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Southlake Style

Dragons Square Off Against Nationally Ranked DeSoto

Nov 17, 2016 02:19PM ● By Mike
by EJ Holland

Southlake Carroll made a statement last Friday night.

The Dragons played one of their best and most complete games of the season as they dominated Wylie in all three phases of the game en route to an impressive 28-3 victory in the opening round of the playoffs.

“Any time you win a football game this time of year, it’s monumental,” said head coach Hal Wasson. “It was a great team win. We are proud of our players and coaches. It’s always great to get that first playoff win under your belt. From where this team started to where they are now, I’m so proud.”

But the journey isn’t over just yet.

Southlake Carroll will continue riding on the road to state this Friday at Plano’s Kimbrough Stadium when it faces perhaps its toughest test of the season in state and nationally ranked South Dallas powerhouse DeSoto, which boasts a perfect 11-0 record.

Audricke Gaines turns up
the speed en route to 4 TDs
vs Hebron as the Dragons
defeated Hebron 52-34 at
Dragon Stadium for the
outright District
Championship. Photo by

 Wasson, however, made it clear that the Dragons aren’t concerning themselves with the hype surrounding DeSoto. Instead, they’re focused on playing their best game.

“I think we have to keep the focus on ourselves,” Wasson said. “We have to be a better version of ourselves. We can’t change the way we do things. We have to be at our best. Our coaches have to be at their best. Our fan base has to be at their best. It’s going to take a collective effort.

“DeSoto has had great success over the years. We played them in 2012, and that’s the game they got us 49-45. We know they have outstanding talent over there. I have a lot of respect for them. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

This year’s version of DeSoto features a powerful offense averaging an eye-opening 48 points per game. The unit is led by TCU quarterback commit Shawn Robinson, who helped Denton Guyer knock off Southlake Carroll in the playoffs a year ago.

Robinson has an array of weapons at his disposal including Colorado wide receiver commits KD Nixon and Laviska Shenault as well as Wisconsin wide receiver pledge Emmet Perry. The offensive line is one of the best in country with three Power Five conference commits up front.

“We’ve seen Robinson the last two years, and he’s had great success against us,” Wasson said. “He’s a talented young man. He’s got a big, physical offensive line. They have speed at wide receiver and running back. We have to do a good job of being disciplined, tackling and taking good angles.”

DeSoto isn’t too shabby on the defensive side of the ball either. The Eagles have given up fewer than 20 points in 9 of their 11 games this season. Every starter in their secondary holds an FBS offer.

“They’re very fast and athletic on that side of the ball,” Wasson said. “We have to be balanced. We can’t say we’re going to run the ball every play. We need a balanced offense and we need to be at our best to win this game.”  

The emergence of Carroll's running attack behind senior RB Audricke Gaines (1,419 yards and 20 TDs) and the ever-present passing threat spearheaded by senior QB Mason Holmes (146-237 2,211 yards and 15TDs) prove to be a well-balanced options for Wasson's Dragons. When combined with a stout defense giving up just 16 points per game the Dragons are full of key players who are expected to give DeSoto all they can handle.