Sep 24, 2021
07 Dec, 2023
History will be made on Friday in the UIL Class 5A Division II State Semifinal match between Frisco Emerson and South Oak Cliff regardless of who wins. As these teams kick things into high gear before the game, VYPE DFW dives into exactly what fans can expect as they prepare to watch these two programs chase a storybook ending to their 2023-24 football season.
Frisco Emerson Mavericks (12-2, 4-2)
The Mavericks are in just their second season of varsity competition. Opening in 2021, Frisco Emerson's team started competing in junior varsity competitions where they posted an undefeated (10-0) season with only underclassmen on the team. Now, those underclassmen make up the juniors and seniors of this varsity program as they enter the program's first semifinal appearance. Last season, the team posted a 9-2 overall record (5-1 in district play) and finished second in their district standings before falling in the first round of playoffs to a talented Colleyville Heritage squad.
This season, Frisco Emerson finished third in their district standings with a 4-2 district record and continued showcasing their tremendous resiliency through the playoffs. Led by the likes of Izzy Bills, Kameron Lockhart, Kylen Evans, Kelton Wafer, and more, the team has a steady and focused offense that shows up every single play. Lockhart has accounted for 24 touchdowns this season while Evans has accounted for 16. Dual-threat quarterback, Mike Hawkins, has also been a force to be reckoned with as he has recorded 72% pass completion rating with 2,878 passing yards and 40 passing touchdowns this season. Hawkins has also shined on the run where he has scored 13 rushing touchdowns on 107 carries for 1,108 rushing yards.
The defense, powered by Kennedy Breedlove, Nate Leal, Keiton Blanton, Agape Lawrence, AJ Johnson, and others, has been quick on their feet while focusing on eliminating targets for their opponents. Sending Grapevine, Canutillo, Wichita Falls Rider, and, last week, Colleyville Heritage packing in the playoffs this season, the Mavericks will continue to strive to be the best as they enter the field on Friday night.
South Oak Cliff Bears (12-2, 6-0)
After becoming Dallas ISD's first high school to win a state title in football in 63 years back in 2021, South Oak Cliff has made it their standard to play great football year in and year out. As they chase more history-- a three-peat in which only 19 other schools have done in UIL history-- they don't focus on what others are saying and, instead, march to the beat of their own drum. Should the team punch its ticket to state and win their third consecutive title, it will become the first Dallas-Fort Worth area team in a multiple high school district to win three titles in a row... and they aren't at all distracted by that notion or possibility.
This season, the Bears dropped only two matches-- a season-opening game against Duncanville (who is playing in their own respective state semifinal match this weekend) and another non-district showdown against DeSoto (another team also playing to punch their ticket to state). Despite their losses, the team has remained focused on the end game... heading back to the playoffs and securing another crown. Outscoring their opponents 579-232 this season, the team has posted incredible victories over TAPPS Fifth consecutive state champions Parish Episcopal, Dallas Adamson, Dallas Kimball, Dallas Wilson, and more as they went undefeated in district play to finish at the top of their district standings.
Led by senior running back Khalil Ewell (who has averaged nearly 94 rushing yards per game and has 19 touchdowns to his name this season), senior running back Danny Green Jr. (who averages roughly 85 yards per game and has 14 of his own scores this season), senior wide receiver Trey Jackson, junior quarterback Carter Kopecky and senior quarterback William Little (who have combined for 29 passing touchdowns on the season), and other talented offensive players, the Bears offense has never had trouble setting the tone through each other their games. The defense-- one of the best in the state-- is led by sophomore Jamarion Phillips (who has recorded 11 sacks this season while averaging nearly 7 tackles a game), Jayden Shelton, Brandon Jackson, Dewalon Butler, Brandon Jones, and others. This defense has only gotten better the closer they inch to the state finals. The team has already eliminated Everman, Melissa, Midlothian Heritage, and-- for the third consecutive season to head to the state semifinals-- Lucas Lovejoy.
What To Expect
High energy. Fans, coaches, and athletes alike all know what sort of implications ride on this game and the kind of history that could be made for both programs. Both teams are explosive out of the tunnel on a Friday night and can be expected to amp up their level of play for the state semifinals. With their own weapons and top-rated athletes, this game can truly go either way.
Prepare for both teams to leave it all on the field on Friday night. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m. in Frisco, Texas at Ford Center at The Star.
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07 Dec, 2023
Claude Mathis is “that” dude and DeSoto High School has become “that” program.
The Eagles face Southlake Carroll in an epic matchup Saturday at 2 pm in Allen Stadium for the right to advance to the Class 6A DII State Final.
DeSoto “U” will be there with all their swagger, their star players and their State Title rings from a year ago.
DeSoto holds the title that the rest of Texas is chasing.
It has taken some time for Mathis to climb to the top of the Texas high school mountain -- after previous stints at Sommerville, Austin LBJ, DeSoto (previously), University of Houston (RB coach) and Marshall -- but he’s been back at DeSoto and isn’t taking the pedal off the gas.
“When they hired me here, they knew I was a disciplinarian,” Mathis said. “We are going to be a discipline football team, if not, you aren’t going to win a lot of ball games. The kids know the rules, because me and the staff remind them every day. We keep our players humble and we keep the pressure on them to be disciplined. We don’t let up, ever.”
After winning his first state title in 2022, Mathis has the Eagles and the community wanting more… including himself.
“In the world we are in today, people judge me on state championships,” he said. “I was the first African American coach to win a Class 6A State Championship. That was last year. A few hours later, Coach (Reginald) Samples did it at Duncanville. A lot of coaches can win one state championship, but not many have won two or certainly not back-to-back. Those are things that stick out to me. I don’t talk about it much, but I want that for myself. To show other African American coaches that they can do it too.
“It takes a lot for all this to happen. It’s about this team, this coaching staff and all the great people and administration that surround and support this program. Winning is about all of us.”
South Dallas is loaded. DeSoto, Duncanville and South Oak Cliff have been dominating Texas football of late.
“I credit to some great coaching and great young men who are playing the game at a high level right now,” he said. “All of our goals are to win s State Championships. You can see the great classes coming through our junior highs, but you can also see when there may be a class that is not as talented. You just have to continue to adjust and we have in the I-20 corridor.”
This is one of those special classes.
QB Darius Bailey (Sam Houston-commit) has thrown for nearly 3,000 yards and 38 scores. He hands the ball to Marvin Duffey (1,370 yards) and Tiger Riden (National Recruit). WRs Daylon Singleton (SMU) and Antonio Pride are the big-play pass-catchers on the outside. The OL is led by Ronnel McLain (UH) and Byron Washington, among others.
“What’s good about our team is that we have dogs at every position,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron here. On offense, it’s DJ (Bailey), Tiger and our offensive line. On defense, Brandon Booker, Keylan Abrams and Marshall Kirvenare the alphas.”
They will have their hands full against one of the most decorated programs in the history of Texas – Southlake Carroll – which has won eight state titles.
“The keys for us will be to just continue the way we are playing,” he said. “We have to score on offense, keep the penalties down, know our alignments, stop their run and tackle well. The experience of winning state last year has helped us along the way this season.
“But I tell the team that they aren’t going to see any better and tougher competition than they see every day in practice,” he said.
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Jeff Riordan built the Code Red brand at Crosby High School in east Houston years back, bringing a winning vibe to the Cougar program.
He's done the same at Chapel Hill with Code Blue. Riordan has built a power program that has been to the State Semis the past three seasons. This year they face Davenport for the right to play in the State Finals a week from now.
VYPE's Matt Malatesta caught up with Riordan on the eve on the State Semis.
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