High School: Mesquite

DeSoto girls survive scare to reach regionals

February, 22, 2012
The DeSoto girls basketball team will be making its sixth trip to a regional tournament in the last eight seasons thanks to Tuesday’s 58-57 victory over District 11-5A rival Mesquite at Lancaster High.

DeSoto (33-5) will face Spring Dekaney (38-1) in the second of two Region II semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Baylor’s Ferrell Special Events Center in Waco.

Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
Under Larry Goad, in his 27th year as head coach, DeSoto has reached at least the third round of the playoffs in eight straight seasons. DeSoto was a state finalist in 2008.

College signees Jordan Jones (Texas A&M) and Bryce Owens (New Mexico), a pair of 5-foot-6 senior guards, combined for the dramatic winning basket with 14 seconds remaining against upset-minded Mesquite (22-11).

Jones intercepted an inbound pass with DeSoto trailing 57-56. The steal led to a go-ahead layup for Owens. DeSoto withstood Mesquite’s final possession that ended in a missed 3-pointer.

The victory was the 16th in a row for DeSoto, which ended the regular season ranked No. 4 in ESPN Dallas Class 5A Top 10. Three of its wins in the current streak have come at the expense of Mesquite, including two in district play.

Jones, averaging a team-best 14.3 points a game, led DeSoto with 15 points. Owens, second on the season for the Lady Eagles with a 10.4 average, had 13.

Jones is ranked No. 14 nationally in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU Hoop Gurlz and No. 3 among point guards.

Mesquite’s Briana Caro led all scorers with 26 points, including eight 3-pointers.

The Lady Eagles have gotten solid play from 6-foot senior Summer Melontree, the team’s leading rebounder, and 6-foot junior forward Camesha Davis.

Rockwall teams head east instead of DeSoto

February, 2, 2012
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- North Mesquite, Mesquite Horn and Mesquite High will continue their ties to East Texas foes Longview and Tyler Lee for the fifth straight realignment.

This time, the Mesquite schools will be joined by Rockwall and Rockwall-Heath for a seven-team District 12-5A. The Rockwall schools are moving up from Class 4A.

Rockwall was a part of the East Texas district along with the Mesquite schools in 2004-05.

The last two realignments included DeSoto in the East Texas district, but the Eagles got a reprieve this time.

DeSoto athletic director Pam Deborde said the news of a move to District 7-5A to join neighbors Cedar Hill and Duncanville brought a lot of excitement to Eagles athletes on Thursday.

“Now our kids can play teams they grew up playing against and in some cases played on the same teams with,’’ Deborde said. “Our seniors are upset that this didn’t happen in time for them.’’

Mesquite athletic director Steve Bragg was unfazed.

“We’re used to going to East Texas,’’ said Bragg. “We’ve developed some very good friendships. Financially, it is a strain on our school district, but we understand that somebody has to go. Nobody likes to travel but somebody has to. And we’re looking forward to working with the Rockwall schools.’’

Deborde said DeSoto never formed a rivalry in its present district.

“It was time for us, we served our four years,’’ she said.

Undersized Mesquite contends for playoff spot

January, 25, 2012
On an undersized Mesquite girls basketball team, senior Michelle Espinoza is an unsung hero in the eyes of coach Jan Newland.

The 5-foot-7 Espinoza, Mesquite's starting post, regularly goes up against the opponent's tallest player.

“I can guarantee you won’t find anybody tougher than Michelle in our district,’’ Newland said. “She’s really a hard worker.

“With our lack of height, it is very important that we do a good job of blocking out so we don’t allow the second and third shots,‘’ Newland added.

Offensively, Mesquite is led by 5-foot-5 senior guard Cemetra Jenkins, who averages 17.4 points per game. Backcourt mate Briana Caro, a sophomore averaging 12.8 points, connected on four 3-pointers (giving her 66 for the season) in Tuesday’s 47-37 loss to DeSoto, which is ranked No. 4 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A Top 10.

Junior forward Viershanie Latham, a 2011 Region II qualifier in the triple jump for the track and field team, pulled down 14 rebounds against DeSoto. Latham averages 10.2 points and nine rebounds.

A 61-49 road victory at Tyler Lee last Friday has helped position the Lady Skeeters as a playoff contender.

“I think we’ll be fine,’’ Newland said. “We just need to take care of business. The win in Tyler was big for our kids and I thought we did a good job against DeSoto.’’

Mesquite (17-9, 3-3 in District 11-5A) faces Mesquite Horn (12-14, 4-2) at 7 p.m. Friday on the road in an important 11-5A contest. In their first district meeting on Jan. 6, Mesquite squandered an 18-point lead and lost, 48-42, in overtime.

Mesquite stuns DeSoto behind Reed's 25 points

January, 24, 2012
DESOTO -- A college scholarship at Long Island University and an internship on Wall Street are in Eric Reed’s future.

On a stormy Tuesday evening, the 6-6 Mesquite senior post was “money’’ from the free throw line, connecting on 12-of-12 in the Skeeters’ 55-52 upset of DeSoto, No. 5 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A Top 10, on the Eagles home floor.

DeSoto dropped into a three-way tie for first place in District 11-5A with Mesquite and Mesquite Horn at 3-1.

Reed attributed his free throw success to increased emphasis in practice.

“I’ve shot a lot of them the last month because Coach [Brian] Curts said they would be important,’’ he said. “Winning this game over here shows our potential, what we can do.’’

Reed did a little of everything, hitting 6-of-10 field goal attempts (including a 3-pointer) on the way to 25 points. In the fourth quarter, Reed contributed a crucial blocked shot, an assisting pass to Davion Keys for Mesquite’s final field goal and two rock-solid free throws with 24 seconds to go to increase the lead from two to four points.

“Eric played a huge game for us,’’ said Curts. “DeSoto doesn’t lose very often in its gym.’’

Mesquite (14-9) had to survive a late comeback by DeSoto (22-5) that was led by 6-4 junior guard Matt Jones.

Jones, who is committed to Duke, connected on four 3-pointers and matched Reed’s 25 points. But his 3-point bid to force overtime in the final five seconds from the top of the key bounced harmlessly off the rim and set off a Mesquite celebration.

“We knew Jones would get the ball,’’ Curts said. “He’s a really good player. We made him take a tough shot. We were right there with a hand in his face.’’

Jones was 0-for-7 from the field in the first and third quarters and 9-for-9 in the third and fourth quarters before his last shot.

Mesquite led for all but a five-minute stretch in the second quarter. Four times in the second half the Skeeters went up by 11 points, the last time with six minutes to play. DeSoto’s full-court pressure forced the Skeeters into six turnovers in the final quarter and set the stage for a close finish.

“We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the ball at the end and DeSoto was all over the court,’’ Curts said.

Jones, rated No. 20 nationally in the Class of 2013 by ESPNU, brought the Eagles within a point, 53-52, by hitting his fourth 3-pointer of the evening with 17 seconds remaining.

Mesquite’s Tyler Richardson sank two free throws with 11 seconds to go to push the lead back to three. Junior guard Alex Cooper, who led Mesquite to a home-court victory over DeSoto last season, scored five of his 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“Mesquite’s kids played harder from the outset and evidently the game was more important to them than it was to us,’’ DeSoto coach Chris Dyer said. “We didn’t do a good job defending their best players and they dominated us inside.’’

Plano West downs DeSoto in Meadows Classic

December, 27, 2011
DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- Just because Kiran Lakhian is the tallest Plano West player, don’t expect the 5-11 senior to be limited to playing in the paint.

The versatile Lakhian did a little bit of everything, even handling the ball in the backcourt at crucial times, to help the Lady Wolves defeat DeSoto, 57-49, in the second round of the 61st Sandra Meadows Classic on Tuesday evening at Sandra Meadows Memorial Arena.

“To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure what my position is any more,‘’ said Lakhian, who led the Lady Wolves with 11 points. “Our whole team is versatile. I think I’m a guard. That’s what I played when I was a freshman.’’

Plano West coach Don Patterson said he utilized Lakhian at all five positions during the 2010-2011 season.

Lakhian contributed one of the eight 3-pointers that helped Plano West (19-1) nullify DeSoto’s interior size advantage. Seven of the 3’s came in the first half.

“We’re known for our 3-point shooting,’’ Lakhian said. “That’s about an average game for us. We can do better.’’

DeSoto (17-5) overcame a seven-point halftime deficit and took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter. But Plano West went on a 12-1 run in the first five minutes of the final period to regain control.

Earlier on Day 1 of the 32-team tournament, Plano West reached the 97-point threshold for the second time this season in a 97-37 rout of Fort Bend Kempner. And the Lady Wolves did it without a player scoring more than Mattie Swearingen's 17 points. Plano West placed five scorers in double figures and all 12 in uniform scored.

Plano West advances to a 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal Wednesday against either The Woodlands College Park or Flower Mound.

No trouble for host team: Duncanville (19-1), taking aim at its 19th Sandra Meadows Classic title, is off to a 2-0 start after first-day routs over Garland Naaman Forest (76-28) and Mesquite (72-38). Guard Empress Davenport led the Pantherettes with 27 points in the nightcap and totaled 43 for the day.

Still unbeaten: Southlake Carroll defeated Mesquite Horn, 67-55, in the opening round to remain undefeated on the season. Carroll (17-0), the top-ranked team in the tournament, was led by Kayla Reinhart’s 30 points. The 5-10 senior forward/post scored all but eight of her points in the second half.

Game of the day: Mesquite 80, Euless Trinity 76 (2OT): Mesquite rallied from an eight-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to force overtime in its opening-round encounter. The teams were tied after one quarter and at halftime in addition to ties after regulation and the first overtime. Sophomore guard Briana Caro hit clutch shots at the end of regulation and overtime to extend the game for Mesquite. Cemetra Jenkins, a 5-5 senior guard, led Mesquite with 29 points and Tori Henderson, a 6-foot senior forward, scored 28 for Trinity. Later in the day, Trinity gained some satisfaction with a fourth-quarter rally of its own, coming from seven points behind to defeat Garland Naaman Forest, 47-45, in a consolation game.

Moriah of UConn: Moriah Jefferson, a 5-8 senior signee of the University of Connecticut, helped her home school team, THESA, to a 67-56 win over Garland with a 27-point effort. Jefferson was 8-of-8 on free throws and got off to a blazing start with 14 points in the opening quarter. She added a game-high 17 points in a 49-39 second-round win over Temple on Tuesday evening.

No complaints: Ashley Brodhead-Richard, the coach of 2010 Louisiana Class 5A state champion St. Thomas More, couldn’t complain about her team’s defense, at least not with a straight face, after holding Longview Spring Hill to four field goals in a 75-11 thrashing. Spring Hill did not have a basket in the second and fourth quarters. More prevailed over Bishop Lynch, 61-48, in a second-round evening game, sinking 26 free throws.

A&M signee does early damage: DeSoto guard Jordan Jones, a Texas A&M signee, scored 10 of her 12 points in the opening three minutes, then surrendered playing time in the Lady Eagles’ lopsided 77-43 victory over Denton Ryan. All 12 Lady Eagles scored and Jones finished as leading scorer. In DeSoto’s 57-49 second-round loss to Plano West later in the day, Jones led the Lady Eagles with 20 points, connecting on four 3-pointers.

Defending champion cruises to win: Fort Bend Hightower, the 2010 Sandra Meadows Classic champion, breezed to an easy 59-40 opening-round win over Frisco Liberty. Tyler Gilbert, a 6-2 senior post, led the Lady Hurricanes, scoring 15 of her game-high 19 points in the second half.

Day’s top scorer: Nelsha Peterson, a 5-11 senior forward at Mesquite Horn, took individual scoring honors in the opening-round with 31 points in a 67-55 loss to Southlake Carroll. Peterson outscored the rest of her team by seven points. She had 12 2-point baskets, one 3-pointer and went 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

On tap Wednesday: Southlake Carroll vs. Little Rock (Ark.) Hall in a noon second-round matchup. Quarterfinals begin at 1:30 p.m. with Lafayette, Louisiana entry St. Thomas More facing THESA.

The Woodlands ends Mesquite's playoff run

November, 26, 2011
WACO, Texas -- By remodeling its offense halfway through this season, Mesquite orchestrated one of the state's best turnaround stories of 2011.

But The Woodlands shut down that offense and the Skeeters' season, snuffing out Mesquite, 24-6, Saturday afternoon at Waco ISD Stadium.

Though the Mesquite defense held its own, keeping the Highlanders in check, The Woodlands defense allowed the Skeeters (7-6) to gain just three first downs in the second half.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

"We knew they were good," Mesquite coach Robbie Robinson said. "When you get to this round, you're going to play somebody good and they deserved to win today."

Robinson refused to blame the strong winds, which gusted to more than 40 mph, for Mesquite's loss.

"It affected us, but it affected them too," Robinson said.

Mesquite, which won just a single game in each of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, was trying to reach the fourth round of the playoffs despite finishing the regular season at 5-5.

Instead, The Woodlands (12-1) will move on to face the winner of Saturday's second game at Waco ISD Stadium between Skyline and Klein Oak.

Mesquite struggled to find much success in its spread passing attack from the beginning on a windy day. The Skeeters at times reverted to their run-heavy package.

Not much happened on the ground either, as Mesquite gained just five first downs in the first half and never moved more than 32 yards in a single possession.

However, the Skeeters grabbed the initial lead after punter Brandon Cantu pinned The Woodlands at its own 4 with his first punt of the game. The Mesquite defense forced the Highlanders to go three-and-out and a short Woodlands punt gave the Skeeters possession at The Woodlands 32.

Mesquite running back Junior Session gained 17 yards on a key run and quarterback Alex Cooper completed a 13-yard pass to Dameon Gamblin to The Woodlands 3. Running from the wildcat position, Session toted the ball in from the 3, giving the Skeeters a 6-0 edge.

The Woodlands blocked the ensuing extra-point attempt and Highlanders defensive back Kolbi Brown appeared headed for a two-point conversion the other way before Mesquite's Charles Grant chased him down inside the Skeeter 5.

Still, The Woodlands began to take over the first half at that point.

Having been burned by the Mesquite punt team, the Highlanders redeemed themselves by blocking a Cantu punt midway through the second quarter as Jorie Taylor swatted the ball for The Woodlands, allowing it to take possession at the Mesquite 3.

The Woodlands wildcat quarterback Cooper Woodyard turned that break into points as he barreled across the goal line on fourth-and-goal from the 1, putting the Highlanders ahead 14-6.

Mesquite, with the help of a penalty, kept The Woodlands from extending the lead to two touchdowns late in the first half.

The Woodlands quarterback Lance Miles appeared to score on a 17-yard run, but a hold brought the Highlanders back to the Mesquite 26. The Skeeters held from there, keeping them within one score going to intermission.

With the Skeeters' frustrations on offense, The Woodlands gained a significant edge with Marshall Bainton's 29-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Bainton's kick followed defensive lineman Mitchell Meyers' interception of Mesquite quarterback Alex Cooper that gave the Highlanders the ball at the Mesquite 10.

Woodyard scored his third touchdown later in the fourth quarter to help ice the game for The Highlanders.

As Robinson directed his team off the field on the blustery afternoon, he felt some sense of satisfaction with the Skeeters' season.

"I'm very proud of all our coaches did and very proud of all our players did," Robinson said.

Mesquite bounces Garland with field goal in OT

November, 18, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For Mesquite to reach the area round of the Class 5A Division I playoffs despite a .500 regular-season record, the Skeeters have needed a few bounces to go their way.

It was a bounce that went against them Friday at Cowboys Stadium, however, that forced the Skeeters into overtime against longtime rival Garland.

[+] EnlargeAlex Cooper
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comQuarterback Alex Cooper and the Skeeters are on to the third round of the playoffs after a .500 regular season.
In the end, though, Mesquite bounced the Owls thanks to Anthony Canady's overtime interception and Jose Salas' game-winning field goal in a 24-21 victory.

With two seconds left in the fourth quarter and Mesquite clinging to a 21-14 lead, Garland quarterback Seth Russell dived toward the end zone on a keeper from the Skeeters 1, but the ball popped lose before he crossed the goal line. Garland tight end Dawson Hadnot was able to cover the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, putting the game into overtime.

The Mesquite defense quickly rebounded. Canady picked off a Russell pass on the first overtime possession, setting the stage for Salas' 39-yard field goal to win it.

“I was nervous but it was all for the team,” Salas said. “I knew I had trust in my leg. Last time we could have gone for it against Horn and we didn’t do it. This time I proved to the team I could do it.”

Mesquite quarterback Alex Cooper sure-handedly led his team down field for three scoring drives in regulation, the first ending on a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins in the first quarter.

Even with Garland defenders flying in to put him to the ground throughout the game, Cooper felt the most pressure holding what would be the game-winning kick.

“I wasn’t worried about my boy Jose,” Cooper said. “He’s a good kicker. I was just worried about the hold. My eyes were on the ball. I wasn’t looking at anything else but the ball.”

Mesquite (7-5) came out on fire in the second half, scoring at on the first drive of the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Junior Session.

Session scored again later in the quarter on a 4-yard run off a pitch to widen Mesquite’s lead to 21-7.

Garland (9-3) made its comeback in the fourth, scoring early in the frame on a 22-yard run by Ja’Taveon Green and tying it on the fumble recovery as time expired.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Mesquite is following the lead of city neighbor Mesquite Poteet, which made a deep Class 4A playoff run last year after two terrible seasons. Cooper said Poteet’s success pushed the Skeeters to work harder in the offseason to become the best team in Mesquite.

“Their winning disrespected us, so we came into the offseason working hard -- lifted weights and worked hard,” Cooper said. “We represent Mesquite now.”

Mesquite is the last Mesquite ISD school in the playoffs and will play the winner Saturday's The Woodlands-Round Rock Westwood game in the regional round.

For coach Robbie Robinson, this season brings back nostalgic memories of how football used to be played in Mesquite: the Skeeter way.

“I’ve been in Mesquite a long time,” Robinson said. “It’s been really disappointing the last couple of years, to be honest with you. The fact that we’re back and winning now, it’s really special. Old-time Mesquite.”

Live area-round chat: Huge games all weekend

November, 18, 2011
Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

It's only the area round, but we're getting some of the most anticipated matchups of the playoffs this weekend.

Our chat kicks off Friday night with the Mesquite-Garland matchup starting at 6 p.m., which will be followed at Cowboys Stadium by Rowlett-Sulphur Springs. We'll also have coverage from some big Class 4A games, with Johnathan Gray and Aledo being challenged by Mansfield Summit, Rockwall-Heath taking on Dallas Kimball and Highland Park facing Dallas Woodrow Wilson.

We also have special guest Randy Jackson, coach at Mesquite Poteet, providing updates from the Corsicana-Sulphur Springs game.

We'll be back with coverage from all of Saturday's biggest matchups. There's the Cowboys Stadium quadruple-header with Cedar Hill-Southlake Carroll (11 a.m.), Euless Trinity-Allen (2 p.m.) Mansfield Timberview-Flower Mound Marcus (5 p.m.) and Mansfield-Denton Guyer (8 p.m.). We'll also be on hand at the DeSoto-Dallas Skyline clash at 5 p.m.

This will be your spot for the timeliest updates and best insight all weekend.

No. 10 GARLAND (9-2) vs. MESQUITE (6-5)
6 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium

What: 5A Division I Region II area game

When we saw them last: Garland settled into the playoffs and beat Richardson Berkner 24-7 in the bi-district round at Garland’s William’s Stadium. After Berkner’s first score, Garland’s defense locked down, allowing just two first downs the rest of the game and forcing five three-and-outs. Mesquite beat Belton 35-23 in its bi-district tilt, buoyed by a 300-yard, two-touchdown performance from quarterback Alex Cooper.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

Renewing a rivalry: Garland and Mesquite have a rich rivalry as on-and-off former district mates since 1904, but have never met in the playoffs, according to the Garland football website garlandowls.com. A “postseason” game was scheduled in 1935, but was never played due to complaints from parents. Garland holds a 44-23-4 edge in the rivalry. Mesquite tallied a 54-0 win over Garland in 1982, and Garland won by the same score in 1936. The two teams have not competed in the same district since 2003.

What’s at stake: The winner will face the victor of The Woodlands (10-1) and Round Rock Westwood (10-1) in the 5A Division I Region semifinals.

Key matchup: Which quarterback will lead his team to victory? Garland quarterback and Kansas commit Seth Russell is a dual-threat quarterback that can settle into a efficient pass game or run the read option. Alex Cooper is a gunslinger who has gone on a hot streak late in the season and into the playoffs. He’s thrown for 20 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards on the season. The team that can disrupt the other's quarterback will clearly have the edge.

Players to watch: Mesquite wideout Kavaski Ervin is Cooper’s favorite target. Erin caught 13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in last week's bi-district game. Junior Session has the ground game covered, rushing for 16 touchdowns and just under 1,000 yards. Garland has an outstanding 1-2 punch in running backs Keylan Spencer and Malcolm Miller. Spencer is a speediy back that can beat teams around the outside. Miller is more of a bruiser up the middle.

Prediction: Garland notches its 45th win in the series, 30-25.

Mesquite rides QB Cooper's hot hand in playoffs

November, 14, 2011
A quarterback with a hot hand is a nice card to hold in the playoffs, and Mesquite seems to have just that in junior Alex Cooper.

In Friday’s 35-23 bi-district victory over 8-3 Belton, Cooper completed 28-of-35 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

“We’ve seen flashes of that throughout the season,’’ said Mesquite coach Robbie Robinson. “I don’t know that we anticipated that kind of a game from Alex, but the previous week he played lights out against [Mesquite] Horn, too.

“The big thing we tried to emphasize was that we had not put together a complete game all year,’’ Robinson said. “Our rushing numbers weren’t big because we had an emphasis on throwing the ball against Belton, but overall everything came together.’’

Senior receiver Kavaski Ervin was Cooper’s target with 13 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown.

Cooper led the Skeeters basketball team in scoring last season as a sophomore.

Mesquite (6-5), fourth-place finisher in District 11-5A, will face old rival Garland (9-2), champion of District 10-5A, in a Class 5A Division I area playoff 6 p.m. Friday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. It is the first time the schools have met since when they were in the same district in 2003.

“Fast and physical, that’s how I describe Garland,’’ Robinson said. “They’ve got kids that can run and run well.’’

Robinson, who grew up in Mesquite, recalls the days when the Skeeters and Owls were district rivals in one-school towns.

“We had a game recently at Williams Stadium in Garland and our bus driver was unsure which end was our locker room,’’ Robinson said. “It made me think, has it really been that long? We used to play over there two or three times a season.’’

5A-I preview: DeSoto, Skyline headline Reg. 2

November, 7, 2011

Overview: Each season, Region II provides surprises, in part because it is composed of schools from the big-city areas of Dallas, Houston and Austin. The teams rarely see each other until playoff time.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

One familiar name is missing this season. Round Rock Stony Point, regional champion each of the last three years, failed to qualify for playoffs this year.

Dallas Skyline is the only unbeaten team in this bracket. DeSoto, Round Rock Westwood and The Woodlands are all 9-1.

Two of the more established programs in this grouping, The Woodlands and Austin Westlake, lost in the opening round a year ago and aren't usually down for long.

Westwood was aided by a pair of transfers, running back Ledeans Anderson from Mississippi and receiver Desmond Wyatt from Kansas, in its rise.

Favorite: DeSoto. The Eagles have made drastic defensive improvements, and the offensive output hasn’t really fallen off despite the graduation of record-setting passer Ryan Polite. The result is the Eagles are a better team than the one that lost to Stony Point 72-48 in the Region II final a year ago.

DeSoto opponents are averaging 15.8 points a game this season, half of the 32.4 opponents averaged in 2010. The defense has talent at each level with Texas A&M commit Michael Richardson at end, Texas commit Bryson Echols and LSU commit Jalen Mills in the secondary and uncommitted Alex Lyons at linebacker.

Watch out for: Garland. Since starting 0-2, the Owls have reeled off eight straight wins on the way to capturing another District 10-5A title. A quick exit in the 2010 playoffs should serve as motivation. The draw in the lower half of the bracket, away from the looming DeSoto-Skyline showdown, should be an advantage.

Garland has a lot of offensive weapons, but the main one is Kansas-bound quarterback Seth Russell with 12 touchdown passes and over 1,200 passing yards.

Can’t wait to see: Richardson Berkner-Garland (7:30 p.m. Friday, Garland's Williams Stadium). Berkner has a winning streak of five games and has shut out its last two opponents. The Rams and their triple-option offense are back in the playoffs after falling short in 2010. They depend heavily on quarterback Yedidiah Louis not only to keep defenses honest with his passing, but also for his skills as a runner. He leads the team with over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns.

We hope to see: Round 4 of DeSoto-Skyline. The Eagles and Raiders have met in the second round of the playoffs the last three years with Skyline taking the first two (51-26 in 2008 and 41-36 in 2009) and DeSoto answering emphatically last season, 38-0.

A pretty intense rivalry has developed between the two schools. It was easy to see during combines in the spring when players went out of their way to avoid those from the enemy camp.

Only a couple of bi-district wins stand between a fourth meeting. The downside is a second-round meeting is far too early. A Region II final would be more fitting.

Talent pool (FBS recruits): A&M Consolidated: DT J.J. Bynum (Texas Tech); RB Quinton White (Texas Tech). DeSoto: DB Bryson Echols (Texas), OL Curtis Riser (Texas), DE Michael Richardson (Texas A&M), RB Devin Rushing (Air Force), Jalen Mills (LSU). Garland: LB Damien Neroes (SMU), QB Seth Russell (Kansas). Klein Collins: QB Tyler Stehling (Rice), DE Roland Leal (Air Force), Shane Rhodes (Boise State). Klein Oak: QB Nicky Baratti (Notre Dame), DT Daniel Shaul (UTEP), LB A.J. Hilliard (Arizona). McKinney Boyd: DE Jamal Palmer (Baylor). Mesquite Horn: DB Devante Harris (Oklahoma). Round Rock: DT Glen Antoine (UTEP). Dallas Skyline: LB Peter Jinkens (Texas), WR Thomas Johnson (Texas), WR Trey Rabone (Kansas State), RB David Greene (UNLV). The Woodlands: DE Mitchell Meyers (Iowa State), WR Blake Webb (Oklahoma State).

Backup QB helps DeSoto roll over Mesquite

October, 28, 2011
DeSOTO, Texas -- From the start of the 2011 season, DeSoto coach Claude Mathis has been committed to a two-quarterback system.

That strategy came in handy in DeSoto’s 41-16 victory over Mesquite on Friday night at Eagle Stadium.

When senior starter Raheem Wilson went down late in the first half on a nasty spill, sophomore backup Desmon White made sure the Eagles (9-0, 4-0) didn’t miss a beat.

“My job was to keep moving the ball and scoring,’’ said the 5-6, 140-pound White. “They’ve turned it over to me before when we have a big lead in the second half, so I wasn’t nervous.’’

Wilson is the starter and gets the majority of the playing time, but Mathis picks his spots for inserting White.

By the time White learned he was going to drive it home against Mesquite, he had already led the team on two touchdown marches.

“We use the same plays with both quarterbacks,’’ Mathis said. “Des is a little quicker and Raheem has a better grasp of the offense. Tonight, I’m glad we used them both all season.’’

In the final seconds of the first half, Wilson was pushed from behind as he crossed the sideline on a keeper. He slid to the curb that separates the playing surface from the running track and went directly to the locker room with a blister.

White stepped in and threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Brandon McDowell with seven seconds remaining for a 31-0 halftime lead. White completed 12 of 17 passes for 138 yards and rushed for 81 yards on five carries.

“I’m happy with my throwing and reading defenses tonight, because that’s what I’ve been working on the most,’’ White said.

Wilson, who was on the sideline in the second half but did not play, completed 6-of-12 for 101 yards. His three rushes netted 41 yards.

Senior running back Devin Rushing had a big night for the Eagles, rushing for 112 yards and three touchdowns.

Mesquite (5-4, 2-2) got on the board at 34-2 when defensive end Javon Jones trapped White in the end zone for a safety.

Quarterback Alex Cooper followed it up with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Lloyd, and the Skeeters added one more on a 1-yard run by Chermeer Underwood with five minutes to go, but the issue had long since been decided.

Cooper, a junior, completed 14-of-21 for 211 yards. But the DeSoto defense zeroed in on Skeeters running back Junior Session, limiting him to 33 yards on 15 carries.

DeSoto, No. 4 in ESPNDallas.com Class 5A Top 10, has a difficult test ahead Thursday, on the road at Longview.

Mesquite, which could have clinched a playoff berth with a win, faces Mesquite Horn on Friday.

Unblemished DeSoto hosts improved Mesquite

October, 26, 2011
MESQUITE (5-3, 2-1 11-5A) vs. No. 4 DeSOTO (8-0, 3-0)
7:30 p.m. Friday at DeSoto’s Eagle Stadium

When we saw them last: Mesquite quarterback Alex Cooper threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 triumph over Tyler Lee on Friday. Meanwhile, Dontre Wilson scored on a 5-yard run in the second overtime for a 59-53 DeSoto victory over Mesquite Horn.

2010 result: Wilson ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns in a 54-35 DeSoto victory in Mesquite.

What’s at stake: The Eagles are tied with Longview for first place in District 11-5A. Mesquite is a game back in third place. A victory would assure Mesquite a playoff berth. DeSoto has already clinched a playoff berth.

Key matchup: DeSoto leads Class 5A area teams in scoring, averaging 50.9 points per game. A majority of the damage comes on the ground. DeSoto averages 288 rushing yards per game. Mesquite’s defense has had trouble stopping the run, allowing 210 yards and 25 points per game.

Players to watch: Two juniors, Cooper and running back Junior Session, are the offensive stars for Mesquite. For the Eagles, Raheem Wilson has been a good fit at quarterback. Texas-bound Bryson Echols has added extra point and field goal kicking to his duties in the secondary this fall.

Prediction: DeSoto has struggled in its last two home games and needs a strong performance going into next week’s eagerly anticipated 11-5A showdown at Longview: DeSoto 40, Mesquite 27.

Turnaround has Mesquite thinking playoffs

October, 24, 2011
Mesquite, rebounding from back-to-back 1-9 seasons, is a win away from wrapping up a playoff berth in ultra-competitive District 11-5A.

The Skeeters (5-3, 2-1), currently third in the six-team 11-5A, play at DeSoto (8-0, 3-0) on Friday and finish the regular season the following week against Mesquite Horn (2-6, 1-2).

Mesquite coach Robbie Robinson’s move of promoting eight sophomores to the varsity a year ago is paying off.

“We prefer sophomores play on the junior varsity,’’ Robinson said. “We bring them up only if they are the best ones.’’

Even without those eight, the Mesquite junior varsity captured the district title in 2010.

“We stressed that, hey this is big. Even without those key guys, our JV was able to win,’’ Robinson said. “We feel like we have a really good junior group.‘’

Quarterback Alex Cooper (1,425 passing yards, 16 TD) and running back Junior Session (840 yards, 13 TD) are key junior contributors.

But seniors have had a hand in the turnaround, too. Receiver Kavaski Ervin has 28 catches for 455 yards and seven touchdowns.

Senior Nick Bowers embodies the Skeeters’ spirit. The defensive lineman missed almost all of the 2010 season after suffering a broken leg in the first game.

“Nick rehabbed like a fiend,’’ Robinson said, “and has been playing great.’’

The Skeeters, Class 5A Division I state champs in 2001, last made the playoffs in 2007.

42 years later, Mesquite-N. Mesquite a big game

October, 10, 2011
The Mesquite Skeeters and North Mesquite Stallions renew their football rivalry for the 42nd time Friday night.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at 20,000-seat Mesquite Memorial Stadium. And this rivalry is a reason why Memorial Stadium was built in 1977 to hold 20,000.

Perhaps the intensity isn’t as fierce as in the days before the Mesquite ISD grew from two high schools to its current number of five, but the game remains one that both sides circle when the schedule is released each year.

North Mesquite defeated Mesquite last year, 49-11, to snap a six-year Skeeters winning streak.

The series began in 1970, a year after North Mesquite opened as the second high school in the Mesquite ISD. The Skeeters own a 21-19-1 series lead. The 1983 game ended in a scoreless tie.

North Mesquite (4-2, 0-1 in District 11-5A) comes into this year’s game with the better record. The Stallions last week built a 17-0 halftime lead on DeSoto, ranked No. 3 in ESPNDallas.com Class 5A Top 10, but fell victim to an Eagles comeback, 28-17.

The Stallions like to grind it out with senior Anthony Sims leading an able group of ball carriers with 631 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback King Davis has thrown for 534 yards and six touchdowns.

Mesquite (3-3, 0-1) was beaten handily in its 11-5A opener by Longview, 54-21.

Skeeters quarterback Alex Cooper, a junior, has thrown for 931 yards and 11 touchdowns. Another 11th grader, Junior Sessions, is Mesquite’s top rusher with 631 yards and top scorer with 66 points.

Last year’s win by the Stallions continued a trend of lopsided scores in the rivalry game. The average victory margin the last five years is 28 points. The only one-score game in that stretch was Mesquite’s 28-21 victory in 2007.