Eagles Soar as No. 1 in Preseason Rankings: Opponents Eye Inspiration from Mathis’ ‘Poster Board Material’

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Coach holding a trophy
Coach Mathis holding state trophy. Photo courtesy DeSoto ISD

Claude Mathis smiled as he called state rankings “poster board material” for opponents.
However, opponents still have to figure out some way to take advantage of this inspiration, and based on the Eagles’ status as they head into the 2024 football season, well, good luck with that.

The Eagles, on the heels of back-to-back Class 6A Division II state championships, are picked to – you guessed it – win state again. They are the favorites to win what most consider the state’s toughest football district. They are also ranked No. 1 in Class 6A in this year’s “Dave Campbell’s Texas Football” magazine, considered the Bible of football publications in Texas.

“It’s an honor to be preseason No. 1. It’s a tribute to our kids,” Mathis said. “We’re going to take this and build on this, continue to drive. We’re proud of this.”

DeSoto is coming off a 16-0 season that included a 74-14 dismantling of Houston Summer Creek in the state final. The Eagles are riding a 23-game winning streak.

The Eagles are expected to return seven offensive and five defensive starters. This includes preseason all-state selections Deondrae Riden at running back and Keylan Abrams on the defensive line.

DUNCANVILLE

The Panthers are, likewise, back-to-back state champions in Class 6A Division I. Coming off a 14-1 season, their lone setback last season was 49-35 to DeSoto.
With seven offensive and four defensive starters returning, the Panthers appear poised to live up to preseason expectations. They are ranked No. 2 in 6A heading into the season with a likely showdown for the District 11-6A championship scheduled in DeSoto on Oct. 11.

Leading Duncanville’s returners are preseason all-staters wide receiver Dakorien Moore and defensive back Tyren Polley.

ALSO FROM 11-6A

The Cedar Hill Longhorns caught fire and made a deep playoff run last season, finishing 8-6 and advancing to the 6A Division II Region II final before falling to DeSoto 59-16. The Longhorns return eight offensive and six defensive starters and are predicted again to reach the playoffs with a third-place finish in district.

Waxahachie is coming off a 9-3 season that saw them reach the second round of the 6A Division I playoffs. They return seven starters on both offensive and defense and are picked fourth in the league.

Lancaster, coming off an 8-6 campaign in which the Tigers reached the 5A Division I Region I final before falling to eventual state champion Aledo, has moved up in classification this season. They are picked fifth in district, but with five offensive and five defensive starters, look to contend for the playoffs.

Chief among those returners is preseason all-state linebacker Ke’Breion Winston.

DISTRICT 8-6A

South Grand Prairie returns plenty of talent (8 offensive, 8 defensive starters) from a 3-8 team that reached the playoffs. The Warriors are picked third behind Arlington Martin (8-4) and Arlington Bowie (7-4).

Grand Prairie brings back five offensive and four defensive starters as the Gophers hope to turn around a 1-9 campaign.

DISTRICT 3-6A

The Mansfield Tigers, 6-4 last season, return seven offensive and six defensive starters. They are picked fourth behind 2023 state semifinalist North Crowley (14-1), Crowley (7-4) and Saginaw Boswell (6-4).

Mansfield Legacy (3-7) is picked fifth with five starters back on both sides of the ball. Mansfield Lake Ridge (0-10) is picked seventh and returns three offensive and four defensive starters.

DISTRICT 7-5A DIVISION I

Two area teams are expected to return to the postseason. The Red Oak Hawks return seven offensive and five defensive starters from a 12-1 team and are ranked 14th in the state in preseason polls.

The Hawks’ returning corps includes preseason all-state wide receiver Taz Williams.

The Midlothian Panthers (8-3 last season) are picked third with three offensive and four defensive starters returning.

Dallas Highland Park (11-2), which reached the 6A Division I regional semifinals in 2023, is the pick to win the league.

DISTRICT 3-5A DIVISION II

Mansfield Timberview is picked third in this tough district. The Wolves (9-3 in 2023) are ranked 11th in the state in the preseason and return six offensive and six defensive starters from a 9-2 team that reached the 5A Division I playoffs.

Argyle (9-3) is preseason No. 3 and is the favorite, followed by Colleyville Heritage (12-2).
Mansfield Summit, which was 8-4 a year ago, is picked fourth with seven offensive and three defensive starters.

DISTRICT 6-5A DIVISION II

The Midlothian Heritage Jaguars, coming off a 12-1 season, are the favorites in this league. The Jaguars are ranked 17th in the state in the preseason and return seven offensive and three defensive starters.

Ennis (5-7), No. 24 in the state in the preseason, is picked second with five offensive and five defensive starters coming back.

DISTRICT 6-4A DIVISION I

Waxahachie Life, despite missing the playoffs last season at 2-8, is expected to finish fourth in the district this season. They return four offensive and six defensive starters.

DISTRICT 8-4A DIVISION I

Wilmer-Hutchins (7-4 in 2023) is expected to be third with four starters back on both sides. Dallas Carter (8-4), No. 14 in state in preseason, and No. 20 Kimball (8-3 in 4A Division II) are the top two picks in the district.

DISTRICT 4-4A DIVISION II

Venus, which was 3-7 last season, is picked sixth in the district with four offensive and seven defensive starters returning.

 

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Rick Mauch
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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