September 15, 2013

Rivals High primer: Can DeSoto be trusted?

It is a fundamental belief of the RivalsHigh100 poll that each week is a new ranking.

It is a generic statement that encompasses a lot of aspects:

Winning does not entitle a team to its previous ranking.

Losing does not automatically dictate a slide.

Successful histories do not come with an inheritance of high placement.

Faults of former players do not set glass ceilings for the current group.

Come Monday, DeSoto (Texas) High will move up from No. 8 to No. 3 on the back of its 61-35 domination of national power Euless (Texas) Trinity. It was the third impressive result in the early going. The team has also downed Arlington (Texas) Martin and Tulsa (Okla.) Union.

Believing in DeSoto has been a historically risky proposition.

Under head coach Claude Mathis, the program has steadily improved from when it was a 6-6 afterthought in 2008. It did not receive much ranking consideration in 2009 before breaking into the poll during 2010. It ended that year unranked but put other programs on notice.

In 2011, the team steadily climbed the rankings and moved into the top 10 before forgetting to play defense against Mesquite (Texas) Horn midseason. It then dropped games against Longview (Texas) High and Dallas (Texas) Skyline in the last three to wind down at No. 61.

Last year, the Eagles moved to No. 1 nationally -- after seven weeks in the top five -- and lost their next game to Allen (Texas) High before finishing the season No. 8.

The group this year was expecting its strength to be the defensive unit -- which has been the Achilles heel -- and with its eight returning starters and a hot start to the season, the thought that each week is a new week prevails.

The offense has not missed a beat despite starting nine new players -- including an entirely new line -- largely due to the play of diminutive quarterback Desmon White.

In the victory over Trinity, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound athlete completed 21 of 27 passes for 344 yards and five scores. He added 107 yards rushing and another score on 12 carries. He didn't play most of the second half.

The team has another showdown this week. It will take on a Cedar Hill (Texas) High team that is just outside of the top 25 nationally.

The remaining games on the regular-season schedule should not present as much of a challenge on the field as the first four have, but the test will be to ensure DeSoto maintains its mental edge.

The playoffs would pave a path to playing nationally ranked Coppell (Texas) High, nationally relevant Arlington (Texas) Bowie, nationally ranked Southlake (Texas) Carroll, nationally ranked Allen (Texas) High and nationally ranked Houston (Texas) Lamar.

If DeSoto can navigate that path, it would be close to impossible to deny the state of Texas its first national champion since the RivalsHigh100 began seven seasons ago.

SMALL IN STATURE BUT BIG ON RESULTS

The top three teams in the RivalsHigh100 this week will be Miami (Fla.) Booker T. Washington, Allen (Texas) High, and DeSoto (Texas) High.

The three have plenty of similarities.

Each ended 2011 in the top 10 nationally, each has multiple impressive victories against nationally ranked teams this year, and each is led by a dual-threat quarterback who would be considered undersized at the collegiate level.

Four-star athlete Treon Harris of Booker T. Washington is ranked No. 127 in the Rivals250 presented by Under Armour. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, and he is committed to Florida State to play quarterback. He has started the year with impressive numbers against Norcross (Ga.) High, Miami (Fla.) Central, and Miami (Fla.) Carol City.

Harris has completed 54 of 71 passes for 719 yards and 10 touchdowns versus zero interceptions. He has added more than 100 yards rushing and a touchdown on the ground.

Allen's Kyler Murray is a member of the Rivals250 to Watch for the class of 2015 and is rated a four-star dual-threat quarterback. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and has nearly a dozen FBS offers.

On the season, Murray is 43-for-68 passing for 794 yards with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 8-to-1. He has added 157 yards on the ground against Southlake (Texas) Carroll, Cedar Hill (Texas) High and Richardson (Texas) High.

White leads DeSoto at 5-foot-8, 160 pounds, and he is rated a two-star athlete without an FBS offer. He has been a three-year starter at DeSoto, and he possesses an amazing command of the offense.

This year, he has completed 50 of 70 passes for 764 yards and has eight touchdowns versus zero interceptions. He is more active on the ground than the other two as he is over 300 yards in three games against Arlington (Texas) Martin, Tulsa (Okla.) Union and Euless (Texas) Trinity.

Booker T. Washington has games against Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, Miami (Fla.) Northwestern, and a potential showdown with Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School to close out its season and complete its national-title resume.

The most high-profile game left on the Allen schedule is against Coppell (Texas) High -- which likely kept Allen from a national title last season -- before the playoffs. Allen could add wins over The Woodlands (Texas) High, Dallas (Texas) Skyline, DeSoto and Houston (Texas) Lamar to close the year.

As listed above, DeSoto may have the most meat left on the bone. It could run in to Coppell (Texas) High, Arlington (Texas) Bowie, Southlake (Texas) Carroll, Allen (Texas) High, and Houston (Texas) Lamar.

The two Texas programs would have a head-to-head game to settle the dispute in the semifinals of Class 5A-Divison I but would also have crossover games with one another as well as the current No. 3 in the state, Katy (Texas) High, for comparison.

CALIFORNIA CROSSED UP

The perception battle of the quality of football played in NorCal and SoCal heats up each year and is fueled by the success of the northern teams in the CIF Bowl Games.

The national view of the two regions is played out in the RivalsHigh100: SoCal has more good teams, but the best of NorCal can play with anyone.

Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco will remain as the top team in SoCal and the state -- a distinction it has claimed since the preseason -- while northern and national power Concord (Calif.) De La Salle retakes its No. 2 spot in the state.

The rest of the state has been shuffled, largely due to the interplay and balance of programs in the southern half.

Corona (Calif.) Centennial and Gardena (Calif.) Serra have yo-yoed in the national rankings each of the first three polls. Both will fall into the pack this week.

Centennial was bettered by Long Beach (Calif.) Poly, while Serra went into overtime with a quality Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame program.

The victory will bring Poly back into the national rankings after it fell out in Week 2 following its loss to Anaheim (Calif.) Servite. With the interplay of the teams, Servite will also make its first appearance in two years in the RivalsHigh100.

All three teams will be behind Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman, which has a 41-17 victory over Servite this season.

Santa Ana (Cali.) Mater Dei will move up to the No. 3 spot in the state, while Folsom (Calif.) High is No. 4.

Mission Viejo (Cali.) High helped boost the argument for the southern side as it beat Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco this weekend.

The sorting in SoCal is far from complete. Servite will play De La Salle, Mater Dei and St. John Bosco in the regular season.

Notre Dame, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure, La Puente (Cali.) Bishop Amat and Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany fell just outside the RivalsHigh100 and will fight among themselves for placement within the poll and a CIF Bowl.

In the northern part of the state, it figures to be De La Salle and Folsom from here on out. Granite Bay (Calif.), Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove and Elk Grove (Calif.) High are the likely teams to discuss for national rankings as the season progresses.

LAKES REGION LINKED

There has been a solid line of distinction between the haves and have-nots in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee, but through Week 3 most of those teams have tangled up instead of separated from one another.

Louisville (Ky.) Trinity has been the class of its state for the last five seasons. Nashville (Tenn.) Ensworth has won its state title in successive years. Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central, Carmel (Ind.) High and Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove have shuffled the deck in the last several seasons, while Cincinnati programs St. Xavier, Moeller and Colerain have mixed it up with numerous teams in this web.

The Week 4 poll will leave all teams ranked as the interplay results have shown each to be worthy of recognition. Only Colerain is a factor for the top 25.

The Cardinals get the edge with decisive wins over St. X and Trinity. They lead the group, but it is a mess.

St. Xavier is next in the pecking order with its loss to Colerain its only blemish to date. It will still play Moeller and another Indiana team that may work back into the mix, Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central. It has crossover games with Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder -- which just missed the RivalshHigh100 this week -- Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral, Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle, and Louisville (Ky.) St. Xavier. It also closes the regular season with Cleveland power St. Ignatius.

Moeller has a four-point victory over Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike, which lost this week by a single point to Center Grove. The Crusaders will take on St. Xavier in two weeks and close with Trinity in November. They have crossover games with La Salle, Elder and Indianapolis Cathedral, and they will play Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward in October.

Center Grove has downed Carmel and Pike. It will take on Lawrence Central this week and will play Warren Central and Pike later in the year.

Ensworth can claim a victory over Trinity and will have another crossover game as it plays Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy to close its season. St. Xavier blanked BA this week, 23-0.

Trinity has its loss to Ensworth -- by a single point in a game it led nearly the entire time -- as well as a loss to Lawrence Central that came by way of a blown call on a touchdown pass. However, it has its victory over Carmel on the road to keep it linked. The Shamrocks will play Indianapolis Cathedral this week, and they have Louisville St. Xavier and Moeller on the schedule.

Carmel rebounded from its consecutive losses to Trinity and Center Grove by beating Lawrence Central. The Greyhounds have Warren Central and Pike to contend with before their final evaluation can be made.

Lawrence Central is saddled with the last spot in the cluster for this week as it is coming off of its loss to Carmel. This is the team that can have the most dramatic impact on the rankings, however. It plays Center Grove this week and has St. Ignatius, Warren Central and Pike before the playoffs.

If that wasn't confusing enough, Indianapolis (Ind.) Ben Davis or Warren Central can pile on. Each will play multiple relevant teams before the season is out, and the way the Indiana playoffs work -- by random draw, not seeding -- there is as much luck as skill involved in closing with a title.

Dallas Jackson is the national columnist for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.




 

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