By Shawn Williams
Saturday night, two of the state’s top football teams squared off at Irving Schools Stadium in a classic Class 5A showdown. The highly anticipated matchup lived up to the hype with DISD’s Skyline Raiders outscoring the DeSoto Eagles 41-31.
The game got chippy at times. DeSoto received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in one second half drive and Skyline was flagged for a personal foul at a critical juncture in the 4th quarter.
Things apparently reached a boiling point as Skyline proceeded to run out the clock. Quarterback Devante Kincade lay motionless on the ground for a few moments before bouncing up and heading for the sideline. Kincade seemed to suggest DeSoto players were going overboard after the play, and Skyline coach Reginald Samples ran on the field to protest before the final play was run.
As time expired, one Skyline coach threw off his headset in celebration, while others began to hip bump players and one another. Then members of the Skyline squad began to flap their arms (like Eagles apparently) as they ran out to the middle of the field, taunting their opponents in lieu of lining up to shake hands.
Skyline and DeSoto don’t like each other. This is the 4th year in a row the teams have met in the playoffs and last year DeSoto blanked Skyline 38-0. Rumors on the Skyline side said a fake casket was delivered to the Red Raiders locker room with two shovels and an eagle on top. Who knows….the point is, they don’t like each other.
For the last five years or so, Skyline has been DISD’s best hope to make a deep football playoff run. I’ve travelled to Waco and across North Texas to watch Coach Samples teams as they’ve represented the district admirably. In every instance Coach Samples squads have played hard to the final buzzer and have won and lost with honor.
But on Saturday night, that all went out the window.
This was one of the best high school games I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen plenty. It’s a shame that Skyline celebrated as if they had won the state championship. I was sitting with a group of Skyline alumni from the Class of 1990. I asked them all if they were disappointed in how their alma mater handled the victory. They all said yes.
Skyline coaches had a chance to diffuse a volatile situation but chose to throw gas on the fire. For a moment it looked like the night might explode. But players eventually showed restraint and police rushed to the field and helped keep the two sides apart. The head coaches were jawing at one another as they left the field and were separated by their assistants.
DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis said Samples and Skyline “should show some class,” but DeSoto was not without fault. Mathis’ players taunted Skyline during the game and it seemed to be some after the whistle action by his players as time ran out.
Skyline should have handled the victory better. Sportsmanship has been lost in youth sports on so many levels. I hope that the Raiders will regain their composure as they continue what I hope to be a long playoff run.