunset and graduated in 1942, has watched a lot of the Dallas area’s top athletes leave the district.
“We’ve lost so many kids to the surrounding communities,” Kemble said. “I think a win would propel the city. We need it bad.”
Skyline wants it bad, and the Raiders will again be anchored by a tough defense that returns defensive tackle Kerrick Huggins, who is orally committed to Texas A&M, and defensive end Roderick Moore (SMU). The Raiders’ next great linebacker is Isaiah Williams, and the secondary includes Will Barrow (Texas Tech) and Cedric Collins, a junior cornerback who is one of the area’s top recruits in the Class of 2014.
In addition to Kincade (Mississippi) and Samples (Oklahoma State), the offense returns all-district linemen Dominic Woods and Kevin Coleman, versatile running back Ellis Onic and another productive receiver, Lamont Levels.
Reginald Samples, in his eighth season as Skyline’s coach, obviously has a lot to work with. But Samples emphasizes the work part.
“I think the worst thing you can do is pat yourself on the back,” said Samples, who came to Skyline after leading Lincoln to the title game in 2004. “My thing is: work hard every day to get better.”
The hard work sometimes gets lost in Skyline’s annual plethora of football recruits. Samples bristles at the talk that his players are so talented, they don’t have to work hard to be successful and the coaching staff can “just roll the ball out there” and pile up wins.
“That’s almost the biggest fallacy in the world,” Samples said. “We have kids that come in with no clue about football. They don’t know how to work hard, they’ve never been part of a team, they don’t know what it’s like to sacrifice.”
Over the last seven years, Skyline players have learned about hard work and sacrifice — and they’ve seen the results. Skyline hadn’t won a playoff game in 10 years when Samples took over, and the Raiders have won 13 playoff games in the last five seasons.
Playoff win No. 14 looked locked up last year when Skyline led Southlake Carroll, 24-14, and less than two minutes remained in their state semifinal. But Carroll scored a touchdown, recovered an onside kick and got in the end zone again to win, 28-24.
Carroll won the state title a week later. By that time, Skyline was already turning thoughts of what could’ve been into what could be the next season.
“I’m still motivated by it,” Barrow said. “I think we all are, because it was just a devastating loss.”
Coach Samples was disappointed for the seniors, who wouldn’t get another chance. But for the players who were returning, there was still time on the clock and still work to do.
Kincade, a dual-threat quarterback who has turned his potential into potency over the last two seasons, has a countdown clock in his room at home. It’s ticking down to Skyline’s first game Sept. 1 against The Woodlands.
It could be the start of Skyline’s march toward ending the Dallas ISD’s long drought.
“I think that Skyline community over there, they’re ready to get this season started,” Johnson said. “They got a little taste of it last year.”
“It would be an honor to me to win it,” Kincade said. “Just knowing all the great teams that came through trying to accomplish that goal. It would mean a lot to the city.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.
Pushing toward the top
Skyline has a 59-9 record in the last five seasons, but the Raiders have yet to make it to a state championship game. Skyline’s playoff results (all in 5A Division I) and overall record since 2007:
2007: 12-2 ... lost to Plano, 41-20, in regional final
2008: 12-2 ... lost to Round Rock Stony Point, 28-14, in regional final
2009: 12-1 ... lost to Cy-Woods, 28-21, in regional semifinal
2010: 9-3 ... lost to DeSoto, 38-0, in area round
2011: 14-1 ... Lost to Southlake Carroll, 28-24, in state semifinals
Dallas ISD football timeline
1950 — Sunset wins UIL state football title with a 14-6 victory over Houston Reagan, earning the Dallas ISD’s last recognized UIL football title.
1958 — Booker T. Washington beats Houston Washington, 38-0, to win the 3A title in the Prairie View Interscholastic League, which oversaw extracurricular activities for African-American schools.
1988 — Carter beats Converse Judson, 31-14, to win the UIL 5A championship. The title was later stripped from Carter for use of an ineligible player.
1997-98 — Dallas ISD’s nine playoff teams all lose in the first round in back-to-back seasons, giving the district an 18-game losing streak in the playoffs.
1999 — Five of the district’s nine playoff teams win in the first round, including wins by Hillcrest over defending 4A state champion Grapevine and Samuell over undefeated Highland Park.
2004 — Lincoln advances to the 4A Division II title game but loses, 33-27, when a Kilgore player returns a blocked field goal attempt for a touchdown in the second overtime.