Written by Matt Wixon
Claude Mathis: Quick turnaround 'insane' for his DeSoto team, which plays Allen on Saturday
Many of the UIL’s football state semifinalists were back on the practice field Tuesday, working on how to beat their next opponents. But Cedar Hill, which will take on Lake Travis in a Class 5A Division II semifinal Saturday, didn’t get much done.
And that was by design.
Having played on Monday instead of Saturday, Cedar Hill players needed a day to recover.
“It puts us two days behind,” Cedar Hill coach Joey McGuire said. “Normally on Mondays we’ve got a game plan and we’re walking through it with the kids. Today [Tuesday] we’re sending them home and finishing up the game plan.”
That’s the lingering effect of Winter Storm Cleon, which pushed many games scheduled for Friday and Saturday to Monday. Six UIL semifinalists from the Dallas-Fort Worth area – Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Highland Park, Denton Guyer, Aledo and Argyle – played regional finals on Monday and will play again Saturday.
“It’s tough, coming back to play on Saturday,” DeSoto coach Claude Mathis said after Monday’s game. “How are you going to play Trinity then come back to play Allen on Saturday? It’s insane.”
Sure, there’s a little hyperbole there. But cramming a week’s worth of preparation into five days is difficult.
DeSoto did it two years ago when it played on Labor Day and then beat a good Cedar Hill team on the following Saturday. But this time, DeSoto (14-0) is facing Allen (14-0), the defending 5A Division I champion that has won 25 straight games. Allen walloped Spring Westfield in a regional final Saturday, giving the Eagles a full week to prepare for DeSoto.
“That’s a tough deal if you play on Monday,” Allen coach Tom Westerberg said. “Tuesday to game plan, Wednesday and Thursday practice, Friday walk-through, play on Saturday.”
A very tight squeeze, which is why Mathis considered asking the UIL for a waiver of its no-play-on-Sunday rule. McGuire said that Cedar Hill ISD athletic director Gina Farmer talked with the UIL about it.
“I would’ve liked to see it from the standpoint that it would really help us,” McGuire said. “But the UIL doesn’t want to do that, and I can understand that.”
And so Cedar Hill (12-2) will have two less days to prepare than Lake Travis (12-1), which played its regional final on Saturday. Aledo (14-0) has a short week before Saturday’s game against Ennis (14-0), which has been preparing for the 4A Division II semifinal since Friday. Highland Park (13-1) and Guyer (12-2) will meet in a 4A Division I semifinal, so neither team will have an advantage in preparation time.
Less time to recover from one game and prepare for the next is a disadvantage, but it’s hard to predict the effect. Fortunately, paralyzing ice storms are a rarity during the football season.
The short week might lighten some game plans, but at this point in the playoffs, teams have refined a winning formula.
“We’ll have a few new wrinkles,” McGuire said, “but we’ll keep on doing what we’re doing.”
Staff writer Corbett Smith contributed to this report.
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