Duncanville Panthers Take Thriller by 28-21 Margin, Win State Championship

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Duncanville Coach Reginald Samples with the the Championship Trophy. Photo by RICK MAUCH

Coach Samples Gets Historic Victory For His 1st State Championship

Reginald Samples is at last a state champion football coach – and it came in historical fashion.

Samples has accomplished so many things in his high school coaching career, including more than 300 victories. Saturday night he capped his resume’ by leading the Duncanville Panthers to the Class 6A Division I state championship with a 28-21 victory against Galena Park North Shore at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

With the victory the Panthers joined neighboring DeSoto in sweeping the two 6A championships. The Eagles won the Division II title earlier, defeating Austin Vandegrift 42-17.

Duncanville and DeSoto, who both compete in 11-6A, are only the second district mates ever to win Texas state championships in the same season. They join LaMarque and Texas City, who achieved the feat in 1997.

“It didn’t surprise me they won, those guys do a good job,” Samples said of DeSoto, adding of their district, also known as “The District of Doom,” It says a lot about our district. Waxahachie went three rounds. It gets you ready.”

Samples’ title came in his fifth finals appearance. Prior to the four with Duncanville, he led Dallas Lincoln to a finals appearance in 2004, falling to Kilgore in overtime.

Samples & Mathis Only Black Coaches To Win State Championship at 6A Level

Also with the victory, Samples joins DeSoto’s Claude Mathis as the only Black coaches to win a state championship at the 6A level – both making history on the same day.

Of that accomplishment, Samples said, “I try to get around black coaches. We’re two good coaches who have good teams.”

Making the victory even sweeter for the Panthers, who finished 15-0, was it came against their state finals nemesis. It was the fourth time in five seasons the two teams played for a state crown, with North Shore winning the previous three, 41-36 on a last-second Hail Mary pass in 2018, 31-17 in 2019 and 17-10 last season.

And as the game was winding down, Samples and the Duncanville faithful had to wonder if it was going to happen. Starting at their own 20 after a punt, the Mustangs drove 65 yards, helped by a pair of facemask penalties against the Panthers. Then, on fourth-and-4, North Shore quarterback David Amador was stopped a couple inches shy of a first down.

The ball went back to Duncanville, and with no timeouts the Mustangs could not stop the clock as the final 1:04.

“Fear took over euphoria,” Samples said of the play. “I really didn’t see the play. I felt like they got the first down, but I could tell by the players’ reactions…

“I had flashbacks of Hail Marys.”

Samples began his postgame press conference with a laugh, saying, “I’ve been here so many times losing, y’all are gonna have to wait.”

Caden Durham’s 9-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left in the third quarter provided the margin of victory.

Duncanville never trailed, taking a 14-0 lead on touchdown runs of 2 yards by Durham and 88 yards by quarterback Keelon Russell.

Durham, who rushed for 104 yards on 25 carries with three TD, was named the offensive MVP. Russell finished with 88 yards on just eight carries.

After North Shore rallied to tie the game at 14, Durham’s 3-yard run put the Panthers up 21-14. The Mustangs tied the game at 21 at the intermission, scoring in the final minute of the first half.

‘A Freaking Living Legend’

“It was a war, exactly what I thought it would be,” said North Shore coach Jon Kay. “A tough pill to swallow, but they earned it.”

Then, Kay said of Samples, “You talk about a freaking living legend.”

The yardage was as tight as the game itself, with Duncanville having a 263-255 advantage in total yards. Each team rushed for 179 yards and the Panthers passed for 84 compared to 76 for the Mustangs.

Dakorian Moore (2 catches, 45 yards) and Dayvian Bluitt (2-39) split Russell’s four completions in 10 attempts.

Vernon Grant led the Duncanville defense with 9.5 tackles, while Eli Wallace registered 6.5. Colin Simmons, Kei’Tron Simpson, Tyren Polley and Elijah Wilson each had 4.5. Polley also had an interception.

Simmons, the game’s defensive MVP, also had a pair of sacks for 15 yards in losses, along with three tackles for losses of 20 yards.
The Duncanville victory completed a sweep of championships for the South Dallas area. Before Saturday’s two area titles, South Oak Cliff became the first Dallas ISD school ever to win back-to-back state championships with a 34-24 win over Port Neches Groves.

Photo by RICK MAUCH

“Good football played there,” Samples said. “Sooner or later somebody’s going to have to give this area credit.”

Samples wrapped up his day by saying he was now going to go home and take some time for the championship to soak in.

“Maybe next week it’ll hit me I’ve won a state championship,” he said. “I’m gonna go home, rest, get up and watch the Cowboys.”

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Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters

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