Desoto Sophomores Already Drawing Attention

The Desoto Eagles just wrapped up a 5A state championship on the hardwood with Coach Chris Dyer's 59-47 win over Cedar Hill last weekend in Austin, and now the football team is preparing for the 2009 season with their eyes fixed on a similar deep playoff run. Burnt Orange Beat spoke with Head Coach Claude Mathis on Wednesday about his sophomore class of prospects.

The Desoto Eagles football team may have finished with just a 6-6 record last year, so some might have lowered expectations of the 2009 club. But after digging a little bit deeper, last year's Eagles football team was a very young team with 15 new starters including a sophomore quarterback, Ryan Polite, and a new head coach, Claude Mathis, who came from Austin's LBJ.

After stumbling out of the gates at 1-4 in non-district play with all of the new faces, the Eagles righted the ship and went 4-1 in the rugged District 11-5A play to finish the regular season at 5-5, but the district record was certainly good enough to earn them a playoff berth.

The Eagles opened the playoffs with a resounding 40-14 win over Temple in Waco, before losing to Dallas Skyline in second round action. The team is looking to build upon that late season success as a foundation for a great 2009 playoff run.

Desoto's junior class who will be senior leaders next year are headlined by good friends safety Adrian White and wide out Darius Terrell. Both are verbally committed to the University of Texas Longhorns. But next year's senior class also has Football Bowl Subdivision prospects in offensive tackle Evan Washington, running back Marcus Murphy, linebacker Zachary Orr (son of Texas great Terry Orr), and defensive lineman Brandon Forge.

In addition to the junior class, the Desoto sophomores are just as deep a bunch of prospects and Mathis expects many to be just as highly recruited as his juniors.

Left tackle Marcus Hutchins (6-5,260) was thrown into the fire last year as a sophomore. A lot of young tackles get their feet wet at right tackle before moving over to the left side to protect the quarterback's blind side, but not Hutchins.

Mathis explained, "You have to have a lot of confidence in a kid to put a sophomore out there protecting your quarterback's blind side. Hutchins is a young player that is getting better by the day. He has quick feet and moves very well. He's got to get better on his finishing technique, but he is quite a player."

Speaking of quarterbacks, Ryan Polite (6-0, 190) settled in very nicely as a sophomore starter. Polite finished his regular season with 1548 passing yards, 385 rushing yards, 22 total touchdowns (6 rushing), and 13 interceptions.

"Ryan Polite is the leader of the offense. He does so much as a sophomore on the field – he makes check at the line of scrimmage, he lines up to offense, gets us in the right plays. He is a smart kid and puts the time in the film room. He makes all the right reads," Coach Mathis explained. "He has put a lot of time in during the offseason and has gotten a lot stronger."

Another sophomore contributor to the Eagle offense is 5-10, 200-pound Antoine Jimmerson. The speedy athlete played as a slot receiver and kick returner last season and Mathis expects more out of Jimmerson next season.

"Jimmerson has all the talent in the world. All I need to do is get Jimmerson running north and south. Jimmerson will be a big role in our offense next year. He is (Marcus) Murphy's back-up at running back and will continue to play slot," Mathis said. Jimmerson is slated to take over at running back after Murphy graduates and Mathis expects that he will be recruited as a running back. Mathis says that Jimmerson reminds him of former Kansas City Chief returner Dante Hall.

Other returning sophomore receivers include David Porter (3 starts as Soph) and Sam Ajala (2 starts). Austin Vincent (6-0, 175) will move up from junior varsity to likely start next year as well.

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