The Duncanville Panthers have become a massive brand in the state of Texas.
Thanks Captain Obvious… but winning a state title just over a year ago in a 28-21 win over North Shore, has made up for the near-misses of the past. It’s put Duncanville on a new level inside and outside the locker room.
“Winning a title really puts that stamp on your program,” coach Reginald Samples said. “It validates that you are one of the best teams in the state of Texas, maybe even the country. You can’t really say that until you win that state title.”
Duncanville is on another collision course with destiny as they face Westfield Saturday at 3 pm at Reeves Stadium in Round Rock in the Class 6A DI Region II Final. The Panthers beat Westfield (28-21) last season in the regional final before earning that coveted state title.
So, now they are the hunted instead of the hunter.
“Trust me, we aren’t looking past what is right in front of us,” he said. “Here’s why. We were trying so hard to beat North Shore in those state games, and lost. Eventually, we beat them. These teams in front of us are the same way. They are trying to knock us off like we were with North Shore. There are only really good teams left and we respect our opponents”
The Panthers are freakishly talented with the likes of QB Keelon Russell (SMU-commit) RB Caden Durham (LSU-commit), WR Dakorien Moore (LSU-commit), OL (Baylor-commit) DE Colin Simmons (Texas-commit), DT Alex January (Texas-commit), DB Ka’Davion Dotson (SMU-commit) walking the hallways. There is nearly a dozen more college commits on the way.
“We try and keep the outside noise to a minimum,” he said. “Yes, there are college recruiters here all the time, but we try and limit the distractions during the season, especially in the playoffs. You can have a bunch of great players, but if you don’t win, that doesn’t build a program. We are here to get kids recruited and we do a great job of that, but when it comes down to it, we’re also here to win ball games for Duncanville High School.”
The star of the Panther Den on the offensive side of the ball is Caden Durham, who has over 1,500 yards and 21 scores for the season. When the Panthers need a big play, he’s the guy.
“Caden started off slow and didn’t have those big stats, because we didn’t need that early on. We were winning by large margins,” Samples said. “In a lot of games, we pulled him by halftime because we knew we were going to need him later. He didn’t pout or anything, he just stayed positive. He’s a winner and all the great ones have another gear. He certainly does. When we have needed plays when the games count, he’s the guy that wants the ball and he delivers.”
With an explosive offense that is averaging nearly 50 points per game, the offense is equally as dynamic. The Panthers are only giving up 10 points a game and are punishing teams.
“We hang our hat on defense and being physical,” Samples said. “I’ve always leaned to the defense side of the ball and I believe defense wins championships.
“When those guys who now star on defense for us came into the program, we could easily have put them on the offensive side of the ball. They would have been really good, but we think put them in the right spot. I think they would agree.”
Unfortunately, so would their opponents.
So, how will Duncanville handle being the defending state champs as the postseason whittles down? With an unmatched swagger and the experience winning their first under Coach Samples, more dangerous than ever before.
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