Arlington’s AT&T Stadium was rich in history as it hosted a multi-day championship last weekend that wrapped up the high school football season.
In particular, a small area of South Dallas was the most talked about weekend.
On Friday, the Dallas South Oak Cliff Bears (13-3) defeated Port Neches Groves 34-24 in the 5A Division II Finals to become the first team in Dallas Independent School District history to win back-to-back state championships. Smiling head coach Clifton Todd told people to call him “Twice Todd”.
But history-making is just beginning.
On Saturday, DeSoto’s Claude Mathis became the first black coach to win a state championship at the 6A level, tearing down the Eagles (14-2) 42-17 over Austin Vandegrift. On his second swim at DeSoto, Mathis celebrated his achievement alongside his twin sons Kymon and Crimson.
Mattis has lost only twice in 31 games in two years, losing twice to Allen and Kyler Murray in the state finals in 2013 and 2014.
“We started getting healthy, and I told the radio announcer that if we got healthy by week two of the playoffs, we could do something really special,” Mathis said.
When the evening ended, the most excited was yet to come. Duncanville’s Reginald Samples became his second black coach to win the title at 6A level. This was his one of the exciting routes to his first state championship.
Facing 4 and 4 at the Duncanville 15, the Galena Park North Shore quarterback ran up the middle and shy of an inch or two of the required yardage. The Panthers won his 28-21 victory for their first state title since 1998, finally defeating their nemesis.
The North Shore beat Duncanville (15-0) in the 2018 state final with a Hail Mary pass, went 31-17 in 2019, and went 17-10 last season.
Additionally, DeSoto and Duncanville became only the third duo in the same district to win the state championship in the same season. It happened at Converse Judson and San Antonio Roosevelt in 1995, and at Lamarque and Texas City in 1997.
Mathis said the feat deserves the nickname of District 11-6A, or “District of Ruin.” Also, this season, Waxahachie finished with his 10-3 record, making him three rounds in the playoffs. The previous season saw Duncanville win the title in four of his five seasons, joined this year by DeSoto and Cedar Hill in 2020 when he reached the 6A Division II title in his game.
“Playing against these teams prepares us for what we were facing right now,” Mathis said. “It’s one tough district.”
The sample echoed those sentiments, not surprised by DeSoto’s victory over the state, with the district saying, “We’re ready. You don’t want to lose.”
The Panthers and Eagles are also known for their tough Predistrict slates. This year, DeSoto’s included Baltimore’s St. Francis Academy, which ranked him #8 in the nation. The Eagles lost 47-7 at home, but Mattis credits the matchup with making his team better and setting them up for a state title.
“I don’t concede from anyone. There was no better player this year than St. Francis,” he said.
In fact, the Eagles played against three of the nation’s top 13 ranked teams at the time. They dropped the contest 41-17 at Duncanville and in the provincial semi-finals he defeated previously undefeated Denton Geier (14-1) 47-28.
The Eagles finished the season ranked 21st in the nation.
Duncanville, who finished seventh in the nation, had a predistrict slate, including a 44-21 home win over Florida powerhouse Orlando Jones.
And South Oak Cliff had both on schedule. The Bears lost 23-10 at home to Duncanville, 42-23 on the roads at DeSoto, and a 21-3 loss to Lancaster, who finished with his 9-3 record. , advanced to the second round of the postseason.
The Bears bounced back from a 0-3 start to become one of the few teams to win 13 straight games and win the title.
“It says a lot about our district, our community. It says a lot about our sample of coaches,” said Mathis, who stood to congratulate his friend. Add it to the mix and you have three.”