Are you ready for this week's Friday Night Faceoff?
Each week, WFAA.com brings you live coverage of a top high school football matchup in the DFW area. Follow along with high schools contributor Reece Kelley Graham (@ReeceKelleyG) as he provides updates on the teams throughout the week, plus live coverage on social media and the postgame recap.
There's lots of games on Friday, but join us at @wfaasports on Twitter for updates on the biggest games throughout the Metroplex!
Week 5's matchup: Cedar Hill at No. 4 DeSoto
Who: Cedar Hill Longhorns (1-2, 0-0 District 7-6A) at DeSoto Eagles (3-0, 0-0 District 7-6A)
Where: DeSoto's Eagle Stadium – 7:30 p.m.
Friday Night Faceoffs don't get much bigger, folks. This week, WFAA.com takes you south of I-20 for "The Battle of Beltline" between Cedar Hill and No. 4 DeSoto – two of DFW's perennial powers. It's an Ali vs. Frazier type matchup, and this year, it comes early. With these teams set to open play in the always competitive 7-6A, Friday's game will determine the early favorite for the district crown. DeSoto, who won its first state championship last season, has reason to be confident despite so many new faces taking over the Eagles' explosive offense. Cedar Hill is experiencing its own growing pains under first-year head coach Carlos Lynn. Both teams are stacked with Division-I talent, and experienced defenses might make the traditional slugfest more technical and gritty than ever before. We've got a real slobberknocker in store.
Here's what you need to know about the DeSoto Eagles
Check back for our Cedar Hill preview coming Thursday!
It has been an interesting nine months for DeSoto head coach Todd Peterman.
After leading arguably the best Eagles team in school history to a 6A state title last December, Peterman found his job in limbo this spring after members of the school board allegedly attempted to fire him – a move that would have been unprecedented, considering the recent title run and that Peterman fielded a record of all-state academic students. Some speculated that race may have been a motivating factor in the attempted removal of the head coach.
The school board reportedly tried to pin Peterman with certain UIL violations regarding recruiting and practice time. Peterman denied the allegations, and after much uproar in the community, he signed a new contract.
All water under the bridge. And if not, Peterman now has his attention focused elsewhere.
The 2017 Eagles are just as talented as the group that finally captured the elusive state title DeSoto had come so close to capturing numerous times.
But this isn't that team. Far from it.
The potential remains, though the names are not the same. And Peterman's leadership should play a crucial role in making sure the Eagles remain flying high.
DeSoto returns only two members of its championship winning offense, and yet, the Eagles have averaged over 41 points through their first three games. Seems like the new additions are working out.
DeSoto opened the season on the road against two quality opponents in Dallas Jesuit and Denton Guyer. Jesuit came close to ruining the Eagles' championship honeymoon before it even started, but alas, DeSoto held on to win 41-36. Next week's game at Guyer proved easier, with the Eagles walking out the victors 42-13. DeSoto put up another 41 points a week later at home vs. Midland.
That's a lot of offense for a team with only two returning starters.
But when you develop players like they do in DeSoto, you really never run out of depth. You just call in the next wave of reinforcements.
Quarterback has always been a bright spot for the program, and in Shawn Robinson, DeSoto had their guy.
He now wears purple on Saturdays for a top ten team in Fort Worth.
No matter – Peterman just reloaded with Courtney Douglas.
Douglas has been instrumental in the Eagles' early success. The dual-threat QB can do it all, racking up 550 yards passing and seven touchdowns through the air, as well as over 200 yards and five scores on the ground. Wide receiver Jamal Brown has hauled in passes for 276 receiving yards and five scores. La'Vontae Shenault is also a reliable target.
The backfield gets scarier.
DeSoto uses multiple backs to wear down defenders. The group is led by Houston commit Kelan Walker, who rushed for 839 yards and 16 scores last year. He's seen limited action so far this season, but Dylan Lawrence, Shundarion Ward and several others make stopping the Eagles' running game very difficult.
Scoring has almost never been a problem for the program. Defense, however, has become a much greater emphasis with more experience on that side of the ball.
The Eagles are now winning games with stops rather than points. This team has a new swagger – it's like when Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth at the head of Van Halen – same great band, but a totally different sound.
DeSoto's secondary is up there with the best in the nation, featuring Michigan commit Gemon Green and Arkansas commit Byron Hanspard at cornerback. Illinois State commit Michael Gardner is a lockdown defender at safety, as is German Green, Gemon's twin brother, who's also pledged to the Wolverines.
290-pound defensive tackle Viramontes Pippens is a problem on the line, flanked by Brian Robinson and Devere Levelston. Levelston... that's a defensive lineman name if I've ever heard one.
And if those guys weren't overwhelming enough for you, meet linebackers Ashton Brooks and Tyler Jackson, who are among the quickest defensive backs in the district.
Usually, sequels aren't as good. They're normally a letdown. They rarely live up to expectations.
That's probably not the case for DeSoto, who's been using #TheSequel as a slogan for this season. Can the Eagles repeat as champions? They certainly have the talent to do so. Just don't expect them to get there the same way.
The actors are different, but the vision is the same.
And the director hasn't changed.