COLLEGE STATION — When Johntay Cook completed a 45-yard touchdown pass to give DeSoto a 26-0 lead over Fort Bend Hightower, the star receiver was tackled to the ground. He popped up, clashing with the Hightower defender, as head coach Claude Mathis stepped in to break up the altercation.
The game summarized DeSoto’s performance so far in the 2022 7-on-7 State Tournament and where the team is at this offseason: as much talent and potential as any state title contender with room to mature and grow.
From penalties for unbuckled chin bars and missing mouth guards to an unusually slow tempo, the Eagles had some shortcomings. But Mathis said the difficulties DeSoto faced in Friday’s games are a necessary part of his off-season development.
“It tells me a lot about my team and where we are,” he said. “We are not where we need to be yet. When adversity strikes and you have no coaches, who will be the leader to step in? Now I begin to see who my leaders are, and are [the others] will listen to my leaders?
While winning the tournament was an achievable goal for the Eagles, it provided a key teaching moment to ensure they are ready in August.
“There is a consequence for everything we do in life,” Mathis said. “There are consequences to giving penalties. There are consequences for offside jumps. So as long as we hold our children accountable for these consequences, we will be fine. »
Even though DeSoto uses the tournament to learn from his mistakes, he still went 3-0 Friday with plenty of positives. The Eagles won their games by a total margin of 79 points, and the miserly defense limited their opponents to just two touchdowns on the day. Cook was more dominant than ever, earning player of the match honors twice. Even through the adversity they faced, the Eagles were still unbeatable – a characteristic Mathis hopes to translate into the season.
The 2016 6A Division II State Champions know better than anyone that getting to the top is tough, but staying there is even tougher. With expectations higher than ever, Mathis and the Eagles know that addressing these issues now that may seem small could make a difference at the start of the season.
“It doesn’t matter where we go. It doesn’t matter who we play against. There will always be a target behind us,” Mathis said. “It’s just how we deal with adversity, how we behave when we’re in this situation where things aren’t going so well.”
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